Thursday, March 2, 2017

Darkness to Light



My Lenten Devotion

… because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. 1 John 2:8b



The year following my husband’s death was full of activity, but shrouded in fog. I was alone now. It was up to me to fulfill the plans we had already made. I sold our home, bought another one close to my mother, and orchestrated my move from Pennsylvania to Michigan. I seemed to be doing everything right as I joined and became involved in church and jumped into community activities. Staying busy kept the darkness at bay. I knew in my head and in my heart that God was still with me, but I couldn’t feel His presence as I had before.

Then, about a year later, driving up the hill toward my new home in the late afternoon, I was struck by the panorama spread out in front of me. The sky seemed to be exploding with fluffy, silver rimmed clouds. I pulled over to watch as the clouds moved past, slowly revealing the bright light of the sun that had been there all along.

Be still and know that I am God. I closed my eyes and felt God’s light in my heart as warm as that sun in the sky. It had been there all along, of course. I had let the clouds of worry and grief and busyness block it. I needed the vision of sun and clouds to remind me that, while I had been trying to figure out and create my new life, He was there, even when I couldn’t see Him clearly, guiding and helping me all along the way, and ready to give me back the joy of his presence as soon as I could quiet myself enough to accept it.

Thank you, Lord, for your Light that can pierce every darkness.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Christmas Presence, Still Good at Epiphany


A few Christmas memories center on presents.

The one when my father gave me a ceramic dog in a house. When you whistled, the dog came out. But I couldn’t whistle.

The one when I recognized my mother’s handwriting on a note from Santa to my younger sister, and got in a world of trouble for telling her.

There were many other times, of course, when the crushing disappointment of childish expectations made Christmas presents a bittersweet memory.

Then there was the Christmas when my step-father, with whom I could never form a close relationship, convinced Santa to give me a typewriter, which I knew we couldn’t afford, because he knew how much I wanted to be a writer. I think I may have received my first whiff of Christmas Presence that year.

A highlight of my early teens was a year when I was old enough to know how much we didn’t have. My mother wanted us to understand that there were others with even less, and she wanted to teach us the joy of giving. We put together two boxes of clothing and toys we no longer needed and left them on the doorstep of a family who lived in a ramshackle house a mile or so away.

A few weeks later, I saw a girl from that family wearing one of the favorite matching dresses my mother had made for my sister and me years before. I hoped the girl didn’t know where it had come from. I was afraid it would embarrass her. I thought at the time that the feeling I got knowing we had added to that’s family’s joy was the true Christmas Presence.

As the years went by, I found more incidents of heart-warming experiences that I thought better examples of the Christmas Presence: caroling by candlelight, Christmas Eve midnight services, Christmas Cantatas. Music and fellowship, the spirit of Christ flowing over and around us; the celebration of the birth of our Savior.

But what I finally discovered was that for me the Christmas Presence wasn’t limited to a few short weeks in December and January. We celebrate the time of birth, and it is special, but the Presence Christ brought to earth that day is with us all year long. It illuminates our hearts and gives us the desire to share his love and give “presents” to everyone, not just at Christmas time, but all the time.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A Psalm for leadership

One of the devotionals I read this week was based on Psalm 72. It struck me as pertinent to our world and national situation today. I took the liberty of paraphrasing verses 1-4 and 12-14. Tell me what you think.


Give our president your justice, oh God, and your righteousness to the leaders of our country.
May they lead your people with righteousness and the poor with justice.
May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness.
May our leaders defend the cause of the poor people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.

May they deliver the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper.
Let them take pity on the weak and the needy and save their lives.
From oppression and violence help him redeem their lives
For precious is their blood in His sight.

Friday, December 23, 2016

2016 in review




I hope you all had a wonderful 2016 and are feeling the blessing of the season of Advent, leading up to the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

I have enjoyed good health and an active life again this year, thanks be to God.

I’ve managed to get a few books sold, with presentations at book discussion groups, church, and organizations and book festivals in Sun City, Tempe, Payson, and Prescott Valley. I still have far too many stacked in a storage unit, but I’m trying to whittle away at them. My new book has been a bit of a struggle and is taking a long time to get together. I’m hoping to complete needed research and editing and rewriting in the next three to  six months.

I didn’t get to Michigan this year, but I got to spend some time with Ravi and Jennifer, Monneth, and Neil’s families in March. In June I went to the American Library Association Conference in Orlando to promote my books, since that also gave me the opportunity to spend a couple of days with Ricki and Archana and the kids before they went to India. I fulfilled a life-long desire to visit New Orleans in September for the Bouchercon Mystery Conference. I stayed at one of my time-share locations there, so saw a little more of the city than I would have staying at the Conference Hotel. I also took a city bus tour and a paddle wheel cruise on my last day. I should have planned a couple more days, but I enjoyed the time I did have. Guess that’s about all the highlights, except for a couple of overnighters in Phoenix for writer events.

I’m still loving Arizona, my new church and choir, playing scrabble and doing Arts and Crafts fairs with Sharon, being catered to at Alta Vista Senior Living. Of course, I haven’t stopped missing my family and friends, and my wonderful church and choir in Traverse City. Sometimes I feel like a split personality.

I’m hoping and planning to get to Michigan next year around late May early June. Richard and Sally’s son Hunter and Patti and Gunda’s daughter Hayley are both graduating from high school and I want to meet Patti’s first grandchild (Steve and Kayla’s) who is soon to be born.

That’s about it for me. I’m looking forward to finding out what God has planned for me in 2017 and hope you are, too.

Love,

Pat

Monday, August 15, 2016

Water For the Future


I’m going to try to get my blog started again with things that are going on in my life right now.

One of those things is the Climate Justice event put on by the United Methodist Women’s mission u last month. And one of the topics that hit me hard, because I now live in water challenged Arizona, was our overuse of water as a country.

While we are already experiencing water shortages and contaminated groundwater, it is estimated that between two and seven billion people will face water shortages by 2050. Many of us will not be here by then. Our grandchildren will have to deal with the problem. Are we willing to do a few simple things to help them now?

Because I live in an apartment, I concentrated this time on what we can do inside the house. Actually, I hope we are already doing most of these, and I’m sure you can think of others, but let’s remind ourselves of a few simple steps.

We can turn off the water while brushing our teeth.

Showers take less water than baths (unless we take long soaks in the downpour). We can enhance our savings by getting wet, turning off the shower, lathering up, and turning on the shower to rinse. I have the shower running about three minutes doing this.

We can run the washing machine only when we have a full load, and use the reduced load settings when we need to run it less than full.

Used properly, and only run when it is full, the dishwasher uses less water than handwashing. However, that means we don’t use gallons of water rinsing and preparing dishes for the dishwasher. Instead, we can soak or rinse them using the same water in a container several times. Some dishwashers can handle dishes without rinsing at all, only scraping. If we do hand wash, don’t run the water constantly. Use a pan or sink of soapy water and another of rinse water or wash all the dishes before turning on the water to rinse them.

Keep drinking water in the refrigerator rather than running it from the tap to get cold every time we take a drink.

Get food from the freezer early enough to thaw in the refrigerator rather than thawing it under running water.

We can run the tap water only as fast as necessary to wash our hands and for other incidental uses.

Perhaps you can think of other things to add. If so, leave them in a comment. I plan to start using a bucket to catch the shower water while it is warming up and using that water to water plants and flush my toilet.

 An African proverb says: “Many little people, in many little places, taking many little steps, can change the face of the world.”


Friday, December 25, 2015

2015 Highlights

I see I haven't posted since March, 2014, so I'll encapsulate 2015 in this blog.

I arrived in Prescott, Arizona, on January 1 for a two month vacation and to decide whether a move to Prescott was in my future. The next thing I knew I had signed a lease for an apartment at Alta Vista – one with a perfect floor plan for me and a nice view of the mountains to the east. So, I contacted a realtor in Traverse City. He said he would send me a listing agreement but he wanted to show the house that day because the sun was shining. I called for some reason late that day and he said he couldn’t talk to me. He was sitting at my dining room table writing up an agreement of sale.
I returned to Traverse City January 29 for a marathon session of cleaning out, downsizing, and arranging for the movers. Thanks to many of my nieces and nephews everything went smoothly except the weather. It snowed most of the time and made cleaning the condo a messy process. On February 14, in the middle of a white-out blizzard, I got to the airport (putting my rental in a snow bank there) and eventually, after a lot of maneuvering, the airplane took off and I barely made my delayed flight in Chicago. Everything went smoothly from then on and I made the move into my apartment on February 26.

I flew back to Michigan for great-nephew Ryan Cooper’s wedding in June and was able to connect with friends and family. I did another of my road trips later in June and July: every segment was a two day drive. I drove to Dallas, where my sister-in-law Saroj was visiting her son Monneth. Saroj and I took a side jaunt to Austin to see our nephew Neil and Jackie and meet their new daughter Madison. I then drove to Peoria, Illinois, for Narinder’s cousin Raj and Kris Bedi’s wedding anniversary, where I met up again with Saroj along with my brother-in-law Ravi and wife Madhu. After that, I drove to Houston, to my sister Bonnie’s. After a few days there, she joined me for the trip back to Prescott and stayed with me for a week before her daughter Darlene and family took her back to Houston.

I joined the Desert Sleuths chapter of Sisters in Crime and attended a conference in Phoenix. I also joined two groups called Suspicious Characters and the Professional Writers of Prescott. I took one other little side trip, to Silver City, NM, for a book festival. Sold a few books, but mostly enjoyed learning a little more about the extended environment into which I have moved. I’ve done enough presentations in Prescott to have people hounding me for the next book (some of you may be guilty of that, also. I hope you have found the sixth book in the series, “When Will the Secrets End?” either at Horizon or through Amazon). I connected with two other mystery writers here to form a group called “Triple Threat”. We did a very enjoyable presentation at Alta Vista and have plans to do others at the Prescott Library and a local book store.

I was able to breathe fairly normally at a mile high by the time the new choir season started in September, so joined two choirs at my new church, Prescott United Methodist, where the atmosphere and the community activity are remarkably similar Central UMC in TC. I also inherited leadership of a small Bible Study group at Alta Vista, which I am finding to be a rewarding challenge. Oh, my, my calendar is beginning to look as full as it was in Traverse City!

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Tucson Book Festival

Speed limits are 80 MPH across Texas and New Mexico on I-10, with gale force winds. No driveways or mailboxes, though! Many warnings about dust storms, but fortunately I didn't run into any.

After a day of getting myself acclimated and finding my way around, I spent the weekend at the Tucson Book Festival. I'd heard great things about the festival: how many thousands of people attended, how many book buyers there were, how many books people sold. My results were somewhat underwhelming. After selling only two books in my alloted two hours at the Tucson Sisters in Crime booth, I noticed there was a slot still empty the next day and asked if I could have it. Yes! Three more books sold. And one more at my signing in the festival author's pavilion alloted to self-published authors.

Because self published authors aren't allowed to participate on panels, where you get noticed, or in the signings for panelists.

Oh, well. My book events are becoming an excuse for me to do the traveling I like to do, which is hard to do alone. In addition, I meet so many great people in this same business of writing and then trying to sell books.

Besides, since I had several stops this trip, and saw so much of family, it was worth it even without the festival. Plus, I have to justify my membership in WorldMark the Club timeshares by using their wonderful resorts. Which I'll be doing for the next three days at Rancho Vistoso in Tucson before heading out to Prescott to visit with my sister before going back to Michigan. Unfortunately, I think winter will still be there to greet me when I arrive. Wish I didn't have to get back to file my taxes and take care of other business.