Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Focus


Serving.
That's my new focus for 2019.
I was a little down the other day.
Pity party time.
My daughter invited me to feed the homeless with the youth group.
I'd done it before and enjoyed it, but I didn't really want to go.
I had a list of reasons why I shouldn't go...
Why I couldn't go.
But I went.
I was annoyed all the way to the church...
About my little problems.
But as soon as I arrived and began cutting donated cakes and pies and putting the pieces onto plates, I forgot all about my angsty issues.
All of the volunteers were happy.
They were eager to serve and much to my surprise, I was as eager as they were...joyful even.
The doors opened and the bedraggled bunch filed in.
I couldn't stop smiling.
Four teens and I were scooping ice cream.
How did we get so lucky?
We get to give ice cream to people who rarely taste the stuff.
"I haven't had ice cream in so long," one guy said.
I gave him an extra scoop.
Ice cream is heaven on earth and that guy needed a respite.
One by one, we dished joy to the downtrodden.
And my heart was filled.

How does God do that?
It makes no sense.
How can a tired, defeated, weary heart be ENERGIZED by GIVING to someone else?
I didn't think I had anything to give.
Yet the joy poured out.

I've been asking God to lead me.
To lead me to how He wants to use me.
And He showed me.
Serve.
More.

In that fog of self absorption...of thinking about MY problems...
God reminded me that focusing on OTHERS is the remedy to the angst of life - to sadness, upset and annoyances.
Focusing on OTHERS brings relief, joy and deep satisfaction.
So that is my focus for 2019.
Serving.
What's yours?

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

His Indescribable Gift...

Who remembers the Sears Wish book?
I'm pretty sure I drooled over this very catalog.
I would have been twelve years old. I dogeared pages, wrote lists and imagined getting every single thing I desired from that wonderful Wish Book.
Christmas in 1977 wasn't like Christmas today.
My family lived on a very tight budget. Credit? No way.
Today we live in a world where stuff is plentiful...whether or not it's affordable in the moment.
Even though this wish book invokes memories of childhood desire, I'm glad I didn't receive the treasures of every dogeared page.
I'm glad my parents carefully chose gifts for me and didn't stack boxes to the ceiling, feeding the greed monster that lives in all of us.
I'm glad God doesn't give me everything I want either.
Sometimes I think of some of the things I begged God for.
Relationships when I was young...I'm so thankful for the husband he gave me.
Stuff I knew I couldn't live without...my friends got some of that stuff and they were no happier for it.
As an adult, I wanted children right after we got married. I'm so glad we waited five years. We were so young at that time (19 and 20).
There are so many times I didn't get what I wanted and I'm forever thankful for that. Time always revealed the blessing of a "no" answer to my prayers.

I wanted to write a book when I was in the thick of mothering.
I felt God say, "Wait. I'll tell you when to write."
So I did.
I set my desire aside.
Dogeared the page, nonetheless, but set that wish aside.
The Lord is faithful and He's taken me on a winding road to publication.
A short story was published this fall, and from that endeavor, I was invited into a critique group - challenging me to become a better writer.
I'm grateful for the freedom to follow every rabbit trail on this path to publishing a novel.
I couldn't have done that and mothered my children well.
He is so wise.

What are you wishing for this Christmas and in the New Year.
Have you asked God for it?
Seek God's wisdom this season and see where He leads.
His gifts are always good.

His best Gift is the One we celebrate this season.
May you grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:18-20)

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Merry Christmas every one!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Characters...

The Bickering Bickersons
Last summer, at my mom's garage sale, an old man with a long, white beard approached the table where we were taking money and bagging treasures.
His hands were empty...he wasn't buying.
He said, "I bought a pair of shoes from a drug dealer. I don't know what he laced them with but I've been tripping all day!"
Then he walked away.
That's a character right there.
We've all encountered the joke-telling old man who approaches strangers, drops the funny and makes a hasty exit.
I love those guys.

Characters are everywhere.

I love the talkative, oversharing toddler,
The classic church lady with the single arched eyebrow,
The constantly bickering married couple (the bickering Bickersons),
The insecure, but hilarious teenage boy who hasn't a clue how funny he is,
The flamboyant older woman - gaudy, colorful and, best of all, owning it,
The self-absorbed soul, always positioned near, and peering in a mirror while conversing with others,
The loud laugher (guilty), unable to rein in their delight to a socially appropriate level,
Friendly grocery checkers, bantering about their kids, the weather, sometimes dropping inappropriate personal information leaving the hearer unsure how to respond,
The teenage girl, unaware of her beauty, disguising it under a heavy mask of makeup,
A quiet, big-tipping gentleman blessing tired waitresses,
The old couple holding hands as they walk through the park,
The tired mom in the grocery store carrying on a loud conversation with her toddler in the hopes someone, anyone will notice that she's a good mother (we notice, you are),
The former high-school all-star who isn't any more, but lives or rather, re-lives that glory,
The all-knowing neighbor, keeping tabs on everyone within a two-block radius, and reporting that knowledge to anyone who will listen,
The fashion-impaired woman (guilty again) who consistently mis-buttons her shirt or mis-matches patterns, but not in a hip, new way,
The cheerful mechanic or contractor or repairman bearing bad news with a knowing smile - knowing a good payday is coming,
The chatty dental hygienist, asking questions you can't possibly answer with your mouth wide open,
...and so many more...
Which brings me back to the joke-telling old man...
I've met hundreds of them in my life.
I can't remember all the jokes,
But I'm glad I remember the essence of the old men who told them.
After all, it wasn't the joke that was funny, it was the person who told it!

Keep your eyes open for characters...perhaps you're one of them!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Thanksgiving...


Since it is Thanksgiving, I will produce the obligatory list of things I'm thankful for, but with a twist.
THIS Thanksgiving, an acrostic poem of words I like and why I like them. (Not sure why an acrostic is called a poem, but whatever.) Sure, it seems boring and maybe it will be. (I hope not)

And to clear myself of any guilt for not mentioning the obvious things I'm thankful for: Here they are...
My family and friends, my Savior and my country.

On with the "poem"...

T - Tribe. The idea of tribe was a bit lost on me for most of my life. I equated "tribe" with large groups of cliquey women excluding all others. Not so. Regarding friendships, I related to the saying, "I'd rather have four quarters than a hundred pennies." Like most people, I've been burned. It happens when you "collect pennies". So I am guilty of being guarded when sharing my life with people. Even so, my little growing tribe of sisters is precious. As my hair has grayed (amazingly fast once I stopped dying it - go figure), the wisdom of those white strands seeped into my noggin. I'm better at finding kindred spirits and avoiding danger.

H - Harmony. Alone in my car, when I'm singing and worshiping God, I sing harmony. Horribly. (I literally apologize God when it's really bad.) I was thinking about harmony the other day. It adds beautiful depth to music...and when we live in harmony, work in harmony, we are much more productive. Harmony is a choice though. You have to work at it. I hope my harmonizing continues to improve. It will, with practice. Harmony brings joy...in all things.

A - Aqua. I love that color. It represents water, purity, happiness. It is fresh. It is eye-catching.

N - Nest. I'm a mother...of grown children, but still. You never stop being a mother. My nest may be empty but my heart is full. My home is different now - emptier - but it brings me great joy. I host my writing group every week and it buzzes with life. (I love that.) It is nearly ready for the eventual return of my kids. They'll all be home for Christmas and I can hardly wait!

K - Kitchen. Odd, I know, but I love to bake and at the moment there's a hole in our kitchen ceiling (a tiny leak in the master shower - Yay, new tile in the master bath..gulp). Since we've got to patch the hole and paint, the kitchen is on my mind. We'll eventually paint the cabinets - or maybe not - and what color should I paint the walls? I love these conundrums (another favorite word) and perusing Pinterest to solve them!

S - Strength. It was a challenging year. I never imagined losing a parent. (Why would I want to imagine that?) I made a wonderful discovery, though. I am strong. I have strength. And when my strength wanes, God offers His. I leaned in and soaked up His strength when mine was nowhere to be found. And here's the best part. God's strength is there for the asking. He doles it out as we need it, not before - not when we anticipate the need - when we actually need it. I like to prepare. I like to have extra on hand. This year, I learned to accept grief as an offer of strength from God and it built my faith to know I could trust Him to give it right when I needed it.

G - Grace. I could go on and on about grace. It is the gift of God...two more fabulous G words! But grace...undeserved favor...wow. My church has Grace in it (The Graceworks) and my writing group is called The Grace Writers (as well as my novel). It's no coincidence. Grace is something the world needs. It's something I hope to pass on...to spread...to write about.

I - Inspiration. It's all around me. I find inspiration in the beautiful world we live in. Nature is a treasure trove, but even more, people. I love people. I love watching them and studying them. (Confession: I love reality TV because I can watch people I wouldn't normally see in my world.) In reality, though, (see what I did there?) we inspire each other. Do I inspire others? That's my hope. I am so inspired by so many people in my life and for that I am thankful!

V - Vivacious. There is a person I notice wherever I go. The old woman living vivaciously. She has pink, sparkly hair and colorful clothing - preferably mismatched but happy - and glasses, large and bold. These women are rare and interesting and fun. There is a woman who prances around Yelm Highway in heels, a hat and a suit straight out of the eighties. She has perfect posture and is perfectly out of place. I don't know her but I love her. I hope I am vivacious as an old person. (Old-er person - gray hair notwithstanding.)

I - Inclusion. It's a wonderful thing to be included. We've all experienced being invisible, overlooked or intentionally DIScluded. That's no fun. In fact, it's dismaying. But to feel inclusion - to know you belong. That's precious. Over the past year or two I've found many inclusive people. People who welcome strangers and celebrate change. I try to be that way too. I know I fail, but the more I practice it, the easier it becomes.

N - Niche. Everyone wants to find their niche. I wish Thanksgiving had a C in it. Because I equate finding one's niche to contentment. I've found my niche a few times in my life. The niche changes, grows and morphs. It's all a process. I hope you find your niche too...and consider...maybe your niche is right where you are. Perhaps embracing the season you're in IS your niche. By being content where we are, we free our mind to settle into God's plan.

G - Grateful. It's what Thanksgiving is all about - being grateful. And I am so very grateful for all of the blessings in my life. If you're reading this right now, you're one of them!

What words are you thankful for?

May your Thanksgiving weekend be filled with family, friendship and the blessings of the season!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Two Golden Rings during The Great Depression...


When I decided to write Two Golden Rings for the anthology, Christmas in Time, I did some research on the era.
What an interesting time.
Struggle and heartache permeated those years following the stock market crash of 1929.
In my research, I read a book, The Secret Gift by Ted Gup.
It told the true story of Mr. Gup's grandfather, Sam Stone, who had weathered the crash and had some extra money to give away in 1933 when Canton, Ohio was overwhelmed with struggle. That Christmas, Mr. Stone put an ad in the newspaper offering $10 to 75 families, no questions asked. Just write to "Mr. B. Virdot", describing your desperate need. When the letters poured in, he decided to answer 150 of them with a $5 gift.
Mr. Gup was not aware of Sam Stone's kindness until he discovered a suitcase filled with letters after his death. His grandfather kept the letters telling of utter desperation. They were proud people who didn't want to ask for money, but since it would be discreetly given, and since they were so desperate for the basic needs of life, they wrote. There were other letters in the suitcase as well. Thank you notes describing how the modest gift had been spent and what it meant to them.
Mr. Gup set out to find the families of the letter-writers, and discovered that the $5 gift had made a world of difference to some of them, filling them with hope and changing the trajectory of the family. For others it made for a nice Christmas but not much more. Some families struggled for generations. The book chronicles those stories and weaves in the account of Sam Stone's life as well. It's a fascinating read.

I tried to capture some of that tension in my story.
The desperation of need and the desire to be self-sufficient.
The pain of loss and the desire to be whole again.
The hope of provision and the devastation of disappointment.
Ultimately, I wanted to tell a story of the faithfulness of God - because He is - so very faithful!

You can buy a copy of Christmas in Time here.

I hope my story blesses you this holiday season!




Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A Walk Through the Leaves...

I was running errands yesterday when I was hit with an urgent need to go for a walk.
This is significant for one particular reason...
I haven't taken a solo walk outside since my dad died.
I don't know why.
I've walked plenty with Alex but not alone.
So yesterday I couldn't get home fast enough to grab my ear buds and take off down the trail.
It was glorious.
Fall was showing off.
The weather was PERFECTION.
Not sunny, not raining...damp but not cold...perfect fall weather.
The leaves were ankle deep in places.
And there were mushrooms...
I love mushrooms.
They're so delicate.
So fragile...
But they have strength to push through the weight of the damp leaves.
                                           


Leaves let go of the trees in front of me, twirling to the trail.
I stopped to watch them.
Letting go.
Letting go so new life can grow in their place.
For a long while, I was all alone...me and my music.
Praising God for His beautiful world.
Reflecting on the past year...
Realizing that everything was fine...
Really good.
Even though...

And I'm thankful for the journey of life,
The changing seasons,
And solo walks through leaves.

Friday, October 26, 2018

God Will Take Care of You!


Yes, He will!
Matthew 6:26 (KJV) says:
Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are ye not much better than they?

Two Golden Rings is the story of Violet Finnegan, a young widow struggling through the the Great Depression. She longs to help her family when her father loses his job and they are unable to pay a debt. Will Violet trust God to provide for her family or will she take matters into her own hands?

The ebook AND paperback are available now on Amazon - Click here

Do you want to win a print just like the one pictured above?
Here's how: Be the first person to post a photo of yourself holding a paperback copy of Christmas in Time on social media (tag #heatherswrite on instagram or Heather Morse Alexander on Facebook). If you're the first, I'll send you a 5x7 print FREE!

What if you're not the first one to post a photo?
Here's another way to score a print: Leave a review on Amazon! There are 3 reviews on the ebook...will you be the 4th? :)
I can't wait to give a couple of prints away!

What if you want a print but you didn't win?
That beautiful print was created by my niece, Angela.
She has some for sale in her Etsy shop: Letterbabe

Thank you so much to everyone who has already purchased the ebook and paperback!
I appreciate you! I hope the stories bring you joy!