Gifts of the Heart

Merry Christmas, a day late! Or, as our friends across the pond may say today, Happy Boxing Day!

I hope you’ve had a most blessed Christmas… and managed not to kill any of your family. 😉 Or is it just me that struggles with those feelings sometimes? (tee hee hee, just kidding!)

Today is my regularly scheduled post for the blog chain, and to be honest, the topic (Gifts of the Heart) kind of has me stumped. But, I shall charge on!

When I read the topic (admittedly, about 5 minutes before I started writing this post), I thought, huh.

So, rather than do a traditional post, I think I’ll leave you with a few pictures of some of the things that warm my heart. I hope you’ll find them as endearing as I do.

Obviously, these are my kids… and my dog. 🙂 I’d put TMOTH’s picture up, but I’m not sure if he’d be okay with it. 
So, my family is my gift of the heart… I hope you can say the same for yours!
In a little sidenote, I want to give a brief update on our son’s health. Last week, we thought everything was going well, and then we went in to see his dermatologist, who, on a whim, ordered some blood work. Our guy has been sick most of the time since Thanksgiving, and when they ran his hemoglobin, it was 6.3. Normal is between 12 and 18, so he’s exceptionally anemic right now. We have his blood retested tomorrow, and his hematologist (blood doctor) is watching this closely. We’ve managed to get through Thanksgiving and Christmas without being admitted–and seeing as those were both spent at the hospital in 2010, this is a great thing. Hopefully, we’ll make it through the remainder of 2011 without being admitted again! (Now, if we can make it through cold and flu season…) 
If everything is okay, I guess you’ll hear from me next in 2012… wow, can it really nearly be 2012? It barely seems like I was getting a handle on 2011! If for some reason things aren’t as good as we hoped, I’ll try to post a short update on Tuesday or Wednesday. 
(But I’m hoping it’ll be 2012 before you hear from me again!)
Happy New Year!
Until next time,

Things I Didn’t Know

Nine Things.

This month’s topic for the blog chain is another that sort of has me stumped.

Being that it’s Thanksgiving season, I’d hazard a guess that many are writing of what they’re thankful for.

But, the only thing I can think of is to write about Nine Things I Didn’t Know at this time last year.

This last year has been trying, to say the least. And, I’ve learned a lot.

1. A year ago, I thought something was wrong with me when my son wouldn’t gain weight.

2. A year ago, I’d never have thought my second home for most of the next year would become a hospital.

3. A year ago, I’d never have thought I’d ever live in an apartment again (and thankfully, we don’t again!)

4. A year ago, I didn’t know what lengths we could go to in order to find out what was wrong with our son.

5. A year ago, I looked at holidays as something that happened normally. After spending three holidays in the hospital, I’m grateful for the family and friends who assisted us through the holidays last year.

6. A year ago, I’d never heard of Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome. While I’m still learning about it, I know a heck of a lot more than a couple doctors on our son’s team!

7. A year ago, I didn’t realize just how much time would have to be invested in keeping our son healthy. It’s more than you think, but less than I think is possible.

8. A year ago, I knew I’d have a book deal by now. Yeah, that hasn’t happened. I’ve had to put off submissions again and again. 😦

9. A year ago, I really didn’t know how many people would rush to our side during a crisis. Today, I know. And I’m grateful for all of our friends.

I kind of wonder what I’ll be learning next year.

What have you learned this year? How has it helped you?

Until next time,



by Foto3116

I grew up in the heart of wheat country–south central Kansas. Harvest is not an uncommon thing for me to witness. I remember growing up, there would be days we’d have to close up the house on nice days because there was a field just south of us, and the farmer was harvesting (or tilling sometimes) and it would stir up dust. My mom is an asthmatic with allergies, so the dust being blown in always caused problems–even with the house closed up.

Still, I love watching the big machines doing their jobs, row upon row being eaten up by that whirling harvester, soon to be turned into flour… or whatever else wheat is used for. Corn, milo, soybeans, and countless other grains grew in my area of the world. I even occasionally saw a cotton field!

Now, when I think of harvest time, I think of not just the big fields with family or commercial farmers in big rigs, but I also think of the small harvest–the one in a backyard. I’m hardly a green-thumb–TMOTH swears I have the ability to kill nearly every plant. He’s almost right.

My mom grew tomatoes almost every year for several years. In the height of summer, there would be several weeks go by where she’d can a few days a week. Spaghetti sauce was a big one. While my family isn’t Italian, we ate a lot of spaghetti. There’s nothing better than homemade spaghetti sauce–with homegrown tomatoes!

I hope one day I can outgrow my black-thumb tendencies. I’d love to learn how to can for myself, and to teach my daughter when she’s older. I’ve gotten a lot of encouragement from several friends, I just need to bite the bullet, get the equipment… and actually grow something worth canning! Then maybe next time, I can have a happy harvest, too.

Today’s post has been a part of the blog chain. For links to the other blogger’s posts, please go here.

Until next time,


I must apologize first off for my lapse in the last two weeks of posts. I got caught up in preparations for my trip, then forgot to finish and post the one post I had started! Argh! Hopefully, I won’t have such a lapse again. Anyway, I’m back, and that’s the important part. Now, if I can just get my PCs to cooperate with me…

Today is my post for the blog chain… and as is apt having just come off my vacation, I’m writing it today… that’s how much I’m behind! The topic is “Coming Home”.

I haven’t had the benefit of even looking at anyone else’s posts, so I have no idea where everyone has taken this.

But, I had a literal coming home experience last week, so I’ll talk about that.

First, I should tell you that I have a love/hate relationship with traveling. I like being away from home, but I hate the inconveniences of being away–being in an unfamiliar area (so I don’t sleep as well), having my kids way off schedule, and not having any time (or inclination) to write or read. The worst of these is usually having to sleep in a hotel (or even in a relative’s home.) The mattress never feels right, and the surroundings are such that I sleep very lightly, awaking to every little sound, even if it’s one that normally wouldn’t bug me at home.

Chasm Falls, Rocky Mountain National Park

The drive home last week was lengthy. We were in NE Wyoming with family, and we left their home at 8:45 AM Mountain Time. TMOTH and I have done this drive in 12ish hours before, so I had hoped we’d be home by midnight (allowing for extra breaks.) By the time we’d been on the road for ten hours, we’d stopped 8 times. Yeesh.

It seemed the miles came slowly, driving across four states in order to get home. Stopping for the night wasn’t an option: TMOTH had to be at work the next morning. When we stopped to pick up my dog from Grandma, it was 12:30 AM Central, and we had one more hour to go.

Getting home was great. I was so relieved when we pulled up. Even when we walked in and found the place smelled like the garbage can we’d forgotten to take out when we left. (Poopy diapers left for 8 days don’t smell that great–let me tell you!) I was just so relieved to be home, to be able to drop into my own bed.

There were a lot of reasons to be relieved to be home. Our car had actually made it! In Colorado, we were climbing Pike’s Peak, and the car was acting very strange. We had to stop because our toddler, who is potty training, needed to use the bathroom. While we were doing this, we left the car running (hubby was afraid to shut it off) and it was sputtering and just not acting right. With our little boy in the car (asleep) and hubby off utilizing the men’s room, my daughter and I were standing outside, taking pictures and the car just died! That’s a little scary, when you’re halfway up a mountain, and you don’t know how you’re going to get back down.

Fortunately, TMOTH is a mechanic by trade. He recognized what the car was doing, and determined that we had to let the engine cool down. We ended up making it to the summit, but the next day was spent in Denver, locating parts to replace a part of the engine.

What a way to spend a vacation!

So you can see why I was most relieved on our home coming. Things could get back to normal. Our car wasn’t in perilous danger due to altitude. And I could sleep in my own bed.

At least I had a break from writing–and I’d recently just finished writing “Cora’s Song” before leaving. On the way home, I figured out my laptop’s fan had gone dead. Which definitely puts a damper on the whole writing thing. But, I’d at least gotten a preliminary read of K.M. Weiland’s new “Outline Your Novel” done. I’ll be doing a review here in a few weeks once it’s officially released. I’ll say this: I’m actively outlining again. This is a good thing.

I know this is a pretty disjointed post, and I apologize. Hopefully you can make sense of my version of Coming Home.

Until next time,


It’s August… and that means it’s time for another post in the blog chain.

Our theme is August.


au·gust  [aw-guhst]


1. inspiring reverence or admiration; of supreme dignity or grandeur; majestic: an august performance of a religious drama.

I must admit this theme was a little harder than ones in past months to wrap my mind around.

For me, August has always been a month, and I rarely think of using the other meaning in a sentence.

But, as I’ve thought about the alternative definition–majesty–I think of my visits to the Rocky Mountains. How august are they, when you’re driving across the plains of eastern Colorado, and they finally come into view as you’re traveling across I-70, coming into Denver? I have yet to be more taken with a sight, although the Flint Hills of Kansas around sunrise or sunset in fall or mid-spring can take my breath away as well.

The first time I saw the Rockies, I was 20, traveling to Wyoming from Wichita with my new-fiancé who would eventually become TMOTH a few months later. I was awestruck. Especially when days later, we returned to visit first Rocky Mountain National Park, then Colorado Springs’ Pike’s Peak.

Ever since then, I’ve been smitten with the Rockies in general, and Colorado in particular. In the next few weeks, we’ll travel there for the first time since having children. I can’t wait.

When I’m in the Rockies especially, I experience a relaxation I don’t get anywhere else–even when on a vacation elsewhere. Perhaps it’s the higher altitudes and less oxygen. But, I honestly think it’s the august beauty of the countryside.

While there, I get more reflective. Gazing at the beauty, you can’t but help but marvel and acknowledge the wonderful craftsmanship of our Creator. Sure, some people subscribe to the notion our world was formed over millions of years.

I usually have a big eye-roll for that one.

You can’t look at Creation if you’ve got any sense in your brain and not see how things had to be formed by a loving and masterful Creator. Sure, changes to occur. But, He was the one who formed the rivers, chose their paths, and made them for us to drink from and enjoy. He’s the one who shoved the rock out of the ground to form majestic mountains, covered in aspens, pines, snow, and curious creatures.

His whole Creation is truly august, and worthy of our awe, from the far, far deserts that stretch thousands of square miles, to the tiny forget-me-not you find on a mountainous hike.

Take a minute to look around with wonder next time you’re enjoying nature and think of how awesome it is–and how truly awe-inspiring the Master of the Universe is for taking the time to create our world, right down to the ants crawling around in the blades of grass between our toes.

All of today’s photo’s were taken by either myself or TMOTH during a vacation to Colorado in July 2007, which was the last time we were in my (current) favorite state. Given a detailed map, I can approximate all three locations, and the one with the river I know for a fact was near 11 Mile Reservoir along the S. Platte River. TMOTH is pictured in this WAY down the river if you’ve got a big enough copy to spot him. 🙂

Until next time,

P.S. Tomorrow is my wedding anniversary with TMOTH! 9 years together… and we haven’t killed each other yet. 😉 Seriously, love this guy more each year, and excited to have at least another 59 with him, Lord willing. — L.S.

A Call For Freedom


It’s something many Americans celebrate during the month of July, usually corresponding with our Declaration of Independence Day, July 4. Many honor the real reason behind the day off from work, but many view it as a day to barbeque, go to the lake, get drunk, and maybe watch some fireworks.

As I watch many of our freedoms dissolve for a variety of reasons, I like to think the Founders–the Thomas Jeffersons, James Madisons, George Washingtons, John Hancocks–would be appalled at the state of American “freedom” in 2011. Our “freedom” allows millions of innocent babies to be murdered every year. Our “freedom” is being told we must purchase health insurance. Our “freedom” demands more than 25% of our paychecks every year.

I could go on.

Photo by JackieMBarr

I don’t like to use my Word Wanderings blog as a platform to make a political statement. In fact, in the 2+ years I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve tried very hard to keep my political leanings OFF the blog. This is extremely hard as I approach my twentieth year of political involvement next year.

I’m not making an exception simply because the blog chain topic is Freedom for July. I am continually bothered by the freedoms that are being encroached on day in and day out. Because I don’t want to get legally groped at an airport, I don’t fly any more. I’ve been threatening to get my private pilot’s license for years, and if I had the dinero to do so, I’d have it.

Freedom is something to be treasured. It should be something honored, and others shouldn’t trample on it, whether they be for so-called “good” reasons or not. As Americans, we should fight all efforts to thwart our freedoms, whether they be from Islamic terrorists or from members of congress. When freedom is gone, we perish. To thrive as a people, as a nation, we need to be free.

As a mother, I want to leave my kids freer than I feel I am now. It would be the greatest gift I can give to them.

I hope you’ll check out the rest of this month’s bloggers on the blog chain. I’m sure not all of them will be quite as partisan as mine. *grin*

  • 7/1: Lynn Mosher, Heading Home
  • 7/3: Brian Jones, Alambraidria
  • 7/4: Traci Bonney, Tracings
  • 7/5: Debra Ann Elliott, Sticks and Stepping Stones
  • 7/6: Carol Peterson, From Carol’s Quill
  • 7/7: Cindee Snider Re, Breathe Deeply
  • 7/10: Keith Wallis, wordsculptures
  • 7/11: Liberty Speidel, Word Wanderings
  • 7/12: Terrie Thorpe, Light for the Journey
  • 7/13: Nona King, Word Obsession
  • 7/14: Chris Vonada, I’m Just Thinkin’
  • 7/16: Scott Fields, Dead Man Writing
  • 7/18: Michael Galloway, Horizons
  • 7/20: Victor Travison, Lightwalker’s View
  • 7/21: Edward Lewis, Sowing the Seeds
  • 7/22: Sarah Grace, Write-Minded
  • 7/23: Anita Estes, New Life Dialogue
  • 7/25: Chris Depew, The Beulah Land Blog
  • 7/27: Tracy Krauss, Expression Express
  • 7/28: Marilyn, Life 101 Understanding It All
  • 7/30: Chris Henderson, TheWriteChris
  • Until next time,

    Take Some Time To Breathe

    This is a part of the monthly blog chain. This month’s topic is “Fresh Air.”

    “All good writing is like swimming underwater and holding your breath.”
    — F. Scott Fitzgerald

    I feel like I just came up for air… again. 

    Last week, I finished some massive edits on Homebody, edits that had me seriously changing one of the storylines. I think (hope, pray) the edits make sense and actually make a stronger story. It’s with one of my fellow CWer critters right now. I guess we’ll see.

    Photo by MaHidoodi

    Whenever I finish a project, I feel like I’ve just come up from air after being underwater too long. With Homebody, it’s been something where I’ve been coming back up for air over the last 5 or so years, only to be forced back under again. Then, I escape my captor, grab a breath, then get caught again. Sometimes, other captors grab me, giving Homebody a necessary break, but it’s always something. I have to be working on something.

    As much as I love the feeling of being able to say “It’s done… for now,” I feel restless without a project to work on. When I was younger, I’d just switch hobbies for a while. That’s when I usually made something with some yarn and crochet hooks. Now, I feel completely unproductive unless I’ve got something to write. I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever be able to crochet or sew again without feeling guilty about not writing. My craft storage box–where I keep a collection of crochet hooks, patterns, and candle-making supplies–hasn’t been touched in well over a year. 

    I’ve already taken my gasp of breath and dived into the rewrite of my futuristic mystery/sci-fi Cora’s Song–which is going to get renamed, to what, I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll take suggestions.

    But, I digress.

    As much as I appreciate the ability for some artists to take lengthy breaks between projects, I’m not sure I could ever be one of them. Sure, I’m a sporadic writer right now. It kinda goes with the territory of having a 10-month old and an active preschooler. But, I can see myself being one of those über-productive writers who spend 6 – 8 hours a day writing, and publishing 4 – 6 books a year. I read an article about Nora Roberts a while back. This reflects some of her habits. Totally inspired me.

    Until that happens and the kids are a little older, I’ll keep at it, taking a quick burst of fresh air between projects, and diving back into it.

    Today’s Question: Do you take time to “breathe” between writing projects? If so, how long do you take?

    Until next time,

    Traveling on the Writer’s Journey

    Photo by: Ed Coyle Photography on Flickr

    This month with the blog chain, the topic is “The Journey.” It could be any type of journey, but I thought I’d share a bit of my writer’s journey.

    I remember writing stories as early as around 2nd Grade. My favorite TV show at the time was Disney’s Rescue Rangers. I was fascinated by the main characters: two chipmunks and two mice, especially the female mouse, Gadget. I even named a hamster after her. *grin*

    My stories weren’t sophisticated by any means. Although, looking back, I have found that some of my obsessions were clear even at that early age. (I have a hard time writing a novel-length story without a female side character being pregnant. Go figure that one out.) I was also already obsessed with right and wrong, even though my introduction to the mystery genre wouldn’t happen until I was ten.

    Enter: Nancy Drew and her cohorts, the Hardy Boys.

    Sidenote: I still have a crush on Ned Nickerson and Frank Hardy.  Though, admittedly, I think I’ve got it worse for Tony Stark these days… Don’t tell TMOTH. 😉

    After reading almost every book in the multiple series I could get my hands on, I decided to try my hand at writing again–mostly because it was pretty much the only thing I would read and the publisher wasn’t putting them out fast enough.

    Long story short: started writing fan fiction, which eventually evolved into writing my own stories with new characters (although there were a lot of similarities to Nancy, Frank and Joe, as well as people in my own life.) Finished writing a novel, thought it was terrific. Sent it out to a couple of publishers (including some of the bigger ones.)

    Ohhhhh Boy.

    I ran across the notebook with some of that original draft in it a few years ago.

    I am so glad I got rejected! Talk about embarrassing.

    I was so blessed as a writer to start going to a Sister’s in Crime chapter near my hometown in my late teens. And, though it was extremely painful, I attended the critique group that met separately almost religiously (until I met TMOTH, that is.) The ladies in the group were tough, yet kind, and really helped me see where I could mature as a writer. I still remember being so angry, mostly with myself, the first time I got an honest critique. It was very painful, but words I needed to hear.

    That first group pointed out my flaws, and encouraged me to keep working. Slowly but surely, I improved.

    But, then I moved away and got married.

    For about a two-year period around the time I was dating, then after I married TMOTH, I did little to no writing, despite the fact I held a journalism degree. Slowly, I started writing again. I wrote one novel which I’m not sure will ever see the light of day to get the blood flowing again. Started a few more, then I caught an idea that wouldn’t let go. Off I went, writing.

    And writing.

    And rewriting.

    And having a baby or two.

    And editing.

    And tweaking.

    And getting critiqued.

    And editing some more.

    And adding new scenes.

    And now, that story is Homebody. Which I’m hoping to start getting into agents’ hands this summer or early fall.

    There’s something to be said for those early attempts–and my first critique group. I wouldn’t be half the writer I am today without early encouragement and constructive criticism. I’ve given out some tough critiques to people before, so I know it’s not easy to give out hard words that need to be heard, but am I forever grateful to the five women who took time to help mold me into the writer I am today. So, thank you: Anne, Lori, Laurie, Janet and Nancy. I don’t know where you are today as I lost touch after I got married, but I hope you have all gotten closer to your publishing dreams.

    Photo by: Laurentzziu on Flickr

    Before I go, let me remind you to check out everyone’s posts this month:

    Until next time,

    April is for Easter

    Hello, lovely readers!

    I know many of my readers are from, but many aren’t. As such, I wanted to draw your attention to this month’s blog chain. I won’t be participating this month–hey, I’ve got a lot on my plate, more than I can handle–but I don’t want my readers to miss out.

    The topic this month is Easter, and I know everyone involved in this month’s chain won’t disappoint. I urge you to check out as many of these posts as you can as they pop up through the month. And, be sure to check my side-bar for last minute changes and updates.

    The schedule–as of April 1– is as follows:

    As for me, April seems to be a regrouping month. This week, we’re expecting my son’s diagnosis, so once we know for sure (hopefully!) what’s going on, I should be able to figure out, at least for the short term, what my schedule is likely to be like. Which means I may be able to fit in some writing time. I desperately need to start writing daily again. My brain feels like it’s filled with kid’s movies, medications, and medical research, when I’d rather it be filled with agent searches, plots, and characters. (Well, how about all 6 items.)

    Please go check out the blog chain and chime in at my friends’ blogs. I’ll try to be back next week with either an update on my son or a blog on writing.

    Until next time,

    Swirls In My Brain

    It’s nearly midnight, the night before this post is scheduled to post. One that I should have written weeks ago, since this is part of the blog chain, and I’ve known the topic for a while.

    The topic this month is swirling, and quite honestly, the only swirling I can think about is the swirling of the things going on in my head, most of which do not involve writing, sadly.

    • Loose prayers echo through my skull, sometimes forming sentences I voice to God.
    • Thoughts of the things I need to do tomorrow.
    • Hopes that one of these days, my life will resume some semblance of “normal.”
    • Concerns over new tests ordered for my son and what the results could mean in the long term.
    • Wondering when I may be able to resume a regular writing schedule.

    The first item there is key. I can take the swirls in my head and voice them to God, and help calm all the confusion and chaos lurking inside my brain. I’ve been doing that a lot lately, a lot more than I used to, even a month or so ago. Praying can be very calming.

    With the level of stress in my house right now, calm is in short supply, but I find if I can pray things out, even if it’s just asking God to give my little boy another good day–usually meaning one in which vomit is not on the game plan for the day–I can be more calm, which helps keep my stress factor down.

    Though, for some reason, my hair isn’t reflecting this. I have about three times as many gray’s as I did a year ago, and I haven’t even hit the big 3-0 yet!

    Hey, at least I still have my sense of humor.

    “Cold Prayer” by Keith Riley-Whittingham

    As a side note, due to the extreme craziness in my house right now, I may not be posting as regularly for a while. I intend to still strive for posts twice a month, and I’ll try to continue on my regular weekly schedule, though some of these may be filled by guests.

    By the way, if you are a writer or a reader and would like to be a guest blogger, whether to discuss a topic you’ve longed to have voiced, or to promote your upcoming book, please send me a note using the Contact Me button to the right of this post. I’d love to hear from you, and am always open to new bloggers, though I do prefer to keep the topic to writing and books.

    Until next time,