it’s a love-hate thing

“All endeavor calls for the ability to tramp the last mile, shape the last plan, endure the last hours toil. The ‘fight to the finish spirit’ is the one characteristic we must posses if we are to face the future as finishers.” Henry David Thoreau
This morning, I was thinking that Thoreau had it about right. Not as in the above quote, mind you. As in, I think I’ll get away from humanity and live in a ten by ten shack because even the lack of indoor plumbing has got to be better than dealing with people on a daily basis. Yes, that is the mood I woke up, perused my email and facebook, and drank my tea in.
Has that ever been your mood? OK, I would not be a pastor if I didn’t love people, deep down. But there are times when that love gets so tested, tried, and yes, broken, that I really do want to abstain from human society and all its messiness and yell at everyone, “OK, fend for yourselves now. Jill has left the building!”
I know some of you get that. It’s so much easier to hide than try to fix things, especially since some of those “things” are human beings, and they are historically resistant to “fixing.” Sometimes, it just feels like a cabin would be a better option for the duration.
A cabin not being a real option, a long walk this morning sufficed. If nothing else, it would help get me ready for the 5K mud run this weekend I am woefully unready for.
And Mr. Thoreau. He is right. Quitting isn’t an option. I want to be a finisher. Part of my frustration right now is that so many people are not. They’re in it until it gets messy or difficult or even just slightly annoying. I don’t want to be that person. I want to be a finisher.
Could the reason humanity is such a mess be that so few of us are finishers? So many are ready to walk away in the face of fear or struggle or insult? Is the lack of a “fight to the finish spirit” the reason so many people leave marriages, friendships, churches, and jobs? I don’t remember Jesus saying, “Hey, I did the hard part. The rest of this ‘love God and people’ thing will be nothing but an easy slide into home plate.”
I do remember him saying it would be hard, and we would be attacked, and heaven help us if we stand around eating potato chips and checking our botox in the mirror when we should be gearing up for battle. (That’s a loose paraphrase.)
I want to be a tramper of miles and a shaper of plans. I want to be a finisher. How about you?

new thing Tuesday

Sassy  Pants’s bad behavior pushed everyone away. A close encounter with an electric  fence helped her begin to notice and care, but too late. No one trusted her. 

How do you fix a friendship when you are  the one who broke it? 
Follow Sassy Pants as she works to repair the friendships she broke! Find out how Sassy Pants learns to apologize, ask forgiveness and make amends with the help of two special friends. Making amends is not easy, but having friends is worth it!

Sassy Pants is a great resource for homeschoolers. It has also been used in recovery groups (!), because of the simple way it explains the step of “Make Amends.”

Author Carol A. Brown says, “I began telling stories when I had enough brothers to make an audience!” (She has four brothers and one sister!) Carol is a retired teacher who was raised in a rural farming community in Iowa. She enjoys reading and writing, nature and music, piano, knitting, crocheting, painting and telling stories! “I am dedicated to knitting sweaters and spinning yarns!

Check out Sassy Pants Makes Amends today only for special promotions by Carol. /

current nonwisdom

Sevenfor May is over. I am fully restored, if I so choose, to my seven banished forms of electronics. Welcome back, Facebook, Pinterest, Jigzone, car radio, iPod, television, and gps. Gollum/Jack Sparrow, I have missed your voices telling me where to go. 

I have felt both better and worse for being so unplugged for one month. Yes, I have felt out of touch, and I have not liked it. But, I have also felt more time in my life, more quiet in my life. And God said, it was good.
So the question weighing on me the last couple weeks has been—How do I maintain the good gain while “replugging”?
So maybe some of my new strategies for management will help some of you as well. Or maybe, you’ll have better ideas to springboard off these.
First, email—Current time management wisdom is to handle email once or twice a day so it doesn’t become an interruption and time sucker. Current wisdom is often wrong. For me, it’s really a better use of time to try to answer it as it comes in. If I don’t, chances are it may sink into the deep dark anonymous hole that becomes my inbox. Trust me, I will never find it again.
Plus, I just get overwhelmed when there is a ton of email to go through, and I procrastinate on it. Does this happen to you? So, it’s easier to take care of it right away, and it actually takes less time.
Important caveat–I have to make sure I get back to the task at hand afterward. If I remember what that task was. For someone who can’t remember why I opened the refrigerator, that can be tricky.
The other thing I did about email was to create a ton of separate folderswithin my inbox. A huge source of stress for me is the mental clutterof knowing there are messages, phone calls, and appointments out there in free fall but not knowing exactly where they are. Or knowing they’re all in my endless inbox. Thus, a neat arrangement where I can pay attention to one segment at a time. Church, blogs I follow, writing group, theater, etc. All neatly organized so I can deal with them one at a time. Yeah!
Once a week, I’ll now go through each of those boxes and deal with anything left over. Yes! I am going to love this.
That’s one area of electronic clutter I am learning, through 7, to “de-noise.” I’ll talk about some of the other areas another day. Anyone else have great suggestions?

new thing tuesdays

I’m starting a new thing on Tuesdays, and I think I’ll call it . . . New Thing Tuesday. Has a ring to it, no?

There are so many of us out there loving to write but loving to market? Not so much. And these days, it’s pretty much all on us. Unless you’re Stephen King. And I’m not. Ick, I’d be scaring myself on a daily basis. I already do some days.

So on selected Tuesdays, I’m going to be bringing attention to new books and telling you a bit about them. If it’s a genre you like to read and it sounds interesting, there are usually some free gifts associated with that day’s launch, so click on through. Like this one:

So to kick off . . . ah, what was that again? New Thing Tuesdays (what will I do when it’s a an old thing?), here is the first writer, Tammy Hill (pictured above), from where I’d love to be, the south of France. 

Ember Matthews has a gift…
Sixteen-year-old Ember Matthews is tired of being the person everyone else wants her to be. Although she is nervous about moving to a small town and leaving behind the comforts of her old life, Ember welcomes the opportunity to escape the mistakes and pain of her past. 

Ember truly wants to change, but when faced with temptation and peer pressure from some new friends, she finds herself slipping into the same old patterns.  As she reconnects with God, Ember begins to realize that she is no ordinary teenager. She sees things that no one else sees and knows things she has no business knowing.  Will Ember learn to use her God-given gift, or will the burden of her calling be too much for her to carry?

Readers Reviews:  
 “Tammy Hill has hit a home run with her first published novel.”

A Christian Supernatural Novel for Teens, Knowing:  A Series of Gifts.  Today only:  Purchase your copy and enter to win a Kindle.

is anything bugging you?

It was one of those split-second decisions. Which is not normally how I operate. FlyLady ( said that I had to clean out from under my bed last week, and when FlyLady speaks, I’ve learned to listen.
I knew what was under that bed. Almost forty years worth of a collection that has now spanned two generations. When I was eleven, I took a summer school class in biology. (Yes, for fun. Call it weird if you want. I’m OK with that.) In that class, we learned two things: how to play Frisbee, and how to collect insects. I’m still pretty good at both.
Collecting insects appealed to me, because 1) I love collecting things; 2) I love identifying things; and 3) I love wildlife. And no, it is not inhumane, since, as was pointed out to me, insects live for a grand total of about two weeks anyway. So it’s not like you’re ridding the planet of the spotted snow leopard or anything.
Later, two daughters would continue the saga, and one would amass a hefty collection of 4H championship trophies for those efforts. Her work was superior, by any standards.
But it was time, I realized, for that collection that we have all stopped adding to to find a new home. I’ve been avoiding that decision for years, because parting with almost 40 years of memories, hard work, and a great deal of family memories into is a tough, tough thing to do. So before I could rethink it, I googled natural history museums, dashed an email off to one of them, and offered up those years.
Reaction of daughters who owned part of collection:
#1—Well, OK, I guess. Maybe. But can I look at it one last time?
#3—Psh. So?
You can guess which one won the trophies.
So on a very rainy day last week, nine boxes of six-legged critters found a new home at the Midwest Museum of Natural History ( To say the staff was ecstatic when they saw the extent of their bequeathment (I thinkI just created that word) is like saying the Field Museum was happy to acquire Sue.
Which is what made the parting easier. Someone will love that collection. Kids will learn from it. Instead of being tucked under my bed with nowhere to display them, they’re out in the world. (And really, my friends already think I’m odd. How do you think they’d feel about us if we did display nine boxes of dead insects in strategic locations around our house? “Hi—welcome to dinner. Oh, don’t mind the giant wasp behind the table. Just part of our ambiance.”)
Bottom line: They’re being used and profiting other people in a way they could not in our possession. And people think we’re generous benefactors instead of scary psycho freaks. It’s a win-win.
Do you have things like that in your home? Or maybe not tangible things in your home, but perhaps cramming your soul? Those things that may have been useful and valuable once, but now they are collecting cobwebs? A lot of us have talents hiding under our proverbial beds, or gifts that we hold close rather than use. We’ve been storing them up, but no one is benefitting from them because we are afraid or too busy to take them out and set them free.
I look forward to a trip to the museum to see our collection finding new life. Dust off a talent or two and see what you can do, as well.