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How to be Popular on the Internet (by Anna-Lisa) – Repost


If you read my Friday twitter posts (and who doesn’t?), then you have no doubt seen me RT a certain @asilannax. We first crossed paths way back on Stuff Chrisians Like. But unlike me, she doesn’t feel the need to comment when there’s nothing to add to the conversation. As you will see from the following post, Anna-Lisa is like me, only much younger and funnier. So, enough of me, here’s Anna-Lisa:

When Kathy first asked me to write a blog post for her, my first thoughts were “Wait, write something longer than 140 characters? Is that even possible?” Needless to say, I’m a bit of a Twitter addict, but branching out is good, right?

Okay, now that the “What I First Thought Of When Bestowed With The Honor Of Guest Blogging For paragraph is out of the way, we can get on to the topic at hand! I have decided to write about How To Be Popular On The Internet. I realize this makes me sound arrogant and self-important, but then I thought about the movie Remember The Titans. Imagine if their chant was “We are the Titans, the kinda okay Titans! We are the Titans, the slightly talented Titans!” No one would have cared about that movie. That movie would have sucked.

This post will mainly focus on Twitter, since that is my area of expertise, but it can be applied to most areas of the internet as well.

Step One:
What level of popular do you prefer?

The first thing to discern is which level of popular you want to be. Do you want to be a famous individual on your own, by your own humor, efforts, talent, and hard work or play off the mistakes of others?

The answer is always the latter. If you chose the former, you have no business being on the internet. You probably already have a steady job and should be answering e-mail from your iPhone or something right now. Get off of here, the Internet doesn’t want you.

I’m obviously making a joke here, but seriously, internet popularity is easier if you just latch onto some kind of bandwagon and either support it or mock the daylights out of it. Observe American Idol, tons of people use Idol to makes lots of friends and set up websites and gossip about how they “can’t BELIEVE she chose that song last night. It didn’t fit her vocal ability at ALL.” Or, you can choose the road I travel, (AKA The Road Of Awesome!) and use the internet to make fun of Paula’s boobs and Randy’s less than eloquent vocabulary.

There’s also the youtube approach, in which you have one thing that makes you popular for a month or so, before you fade out of existence forever. Forever being until someone’s grandmother finds you by some hole in the internet and forwards around to everyone in her e-mail contact list. When your grandmother e-mails you something, understand that it has officially cycled the entire internet. Please, don’t forward it. (This includes: Charlie bit my finger, any video of a baby laughing, something disastrous and/or unexpected happening at a wedding, any video involving an animal falling off of, or into, an object, or a video with an animal and some sort of skateboard) Rule Of Thumb: If it looks like it could be on America’s Funniest Home Videos, the internet has already seen it. On America’s Funniest Home Videos. But I digress.

Step Two:
Gaining friends

The only way to gain friends is to make your ACTUAL friends join your latest obsession and feed off of them. It’s like luring a tiger into a box with a chicken wing and then eating the tiger. Oh, that might be too offensive for PETA members. It’s like luring a tiger into a box with some tofu burgers and then eating the tiger.

It’s actually nothing like that at all, I just wanted to find an excuse to throw a tiger in this blog post somewhere. *High fives self*

Step Three:
Participate in stupid actions

Have you ever considering setting yourself on fire while jumping off of a five story building onto a trampoline into a pool? Quick, grab a friend and a video camera and go do it!* Is your house on fire? QUICK, tweet about it first! Hopefully everyone will forward your stupidity around the internet until you are famous….for….being stupid. Well, no one said fame didn’t come with a price.

*Anna-Lisa and Katdish cannot be held accountable for any injuries sustained from following this advice. (Bonus tip: don’t do anything just because someone on the internet told you that their cousin’s best friend’s grandmother’s aunt’s dog did it and they TOTALLY turned out fine.)

Step Four:
Purchase an animal

Despite what you might thing, animals bring about the best entertainment on the internet. A dog chasing his tail or a cat falling into an aquarium, while overdone, is also incredibly amusing. Or suppose you find yourself alone on a Friday night, a simple tweet about “sitting alone. On a Friday night :(” will not gain you friends. You will be laughed at. However, if you buy a cute kitten and write about how you “have a smoking hot date, and the only thing he asks of you is that you change his litter box” BANG! You are suddenly funny and endearing in your loneliness. Now, hopefully your new kitten likes to snuggle, because you’ll probably still end up crying yourself to sleep each night.

Step Five:
Be famous before the internet

The best, most guaranteed way of being famous on the internet? Do something awesome before you make your appearance on the internet. Be hilarious like Ellen Degeneres. Be hot like Megan Fox. (Good luck!) Start a cult like Oprah. The possibilities are literally endless!
(Please also note that I am in no way famous online, I just enjoy stalking people that are.)

For more from Anna-Lisa in 140 characters or less, follow her on the twitter: @asilannax
For more from Anna-Lisa in blog form, you can find her at Not that You Care, But…

The ABC’s of crap in my purse: the saga continues…


Awhile back I wrote a silly little post entitled The ABC’s of crap in my purse where I mentioned that since the purse was a gift from my generous sister, I really had no idea how much it cost. That is, until I dripped white paint (occupational hazard) and went shopping to find its replacement. I was quite shocked at the price and decided that I could live with a little spot of white on the otherwise brown leather bag. Besides, the more I looked at it, the more I convinced myself a little imperfection added character to that otherwise high brow handbag.

And then another thought occurred to me. A question, to be more specific: Does the price of the gift matter? Would I have been more careful with that gift had I understood its value?

To find out where this particular rabbit trail took me, read the rest of the story over at my friend Peter’s place, Rediscovering the Church

The Winter Trail

This week, my friend Peter Pollock is hosting a blog carnival on the topic of Grief. Truth be told, while I have experienced grief, I was really struggling to come up with a post. Then my friend Annie asked if I was still looking for guest posts. When she sent me this story, and I knew I had my post. A very special thank you to Annie for sharing her story.


Photo by Annie K

There was a light covering of snow on the ground as I made my way along the river trail. Two weeks had passed since I’d been there and I noticed that a lot had changed in that short amount of time.

I dressed for the elements, knowing that a storm had blown through the day before and unsure of how much snow I’d be traversing. Luckily there wasn’t much snow, but what there was had already been trampled by enough hikers to make the trail somewhat slippery.

I’d forgotten that as treacherous as each uphill is in the snow, it’s the downhill that I had to worry about. I began to question why I picked the hilliest part of the trail to hike and not just because of the conditions, but because I’d been sick for well over a week and my lungs were making sure I remembered that.

The last time I hiked the trail there were still some remnants of falls colors, with what leaves remained were clinging to their branches as if unwilling to succumb to their fate of spending winter on the cold hard ground. The squirrels were chattering and scurrying about and the birds were extremely vocal, especially when Boz encroached in their space.

Today, the woods were still except the lone crow who was flushed out of his hiding space and made no secret of his irritation with the rogue Boz-dog on the trail. The squirrels and birds were eerily silent and nowhere to be seen. The trees were completely bare and not a single leaf was spared, with the last ones to fall being scattered along the trail. I came upon a fallen aspen tree that a few weeks ago had been the picture of vibrance with all of it’s leaves in full fall color. Now, the leaves were gone and it was left laying on the ground, never to produce leaves again.

As I walked the trail and took in all the change that happens from spring, to summer, to fall and finally winter, I realized that my life in the past week resembled the trail that was preparing for winter.

You see, it wasn’t being sick that took the life out of me and brought on the season of winter, it was watching my daughter walk out the door without looking back. It was seeing her dark brown eyes turn nearly black as she spit out the words, ‘you need me…’ as she packed up her belongings. She said those words more than once and in several different ways in the time it took her to pack her worldly possesions.

You. Need. Me.

There was a moment where it hit me , and I don’t know who she was trying to convince. I’m not sure if she was saying that over and over to convince herself that yes, she was needed, or trying to convince me that letting her go was going to be the biggest mistake of my life. All I know is that two people were feeling dead inside as she walked past me and uttered, ‘whatever,’ as she walked out the door.

I have refused to cry or feel anything but anger and indifference. I don’t want to talk about what led up to my daughter leaving her home or why she screamed she hated me. I don’t want to let go of the anger because I know when I do that the hurt will come and it is going to be worse than anything I’ve ever felt. And, I know that once the tears start they won’t stop.

For now, the trail understands my pain. It is colorless, cold, empty of life and waiting. Waiting for the next season to bring hope of new life.

***

To read more posts on the topic of Grief, please visit the blog carnival at Rediscovering the Church

Christmas Change

live the gospel

Today’s guest blogger is (drum roll please….)

Me!

Okay, actually I’ve written a post for a very special blog called Christmas Change. If you haven’t paid a visit over there yet, please take time to do so. They’ve got quite an impressive list of contributors and I know you will be blessed. How’d I get on the list? Beats me…

What’s Christmas Change all about? I’m glad you asked:

“Our goal with ChristmasChange.com will be to encourage churches, families, and individuals to pursue a lifestyle of giving, that our families would acknowledge Christ as the center and restore the wonder of His coming by embodying Him as we feed the poor and give our time as lavishers of love and receivers of grace. Isn’t that what Christmas is really about?”

So what’s my post about? Well, Santa Claus, of course…

Click here, and I’ll meet your over there, M’kay?

And just in case we miss each other, I want to wish you all a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving!

Shoe Polish, a Velvet Cape and Mile High Hair (by Glynn Young)

Today’s guest post comes from Glynn Young of Faith, Fiction, Friends:

Glynn is a public affairs writer and the team lead for online strategy for a Fortune 500 company based in St. Louis. He and his wife Janet have two grown sons, one-daughter-in-law, one grandchild-to-be and a great dog. He bikes, reads a lot and has a bad tendency to cry at movies, particularly sappy ones. Glynn was born and raised in New Orleans, and received a B.A. in journalism from LSU and a Masters of Liberal Arts from Washington University in St. Louis.

That’s Glynn’s “official bio”. I would also like to add that he is a source of encouragement to so many of us here in the blogosphere and on twitter, and I appreciate him very much.

Now here’s Glynn on his adventures in Beaumont, Texas:

Before I graduated from college, I’d been to Texas three times: a family vacation to see Six Flags in Dallas/Ft. Worth; a journalism conference at the University of Texas in Austin; and my interview for a copy editor position at the Beaumont Enterprise. I got the job, graduated from LSU, and drove the next day to Beaumont.

I was not prepared for Texas, Beaumont or working for a newspaper, despite my two years of experience with LSU’s Daily Reveille. But I learned things, and quickly, through the people I met and worked with. It took a while for me to figure out that not everyone in Texas was, well, odd.

Receptionists are important; treat them well. The receptionist’s desk was the first you passed coming into the newsroom. And if you thought she wasn’t important, you learned right away how wrong you were. In this case, she was from southwestern Louisiana and had a Cajun accent. She was in her 40s, and dressed like she was in her teens – tight mini-skirt and white go-go boots, every day. And jet-black hair teased up approximately two feet. You always said hello. You never made a comment about how she was dressed or her hair. If you did, you faced a verbal shredding and general career demise (she was also the managing editor’s secretary).

Don’t use black shoe polish to dye your hair, especially when it rains. One of the reporters, of indeterminate age but likely in his 50s or early 60s, used black shoe polish for hair dye, or something that smelled like it. One day, he strolled calmly into the news room, having escaped a downpour outside. He was drenched. And his face, neck and jacket were stained orange. No one could say anything; we were all dumbstruck, until we realized that the polish or dye or whatever it was had run with the rain.

Be extraordinarily polite when you get insulted. The lady who did the religion page was a sweetheart, as nice and polite as she could be, except when anyone attempted to swipe a piece of her religious page turf. Then she was a pit bull. One day, I was walking my dog, and we meandered under Interstate 10 and into a really nice neighborhood. It wasn’t that my own neighborhood wasn’t nice; in fact, I referred to it as the posh Northway-Gaylynn luxury apartments. It was affordable on my $125-a-week salary, which meant I didn’t want my mother to see it. As my dog and I turned a corner, who did I run into but Religion Page Lady. We chatted briefly, and then she lowered her voice. “Be careful,” she said. “Those slums across the interstate – there are bad people who live there. Gangs. Drugs. Everything.” I never looked at my apartment in quite the same way again.

People can be nice and work well, no matter how they dress. My first day on the job, I met all of the people on the copy desk. Everyone seemed nice, but I was taken aback by the obituary writer. He had an Ivanhoe haircut. He always wore a flowing black velvet cape, regardless of the weather. And he had a matching black velvet choker. He was quiet, almost introverted, but he did a good job with obituaries and memorials. And a newspaper was willing to ignore odd clothes if someone could write a good obituary – the most read part of the newspaper in Beaumont. After a while, I got used to it, and totally freaked one day when he wore normal clothes. No one asked why, and he didn’t say. But we were shocked.

Be flexible. One Sunday night, the only staff on the desk was the slot man, me and an intern. We had three editions of the newspaper to put out – East Texas, Louisiana and Home, with deadlines about an hour apart. So you didn’t fool around. Except this Sunday night, the slot man gave us a job to do, one of the most difficult I ever faced at the newspaper: find a bar that was open. Now, this was Texas in the 1970s. An open bar on a Sunday night simply didn’t exist. But for two hours, the intern and I called every bar in the Beaumont-Port Arthur-Orange area. I finally found one, in a really rotten area. It didn’t matter. He was out of the door in a flash, saying he’d be back. The first deadline was an hour away. The intern and I looked at each other and got to work. The slot man didn’t come back. We put out all three editions of the paper that night. (Quiz: guess how many reporters wrote stories on Sunday? Answer: None = desperate copy editor and intern.)

Advancement can be rapid, often because you’re the last person standing. For some odd reason, staff turnover was rapid that summer, as in, people left. In droves. By the end of the summer, I was No. 2 on the desk. And because No. 1 was usually off seeking liquid refreshment, especially after the executives left for the day, I was de facto No. 1. I was not quite 22. It was way too much responsibility for such a little salary.

Work is both mundane and sublime, sometimes on the same day. Two headlines I recall writing: “B. Dalton’s opens in Parkdale Mall” (front page); “Agnew Resigns” (front page).

It was the era of Woodward and Bernstein toppling presidents, and Mideast nations imposing oil embargoes. But those things were transient. What lasted were lessons about shoe polish, velvet capes, mile-high hair and bars open on Sunday nights.

It was wonderful.

***

To read more from Glynn Young, visit him at Faith, Fiction, Friends and follow him on the twitter at @gyoung9751.

The Beauty of the Trail (by Annie K)

Today’s guest post was written by my friend Annie K, who can write AND take amazing photographs. I happen to think she’s combined both talents here beautifully. Enjoy.

I grew up surrounded by the forest, mountains, lakes and a river that flows through the town I call home. I always loved spending time out in the wilderness and the older I get the more I feel drawn to the winding trails and the solitude of what I consider one of the most peaceful places I know.

This time of year there are very few people on the trail and the stillness that surrounds me is incredibly comforting. The only sounds I hear are the faint jingle of Boz’s collar, the occasional chattering of a squirrel that was most likely disturbed by said dog, the wind rustling through the trees and the sound of my footsteps as I make my way along the trail that is covered with fallen pine needles and Aspen leaves.

The leaves from the Aspens fall all around me as if they are being dropped from the heavens, and for a few hours, I watch the lazy river flow by, breathe in the crisp air and enjoy the colors of fall as if they were put there especially for me.

Yesterday, I made my way around one corner of the trail and I saw a flash of incredible color that went from red to orange, to gold and green. As I inspected it more closely, I realized that it was a part of an aspen tree that was in full fall color and had fallen. Recently.

Curiosity got the better of me and so I made my way down the steep rocky slope to get a better view. The moment I laid eyes on the base of the tree a smile crept over my face and two words escaped my lips as I looked down at Boz. “Dang beaver.”

It’s a shame to see this aspen lying on the ground, knowing that it is the last time it’s going to produce such beauty, and all because some beaver thinks he’s going to dam the Deschutes. But that is nature and I would never have enjoyed being so close to these brilliant colors had the tree still been standing.

I could walk this trail a hundred times an see it a thousand different ways. All because God instilled in me a passion for the outdoors.

As I walked and drank in the surroundings I thought about how this trail is a lot like my life. There are uphills and downhills, mountains and valleys, calm waters and rapids, twist and turns, rocky paths and clear paths, dark places and places full of light. I see the trail in black and white and astounding color. I can think I’ve got it all figured out, turn a corner and see the trail from a different angle and realize I’m seeing something I didn’t notice before. I can find beauty in all of it because I know that God was the creator of this incredible place and He gave me a passion, a deep desire to be out on this trail enjoying his creation.

And that is how I should see my life. No matter what mountain I’m on or valley I’m in, or how dark the day may be, or what twists and turns I’m facing I should be able to see the beauty in the trail God is leading me down because that is the plan He has for my life. I should walk down the path with my eyes wide open, so as not to miss what it is I have to see while embracing life in color and the contrast of black and white. The rocky path needs to be faced with a spirit of determination and the dark places maneuvered by His light on the path.

I believe we find incredible beauty in whatever we are passionate about. Our lives, no matter what the situation should be lived with the same passion for fear we’ll miss what’s around the next turn in the trail.


To read more from Annie, visit her at Buzz by Annie’s, her photography blog, Annie’s Daily Picture, and follow her on the twitter at @buzzbyannies.

The Unbearable Being of Linus (On Writing….Really) by Stephen Parolini


Okay writerly people. I have a very special treat for you today!

The Novel Doctor has agreed to write a guest post for me. If you haven’t read his blog, you totally should. No, really…not kidding. I’ll give you the link at the end of the post as usual. He sent me a “overlong bio” that he suggested I edit, but I’m not such a good editor and I didn’t want to leave any of it out.

So, here’s Stephen in his own words:

Stephen Parolini has been writing pretty much since the womb. But when his first book “The View From Here Is Really Dark,” written in-utero, was rejected by agents because of a lack of something called “platform” he took a break from writing to pursue a greater career as a curious child, then perpetually distracted but surprisingly successful student, then bank teller, then admissions counselor for his alma mater, Aurora University (it’s in Illinois), then Pizza Hut assistant manager, and throughout much of this time, part time youth minister.

About, oh, let’s say 24 years ago, he remembered he liked words and so he got himself hired by Group Publishing, where he learned how to edit stuff. He wrote and published some youth ministry books, then quit to be a stay-at-home dad and full-time freelancer, which he’s been doing ever since, apart from a brief return to cubicle world working for a publisher in Colorado.

He edits novels and non-fiction books for a variety of folks and is paid in kind words and empty promises – which he then passes along to his creditors.

He has two sons – one is recently married, the other will be as soon as he is of legal age since he and his girlfriend are making him a grandfather much sooner than he’d expected. He himself was married for a long time, but now he isn’t. He likes books and movies and music and cookies and romantic idealism and common sense and irony. Not all at the same time.

***

Linus van Pelt.

He’s the philosopher, theologian, believer in Great Pumpkins and keeper of the faith. And he is also the holder of security blanket and sucker of thumb.

Oh Linus, how those who write are just like thee. (Ref: 2 Schulz 9:17, PSV)

While I’m sure some of us can relate to lovable loser Charlie Brown or nicknamed and nameless “Pig-Pen” (shower once in a while, would ya?), writers-who-want-to-matter (isn’t that all of us?) have much more in common with The Kid Who Holds the Blanket.

In my work as an editor, I see all kinds of writers. Mona Lisas and mad hatters, sons of bankers, sons of lawyers. Some are naturally gifted and brilliant storytellers, others are the marketable product of long years of hard work. But across the board, without exception, they are all Linus. They are philosophers, theologians and believers in Great Pumpkins. They are dreamers and thinkers and world-creators who breathe new life into the things we think we know and make up the things that ought to be.

They also suck their thumbs.

Probably not literally, though I can’t be certain of this since I’m not Orwellian enough to have visual access to their writing chambers. But certainly figuratively – they hold tight to whatever secure thing they can because wandering into the wordish wilderness is more than a little unsettling. Once a writer releases his or her words into the world, those words are free game for doubters and detractors and haters and fuss-budgets.

So they hold on to something that gives them comfort.

Some hold onto the tenuous, encouraging words of a spouse or a teacher or an agent or editor. Others pledge allegiance to their day job, just in case the writing thing goes horribly awry. My security blanket is self-effacing humor. Or just self-effacingness, without the humor. Writers need their blankets. If you take away my ability to make light of myself, you take away my ability to write (or perhaps more accurately, you take away the confidence to share my writing with anyone other than the dust bunnies that proliferate under the card table that masquerades as my desk).

The title of this post suggests being a Linus – a writer – is unbearable. It is. To write with intent to share is to bare at least a portion of your soul. Whether you do that in a blog post or a novel or a poem or a Tweet, you’re practically inviting Lucy to tug at your blanket. But this vulnerable space is exactly what we want; it’s what we need, because it’s precisely where the magic lives. It’s where those who read our words might discover something surprising, or something to believe in, or maybe just something that makes them smile.

The vulnerable space is also a reminder that writing is more than an act of the will; it’s an act of faith.

You don’t have to be brilliant to write. You don’t have to have anything particularly unique to say. But you do need more than a little bit of faith if you’re going to share your words with others – faith that your words will matter and faith that you won’t be completely destroyed by readers’ reactions. And by destroyed I mean pumped full of bullets or pumped full of pride. Either can ruin a writer.

I did exhaustive research for this post to make sure all my Peanuts-related information was accurate. (ie: I searched Wikipedia.) As it turns out, Linus eventually grows out of needing his blanket – or at least he doesn’t keep it with him as much as he used to. Apparently, in one comic he also stops sucking his thumb, saying, “It’s a good thumb, but not a great thumb.” I suppose there’s a transferrable lesson in this. But heck if I can figure out what it is. Maybe it’s about how time and experience can grow our writing confidence to the point where we don’t need to hold quite so tightly to those anchors that we once counted on to keep us from completely unraveling when the writing thing teetered toward impossible.

I don’t know, though. I think that whole “act of faith” never goes away for writers. Perhaps over time we suck our thumbs less often, but ultimately, whenever we put words on the page we’re inviting scrutiny by friends and strangers. We’re saying, “this is a piece of me…what do you think?” Whether we do this with great confidence, “You wanna piece of me? Chew on this!” or with high anxiety, “It’s just li’l ol’ me, please be gentle,” it’s a risky act. In fact, it’s practically unbearable.

And yet we keep doing it.

Because we are Linus. We are writers. And we are compelled to write.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to find my blanket. It’s a little chilly here, what with the draft that’s blowing through the rather large holes in this blogpost.

***

To read more from Stephen Parolini, visit him at The Novel Doctor and follow him on the twitter at @noveldoctor.

Max and Ruby: The Halloween Edition (by Beck)

As a very special, spooky Halloween treat, I’ve invited Beck from Toad and Frog are Still Friends (Profile: I’m a stay-at-home mom who likes to write! I know! I’m a delicate, unique snowflake!) to guest blog for me today. She has a gift, you see. A gift for taking beloved children’s stories and making them scary. I was really hard pressed to choose just one, but having suffered through countless episodes of Max and Ruby with my daughter, this one is sort of my sentimental favorite.

But enough about me, here’s Beck with her take on Max and Ruby:

***

Once there had been a mother.

He remembered her, a bit – her breath that smelled like communion grape juice and cigarettes, her harsh laugh and her sudden rages, the way he was frightened and small and hiding underneath his bed, in his tent, under the slide at the playground, hiding from her giant hitting hands and her loud voice.

Ruby made her go away.

He didn’t remember much of that night – nothing much more than Ruby giving him warm funny tasting milk at bedtime and then his sleepy awareness of raised yelling female voices and a sudden loud noise and then silence. Then he woke up the next morning to Ruby bright and extra cheerful and the kitchen extra clean and a new vegetable garden in the backyard.

He likes working in the garden. He likes putting his hands in the dirt, likes watering the fat jolly vegetables. Ruby smiles and brings him lemonade and they have picnics for lunch and sometimes he sits on the swing even though the swing is getting smaller and smaller all the time.
He keeps forgetting to ask Ruby about the shrinking swing. He forgets sometimes that Grandma went away a long time ago and finds himself standing in front of her house where strangers live now. He forgets that Mom went away, too, and hides under the piano bench, hides under the front steps, until Ruby lures him out with gummy worms and trips to the ice cream store.

“Ruby,” says their neighbour Mrs. Huffington over the fence. “You’re doing a wonderful job looking after him, but your whole life is passing you by.”

He remembers that sometimes, the way he remembers the surprising bits of red in the kitchen, the loud sound, his mother’s sharp breath and giant hurting hands. But then it’s time for a picnic and the sun is bright and it’s time to work in the garden again, their special garden where the vegetables come up so big and ripe.

***

For more children’s stories turned spooky including Clifford the Big Red Dog, Arthur, Winnie the Pooh, Pippi Longstocking, Scooby Doo, Franklin, Berenstein Bears and Goodnight Moon, check them out HERE.

Visit Beck at Toad and Frog are Still Friends and follow her on the twitter at
@beckfromfrogandtoad.

One word at a time: Regret (by Bridget Chumbley)


By “social media guru” standards, I suppose I don’t have many followers on the twitter – 954 at last count. But that’s certainly more than I could ever really keep up with. But the great thing about tweetdeck is that you can create a “favorites” column to keep up with your favorite tweeters. Bridget Chumbley certainly falls into that category. Always kind, always encouraging. And did I mention she’s a very good writer? Also? She quoted me – which has nothing to do with the fact that she’s guest posting. (It’s just nice to hear someone else quote me besides my kids, because they use my words against me.)

Here’s Bridget with some thoughts on Regret:

I’ve found myself spending a lot of time recently dwelling on regrets. Some regrets are for things I’ve said or done that caused hurt and pain, some revolve around situations that were completely out of my control, while others resulted from a lack of comprehension, simply because I was young and immature…

Growing up, I used to get really angry and frustrated with my mom. She’s struggled with health issues and chronic pain for as long as I can remember, but as a child I tended to be selfish and focused on how it would affect me…not how hard it was on her (physically as well as emotionally). There were times we’d be driving to Disneyland (or somewhere else I REALLY wanted to go), and half-way there we’d have to turn around and go home, because she’d be sick or hurting.


1Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

I’m not sure how you dealt with disappointment when you were young, but I got pretty upset. I’d sit in the car with steam coming out my ears, insensitive to the fact my mom was obviously feeling guilty enough without my ‘tantrum’ in the backseat. Now that I’m older (and I hope wiser), I understand what she was dealing with, and what a constant struggle it was for her to plan those family outings, never knowing what each day would have in store for her body.

Another regret is of a time I was being babysat while my parents were at work. The babysitter decided we’d take a ride on her bike up to our local store. This was NOT something we were supposed to do while she watched me, and to top it off she put me on the handlebars! Sadly, she hit the curb with the front tire, and subsequently I hit the gravel driveway (face-first). I ended up in the emergency room, with much of my face left behind on the road.

I don’t remember most of what happened (being unconscious can do this), but I’ve been told that when I was able to talk, I blamed my babysitter for the ‘accident’. I was upset and scared, and said a lot of things I didn’t mean!

Most of us have had moments like this, we’re hurt or afraid and we speak before thinking…then when we’ve come to our senses, we apologize and hopefully we’re forgiven and we move on. Well, not long after this ‘incident’, before I realized how stupid and childish I was being, my babysitter was killed in a tragic school bus accident. When I read her name off the list of deceased students in the newspaper, I remember being shocked and full of regret…why didn’t I just say I was sorry?

Many years later, during the summer of my freshman year of high school, I spent a few weeks with some relatives in Connecticut. It was a great trip (my first one without parents along), but about 2 weeks into the trip, I received news that my dear friend Brian (we’d had a crush on each other for years) had been killed in a horrible car accident, along with his dad.

Needless to say I was devastated. Not only didn’t I get a chance to say good bye to Brian, I also missed the funeral by the time they were able to reach me. I went to the cemetery as soon as I got back home, but it wasn’t the same. I still have a deep regret for things left unsaid and unresolved…

Now I’m an adult (at least according to my age), and I’ve had plenty of lessons taught to me (some harder than others)… life is short, take nothing for granted…take opportunities as they arise, because there might not be others…

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Why then is it still so hard to do what we know to be right? There are situations I need to put in the past… words left unspoken… people I need to forgive (starting with myself)… but it’s a constant struggle! I know better than to procrastinate, yet here I sit with a heavy heart and a stubborn head!


“Forgiving others is a gift we give ourselves” ~ katdish

It’s never too late to show compassion, and Jesus Christ gave us the ultimate example of forgiveness! Should we continue living with regrets and heartache, or are we ready to give ourselves that priceless gift and finally let go?

***

To read more from Bridget Chumbley, visit her at One Word at a Time and follow her on the twitter at @bridgetchumbley.

What DO you do with a Voodoo Doberman? (by Stephanie Wetzel)


I asked Steph of the Red Clay Diaries to guest post for me roughly six months ago.

Then I asked her again.

Then I said, “Steph, seriously – just give me SOMETHING!”

So she says, “Like what?”, and I say, “Voodoo Doberman.” So she says, “Oh, okay.”

(insert sound of crickets chirping here)

Then I say, “You’re going to have to email it to me, because I’m can’t do EVERYTHING!” Then she called me pushy or something like that and says, “You’re not the boss of me!”

(That might not be our conversation verbatim, but pretty darned close.)

Without further adieu, Here’s Steph of the Red Clay Diaries:

Based on the blog name, you might think that as an outsider, I am making fun of the rural South. But here’s the truth:

I grew up in California, but in the part that nobody knows about: central California. During my teen years, my family lived in a single-wide mobile home – with the wheels still on – on one dusty acre behind my parents’ junk store.

Yes. Junk store.

Surrounded by cotton fields and dairies, our household consisted of four people, five dogs, one horse, and anywhere from five to twenty chickens.

One of our dogs was named Buffalo, and he had issues with cats. He hated them. When we moved to the country, he quickly transferred this animosity to the chickens. In fact, Buffalo made it his mission to purge our property of poultry.

I heart alliteration.

My dad built a Buffalo-proof pen, so the dog spent most of the day glaring through the wire at his feathered enemies. He was biding his time, because he had learned that my little sister wasn’t consistent at latching the chicken gate. She forgot about once every three months.

Chickens being, well, chickens, an open gate drew them out into the yard. And to their demise. It never happened when we were home, so here’s what we gathered from forensic evidence:

Buffalo waited until all the chickens left the pen. Then he systematically killed them. And stacked them in a neat pile against the fence. Obsessive-compulsive? We never knew for sure.

My parents tried every solution, but Buffalo could not be broken of his chicken habit. As a last resort my dad tried something that the old-timers swore by: letting the animal live with the consequences of his actions – literally.

So, after the next killing spree, my dad chose a dead chicken – our biggest rooster, as it happened – and tied the carcass to Buffalo’s collar. The idea was to leave it there until your dog grew to hate chickens, and then he’d never go near them again.

So hanging from our Doberman’s neck, tied by the feet and dragging on the ground, was a chicken pendant. A chicken necklace. A chicken choker.

This training method did not have the desired effect. Buffalo soon adjusted to the weight and awkwardness of his new accessory. And apparently the smell. In fact, I think he kind of forgot it was there.

Days passed, and the rooster rotted in the 100-degree heat. We girls spent our time dodging a 90-pound dog as he dragged around what looked like a large feather duster. A large smelly feather duster that kept shedding body parts all over the yard.

Even my dad questioned his plan when he realized that he’d lost his junk store dog. He couldn’t really lock Buffalo and a dead chicken in the store every night.

So eventually Dad decided to remove the carcass, and there was much rejoicing in the land. But when Buffalo greeted us that morning, something was missing. At first it looked like the chicken had finally disintegrated.

But then we saw it: Buffalo had removed the chicken himself, by chewing it off at the feet.

The only thing hanging from his collar now, like the necklace of a voodoo queen, was a pair of large bright-yellow chicken feet.

See? Rednecks = my people. The soil may be red here instead of brown, but it feels like home to me.

In your FACE, Jeff Foxworthy!

***

To read more from Stephanie Wetzel, visit her at The Red Clay Diaries and follow her on the twitter at @redclaydiaries.

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