Most everyone has heard the title, "The Power of Positive Thinking." Often we are drawn into seminars and lectures that promote the benefits of keeping a positive outlook. Even the Bible tells us that a "merry heart doeth good like a medicine."
When we're taught to give evaluations of performances we encouraged to start with the good and then offer the bad and end with more good. We're told that sandwiching the negative or critical between two positives will help to cushion the blow.
Even so, there's so much negative in this world. So many times we see people choose the bad rather than the good. So many times we fall into that pit ourselves. At least I know I do.
I was watching HGTV the other night (one of my indulgences on occasion) and watched people looking to buy a new house. No matter where the couple went the woman only saw the bad. Everything was held under a magnifying glass. She condemned the curtains, patterns of carpet, colors of paint. Over and over the agent reminded her not to worry about the things that could be changed, but this woman seemed intent on not finding anything good.
It made me think about life and how easy it is to see the bad--to condemn the things that we could, with a little work or effort, change. It's easy to bemoan the problems of life and the things that don't go our way. It seems far simpiler to zero in on the aspects of life that seem hopeless or desperate.
We have a local commercial where an obviously sick man is talking about Hospice services and how he used to think of them as an ending, but now he thought about them as a beginning.
Perspective is so important to our spiritual health and mental well-being. There is truly great power to be had in having a positive outlook.
Philippians 4:8 says, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." (NIV)
God knew that things would be difficult for us on this earth.
Jesus warned us there would be trouble, but if we keep our focus on Him--on the right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy Savior, we won't find ourself crushed by the wrong, impure, ugly, disgusting, poor, blameworthy things of this world.
With every new day we have a choice to make. We can either strive to dwell on the positive or wallow in the negative. We can do our best, change what we can and choose to be happy despite the impefections of this world and the things that have been put upon us.
Montana has several fires, but Idaho seems to have even more. Now Washington state has added to the pot and viola! We're Smokin'! The doctor asked me the other day if I smoke and I told her, only during summer forest fire season. She thought that was funny, but alas, it's true. We started early with fires this year and the entire summer has been miserable. On the other hand, I still have a beautiful state to live in and many things for which I'm thankful.
The smoke in Montana has given us some beautiful sunsets, even though it's wreaking havoc with my asthma.
This fawn doesn't seem to mind, but you can see how hazy things are in the background.
Even smokey, it's a great place to live. Here's Mack enjoying a game of fetch. We had him shaved for the summer, so he doesn't look quite as grand the collie as he usually does, but he just turned one year old.
Calvin on the other hand has a few years on Mack. Calvin is the wise one who Jim put in charge of Feline Security. I'm very thankful for him and the little gifts he brings on occasion - voles, gophers, mice and sadly the occasion baby rabbit.
This is Molly, my mother's beagle. Molly has very little patience for Mack, but she can be so very sweet.
And Sarfari has very little patience for anyone. She's queen of the keep and doesn't let anyone forget about it. The smoke doesn't seem to bother her at all. And Jim says it's because she's actually demon possessed and from hell. Sometimes as crazy as she gets...I actually think he may be right.
So despite the smoke and my inability to go for long walks outside, I occasionally get to go for a short drive.
So we'll deal with our hazy, smoky skies and take refuge in the sealed and air conditioned house. I'll wear my mask when I get house crazy and go for a short drives (I had to say that or the doctors and nurses I know would get after me), and I'll be praying for early snows or complete fire suppression.
Well, it's that time of year when kids are gearing up to head back to school. You can hear the moans throughout neighborhoods across America. Of course they are coupled with sighs and cheers from weary mothers.
I loved school and loved to learn. I still do. Now a-days I do Bible studies or research for stories and from time to time I get a wild hair about taking a class or learning a new language. Usually my writing schedule forces sanity to return, but it nags at me every now and then.
Today I sat down to write and found myself in need of some information I'd previously researched. I started pouring through my notes and highlighted books and before I realized it I found myself lost in the history of the Iron Range in Minnesota. I had four different books that focused specifically on the area of Ely, pronounced Ee-Lee, Minnesota and iron mining in the Vermillion Range.
Pretty soon I was printing out a map of the street grids in Ely and then noting historic buildings and locations. I got a little carried away and began making page note references on my map and drawing in old forgotten railroads and mine locations.
One thing led to another and soon I found myself opening additional research books to read up on mining techniques and the men who worked the mines. I learned that drifts are horizontal shafts and that iron deposits were referenced as "lenses". I learned that the Cornish miners greatly influenced the verbage of mining, including calling the boss, "captain". Some of the photos even showed the mine captains wearing hats similar to sea captains.
I read newspaper accounts for the 1890's in Ely and learned about the town problems and perks. There were some 26 saloons, 7 mines and 5 churches in the area. A shot of whiskey cost a dime and a large beer was twelve cents, causing one man to comment that there was a lot of drunkeness to be had in a dollar.
Before I knew it, the day was over and I had only written a short amount. But, it was worth it. I thoroughly enjoyed my school day and learned so much. I share this with you on behalf of writers everywhere because I want you to know just how much work goes into each story. When you enjoy what you do, however, it's such a priviledge and joy. I'm sure each of the ladies represented here would agree that we are very blessed to be able to do something we love so much and serve God at the same time.
Oh and here's a special treat - Amazon.com is offering Kindle versions of my CHASING THE SUN for $2.99. Also if you've been looking for some of my really old titles from Heartsong and early Bethany House days - they're starting to sell those too!
Earlier this week my sweet hubby Jim and I were out for lunch.
We were having a great time chatting and when our food came things were going well until Jim swallowed a piece of lettuce wrong.
Next thing I know he was turning colors on me and not breathing.
Now I've had to preform the Heimlich Manuever on two of my children once before, but never on an adult. I realized as Jim continued to choke that I needed to do something so I got up and prepared to do the Heimlich once again.
The problems became immediately evident.
1. Jim was seated in a rather thick backed chair.
2. Jim is a big-chested man.
3. Tracie has short arms.
Those things added up to very nearly cause me disaster. Now keep in mind, I was ready to throw Jim to the floor to jump on his gut and Heimlich with my foot, but this tall, angelic man came to our rescue.
Just as he started to help, however, Jim managed to free the lettuce and began to breath again.
It was a terrifying situation that happened in the matter of less than a minute.
So this is my reminder to everyone out there to learn or review the Heimlich Manuever.
Take a CPR class - review emergency procedures.
You never know when you might need to help someone.
And a special thanks to my Minnesota angel wherever you are, I hope your travels go well and that God gives you a special blessing for your kindness and willing heart.
Oh and I nearly forgot - the WINNERS FOR LAST WEEKS DRAWING
Since Judy took you on a tour of Williamsburg, I thought I'd take you back to Georgia and the beautiful places we saw while researching for our Bridal Veil Island series.
Judy and I enjoyed touring Jekyll Island and all that it had to offer. It really gave us a good idea of how to style and set our fictional island.
When you read our book and come to parts about the boat house and river side of the island, this was our inspiration on Jekyll Island.
And when we write about the little "cottages" on the island where the rich and famous would escape the winter up north - this is what we were thinking.
Not exactly what I would consider a small cottage. Judy and I found them charming. It's exciting to see the historical society there refurbishing them. I hope they'll be around for a great many years to come.
Maybe one of my very favorite things was this little contraption. Judy can tell you more about it than I can. Not only that, but she tried hard to sneak this one into the car to take home.
Can't you see her toddling around in it?
Okay, so now for the give away - if you respond to this blog, you will be entered into the contest. I'm giving away 5 copies of To Love and Cherish and they will have bookplates signed by both Judy and me. Contest ends August 4th at 11:59 p.m. and winners will be announced in next week's August 10th blog.
God Bless You!