Don’t Allow A Negative Self Image ~ to cloud your golden years

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When I retired and moved to Florida, I didn’t want to sit around in the house and watch TV all day, and there were just so many times a week I could go out to lunch with my retiree friends. I quickly discovered that the most interesting seniors to be around were working…at least part-time. It wasn’t long before a church friend got me a job as a part-time caretaker for the elderly. It’s a rewarding job, in many ways. But it has a sad side. I soon became friendly with other caretakers and as we talked, I realized how common it is for seniors to have made detailed financial preparation for their latter years, but they hadn’t made emotional, mental, or spiritual preparation. Many had a very derogatory and debilitating view of themselves.

As a believer, I indeed do believe the Bible verse:

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. ~ Jeremiah 29:11, New American Standard Bible [NASB]

I do not believe that verse became null-and-void when I retired. Just because I entered my “senior years” doesn’t mean God stopped having plans for me. I tend not to refer to myself as a “senior.” No, I’m a “seasoned citizen.” I have a wealth of experience under my belt, useful experience that God can put to work.

elderly man NikkonHow seniors think of themselves is very important. We look in the mirror and it doesn’t lie to us. We’re getting older. However, the truth is, age has it’s own beauty. Seniors have to renew their minds to that reality.

How do we renew your minds? The answer is with words. We must not allow ourselves to say any more derogatory words about ourselves and the aging process. “I guess I’m just getting dimmer and dimmer.” “I must be just about useless now.” No! Don’t speak those negative words over yourself! God sees seniors as shining lights, repositories of wisdom.

Say positive words. “I might be slowing down a bit, but I have a lot to offer and there are still things I want to experience, and I will experience those things.” Pick something that you can do that brings joy and do it. Visit your grandchildren. Adopt a rescue pet. Go to lunch with a friend. Phone somebody and pray with them, pray for them.

We seasoned citizens have to take control of any demeaning and self-condemning thoughts that reoccur and linger in our minds. If these negative thoughts seem to go round-and-round on a kind-of loop, we have to banish them. The way to banish those ingrained negative thoughts is to say positive statements aloud. “I’m getting better and better every day,” is an often used phrase. Seniors can turn that into “I’m getting wiser and wiser every day.” Or, “more compassionate every day.” Say the words out loud. Speech cuts through thoughts.

As a believer, I try to say what God has said about me and how I can live my life. I find what God has said about me in the Bible. I try not to first and foremost see myself as getting older, but as His wonderful creation.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. ~ Ephesians 2:10 New American Standard Bible [NASB]

I’ve often heard it said that “do not fear” and/or “do not be afraid” is said more times in the Bible than anything else.

Remember that I have commanded you to be determined and confident! Do not be afraid or discouraged, for I, the Lord your God, am with you wherever you go.” ~ Joshua 1:9 Good News Translation [GNT]

elderly woman museum

One of the best tactics for getting rid of persistent negative thoughts is to intentionally surround ourselves with what is good, pleasing, and lovely. Fill a notebook with beautiful and pleasing pictures from magazines. Hang a painting that delights and gratifies. If you can’t afford to purchase a painting, get one at a thrift store. Thrifting all on its own is fun. Visit a museum. Read an uplifting book. Watch an old comedy movie that will make you laugh…for laughter is good medicine. Be proactive. Chase the blues away. Tell that old-lady/old/man withered up negative self-image to get going…

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. ~ Philippians 4:8, English Standard Version [ESV]


 

 

ANNABELLE’S JOY – Kinsman Redeemer, Book 3 by Betty Thomason Owens ~ an author interview

Annabelle's JoyHistorical Romance, with a dash of suspense

I’ve known Betty Thomason Owens for a number of years online. As Chair of the Grace Filled Fiction Spotlight (a venue showcasing the best in Christian fiction), I’ve been blessed to have had Betty, from the very beginning, as a co-chair for the past nine years. Where have the years gone?

So, of course I’m delighted to ask Betty a few questions about her new release, ANNABELLE’S JOY. I’m a widow, and was one of her readers who wanted to see Annabelle let go of the pain of her past loss. I’ve read Annabelle’s Joy and it is a joy to read.flower, daisy

Nike: What brought you to write this book/series?

Betty: I was inspired to write the first book in the Kinsman Redeemer series after completing a study of the biblical book of Ruth. I love Ruth’s story and I’ve read it many times but this time, a story idea began in my imagination. What if?

I wrote the story and ANNABELLE’S RUTH was picked up by my publisher. However, she wanted a series. I made something up, she liked it, she accepted it. The first two books were easy to write. The central character, Connie Cross, was Annabelle’s daughter-in-law. Annabelle was the Naomi character, Connie was her “Ruth,” who left her home out of devotion to her mother-in-law.

SUTTER’S LANDING is the sequel to that story, as Connie sets out to begin a new life with her “Boaz,” Alton Wade. The story could have been complete at the close of book two. However, my readers wanted to know what happened to Annabelle, and so did I. After all, in SUTTER’S LANDING, she had a would-be suitor. Would she be able to let go of her painful past, cast her fears aside, and love again? I had to find out. The final book, ANNABELLE’S JOY, answers those questions. I hope my readers will finish with a smile on their tear-stained faces.

Nike: What comes first, plot or characters? How do you develop each of them?

Betty: Definitely characters. Most of my stories have been character driven. I’m not good at plotting. I end up following rabbit-trails because my characters develop minds of their own.

I decide what type of person I’d like my character to be in the beginning, and where I want them to end up. I have an idea of a character arc I’d like to develop along the way and try to stay within those parameters. Outside of that, I build a character from the inside out. I decide on their personalities, then create their outward appearance, using a simple character sheet (I use the one found in Scrivener). I may deviate from that first impression later, but I try to stay consistent. A character sheet helps me do that.

Nike: Do you have a blog or a newsletter? How’s that going?

Betty: I’m so glad you asked that. I do have a website and a personal blog called, “Hello, Thursday Morning!” I think it does well enough. I’m also the cofounder/developer of a multi-author blog called Inspired Prompt. It’s a blog dedicated to helping new and indie writers by providing information to help them grow in their craft. That blog is doing extremely well.

Both blogs require a lot of work, but I believe it’s definitely worth the time and trouble. I love that we’re helping other writers with pertinent information, while giving them a place to meet other writers and possibly market their published works.

Short/Fun Questions:

You can live anywhere while you write a novel set there. Where is that? Why?

Betty: Orcas Island (Puget Sound, Washington) – It’s like another world and so conducive to writing!

Describe yourself in three words.

Betty: Loyal, thoughtful, funny

What is your fav vacay spot?

Betty: Gulf Shores, Alabama

ANNABELLE’S JOY will be released on Amazon on August 6, 2019 ~ https://www.amazon.com/Annabelles-Joy-Wholesome-Romance-Redeemer-ebook/dp/B07TXQRKG3/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Annabelle%27s+Joy%2C+Betty+Thomason+Owens&qid=1563206658&s=books&sr=1-1

She’s waited too long. When Tom proposed last year, Annabelle wasn’t ready to open her heart to another man. Pain still held a thin crust around it. Time has healed her heart, but with a new woman in town, one who clearly has her sights set on Tom, does it matter if Annabelle’s heart is ready to love again? Folks in town are keeping a close eye on their pharmacist, hoping to be the first to hear the good news. He’s been courting the widow Cross for nigh on two years now. Annabelle Cross better wake up and put her dancing shoes on. Mr. Tom is prime real estate. Drift back into the simple, country life of Tennessee in 1957 with this sequel to award-winning ANNABELLE’S RUTH.

B-Owens Headshot

Bio:

Betty Thomason Owens considers herself a word-weaver, writing stories that touch the heart. Besides her work on the KCWC planning committee, she also leads the Louisville Area ACFW group and is a co-founder of the multi-author Inspired Prompt blog. Married forty-four years, she’s a mother of three, and a grandmother of eight. A part-time bookkeeper at her day-job, she writes for Write Integrity Press, and has seven novels in publication. You can learn more about her at BettyThomasonOwens.com. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

My Summer Writing Getaway ~ with a friend

This is the second summer local Florida Christian romantic-suspense writer Dalyn Woods and I have embarked on a writer’s retreat for two. We usually don’t go far. The idea is not to spend hours in the car driving to a resort, but to get someplace relatively quickly and so we can write. We also have to find pet-friendly lodging because I travel with Sophie the Wonder Dog who is twelve and 90 percent blind with cataracts. She is dependent upon me and has to go with me. Thankfully, she’s a really good sidekick on the road.

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Dalyn Woods working on her manuscript

This year Dalyn and I spent the week in Titusville where we went to church with Florida Christian fiction writer Fay Lamb, and then went out for brunch at Dixie Crossroads with her husband Marc and her neighbor Annie. Dixie Crossroads is most often rated as the number one restaurant Titusville and it’s got fantastic seafood. Fay also directed us to the Sunrise Bread Company in downtown Titusville. This is a local bakery and coffee shop with free WiFi and comfortable sofas and chairs that are ideal for several hours of writing. We met Fay there one afternoon and spent another afternoon there with our laptops.

Our first night in town it rained, so we decided to eat close to our lodging at a place called The Irish Pub and Eatery. It’s a tiny place that was filled nearly to the max with locals who obviously knew the staff and the menu. Only two seats were left, but all we needed was two. We had the shepherd’s pie which was delish and perfect for a rainy day. They have a deck which would double the seating in good weather. Our last day there, we ate at Mainstreet Philly Cheesesteak which is owned by Annie’s son-n-law. Annie is the neighbor of Fay and Marc Lamb’s who we had brunch with on Sunday after church. Dalyn and I do recommend the sandwiches. Titusville might not be thought of as a destination, but you might rethink that. It has reasonably priced hotels and motels, a good selection of restaurants, is on the Indian River (which lets out on the Atlantic) and has beaches. Two museums to visit are the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum and the American Police Hall of Fame Museum. On it’s western border is St. John’s National Wildlife Refuge. It’s a short drive to Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach.

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Dalyn and I also took a side trip to CoCoa Beach and had lunch on the pier in Pelican’s, a restaurant that my husband Joseph and I had lunch in several years ago. The restaurant sits in the middle of a long pier, and this is the view of the end of the pier. There are several shops on the pier. I bought a coffee mug and a pair of starfish earrings in one of the shops.

I’m looking forward to next summer’s little writer’s retreat. Maybe we’ll go to the westcoast of Florida or to one of Georgia’s islands. The there’s this little place in Florida that has houseboats for the week. That catches my imagination.

Fireworks Show ~ at Evangel Temple

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My energetic, fun friend Deborah Williams knows almost everything that’s going on in Jacksonville. Well, almost everything that would be of interest to her group of friends (a bunch of seasoned gals to like to kick back, but also want a few laughs now and then).

So, she told me about the pre-holiday fireworks display at Evangel Temple [5755 Ramona Blvd. Jacksonville, FL 32205]. I said, “Yippee doodle, let’s go.” And we did.

It turned out to be the quintessential Fourth of July celebration. Little kids ran around playing with sparkling toys their parents purchased at various booths on the church grounds. Some of the girls turned cartwheels. Deborah and I got steak hamburgers and fries from one of the food trucks in the parking area.

A pastor gave a sermon about freedom in Christ changing one’s life which was appropriate, I thought. There were worship songs and patriotic marches. The young lady who sang the Star Spangle Banner did a wonderful job. Whenever that song is sung, I always wonder if the singer will be able to hit the high notes. She did.

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Then they shot fireworks from the roof of the church. A totally professional extravaganza that seemed to go on and on thrilling everyone, especially the children

Evangel Church bills itself as a vibrant evangelical church in the heart of Jacksonville. They certainly lived up to that.

 

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A Micro-Duckling ~ fights through with a teensy bit of help

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My condo complex is built next to a natural pond with a creek running into and out of it. So, we have ducks. As you approach my building, there is a sign: Slow: Duck Crossing.

So, one of the female ducks had a brood of six, and one of them was teeny, itsy-bitsy. The mom seemed to pick on it. This seems to be so brutal, but these are wild creatures, not tame…and she is a small new mom and may have been very anxious. So, this little one would sorta hide beneath one of his siblings. He touched my heart with such an huge impact that I began seriously praying for his survival. I mean fervently throughout the day. I didn’t see the gaggle for over a week. When I saw next them, this little one had survived the 8 or 9 days or so, and had grown, but was still the micro-duckling of the group. The mom seemed not to be picking on him so much, but he was still attached to the side of his sibling. Wherever the other duckling went, he went. I began think of this little one as he, a generic kind of he. I’ll find out in another month or so what sex he is by his markings.

We also have a colony of stray cats. A vet tech lived in the condo complex before I moved in and she trapped them and had them neutered. Thus, we don’t have kittens…so far. A few of the residents feed the cats and the ducks cat food. Since I knew they were eating cat food, I’d approach the group of ducklings and toss cat food to them, making sure the itsy one got a good portion of the food, but not overly so. Didn’t want him to gorge and become ill. This goes along with my decision to live more intentionally. To do things with purpose and to stick to it. To be mindful.

Well, he’s grown some and I don’t feed them any more because it’s better that they forage for food in the reeds around the pond and in the grass instead of beg for human food or cat food. Actually, the cat food is better for them than the white bread some people feed them. Commercial white bread has no food value for humans or for ducks…but that’s another blog article.

I do chase the males away from this small mom and her brood ~ yeah, intentionally and with purpose on my part. At this time of year the males tussle and it seems to frighten this new mom. We have traffic at the condo complex and it’s best if things are calm when she’s leading her ducklings to and from the pond. Once, after a rainfall, I caught mom and her younguns splashing in a puddle in the middle of the parking lot. Looked like a lot of fun. Still, I took on the role of killjoy and chased them onto the grass and kept chasing them till they were well away from the asphalt. At any rate, I’m happy to report the little guy is growing and doing well.

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Meanwhile, at my client’s house on another Florida pond (where because I’m semi-retired but too energetic not to work, I do part-time in-home care) we have another duck scenario going on.

There is a grouping for four ducks at one end of the pond. It seems to be one male and three females. A lone female from the other side of the pond is trying to bring herself and and her fairly large duckling (he’s still got the grayish brown duckling feathers, but he’s about to get his adult feathers) into the group. The adult male in the group of four doesn’t want the large duckling. That’s why I’m thinking this duckling is a male. The mother keeps swimming up to the group and without fail, the large male duck viciously (but with no physical contact) chases the duckling away.

At one point, after one of these chases, the duckling wound up on one side of the pond and his mom was on the other. The duckling frantically rushed back and forth along the bank calling for her. She’s a small, new mom with only one duckling and is no match for the male. So, she made her way slowly around the pond while the duckling cried for her. When she got to him, she led him away to the far end. This went on in duckdom for three days. And each time the male rejected the duckling.

On the fourth day, the mom stopped trying to introduce herself and her duckling into the larger group of ducks. I was so proud of her, she chose her duckling. She set up camp for the two of them at the far end of the pond where they stayed all day. They foraged for food together and they nestled together. At one point she gave me a scare. She began pushing the duckling’s head under water and I thought she was trying to drown him. No, she was showing him how to take a bath in the pond. After pushing his head under a few times, she ducked hers under and when she came up, shook her head and flapped her wings. He immediately imitated her.

Life in the wild can be brutal and scary. I guess that’s why it’s called the wild. Many days when I enter my house, I just have to hug my cats and my little doggie and tell them I love them and that I will protect them. Like that small duck mom who chose her baby over the protection for herself of the group, I choose them. It’s stewardship, yes, and love for all creatures large and small.

 

Mrs. Turtle ~ a day in a life

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Every life has value, and God pronounced them all “good.”

While walking my dog, I came upon her one morning. She sat on the sidewalk that surrounded a group of apartment buildings in my condo complex. My neighbor thought she’d walked across our wide asphalt parking lot to lay her eggs in one of the areas our landscapers had planted with all kinds of tropical foliage.IMG_2968

When I approached her, she became afraid, ducked her head in.

The problem was, in the time it had taken to lay her eggs, the sun had risen and this is Florida. We’ve been having record highs. It was very hot and she’d have to get across hot asphalt to get back to the creek…where she had no doubt come from. Not to mention, landscapers were driving their trucks in and residents were going out.IMG_2971

I was born in the wilds of rural New York State, so touching a turtle is no problem for me. I picked her up, carried her across the parking lot, and placed her on bank of the creek at the other side of our condo complex.

A simple thing really. It took no more than five minutes out of my day. An intentional and truly good moment, one that I count as joy. I hope God considers this an act of good stewardship in terms of His creation and a small creature who could not navigate modern existence.

Fire and Thorn, a fantasy by Mary Vee ~ a review

Fire and Thorn

Fantasy, Middle Grade, Juvenile Literature

At the beginning of this novel, just like so many kids today, Gilbert is self-centered. He’s a bit arrogant too, as he’s a prince and heir to the throne. Then his father, the king, is killed by a dragon and his mother is captured and taken away. This forces Gilbert to quickly begin the maturing process. And I loved that about this book. He’s forced to make decisions beyond his ability as he begins the fight to save his kingdom from darkness. He tries, often makes mistakes and tries again.

Mystery and suspense are my jam, and there was no shortage of those.

The author sprinkles wry humor throughout. One bit that made me chuckle happens before Gilbert’s coronation when the heavy, royal robe is placed on his shoulders. Gilbert feels like a coat rack. When the Lord Chancellor asks him if he’s ready, Gilbert replies, “As much as possible, Lord Chancellor Matthias.”

I would recommend this novel for all middle grade, juvenile, and YA readers who have a sense of adventure and a questing spirit. If CHRONICLES OF NARNIA was their thing, this is a good read for them.