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Now Choose Life

Choose to Live Your Life in Abundance in the after--- after the spouse dies, after the marriage ends, after the kids leave. Join me on my journey of CHOOSING LIFE in my after. This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live- Deut 30:19

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March 25, 2018

One Item That Every Easter Basket Needs #mattdelapena

Our family Easter 1993. M had fallen face first out of her stroller
and she had her face scratched up!

 Even though my kids are grown, there is something about spring and especially Easter that brings me joy. Of course, as a Christian, I am thankful for the sacrifice for my sins that was made by Jesus. I use Easter as a time of reflection and gratitude for all the God has done in my life.

My sweet family 1993. It is the custom in South Texas to take family pictures in the
bluebonnets! Not too many bluebonnets in this picture, but plenty
of wildflowers!!
Aside from the religious aspects of the season, I love the idea of spring and Easter as a time of rebirth and renewal. I love all the bunnies, eggs, baby chicks and lambs that we see this time of year. I love seeing the rebirth of nature- the buds on trees, the wildflowers blooming, the birds chirping louder outside my window. All those things add to the glorious feelings of spring. But my favorite thing about this time of year is seeing the children so excited!! I love seeing kids on Easter morning in their pretty new clothes for church!! Nothing makes me smile more than Easter dresses on little girls!! I have great memories of taking my kids shopping for clothes for Easter!!

I don't get to do any of that anymore, but this year was special because we have a few families in town that we have gotten to know who have small children. I have been sharing Matt de la Pena's new book, Love, with everyone who will listen to me so I decided to share it with the children of these sweet families. I have also been buying gifts for baby showers this spring and have included this book along with those gifts as well!! I decided to make it fun and give the kids a basket of goodies along with the book. My kids were so lucky to have people at church as well as wonderful neighbors who always made them feel special. I hope these kids felt special when they found their baskets with their new book!!

How I have the book displayed at my house.

A little about Matt's newest book:

The Title is Love. I knew this book was going to be special when I saw he had a new book coming out! When I got my copy and sat down to read it, I was blown away by its goodness!! There are so many things that I LOVE about this book!!

1. The words: It is so poetic. So many aspects of this book can be used as teachable moments for our children. One aspect is that many of the scenarios take place in the city. I have always lived in a small town. My kids were raised in a small town. This book offers a wonderful opportunity for children of small towns to realize how others live. Another aspect is that each new page offers a scenario that is different from all the others-

One scenario is that a national tragedy has occurred. Unfortunately, we have had too many tragedies recently. I love that Matt acknowledges this for our children and reminds us all, " 'It's okay, it's okay, it's love'."

Another scenario is acknowledging that a dad waking early and catching the bus to work is LOVE. What a wonderful lesson for a child to learn!!

My favorite scenario is, well, let me simply quote it!!!
"And it's love in each deep crease of your grandfather's face as he lowers himself onto an overturned bucket to fish."
I had the pleasure and honor of experiencing the love of a wonderful grandfather, and one of my greatest memories is of him taking his 6 granddaughters fishing!!!

As a former English teacher, I can see this book being used in the secondary classroom to show an example of 2nd person point of view!! There are not very many examples of it, and if I were still a librarian, I would order this book for my middle school library for teachers to use just for that purpose!!

I can also see this book used as creative writing for children. Read the book and have students write and illustrate what they view as love. If you are lucky enough to teach in a Christian school, read it this week and bring in God's love for us and how Easter shows that great love!!

2.  The illustrations: This is a beautiful book!!! The colors and details in each scenario are exceptional!! My mother bought a copy and simply has it out on display on a table in her home (much like I have in my home- see the above picture in this post) because she thinks it is so beautiful.

3.  It is for Everyone!! The words in this book will grow with each child. The real-life issues are acknowledged in a very subtle way. There may be topics that a parent feels they don't want to address at a certain time- like divorce. I can just imagine sitting with a child and asking what they think it means when it says "But it's not only stars that flame out, you discover. It's summers, too. And friendships. And people." Children are so smart and intuitive- it would be so interesting to hear their responses!

As adults, we can so appreciate the subtle acknowledgment of so many ways of showing and sharing love. Our life experiences may be so different, but LOVE is universal.

I love what a librarian told Matt in a comment to him on Facebook. She told him that his book would be found in the E (easy) section of an elementary library, but that she likes to think of the E as standing for EVERYONE, not Easy!! I think this book fits that notion!!

I have enjoyed following Matt's career after meeting him when he did a visit to the school district where I was serving as Middle School librarian. He has a gift of making people feel like they have known him for a long time even though you have just met! He is gracious and caring! - that's just the kind of guy he is. When I met him, he was writing YA literature. But as the years have progressed so has his writing, and he has written several children's books. His last book, Last Stop On Market Street, won him the 2016 Newbery Medal!!
I met Matt in March. We were celebrating Pi Day at my school!!

After spending several days with him, when he found out that I was taking M to NYC with some friends, he encouraged me to get in contact with him before the trip so we could all meet up!! He met us for dinner one night and showed us around his Brooklyn neighborhood-- that's just the kind of guy he is!

Meeting up with Matt in Brooklyn!!

A few years later when M was moving to NYC, we were talking about emergency situations and what she could do. Since we know very few people who live there, she said, "Well, I could always call Matt De La Pena." I told her that, yes we could although it would have to be a GREAT emergency. But, I knew in my heart that he would do what he could if he were needed.-- that is just the kind of guy he is!! And, luckily, I never had to contact him!!

I can't wait to see what the future holds for him.

So, I think every Easter basket this year should include a copy of LOVE!!!!

March 21, 2018

Peak of the Week

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Happy Peak of the Week!! Here are some things that piqued my interest this week!! 

While out walking/ running (someday I hope to be able to just put "running" on a post, but I'm not sure if that day will ever come here!!) I saw this going on in my neighborhood. I can't imagine being up that high on the side of a water tower!! I couldn't do it, but I'm so glad there are men who are will to!!

Marie Osmond Sunday Message-  Marie writes about reading pages in the journal that her mother kept for years. What a treasure to leave to our children and grandchildren.

I'm a big believer in journaling. I kept a journal most of my life. One of my new year's goals was to keep a Twitter journal-- which I am happy to say, I've kept up with!! Just a brief note of what I did that day. I hope to have at least 5 years worth in one journal!!

My mother's mother was a writer! She wrote poetry and loved words. Maybe that is where I get my love of words!! I have a copy of some of her writing. It is one of my greatest treasures!!

Amazon Alexa-- This link shows all the things you can ask or tell Alexa!!!

M gave Dr. T an Amazon Echo product for Christmas. We have enjoyed that gift so much. The video below shows how I use it the most. I realized that I can stream KLOVE radio station on it so I do that a lot during the day. I also add items to my grocery list!! So great!!

Amazon Echo for Senior Citizens
People my age have aging parents if we are blessed enough for our parents to still be alive. I thought this was a great product for seniors. My mom recently bought a Google Home which she uses for a grocery list and to listen to music. I'm sure you could do the same thing with any of the home systems that are out there!!

On a very serious note. I'm so relieved that the Austin Bomber was found!! Both of my nephews live in Austin!! I can't imagine that city being so on edge throughout all of this!! So thankful for all the law enforcement who worked so hard to find him.

I found out that a friend from here was traveling to San Antonio and Austin this week. I told her that I would write down some of my favorite things and give it to her.  I sat down Sunday morning before church and started a Google Doc of my favorite things in San Antonio and Austin. I ended with three pages!!!  Ha ha- I love my home state of Texas so much. I never realized how much I love San Antonio until I started making my list!! I want her to love her visit there. And, of course, I know she will. It's TEXAS after all!!!

This time of year is so special in South Texas. The wildflowers are blooming. This picture is from a few weeks ago when I was in San Antonio. Bluebonnets starting to bloom on the side of the road!! I love seeing everyone's wildflower pictures this time of year!! Be sure to share yours with me!!!
March 19, 2018

New Spring Pillows!! #altardstate

I love to have a plain backdrop in decorating rooms at our house in New Mexico. For example, I have plain, white matelasse bedding on the beds, and like to change the pillows and duvets with the seasons!!

 I do the same thing with pillows around the house. I love to keep them seasonal!!

When I was back in Texas a few weeks ago, I went shopping while waiting to meet a friend for dinner in San Antonio. I walked past Alar'd State clothing store and went inside to check the price and a cute romper I saw in the window. I hadn't been in this store in years, and was just blown away by all the cute home decor items they have with scripture and other great sayings on them!!

My favorite was this one:

I bought three of these!! One for me, one for my mom, and one for my sister!! We remind each other of these words very often. This is one of my favorite hymns. It was sung at R's service and when I saw these words on this pillow, I had to have it!!

I also bought these:

I love this one too so much!! It reminds me of what I want for myself and fall short so many times!! I want to Be Still. And know that He is God and is in control!! It also reminds me of my "phrase" that I've had as my word of the year for the past several years-- Still Waters. I thought I had written a blog post about this, but I couldn't find it to link so I'll have to have another draft of posts to publish and explain my Still Waters!!

I bought this one to put on the small settee that I have in front of our bed in our bedroom. I love this verse so much!! I think it applies to my life right now!! 

Here are some other things in Altar'd State that I really like. By the way, their clothes are just a little too "junior" for me at the age of 54. Really cute clothes, but not for someone my age!!




There are so many more. I recommend going to their website and seeing what you can find!!
Altar'd State

March 01, 2018

Am I Attractive?

This morning on my way to my exercise class at the YMCA, I was listening to KLOVE radio station. One of the female DJs was talking about how she loves sparkly things. She talked about how sparkly things attract us. She then compared that to our lives and was wondering how "sparkly" we are in our actions.

This really got me to thinking. My mind tends to be like a superhighway!! Ideas seem to ping around, and I never know where they are going to land. Most of the time when that happens, I have to write them down to tame them!! Sometimes I write them on this blog!!

So here are my thoughts on being "sparkly." I remember being in an adult Sunday School class one Sunday many years ago. We were talking about the scripture where Jesus tells his disciples that he will make them fishers of men. Mark 1:17 We had a great discussion about how we are all fishers of men in our lives as Christians.

We talked about fishing. First, you have to attract the fish. Fishermen use different kinds of bait. My Grandfather used to like to use his Lucky 13 lure to attract the bass to his line. Think about what lures look like... they are shiny, THEY ARE "SPARKLY." Very attractive to fish!!

During this Sunday School class, we were asked the question, "What kind of bait are you using as fishers of men?" The way we live our lives should be a very important bait shouldn't it? So the big question that day was "Am I attractive? Is the way I live my life attractive to others so that it will draw them to God?"   That is a pretty daunting question, isn't it?

So I sat in my car this morning asking myself that question again. Am I attractive?

Which got me thinking even more... Physical attractiveness is so subjective, isn't it? What attracts you physically to others is dependent on so many things. Culture, life experiences, personal preference all play a factor in what one sees as attractive. All we need to do is look at a National Geographic magazine from years ago to realize that what is considered attractive in some parts of the world, are considered very strange in others!!!

But, emotional and spiritual attractiveness is not based on any outside influence. Our life experience, our culture, our personal preference really don't determine what we find emotionally attractive. I know of no one who doesn't find kindness an attractive characteristic. I know of no one who doesn't find forgiveness and attractive quality.

Do you see my point? A "sparkly character", attractive characteristics supersede all cultural or experience biases. Morals, manners, positive characteristics speak a universal language. We aren't bound by cultural mores to have our lives be attractive to others.

I'm going on a trip to Europe in the not too distant future and will be spending a few days in Paris- a fashion capital. For fun, I've been looking on Pinterest at what women wear these days on the streets of Paris. Not so much because I want to be considered attractive in Paris. ( I'll be with my daughter. Men stopped looking at me when I'm standing by her many years ago. ha ha) But I am looking so that I don't "stand out" too much as a tourist. All of my Pinterest browsing really isn't important if I simply remember to just have an attractive character while in Paris. I know from a trip there before that Parisians don't come across as "friendly." But, I can be.

All of this brain pinging on my drive this morning made me realize all the times that I fall short living an "attractive" life. Too many times that I care to think about, I've had to email someone after behaving in a way that is contradictory to how I wish to live my life. It's not that I'm making a scene or anything. It's usually in the quietness of my relationships that I find that I don't handle things well. Even with me consciously trying not to be, I am judgmental far too often. It's one of my greatest faults. Those times are when I am most unattractive!!!

On a side note, I wear a Fishers Of Men bracelet every day. In fact, I never take it off. It is a constant in my life. I bought it thinking that it would be a daily reminder that as a Christian, I am fishing for people. Unfortunately, the time I most notice it these days is when I'm having to do a plank for an exercise class, and it gets caught on my hand. But after today's mental pings, I hope that each time I notice it on my wrist, I remember what God has called me to do.

Here is what a Fishers Of Men bracelet from James Avery looks like. It can be ordered here.

OK- my rambling on and on has to stop today. Boy, it feels good to get it all out.

So here is the question...

How about you? Have you lived an attractive life today? As for me, I think I've done OK today. We will see how tomorrow goes!!! For better or worse, there's always tomorrow!!!