Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Nostalgic Christmas

Definition of Nostalgia
1 : the state of being homesick
2 : a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition; also: something that evokes nostalgia

Every year, around this time, I become nostalgic. It has something to do with the fact that I live away from my childhood home as well as far from all my family. One of the ways I turn my homesickness into a holiday celebration is to enjoy fond memories.

This year I have a bonus. My high school class held its 25th class reunion. I was unable to attend, but I still feel connected because my classmates have enjoyed group e-mail since then. Exchanging photos makes me almost feel like I am there with them. I impressed myself by being able to identify each person in a group picture from a class gathering. Yes, faces and figures have changed, but their essences are still the same.

Many women who have experienced weight gain like me are hesitant to attend their class reunions. They assume everyone else has stayed the same and they are the only ones who have changed. But guess what? Life happens to all of us, as worries and concerns mature our once-taunt skin and gravity changes our waistline into a wasteland. Some of the late bloomers look more gorgeous today than ever before, but the rest of us just look...well...older.

What I notice happening with our class now that we are all 40-something is that we have let go of our cliques and we are really bonded in what unites us, our childhood memories. Those things that make us different don't divide us, but make us unique and interesting. No longer do we look for cookie-cutter friends. It's great having a blast from the past, like reuniting with school acquaintances, and finding some that become even closer friends now that our walls of division have come down.

As Christians, we can learn from this example. Rather than only fellowshipping with people we deem acceptable, we should let down our guard and find a common bond. If we are all following Jesus, won't we find ourselves on the same path? Let's all fellowship on that journey. What better Christmas present to give our Lord, for Him to see His children enjoying each other's company.

Allow yourself to become homesick this holiday. If you follow the star of Bethlehem, you will find your way Home again.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving Blessing List for Year

If I was sitting at the Thanksgiving table, and I could stop time so that the others wouldn't be mad at me for "yam"mering on and on about my blessings for the year, here would be a few of the big ones for which I'm grateful:

+ My soulmate, Russ. I can't imagine life without him.
+ Renewed relationships with my aunts-they have been amazing to me this year-nurturing!
+ An opportunity to grow closer to my Lord in the quiet times, the down times, the low times, the painful times, and yes, during the ELATED times too!
+ The gift of friendships. I am a girl most blessed.
+ A place of service in a variety of ministries at church, with a year of seeing both trials and victories, allowing us to see God's hand more clearly.
+ Getting to sing with our church choir, special music, and the praise team. Music is audio-to-cardio medicine!
+ Three successful big events in the Women's Ministry-a real adrenaline kick!
+ One year of blogging, with the potential to stay in touch better with family and friends.
+ Rediscovering old friendships, some from as far back as my childhood.
+ The bundle of energy and love called Jazzy-one year old this week.
+ The implantation of the spinal cord stimulator-already making the pain more bearable-a true answer to prayer!
+ My freelance jobs (writing and editing) taking off after networking with close friends in the writing business for 3 years.

I really have a lot for which to be thankful this Thanksgiving. Most of all, for my salvation, which started an amazing relationship with the One who made life make sense and have purpose, whose love never ceases to amaze me.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Attitude of Gratitude

(Written 2002)

Thanksgiving Day, as celebrated in the United States, was this week. What a great way to kick off the holiday season leading up to Christmas! One of the greatest reasons of all to give thanks is because we have the gift of Christ from our Heavenly Father. God's unconditional love allowed Him to give up what He held most dear, His perfect Son, to provide for a way of salvation for His created humanity. What better timing then, for Thanksgiving and Christmas to go hand in hand!

When we begin to think about it, we must admit, we are so blessed! Even families enduring great hardships can find something for which to be thankful. In fact, it is an attitude of gratitude which will transform a downcast spirit into a countenance radiating joy. Others may not even realize the trials you are enduring because your shoulders are not burdened down and there is still a spring in your step. Happiness depends on happenings, but joy comes when we focus on all the reasons we have to be grateful.

I know at least two families who read their calendars wrong and celebrated Thanksgiving last week. At first, I laughed at their silly mistake. But then I couldn't help but realize there is nothing wrong with wanting to hurry up Thanksgiving. In fact, it is one holiday that could change our world, if each of us would have an attitude of gratitude all year long.

Just think what a transformation would take place if we were all thankful. We would be thankful for our salvation, so we would tell others about Christ. They would become thankful for the gift and have their own spiritual birthday. We would be grateful for God's provision, and would share our provisions with those in need. We would be thankful for friendships, and would get along better with others. We would appreciate our families more, and would spend more time together. We would be grateful for our jobs, and would become the best employees possible.

Can you see how developing an "attitude of gratitude" could transform our world? It wouldn't just become a positive place to live. It would become a Christ-filled world.

May this Thanksgiving Day start your own gratitude revival!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Deer are Dear!

This morning, I had a treat for breakfast. Not lucky charms. A treat of the visual kind. I looked out our French doors and into our woods and saw a deer. Another deer was frolicking in the field next to the woods. She disappeared into the woods to forage for food. Then not two, not three, but FOUR deer walked in an almost straight line into the field. They started running. It seemed they would run right into traffic, during rush hour. I found myself crying out, "Oh baby, be careful. Don't get hit!" Believe it or not, the head deer, looked both ways and put on the brakes. All the other deer followed suit. Then, a merciful driver slowed down and the deer seemed to know it was safe to run across the road. I wasn't so sure about the driver, but she stopped. Imagine her delight, to watch three deer run right in front of her bumper! I said three deer because the fourth one was stuck in the field, scared to death. The driver waved to the deer to go ahead and join the others. I doubt the deer understood the sign language, but did sense it was safe, and she ran the fastest of all to catch up with the others, playing in a field on the other side of the road. It was an amazing sight.

I didn't take any photos, but I do have a picture of my two "dears" to share with you. This was when Russ and Jazzy were lounging.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Glasswinged Butterfly

These photos are too beautiful not to share. They are taken of a Glasswing Butterfly, which lives in South America.

Obviously, a butterfly such as this, with transparent wings is a rare find. It is said the wings are as delicate as finely blown glass. The wings shine like panes of a stained glass window, in hews of turquoise, orange, green, and red. Enjoy, and glorify the Lord for this beautiful creation.

WARNING: Highly Opinionated-Part Two

Someone wrote me to remind me that while all sin has the same price (which Jesus paid for on the cross), that there are different consequences for different sins. Some sins affect more people than others, and cause more damaging results.

This was my reply:

You brought up a good point. There are different consequences for different sins. I think that is why I'm so burdened about this topic. If there are certain sins that have greater consequences, why do we act more hateful to those individuals? Why do we put up a wall between us rather than reaching out a hand to draw them into our loving guidance to the TRUTH? Why do we preach messages of hate, very similar to messages I hear from prejudiced individuals about someone of a different skin color? I have heard preachers make fun of homosexuals from the pulpit and call them names, and then wonder when the invitation is given why the lesbians in their congregations don't come forward. I've seen people who call homosexuals "those people" in a tone similar to Archie Bunker talking about a different culture or color. I've seen people coordinate boycotts, but they won't take a casserole across the street to the gay couple who have had a setback.

How in the world are we going to reach these beautiful individuals who God created with loving tenderness who have a greater consequence for their choice of sins, if we draw a line between "us" and "them"?

I know there are people who say they have a gay person in their lives, but they still mock them, much like a prejudiced person says they have an African American friend, which somehow seems to allow them to make black jokes and still have a heart.

But to use that same "I have gay friends" statement that some say before they make a gay-bashing joke--I have had gay individuals in my life as long as I can remember. Some of the people I was closest to in my childhood were gay. I can count at least eight before I was 17, in a small town of 4,000. In my adult life it seems the Lord has opened my eyes to the hearts of several others who have chosen the homosexual lifestyle. When a lesbian stayed in my home for a weekend retreat, my heart was so touched by her plight that I have never been the same. She was struggling to find her way in this world, and so open to biblical truths, when given with doses of love and not condemnation.

Some say they could NEVER be a homosexual. Don't be so sure. I have to admit, there but the grace of God go I. What does that mean? If I had not been introduced to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ at an impressionable age, I could have gone down a different path. When diagnosed with a reproductive congenital defect at the age of 17, I'm not sure what I would have done without the peace of Christ that passes all human understanding. I have known many others with the same anomaly who have become lesbian after the diagnosis because of their confused hearts and minds. That could have been me.

A cousin who was as close as an older brother lived a homosexual lifestyle. That wasn't the only thing that defined him as an individual, but I'm sure it was all a gay-hater could see. But if you could get past that, you saw a phenomenal human being. He died at a young age last year about this time, all alone. His passing has caused me to reevaluate many things "religious." Was it a message of hate that drove Mark away from the life in Christ he embraced as a teenager?

I am not condoning any sin. I'm just against treating some sinners as more despicable than other sinners. Since some do face great consequences than others, we should reach out to them with open arms rather than closed fists.

WARNING: Highly Opinionated!

This week Elton John made the news by stating he thinks organized religion should be banned because it has encouraged hatred against homosexuals. I'm not sure what you thought about that statement, but I had three main thoughts rushing through my mind. I know it isn't a feel-good inspirational topic, but perhaps I can share my thoughts in such a way as to build up rather than tear down.

My first thought was a quip I've heard my husband say when someone objects to church because they are against "organized religion." He ponders, "Would you rather have UNorganized religion?" Sir Elton said he likes the teachings of Jesus, but he isn't a fan of Christianity. Isn't Christianity the study of Christ's teachings (perhaps in an ORGANIZED way?).

But if you get past that basic question, I have to acknowledge that Elton John has a valid point. Not the part where he wants to ban religion, but that religion has encouraged us to hate people who aren't like us. I've heard the saying, "hate the sin, love the sinner" but to be honest I've read quite a bit of e-mail that sounds a lot like hate to me.

I believe homosexuality falls into the same category of sins as other sexual sins. Expanding that thought further, no sin is worse than another when it comes to the price. There isn't one sin that is minimal enough to not cost Jesus His life. The unbiblical choices I make each day that cause me to rebel against God and His teachings puts me in the same category as a homosexual or a murderer. It's just easier for people to preach about someone else's sins than their own.

The third thought that came to me when I heard Elton John's quote is the part about religion being banned. The term religion as we know it is a practice of tradition passed down from previous generations, based on a set of doctrines regarding how we view God or god (depending on the religion). I'm guessing those who practice religion probably struggle with hating those who do not live by their set of beliefs. But those who take religion a step further, who live a RELATIONSHIP with Christ, spill out love in the same way He spilled out blood for each one of us. Not condoning the sin, but building trust and respect from those who have different belief systems.

Let's not ban organized religion. Let's ban hate. Let's get off of our spiritual high horses and admit our sins break the heart of God just as much as the sins of others. Maybe that's what the Bible means when it mentions we must get the big ol' sticks of wood out of our own eyes before we can get the splinter out of the eye of the one we want to judge. And maybe then, with a clearer focus, we won't want to pick on the other person at all. We will just want to live a life that reflects Christ.

I'm sorry, Elton John. I'm sorry that you have received a message of hate from pulpits and lecterns. But if you read more from the teachings of Christ which you say you believe, you will see just how much He loves you and wants to draw you to Him. Open arms. Open heart.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

my "Bag Lady"

I have to tell you a neat thing that happened at our Fall Friendship Tea. We had a purse theme, and so I wanted to decorate the stage area with handcrafted purses. I contacted about 5 different purse makers, through a google search. Only one said "yes." Guess where I found her? On eBay! So, I invited her to attend as my guest, and bring her handbags to be on display. She brought a baker's rack type shelf unit to display them on. Some of the ladies teased me for inviting a perfect stranger to the Tea. They said she could have been a serial killer or axe murderer or something.

She came early, to set up, and then had to wait over an hour for the Tea to start. I had asked a friend to come early to sit with this special guest, since I would be tending to last minute details, but she hadn't arrived yet. So, this "bag lady" asked if she could help us do anything. Normally I would have been horrified to say "yes" but I know when I go speak somewhere, I'd much rather help out than "sit pretty" at the head table all by my lonesome. So, I took Dixie up on her offer to help. She was a real sweetie, and had a ton of fun being "one of the gals."

The Tea went great (yay)! And after the Tea, Dixie and I were saying good-bye. She asked, "can I have a hug?" I told her I was a hugger, and we hugged like we were long lost friends! She said the Tea had blessed her heart sooooo much, and she was glad she came.

Now how cool is THAT?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

For Novelists

Are you a novelist? I just ran across two new services offered by Glass Road Public Relations. You might want to check them out.

#1-Speakers' Bureau. What? Fiction writers speak too? You bet! The bureau will help you come up with great themes and will actively pursue events for you. They coordinate deals with bookstores so that you don't have to tote your books to every event, which will drive your sales numbers up (when your purchase books to sell, they do not go towards your sales number).

#2-Blog tours. Blog tours are offered with the full PR package. The numbers show that sales go up with a successful blog tour. Now GRPR offers a blog tour package for those who don't want the complete PR package. They work with over 100 bloggers to coordinate tours for you. These include book reviews on blog sites, book giveaways, and author interviews.

If you (or someone you know) might be interested in either of these two new services, check them out at the following website:

Hope this helps someone out there!
Kathy Carlton Willis
Living Out Loud Communications & Manuscript Editorial Services

Gratitude List

I'm grateful for:

-Music. It changes my spirit within seconds-what power to uplift and energize! And I'm one of those gals who cranks up my radio in the car. I sing along too. You probably saw me looking really goofy at the stop light!

-A possible job. The PR firm who was considering me for a potential publicist position, was so pleased with my work that they want me to head up their new division-a speakers' bureau for novelists. If I take the job, I will work with fiction writers who also speak, and will possibly be helping coordinate blog tours for writers with a book launch. This is a different job than I originally applied for, but it is something I would LOVE. So now I'm praying about it, and will let them know before the end of the month. Will you pray with me? The note the president of the firm wrote me was a huge day brightener!

-A fuzzy robe. One size fits most fluffy shaped women. That means me whether I was a size 12 or a size 22. This one is special because it was my mother-in-love's until she passed away in 1997. Okay-so maybe it isn't as fuzzy of a robe as it used to be, but it still does the trick!

-A busy week this week. Something every night. That's okay. It means we have friends to visit and places to be where we have purpose. The nights at home are good too. We usually try to go for a balance, but this week we will just have to put it into overdrive and rest when we can grab a few minutes.

-An opportunity to vote. What a great country!

-Great news from a friend. His lung biopsy test came back negative. Woo Hoo!

So much more for which to be grateful. So little space. I'm sure it would fill up all the pages of all the computers in all the houses in the world if we were honest.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Shed Blood

I voted this week. There were no major issues, but I wanted to do my part for my country. I told my husband that there is no other greater duty outside of church to mankind than to vote. I compared it to giving blood. It felt good to wear the "I Voted Today" sticker all day long.

Today I saw on the news that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stepped down. Politics aside, I hurt for our armed forces. This Saturday is Veteran's Day. Our veterans are willing to sacrifice the ultimate price for our country. All I did was vote. I compared it to donating blood to the Red Cross. But they shed their blood to protect our country and to keep the wars away from our soil. They leave all they know and love to do their civic duty. I will highly respect our military. I'm grateful for our veterans because they risked their lives for me and others, perfect strangers.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price. He suffered and died, an innocent man, for a crime he did not commit, to pay the price for a people who may or may not accept this gift of love. Veterans often feel unappreciated and misunderstood. I imagine our Lord has felt the same way. In fact, in Luke 17:11-19, it is documented that Jesus healed ten lepers. One (a Samaritan) glorified God, and fell down on his face at Jesus' feet and gave Him thanks. Jesus answered, "Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole."

Jesus understands what veterans feel like for others to take them for granted. This week of our Thanksgiving month, let's focus our gratitude on our veterans who volunteer their blood for our freedom. And, like the one Samaritan, let us also fall at the feet of our Savior and give God the glory with our gratitude and thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

It Went Well!

Thanks to those of you who prayed for me as I made a guest appearance to the Dancing Word Writers Network chat room discussion last night. We had somewhere between 8-15 writers (I didn't count). The format was excellent. The moderator prayed and then they had a specific protocol for the chatters to ask questions or make comments. The moderator would then call on them by name when it was their turn. That way we didn't have 5 conversations going on at once.

Most of the writers wanted to know how to break into the business, so I hope I had helpful advice for them. The archives will feature the manuscript of the chat, once they have been transcribed. I'll let you know when that happens. And soon, I've had several ask for my ideas, so soon this blog will also feature some my basic recommendations for beginning writers, to help you launch into the world of writing.

Two of my friends from the Baptist Bible Fellowship International e-list came to the chat. One told me as soon as I entered the chat room that she was there. The other hid under another name and told me after. Shame on you Pat! Actually-I was sooo glad each of them was there. Nice to have support!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Come Support Me!

In the Dancing Word Writers Network newsletter, Annie McDonald issued the following invitation. I'd like to invite you to attend this chat to give me your support:

Are you wanting to take that next step in your writing career? Do you wish you had more inside information on how to get published? Join writing coach, Kathy Carlton Willis this Friday, November 3rd, beginning at 9 p.m. Eastern/6 p.m. Pacific in the Dancing Word Chat Room.

Participants are encourage to bring questions regarding:

-what a writer's coach can do for you
-copy editing (how to polish your piece-grammar, style, punctuation, usage)
-finding work as a freelancer
-how to find markets for your work
-how to be your own publicist
-the good, the bad, and the ugly about online critique groups
-how to write your own bio
-how to write a query letter
-how to write a book proposal

To join the chat, go to This will take you to a new window. Once it has loaded, follow the directions to enter the chat room. If this is your first time to the chat, it is recommend that you do a practice run a few hours prior to the chat.

Those who cannot use the java program will need to use the central chat mIRC program. Go to: and save the software to your desktop. Then get offline, disable your antivirus software and install mIRC. Reenable your antivirus software.

To enter the chat room, start the mIRC program and follow the directions, then type in /join #dancingword.

Be sure to test out the program several hours before the chat so if you have problems, you will have time to fix them.

If you have difficulties with the chat room, please contact me at

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Too Much!


It's just too much! Too much pain, too much suffering, too much confusion. Between several of my friends, there is just too much bad stuff going on. How does God expect us to cope when times are so bad? One of my closest friends died of cancer this year at age 50 and now another one age 52 is being tested for a suspicious lung lesion. Another friend has had such a terrible time at work that she says she is rehearsing her "I quit" speech, just in case she is pushed to her breaking point. And yet another friend is so overwhelmed by all the demands in her life that she says she can't take one more thing.

Isn't it odd how we tell God when things get to be too much-as in too much negative, but we never tell Him when things are just "too good"? With our soured perspectives, do we ever even see things as God blessing us too much? Do we ever ask Him to take some blessings back because we just can't handle it? I doubt it!

One of the things I started doing a few years ago was a gratitude list. At least twice a week I type out some things for which I am grateful. Russ has been teasing me about how often I exclaim the beauty of the autumn colors. I told him today that I seriously doubt God gets tired of hearing us praise Him for the beauty of His creation. Never does He say "too much."

What are you thankful for today? Can you make a list?

I make it a point not to just be thankful for the big things. By being grateful for the small things, I can develop an "attitude of gratitude" no matter what the big bad wolf has brought my way. Today, my list for the week includes:

• medical treatments that make me feel so much better.
• a conversation with a friend who "gets it."
• the splurge of a hired housekeeping team once every other week.
• sunshine hitting the autumn colored trees.
• a doting husband who helps me with the little things.
• a request to help compile and edit a book for a missions project.
• Pepsi over crushed ice with a straw before NOON!

See how throwing a simple thing in your gratitude list makes you smile? This month, the month we celebrate thanksgiving, rehearse your gratitude to the Lord. Gratitude lists magnify the positive and diminish the negative in my life. May the same be true for you.

"Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms." ~Psalm 95:2