A Trusting Heart, Willing Hands…& a FREE eBook Download! #FaithBuilders #KingdomBuilders

“Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; To shew that the Lord is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.” – Psalm 92:13-15

In November of 2018, the Eastern North Carolina Church of God Senior Adults (50 and older) gathered at the ENCCOG  Campground/gathering center in Kenly, NC for their annual Young at Heart/Senior Talent Convention (<– Click here for info on this year’s event). I entered in the Woodwinds Division, with a solo I played on my clarinet, and in the Creative Writing/Short Story Division. I started not to even bother with the writing part. But then, at the “last minute” I decided, “why not?” So, that evening, with the deadline approaching as of the next morning for the entries to be sent, or emailed in, I started thinking of what to write. Sitting here at the computer, I prayed about it, still thinking of just giving it up and going to bed.

The great, white, blank screen loomed before me…

“Okay, God, You’re writing this, so please just take over. Help me write what you would have me to write,” I prayed.

Before I knew what was happening, the words started to flow onto the page, the keys clacking into the night, as I worked to get it done and send it in to our Pastor’s wife, so she could email it to them.

Even now, as I look back and read it, I can only say that God wrote this, not me. I am only the hands that typed it. Seriously, there is no way I could have ever come up with this on my own. It has all the elements of good fiction I have worked to have in my books, especially the newer projects I am working on, you know, depth, character development, conflict, and tension, and believable dialogue with the characters, all building up to the powerful resolution at the end…an ending that makes us think, makes us take a closer look at ourselves. All of this has to be balanced with not giving too much away early in the story.

When I started writing a few years back, I will admit now, even laughing at myself, that I did not really know what I was doing. I didn’t know then, what all experience has taught me. Things like having the necessary conflict and tension in the story in order for that powerful climax, or resolution at the end to be fully appreciated. I will also admit that even now, at my age, I have often thought of giving up. (Can anybody out there relate? Anybody out there over 50 still writing, or whatever it is you do, shout out to you! 🙂 )

For all my fellow “writing seniors” out there, you may have felt that way yourself at times. So, after much prayer about this, as well as what to do with this thing now, other than let it sit here on my hard drive, collecting “computer dust”, I have felt led to share it with you. You can click this link to download it. I hope you enjoy it and find it encouraging…

The Preacher and the Fiddle – FREE eBook Download

Not bragging or anything like that, but I feel led to share it with you, just to show you, what any of us, every single one of us, can achieve if we surrender our all to the Master. All of us have talents, everyone.  Some of us are terrible at things others are good at, and vice versa. But that is not a bad thing. That’s just God showing His creative variety. When we put it all together, all of us working together, doing the best we can with whatever He’s given us, it all comes together like a big, beautiful quilt (by the way, we had some nice quilting and needlework entries, including our “first lady”, our Pastor’s wife’s awesome entry of a crochet rendering she did of the missionary couple who were pastoring at the church where she got saved and accepted Christ).

For all those my age and older, it can be too easy at times, to just give up or think that we are too old, tired, sick, or (insert whatever comes to your mind here) or that we’re not really as good at doing things as we “used to be”. It’s easy to get tired, stressed, and overwhelmed with all that is going on in the world around us. I am no exception, thus, my putting this whole idea off till that last night before the Creative Writing entries were due in to the ones who would be judging them. But maybe that is why God gives us our creative gifts, not only for building His Kingdom together, but to encourage others through whatever it is our talent is.

Whether it’s a drawing, painting, an uplifting song written, sang, or played, every little thing we accomplish through Him can encourage and influence someone. Maybe it was just that last little bit of encouragement the Holy Spirit was trying to give me, that last little nudge that made me change my mind. Who knows how many of our greatest inventions might not have come to be if it hadn’t been for that little last minute nudge. And so, on I typed into the night…

Fast forward to this past April 30th – May 2nd, 2019, in Gatlinburg, TN, with my husband, our Pastor, and his wife. (We drove separately of course)…that’s right. My little short story won Runner Up at the Senior Talent Competition/Young at Heart Convention, and several others in our church won in their categories as well. The one who won over me in the Creative Writing Division would not be able to make it, so I was able to go and compete at the Nationals. That adorable little crocheted couple our “first lady” did, and our Pastor, who competed in Percussion, Indefinite Pitch, and my short story, made it to the Nationals Competition in Gatlinburg, at the convention center there. There were others in our church who also won who were unable to make it to the Gatlinburg competition, but we still shared our pictures and everything, and they were still cheering us on. The thing is, all of us in the group of those who entered the 2018 Senior Talent Competition were the ones who listened to that last little nudge…that one more little prompting in our spirits that said, “Aww, come on, you can do it!”

And that’s right. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ, which strengthens me.”

We are all in Christ, and together, with all of our talents and gifts He has given us, we make up the Body of Christ as a whole. We can do anything He calls us to do. Whether it’s crocheting, knitting, woodwork and building things, quilting, writing, singing, or playing a musical instrument, we all have something we are good at. But we are not gifted in these areas in and of our own accord, but it is through Him, working in us, that we do these things. We try and fail once, we learn from it, we get up and try it again. Besides, as Seniors, (or soon to be seniors), especially those of us who are grandparents now, or even great grandparents, we have to remember that those precious eyes of our grandchildren, and even our adult children, are still watching us. Like that lighthouse beacon guides the ships at sea, we are that shining light to them.

The greatest inventions would have never come to be if their inventors had given up.

Just the same, we will never know what we are capable of if we don’t try. It doesn’t matter how many times we may have failed before. What matters is that we had the courage to get in there and try again. Perhaps the best thing about it all is, as my husband and I walked through the room where all the entries were displayed on the tables in the various categories, admiring the paintings, drawings, crochet and knitting projects, quilts, etc., we knew it was the same wonderful hands of our Creator who had done it all. Just as He had gifted each of these creators with their talents, He had also gifted all the musicians, singers and instrument players. Together, it is the awesome God we serve, showing His creative variety, knowing that when it all comes together, it completes the greater masterpiece He is painting, a grand design only He can see. We are only the various hands that He has gifted for each of the colors, musical notes, and stories that He chooses as He works to create the legacy we will leave for our children and grandchildren…

So, what about you?

Whether you are young or older, like us, there is something you can do, and little eyes will be looking up at you for their own encouragement. After all, that is what our Master Painter does. We are just the hands He uses to do His work.

So paint that painting. Build that little cabin or church woodwork project. Make the quilt. Write the story (or song). Play the music. Sing the song, because all of it glorifies our wonderful Master, and there is no limit to what we can do if we only yield it all to Him. All He needs is a trusting heart and a set of willing hands.

My short story did not win at the Nationals in Gatlinburg, but then, we weren’t there to “win”, but rather to enjoy the blessing of meeting and shaking hands with other “movers and shakers” who are working, as we all are, to build the Kingdom for our Jesus as we work toward His soon return. That in itself was an encouraging experience for me. “Faith Builders” encouraging one another, knowing that what He has done through one of us, He can do through another. And in that respect, we are all winners from the start, because it is the same great Master hands working through us all. It was an honor and a blessing to me, to have just made it that far, to have had the chance to go. And by the way, our Pastor, Bishop Allen Gupton, won in the Percussion Division, so we did not return home empty handed! In fact, as I told him before we left to return home, I was already shifting gears for what is next. On that note, I have to give a shout out to our graduates in our church family who have just graduated high school, as well as our own graduates, my youngest daughter, who just received her Master’s in Social Work (her B.A. is in Psychology), and my husband’s son, who just received his Bachelor’s in Psychology. His wife and my eldest daughter will finish in their respective degrees in December (2019). We are proud of each and every one of you, and our prayers and best wishes are with you as you each look toward the future. We look forward to seeing what God is going to do through each of you! Congratulations to you all, and all Class of 2019 graduates everywhere!

Nevertheless, we all give Him the glory, not only for what He has done, but for what He is about to do, what He can do, through you, me, and any of us who yield to Him what He needs most to complete His masterpiece…a trusting heart, and willing hands.

I’m glad now that I said yes to that little nudge in my spirit. As the sun rose and began streaming through the windows, I finished my humble little short story entry, including the “tightening” and editing I had to do to get it to be within the allowed word count. Was it worth it? Of course it was! A big, resounding YES on that one! I hope you will say yes too, to whatever it is He is calling you to do. I promise you, it will be more than worth it.

Need some more encouragement? Okay, I promised to share it with you, and here it is. FREE for you to download and read, my short story I entered in our Senior Talent Competition. I hope you enjoy it, and that it gives you encouragement in some way, because what He has done through me, He can do through you. Whatever He has gifted you to do, just remember, it is often just when we feel like giving up, like we are just too tired and worn, or discouraged to go on, that He does His greatest work through us. And even though it did not win in the Nationals, I know that there is no limit to what He can and will do with it, so I have yielded it to Him. After all, it’s His story. Again, I am only the trusting heart and willing hands that He used to write it. You can click the link below to download it and read it…and yes, again, it’s FREE 🙂 .

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Photo licensed through Pixabay. Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

The Preacher and the Fiddle – FREE eBook Download

So, for any of you out there who are in the Eastern North Carolina Church of God region, if you can paint, draw, sing, play, drum, knit, crochet, or you are awesome at woodwork, (or even cook & clean!) why not try and join us this year? Many seniors just do it for the fun (and food!) and fellowship, and worshiping God together, even if they don’t feel they will win. After all, you’ll never know what God can do through you if you don’t try. Remember, it’s all through His hands, not ours! We only have to have a trusting heart and a willing set of hands. And just as the people of the little church in the story, you will never know what beautiful music our Grand Maestro could play through you…

…until you hand Him the fiddle and the bow. 

All Writers: Hats off to the Late, Great Natalie Babbitt! #childrensauthor #tuckeverlasting

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In memory of Natalie Babbitt, 1932 – 2016

I write for children because I am interested in fantasy and the possibilities for experience of all kinds before the time of compromise. I believe that children are far more perceptive and wise than American books give them credit for being.  ~ Natalie Babbitt

You may remember from my past posts that my 2nd book, “A River of Secrets, Summer of the Rose”, was in part, inspired by the movie, “Tuck Everlasting”, which was actually adapted from a children’s book by Natalie Babbitt. To be honest, it was also inspired largely by a walk I took one day. I came back in and sat down and felt it coming to me. It has been more than a few times that the ideas for the projects I have been working on so far have come to me from the Great Author Himself, and such was the case this time. It has seemed that this has happened right at the times I was about to just give up and “throw in the towel” on it all. But, I also know that I wouldn’t be the author and writer I am now if it weren’t for the inspiration I have received from other authors.

As writers, they are our teachers, and we can learn much just from reading their work. Natalie said as much in an interview I was able to find. You can read it here. Indeed, she has been one of my greatest teachers. I was doing an internet search for something pertaining to what I was working on and happened to see the news headlines that she left our world on October 31, 2016. She was 84. Read it here.

Although she did not start out wanting to be a writer, but rather, an illustrator, she wrote several books in the span of her writing career and illustrated many others. Here is a listing of her books as well as a bio about her.  You may have seen this movie that was adapted from her book, “Tuck Everlasting”. Here is the movie trailer:

I think I can speak for all writers, who aspire to be great authors one of these days, that we can say, “hats off”, to one who has truly been a great teacher and inspiration to us all. Thank you, Mrs. Babbitt, for all you have taught me as a writer myself, and for the great works you have left us. May they continue to inspire future generations of young readers, as you have inspired us! In one of her quotes from the story, I believe it was the father in the “Tuck” family who says, to “Winnie Foster”, “Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live.”

I choose to live, live my life to the fullest and to celebrate the gifts I have been given, and what all I can accomplish with the time I have left on this earth. After all, there are plenty of teachers who have paved the way before me, and the Great Author Himself, to guide my way.

I also took advantage of the anniversary edition of her book, “Tuck Everlasting”. I may not be a child reader, but then, there is still a little bit of our childhood left in all of us, I think. Besides, to all of us as authors, reading the works of those who came before us is how we learn. To quote my character, “Anna”, who also narrates the story in “A River of Secrets, Summer of the Rose”, I think this is probably one of my favorite lines in the whole book:

“They say there is a path that winds through the forest that exists deep within our imaginations, in that childlike part of our minds…but that gate is only open once. After this, the adult mind somehow closes it.” – “Anna” 

Why not take a journey back down that path, if but for a little while…

Click here to read a sample of the 40th Anniversary Edition of “Tuck Everlasting”. 

Book Writing for Procrastinators, Part 2: Overcoming Distractions & Mind Blocks #WhatsYourStory #WritersHelpingWriters

Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.  – Ray Bradbury

“It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.” —Robert Benchley

cropped-cropped-kimg15561.jpgHi again, everyone! I hope everyone’s enjoying this lovely Saturday – and yes, I do plan to get out with my husband and enjoy it a little myself in a little bit. But first, I wanted to share with all of you other writers out there, (or would  be writers, hey what are you waiting for?) my second installment of “Book Writing for Procrastinators, Overcoming Distractions & Mind Blocks”. I also have a little surprise I want to share with you, a podcast on this very subject I happened to stumble across. But before I get into all of that, I would like to suggest that if you haven’t read my first post on this subject, take a moment to go here and read it.  It’s loaded with tips on what has helped me, and 8 ways to learn from the pros, and get started writing that book, along with some links to resources from some more experienced writers who have been some of my greatest teachers, so be sure and check that out for some good advice on how to quit procrastinating, get started, and write that best seller! Hey, I know I’m not quite there yet, but we’re all writers helping writers, right? So without further ado, let’s dig in to what I have for you today!

How Procrastination is Born: Overcoming Mind Blocks…

In the last post, I mentioned that I have PTSD from a terrible car accident years ago. That’s just it, I have it, it doesn’t have me! As I mentioned in that last post, for years I struggled with lack of confidence and other issues, which mainly stemmed from the PTSD. Of course, I am doing much better now than I was a few years ago. Now, through my faith in a God that will never leave us nor forsake us, and the love of my wonderful, sweet husband, who is also my high school sweetheart, whom God recently reunited me with after all these years, I am doing much better. You can read some of our story here! Here is a sneak preview of my book on faith that is coming out soon, which will have my story of my near death experience and what I’ve learned on my road to healing. So, with 2 books now under my belt, I want to share with you what has helped me…

Mind Blocks: Finding the Root Cause of Procrastination…

My point here is, you just wouldn’t believe how much things like this can affect you. I know it did me, for a long time. Besides that, for years, I suffered from low self esteem, in large part due to the fact that I worried too much about what other people thought about me, among other things. What I didn’t realize was, over time, all of this just kind of conglomerated into a mind block. This, together with the bouts of depression that come from going through “the change” (I am a grandma now), along with my tendencies to become easily distracted, caused me to develop a mind block that nearly derailed my ever getting much of anything done, that is, until I decided enough was enough. I prayed about it, and I talked it over with my husband. Then, I came across a powerful podcast from Kary Oberbrunner. If you haven’t heard of him, he’s a very influential author, coach, and speaker working to “help other writers, people, and others just like you and me to discover who we are, why we are here, and how to become souls on fire so we can share our message with the world.”  Visit him and check out his website and some of the resources he has available here.

So, Check This Out…

Over time, this stuff can really “clog your mind up”, just like an old, nasty air condition filter in your home that needs replacing. You pull it out to replace it and say, “Wow, I didn’t know all of that was in there!” Well, that’s how our minds get sometimes, and eventually, it causes you to form a mind block, like I did. That lack of confidence in yourself can spill over into an addiction to social media and email, etc, which is what Kary Oberbrunner talks about in this podcast, which I found to be very helpful. So, I will just share the link here with you, and you can go check it out for yourself. So, since he explains it better than I can, here you go, head on over and just listen to this. I know it helped me.

How to overcome an addiction to email and social media, by Kary Oberbrunner 

For me, as well as the rest of us in the undiagnosed generation of people who likely suffer from an adult form of ADD – or Attention Deficit Disorder, it can be a challenge to get things done that others find so easy to just breeze right through. After listening to Kary’s podcast, I began to realize that it was my own lack of confidence in myself, among other things, that led to my eventually letting things like email, social media, and other things provide that “sense of accomplishment” he refers to here. Now that I understand a little better what the root of my problem was, I, like others who read this, can begin to become friends with myself again, and work to cut out the “time wasters” that have distracted me. I can work to put myself on a schedule that will be effective for me, just like I do my young grandsons when they come to stay with “Mamaw”, and I can finally believe in myself enough to overcome procrastination and get those books written, and I think you can too!

You Can Do This!

It is in exploring the root cause of procrastination, that we will finally begin to understand it better, and thus, overcome it, and the mind blocks that come with it, and eventually replace it with a focused plan and a schedule. It is in doing so, that we will finally understand who we are, why we are here, and what our message is that we have been put here to share with the rest of the world. That is where the renewed confidence in ourselves will come in, and we will become a powerful and unstoppable force, moving forward to the prize before us.

Well?…

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Okay, so I snitched this pic from Facebook. So what’s your story? And why aren’t you writing? Let me know when your book comes out! Until next time, happy writing! Now, if you will excuse me, I have some writing to do, and I think you do too!

Thanks for reading, hope this helps someone! If it’s helped you, then please feel free to share it with someone! Then, get to writing!

Click here to read Part 1: Book Writing for Procrastinators… 8 Ways to Learn from the Pros, Get Started, and Write that Best Seller!

 

Happy #Mother’s Day 2015! #lastminutemomsgiftideas

In honor of Mother’s Day, I wanted to share my flipagram I did for my mother. It’s a free app you can download with your phone, and create a video slide show to music you like from your pictures on your phone.

I really don’t know if I could have gone through all she has gone through and remain as strong as she has. I am everything I am because of the things she has taught me, and because she never gave up on me. If you would like to do one of these for your Mom, the app is free to download. This one’s not perfect, after all, it is my first one, but here you go. Enjoy! And here’s wishing everyone a safe and Happy Mother’s Day! Oh, and at 3:57, I’m in that pic, you just can’t see me yet!

Want to make your own? Hit the button at the bottom of this one.

https://flipagram.com/f/VHG42wM2Q7/embed

http://flipagram.com/f/VHG42wM2Q7

Success at Buies Creek Elementary Arts Night! #inspiringfutureauthors

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. — Maya Angelou

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Tonight, I had the opportunity to be a part of an event that was very special to me as an author. I was invited by a teacher who was present at my reading at the Breezeway Cafe’ in Dunn, NC, to be a part of Arts Night at Buies Creek Elementary, which is near Campbell University. I really enjoyed discussing my books and my writing, as well as reading excerpts from my books. I met some awesome folks, and of course, had some of my books on hand. It was a lot of fun involving the kids, asking them questions, etc, and making it fun for them. Being that I have worked as a substitute teacher for 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders, it made it a lot easier, and I am finding that I am more comfortable with them. I am also a grandmother of three little boys, so, being a “Mamaw”, I have learned to have fun with them. The best thing of it is, I sold a few books, but I came away with something more valuable than that even. I told my husband on the way home, “you know, maybe I am writing for the wrong age groups (Adult so far, although “River of Secrets, Summer of the Rose” is also a coming of age story so it is unique in that it can be enjoyed by young and old alike, as “Anna”, who is now 87 years old, is reflecting back on the story as it happened through her childhood/early teen years).” I really got to thinking about that, and, well, who knows? Maybe I will try my hand at writing for the younger group. I didn’t realize until this experience, what a huge opportunity exists here. There is a need for good books for school age children. So, I left inspired myself, and hopefully inspired some future authors as well. Of course, I told them that if they wanted to maybe write their own books one day, to pay attention in spelling, grammer, etc, and make good grades. Who knows? Perhaps there might be a future novelist among them. I certainly took away some much needed inspiration myself, and that, to me, is priceless.

What I can say is, never, ever, underestimate your audience, or be discouraged if it is but only a few. There were only a handful of people that showed up for the reading at the Breezeway Cafe’ in Dunn, NC, beside the Library. One of them just happened to be a teacher, who invited me to share my writing and my aspirations with the wonderful teachers, parents, and students I met tonight. It is often the smaller doors that lead to the greatest opportunities. After all, what greater privilege is there, than having a part in inspiring young minds?

Also, I am pleased to announce that “Return to Freedom, Voices in the Wind” has a new cover. If you visited my page earlier and tried to click on the Amazon link and found it “unavailable”, sorry about that, I just had to wait for them to approve the new cover, but it is up now. You will see the (old) new cover for a while, just until it has time to update in their system, but if you order it, you should receive the newer copy.

Here is the new cover for the book:

New Cover! Now available on Amazon!
New Cover! Now available on Amazon!

Just a note to parents on this one (“Return to Freedom, Voices in the Wind”): This one is on an adult level, although I tried to keep it family oriented, however, there are a couple of “suggestive” scenes. I do not go into detail with these, as that is not my focus, but in these instances, it was for the addition of a new, or future character in the story. You will see how they all connect at the end of the book. Also, in my books, any mention of these instances will only be with “married” couples. For the most part, I tried to maintain a sense of family values, and in the latter half of the story, as teachers and as parents of our future leaders, musicians, authors, etc., I hope you will be pleasantly inspired as you follow Bryan and Stephanie on their path to maturity as their parents seek to create that “path for learning” for them, and that in the process, you will be inspired as you strive to create that path for your own children. It is with this main focus that I wrote this part, and I hope you enjoy following the Wilkersons on a journey they will never forget. With that in mind, it is more for you, the parents and the teachers, that I have written this one. There are chapters within the book that could probably be enjoyed as stand alone scenes in themselves. To those of you who are teachers, I feel you will particularly enjoy the latter part of the story with the Wilkerson family. I hope you enjoy the journey! The book is dedicated in loving memory of my late Native American friend and mentor, “Gray Eagle”, without whom this book would not have been written.

Here is a little production I did a while back on one of my creative ventures to Raven Rock State Park with my Native American flute. (Click to open.)

My latest, first in the
My latest, first in the “Enchanted River of the Rose” series, now available in Kindle (Amazon) and Nook (B & N) versions for $2.99

“River of Secrets, Summer of the Rose”, (Click the title/link for my “Interview with Anna”.) on the other hand, has been written more with the younger generation in mind, although I feel that due to the nature of the story, as it involves time travel, and the older “Anna” reflecting on the events as they happened in her early years, I think it could be enjoyed by young and old alike. However, it does have romantic elements in it, as part of the story is Anna’s reflecting on meeting her true love, which is part of the story. So, I leave it to you to preview it as you see fit. It was inspired partly by a movie which my son introduced me to called “Tuck Everlasting”, which was adapted from a children’s book, so for the most part, that is the level I strived to write it on. As for me, I gained inspiration and encouragement from this experience with you all that just may bring about more books written especially for the younger generation in the near future. Again, thank you!

With a couple of parent workers, (left) and the principal, (right).
With a couple of parent workers, (left) and the principal, (right).

To Joseph Felice, the teacher (and very talented musician, I might add) who invited me, and the teachers, students, and the Principal, I sincerely thank you for allowing me to be a part of this wonderful event. I wish you all and each and every student at Buies Creek Elementary all the best as you pursue your goals, and may your journeys be enlightened with good books as you prepare our leaders, writers, and musicians of tomorrow!

 

Easter Reflections: Through a Grandmother’s Eyes

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I am taking a moment to venture from the usual fare, of books and writing and so forth, to share my reflections of this past Easter. After all, without our risen Savior as my guide, I most certainly would not be where I am now. I have been many things, but I share this with you, through my eyes as a grandmother.

At first glance, when you look at this picture, you might think of it merely as a nice picture of a buttercup. (Yes, I am a flower and nature lover). But then, look closer. There he is, in the background, a simply adorable little boy who was also enjoying the park with his parents, and a photographer.

The park I am referring to is more of a beautiful garden that was created by the owner in memory of his wife as a tribute to her. It is located in Lillington, NC. At the stop light, instead of turning right onto Main St, turn left and it will be down on the left. I am quite certain weddings have been held there as well as other family celebrations. I recently spoke with the lady who is now caring for it. If I remember correctly, he was her father in law. He has now passed on, but the beauty of this lovely place, that few seem to know about, remains to be enjoyed by anyone who desires to stop by. It is where my husband, Keith, and I had our engagement pictures taken, and has long been sort of my “secret place” to go to. It was also part of the inspiration for another of my books I am working on, “Love’s Timeless Garden”, which will be coming sometime in the near future.

After we got out of church on this beautiful Easter Sunday, my husband, Keith, and I prepared to go to visit my daughter and her husband, and my other daughter and my grandsons. We hid Easter eggs and enjoyed watching my young grandsons hunt for them. It was also one of my grandsons’ birthday, so we brought him his birthday gifts as well. We grilled out and took time to visit with them and talk with the children about school and other things. It was a good visit, and we drove back home feeling tired but blessed.

We were also blessed with a wonderful Easter Service at our church. We enjoyed singing with the choir and celebrating our Risen Savior! In addition to the other songs we sang, I sang one that I have always wanted to sing. With the choir joining in with me at the end, once again, the morning of the first Easter came to life with this song, one of my favorites, that has been performed by Dolly Parton as well as others…

Then, as the Pastor brought the message, we took the children back into the fellowship hall for Children’s Church. Although we didn’t actually count them, I am certain we had around twenty or so. As we both have had experience as substitute teachers, our experience came in handy. We did some fun things with them to help them learn what Easter is all about. All in all, it was something we enjoyed doing, and we emerged more confident because of how much easier it is to work with them considering our experience. Here’s where my grandmother radar kicks in.

As a grandmother, I have had many “teaching moments” with my grandsons. We as grandparents look for those little moments to take advantage of. Whether your grandchildren call you “Mamaw”, as my grandsons call me, or “Memaw”, “Nana”, or “Nanny” as we all called my grandmothers, or “Papa”, “Pawpaw”, or “Grandpa”, our greatest treasures in life are in looking back and treasuring these times with our grandchildren as they grow older, and in knowing that those little “life lessons” we have taught them will go with them throughout their adult lives. It is in knowing that we have taken every opportunity we could find to teach them, and to do it in a fun way that will stick with them, and one day become the treasured memories that they in turn will hand down to their children and grandchildren, that we can truly know we have served that name well, whatever it is they call you. It’s in knowing we have done this to the best of our ability that we can be blessed in seeing the smiles that come to their faces when they get to come and see you. Some of my fondest memories are of going on “dinosaur walks” with my grandsons. The sticks were the “dinosaur” bones. Other favorite times I have enjoyed as “Mamaw” are in reading them stories, especially some of the same ones I read to their mothers when they were little, and in sharing fun memories of their mothers and their uncle as they were growing up. Other times, I have taken a moment to take one of them aside and sit and talk with them about their feelings, when they needed to learn self control. I have enjoyed watching their individual personalities and intellectual abilities develop as they grow older.

We could go on all day sharing these memories, but the one thing we know for sure is, once you are a grandparent, you never see children the same way again. Perhaps that is why I have now begun to have a new attitude towards all children. Just like with my own grandchildren, I find myself wanting all children to have those priceless “grandma” or “grandpa” moments. You may not be a grandma or grandpa yet, and your own children may still be small, or maybe even teenagers, but the memories you are creating today are the “grandpa” or “grandma” moments you will one day share with your own grandchildren. Make them great ones, and make them count.

Perhaps that is why the picture above is priceless to me. Sure my husband knows I am quite the “shutterbug” when it comes to taking pictures. He even stopped for me to take photos of some beautiful pink dogwoods I happened to notice for the first time on that lovely Easter afternoon before we got ready to go and visit my daughters and grandsons. Call it one of those priceless moments. The family that was with the little boy, there at the lovely and timeless garden of love that was created out of a man’s love for his wife, seemed to be totally immersed into the moments with this adorable little boy, who looked almost angelic in his Easter outfit and the hat he wore.

Being the “picture taking nut” that I am, I was just itching to ask if it would be alright with them if I took a picture of him. Yet, in respect of their privacy and not wanting to disturb the peacefulness of their moments, I refrained. Yet there he is, in the background of this timeless photo, unintentionally preserved forever in a picture I was merely taking of a buttercup.

Like I said, being a grandparent changes you…forever.