Love and the Silver Lining, by Tammy L. Gray

I spotted the above book in the Paper Leaves book and plant shop in Waxahachie. It was displayed on the “Local Authors” table. A few years ago, I’d read a fabulously suspenseful series by Tammy L. Gray, so I couldn’t wait to see what this one was all about…

Darcy Malone had upended her whole life, giving up job and apartment, so she could go teach in Guatemala. Days before her scheduled departure, the school administrator called with bad news: finances were forcing the school to close. Cameron, her guy best friend, was there as always to encourage her. Besides, what would he do without her?

The rock band Cameron recently joined is on the verge of breaking into the big time, meaning lots of travel. New question: what will Darcy do without him? Between drama among the band members and Darcy’s “rebound” work training a gaggle of rescue dogs, I was sure neither the band nor Darcy would never get their lives sorted out.

Gray’s storytelling has only improved with time. The relatable characters are all real enough to walk off the page into your living room. That, and the dilemmas they face, kept me rooting for each one, and placed this book squarely in “Great Weekend Read” territory. Click here to learn more at Gray’s website!

Thanks for reading,

Jan

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Bluebonnet Snowball

I never get tired of bluebonnets, our state flower. However, riding my bike out to see them may bring on some fatigue.

Case in point: A couple of weeks ago, Brent raved about a fabulous stretch of bluebonnets in Cedar Hill. I wanted to follow up on his recommendation AND pull some hills. Win-win, right? I’d shoot for 20-25 miles.

Call me a slacker, but I really like to ride home with a tailwind. Since the wind was from the northeast that day, I took a route to the east first, then north toward Cedar Hill. In my head, the ride would barely be 20 miles, so I added a 2-mile loop at the beginning.

Everything went fine… but it seemed to take a lonnnng time to get to Cedar Hill. Somewhere along the way, I remembered that the “east-first” route clocks over 30 miles, not 20.

Oooops. Well, I still had hours of daylight. What to do? I stopped for a break in a shady spot and texted Brent:

I didn’t relish that return climb into the wind. On the other hand, the ‘bonnets were already passing their peak. A few more days, and they’d be going to seed. “Wind is nothing but moving air,” I reminded myself, and decided to rise to the challenge.

And to think I almost missed this!

I am SO glad I went for it. Photo ops were everywhere. I just couldn’t quit taking pictures.

The ride back to the highway was indeed challenging, but I just took my time and eventually turned back out of the wind for home. As I climbed, my “bluebonnet high” kept me in good spirits.

Since then, I’ve noticed other bits of laziness like the one that almost made me miss the bluebonnets. That drawer that needs organizing? The skirt that’s had a loose button since March? Why not go ahead and take care of it? Every time I tackle one of these minor challenges, the results boost my mood and energize me for the next.

Those bluebonnets have created a snowball of perseverance.

Your turn:

Don’t tell me I’m the only one who’s drawn to the path of least resistance. Have you ever pushed through anyway? Did you, too, feel the reward?

And now that this post I’ve been putting off is finished, I’m going to grab one of those partly-read books on the side table, and try to remember what it was about… 😉

I love your comments! Join the conversation by using the “Your Turn” box waaaay down at the bottom of this post. (If you’re reading this from the home page, there’s a “Leave a comment” link below the “sharing” buttons.)

Thanks for reading,

Jan

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A New Chapter

Hello, friends!
Four years ago this month, I was fresh off my first visit to Liberia, West Africa. (Okay, it’s been my only visit, but since I fully intend to go back, I’m calling it “first.”) Apart from an anniversary trip to Hawaii years earlier, I’d never been away from continental North America before. So why did I venture off to a small, war-torn West African nation?

I’m glad you asked.

My energetic friend Andy Perkins founded the family-assistance charity BESTWA, Inc. in 2006. In 2017, he invited me to accompany a team to Liberia so I could meet BESTWA’s Liberian director, Daniel Mellish. The idea was for me to interview Daniel and write up his life story. I set out with high hopes (plus protein bars and mosquito repellent). Click here for the blog post I published shortly after we arrived in country.

As planned, I met Daniel and his wife, Victoria, in person. But our days there were so busy that I didn’t have much time to hear their stories, which worried me considerably. I felt kind of useless, to be honest. Still, I did get to witness how chores are done, see the rainforest vegetation, smell the charcoal cooking fires, and feel the humidity. I worshipped with the Liberians, listened to their music and the accent and patterns of their speech, and joined in children’s dances. As it turns out, this experience helped me place the reader in Africa, so Daniel’s story speaks for itself in his voice (without me, the writer, getting in the way).

What about that interview time I thought was lost? To my delight, we had hours of in-person time when Daniel and Victoria visited Texas the following month. Besides, there’s always email to confirm facts or clarify sequence. (I can’t count the many times I pestered one or the other of them with detail-y questions, which they answered with great patience.) I must add that many of their experiences were harrowing, to say the least. This isn’t a children’s book.

Now–four years, tons of historical research, two new grandchildren, one new daughter-in-law, and an out-of-state writers’ conference later–I’m happy to tell you that I’ve finished drafting Daniel’s story. Not only that, I’ve been polishing the manuscript to prepare it for a professional editor (because I know I won’t catch all the inconsistencies and errors). I can’t wait to publish this book, which I’m titling No Small Thing. It’s the most exciting project I’ve ever undertaken.

How about a sneak peek at Daniel’s story?

I’m glad you asked that, too. There’s a new tab at the top of the home page, just under the banner photo (or in the drop-down Menu): NO SMALL THING. Clicking on that tab OR HERE will take you to a form, where you can register to receive the opening chapters as my gift to you. Below the Download link, you can register to receive an occasional newsletter to keep you informed about the status of the book. (No spam and, of course, you can unsubscribe any time.)

Thanks for reading,

Jan

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Plot Twist, by Bethany Turner

Olivia Ross, writer of greeting card sentiments, sits in a busy Los Angeles coffee shop trying to work on her passion project–a screenplay.

She is rescued from a relentless flirter by Sexy Irish Guy, on his way to an audition and later identified as swoonworthy actor Hamish MacDougal. Oh wait… Hamish is Scottish, not Irish. Olivia is apparently not well versed in accents.

Anyway, ‘supporting characters’ like Olivia don’t fall in love with leading men. …. right?

Image Credit: http://seebethanywrite.com

Olivia is a writer. She is also as insecure, goofy, scatterbrained, and awkward as you can imagine.

Yeah, I immediately related to her.

And Turner could not have come up with a more perfect title than Plot Twist. Seriously, the switchback roads up the Alps have fewer twists and turns than this book… partly thanks to Olivia’s best friend Fiona, who appears to live a charmed life. I won’t even try to tell you the gist of the story, only that I couldn’t put my Kindle down until I’d finished this Great Weekend Read.

Your turn:

I’m always looking for good books, so please share: What are you reading this weekend?

Do you have a day job and a passion project or hobby, like Olivia?

I love your comments! Join the conversation by using the “Your Turn” box waaaay down at the bottom of this post. (If you’re reading this from the home page, there’s a “Leave a comment” link below the “sharing” buttons below.) Which reminds me, if you like this post please consider sharing via those buttons.

Thanks for reading,

Jan

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How to Warm Up for a Bike Ride on the Road…

… When You’ve Been Using the Indoor Trainer

After the warmest and driest December known to mankind, we finally got some cold, drizzly days in January. Being spoiled to sunny weather, we were gonna get out of shape, and fast. But then Brent put a bike on the trainer upstairs. I was the first to try it out, opting to listen to Classic Rock on Pandora rather than watch a video of a virtual ride or spin class.

A bunch of my stuff migrated upstairs… spare gloves, a water bottle, the old Garmin and a couple of sensors. And one piece of outdoor equipment you still need, even inside: the road shoes with cleats that clip onto the pedals. I did a 30-minute workout, not very strenuous except for two all-out intervals.

Yesterday we had sunshine and temps around 60, so I decided to get in a short ride on the road. Ya gotta warm up, right? Here, for your edification, was my warmup routine:

  1. Decide to use the water bottle from the trainer bike. Run upstairs to get it; run back down.
  2. Realize phone is also upstairs. Run up to get it; run back down.
  3. Go outside to get shoes from their shelf in the garage. Realize shoes are also upstairs. Run up to get them; run back down.
  4. Reach for Garmin bike computer; wonder why it isn’t in its usual place.
  5. Remember you took the new Garmin upstairs to look up some setup instructions online. Run up to get it from your desk; run back down.
  6. By this time, your heart rate is in Zone 3 and you are ready to roll!

You’re welcome.

Your turn:

Does anyone else get discombobulated by any change in routine? Anyone still dating stuff “2021”?

I love your comments! Join the conversation by using the “Your Turn” box waaaay down at the bottom of this post. (If you’re reading this from the home page, there’s a “Leave a comment” link below the “sharing” buttons.)

Thanks for reading,

Jan

Posted in I Remember When... (my OWN stories), Thoughts on Two Wheels | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Journal-ism: A Fresh Start

When I study the Bible, I like to write down any observations; words I need to take to heart; or cool insights I gain. I use a spiral-type journal, preferably one thick enough for me to clip a comfort-grip pen inside the wire spiral.

So, this happened yesterday… I’d wrestled with the truth for days, but finally had to face facts:

I couldn’t squeeze any more notes into the journal I’d been using since April. So I fished out the new, blank journal from my stash and opened it up.

It’s probably silly, but starting a new journal usually gives me a feeling of “New Year” significance. I don’t just put the old journal aside and grab the new one, thinking “Next…” No, I write my name on the first page with a flourish and think about how I want to tweak the way I use the pages. In fact, any time I get a new item–car, appliance, house, shoes, replacement for a favorite-but-stained shirt–I greet it with a “This time it’ll be different” attitude. I’ll keep this house cleaner, wear an apron to protect this shirt, etc. Journals have always been like that, too–I’ll organize this one better, write more consistently… again and again.

Until now.

Yesterday felt different. I still wrote my name in the front with a flourish. But when it came to tweaking, it dawned on me that I’ve finally landed on a “system” that works well for me. Study notes on the left-hand page (because I’m left-handed and it’s just easier), Scripture memory practice on the right, with that space also available for memos to self, other verses to look up, and other miscellaneous stuff.

I’ve even grown more consistent, doing a bit of studying almost every day. Not that I’m the Organization Queen or anything. No, it’s mostly because I tend to wake up for no reason at some ridiculously early hour. Whatever works, right?

Tweaking is fine and necessary, and something new can give me a fresh start. On the other hand, settling into a routine that fits makes it easier for me to practice the disciplines that are important to me. As near as I can figure, forming those positive habits means I’ll need that “fresh start” less often.

I welcome your comments! Have you cemented any positive habits? Need to form a new one? Join the conversation by using the “Your Turn” box waaaay down at the bottom of this post.

Thanks for reading,

Jan

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