Saturday, November 5, 2011

"Playing for Light" ~ innovative and clever

Innovative: To promote change and/or to alter by introducing something new
Clever: showing inventiveness or originality; ingenious

I LOVE it when someone is innovative and clever. Remarkable things happen. I'm particualry fond of the simplicity of the solution and int ingenuity of those involved that created a solution to the lack of light for students in Africa to do their schoolwork in the evenings. Hope you enjoy this short clip:

Friday, November 4, 2011

Dishwater Redemption

I'm a little hesitant to share this poem. I happen to really like it and if you don't, I probably don't want you to tell me. :)

I first wrote this many years ago when our children were still young.Then, a few years ago, I worked on is some more and hence, the 2007 copyright date.

It is a true experience and has been a life-long reminder to me, although I have a long ways to go! It's also quite remarkable that it even happened as I married an awesome man who DOES DISHES and he does so much more often than I. However, on this particular night, I was up late doing the dishes.

I do ask that you not copy or use this poem, especially without my express permission. And I hope you like it...

Dishwater Redemption

The house is quiet.
My husband and children are asleep.
The silence of the room is interrupted
Only by the sounds I make while washing the dishes.

As I pick up each dish and rinse away our dinner,
I am reminded of the meal we enjoyed together.
The chatter of the children as they spoke of their day
Lingers in my mind and I feel a sweet contentment.

I’m nearly done when I notice my well-used cookie sheet,
Standing at the back of the dish drainer;
Even though I have washed it thoroughly,
It really doesn’t look very clean.

The evidence of so many batches of cookies baked
Over and over again until it looks tarnished and brown.
When it was new, it sparkled and shined.
Now it is discolored and scratched.

And for some reason, tonight, this bothers me.
I take the cookie sheet from its resting place and
Plunge it back into the warm, soapy water.
But I am unable to rid it of the baked-on grime.

I reach in the cupboard for an S.O.S. scouring pad
And go after the suspect brown specks with renewed vigor.
I pay special attention to the inside corners of the cookie sheet.
This proves to be especially satisfying and I continue until it shines.

It has been reborn and I can see my reflection in it.
And suddenly, I realize… I am like the cookie sheet.
I’m not dirty by any means, but perhaps,
Not quite clean enough either; I have lost some of my sparkle.

Leaning against the sink I know what I must do.
I will take upon me the S.O.S. scouring pad of repentance
And work and pray hard to be shiny and clean,
Until the Savior’s image shows in my countenance.

I plan to keep my cookie sheet as bright as it looks today
And with a few repairs here and there, and a heart full of love,
I can do the same for myself, that I might be more useful
To those I share this earthly space with.

Who knew? Sometimes, there’s not much difference between
A neglected ol’ cookie sheet and a life too busy to notice
Some of the sparkle and shine has faded.
Yes, S.O.S. pads are a beautiful thing.
                                             ~ © Stephanie Abney 2007

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Beauty of Friendship

So, the day is nearly over and I am thinking about friendship for several reasons today; three in particular. 

One, we went to the AZ State Fair with our dear friends, Ike & Diane Hathcock. Both of our families have been busy raising kids for many years but tonight we went just by ourselves and we were all able to get in at the SENIOR price (Sorry, Diane!! Ha ha ~ you only have to be 55 to get a discount at the fair). So, for $5 bucks each and the price of some food, etc., we had a great time. We have known the Hathcocks for 27 years (lived across the street from each other all these years - our kids grew up together; well, we had a head start and now their youngest is a senior in High School - ours have been out of the house for awhile). Their friendship is priceless.

Two, while we were at the fair we ran into a sweet friend of mine, MaryEllen Simmons, (amazing mom of a bazillion kids - okay - that number may be too high - but she had a bunch and fostered about 10 times that many over the years). She's a fun lady who can see the humor in the most trying of situations and a talented writer and crafter. She's been a delight to know and now she works at the fair helping young people share their talents in the large exhibit hall under the coliseum that she is in charge of. Just seeing her brought back so many memories and made me smile. I love friends that are always friends even when you don't see them that often (of course, FaceBook has gone a long way in keeping friendships alive when you don't have frequent contact). 

Third, when we came home, there was a lovely little bouquet of "BJ's Flowers" waiting at the door, left by my sweet friend, Kathy Thompson. When our youngest son, BJ (Brian James Abney) passed away 11 years ago after a five and a half year battle with leukemia, the Relief Society sisters prepared a luncheon after the funeral for our family and close friends, as is the custom in our church. On the tables were small pots of little yellow flowers (still not SURE what kind they are - Kathy is pretty sure they are mini mums, but they have this BROWN center that makes me wonder - anyway, not's that important - they are darling). When the luncheon was over, Kathy took a couple of pots and planted them in her yard and despite not having the best of luck with most plants - these little guys flourished. The following year, and every year thereafter, on or around Nov. 8th (the day we lost BJ) she has brought me a small vase of "BJ's Flowers." There are a few more interesting details but they aren't needed for this post. My main point is that she could be so thoughtful and caring to do something like this that reminds me each year of my precious son.

The examples of friendship throughout my life and especially during BJ's illness and passing are beyond anything you could imagine. I have been SO BLESSED in this regard. And I'm lucky to have such great friends. I know they care about us and that's why they have been so wonderful but I also know that they care about the Lord and because they love Him, they also love me and mine. It's a beautiful thing and so tonight, as always, I'm grateful to have such remarkable friends. You're probably one of them if you are reading this!!

Think about your friends and a favorite memory. And then, call them up, remind them of it and tell them how happy you are to be friends. You'll both be glad you did!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Live in Daily Thanksgiving

Thessalonians 5: 18 “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (Holy Bible, KJV)

Alma 34:38 “… and take upon you the name of Christ; that you humble yourselves even to the dust, and worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you.” (Book of Mormon)
From two scriptural sources we can read that the Lord is counting on us to give thanks daily, for every single thing, good or bad. Hmmm. How are you doing with that one? Been complaining lately? Life is often hard, there’s no escaping that fact. It’s usually inconvenient; but when all is said and done, it’s still amazingly wonderful.

I’ve lived a long time (and I hope I’ll be of sound mind and health to live a lot longer – I’m pretty fond of waking up every day). Two very important things I have learned along the way is that first, we’re not in charge. And second, we need to GET OUT OF THE WAY!!! The Lord sees things from the beginning to the end. He knows what will bring us growth, joy, benefit … even if we don’t see it at the time. He can do a lot more with our lives than we can if we were left in charge. We just need to be grateful for the lessons that come and the results they bring. If it’s still hard, then He isn’t done yet and we need to be patient and long-suffering.

It’s easy to be grateful for the good things; the beauty of the earth, wonderful people and opportunities in our lives, food on the table, a roof over our heads and gas in the car, just to name a few blessings. But it’s dang hard to be grateful for health challenges, terminal illnesses, difficult people, lack of anything, accidents, lost homes or jobs; in fact, loss of any kind. It’s difficult to be grateful when our feelings have been hurt or worse. In either instance, there are lessons to be learned. We learn from both abundance and lack, from success and failure and learning to take things as they come, with a grateful heart makes the tough stuff a little easier to deal with.

I need to work on this. I suspect most people do. I only bring it up because these are the verses and thoughts that came to my mind when I wondered what I should write about for Day 2 of blogging every day in November. I didn’t choose a “gratitude” blog for the month – although it’s a great idea – I just was hoping to post something of worth (for myself and hopefully for anyone reading this) every day. So, there you have it. A grateful heart … NO matter what. What do you think?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Na Na November!!

So, November is busy month for writers who want to make themselves a little crazy!!

It's "National Novel Writing Month"~ NaNoWriMo ~ the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, by the end of November. The RULE here is that you have to be working on a totally NEW novel.

So, for those of you who want the challenge of a monthly goal but want to continue writing your WIP (work-in-progress), you can do so with ANWAWrite. Although it is sponsored by American Night Writers Association (which I have been a member of for 23 years), you do not have to be a member to do ANWAWrite - they have a "BIAM" (Book in a Month) goal each November. The rules are more lax: you can work on something you have already started and set your own word count goal. However, you CANNOT EDIT that work during the month. If this one interests you - it is done by email - anyone can join in - no fees or memberships required. Just sign up at: ANWA Write Yahoo Group ~ Report as often as you can, cheer the others on, and write!

There is also a National YOUNG writers program National Novel Writing Month site: YWP NaNoWriMo ~ complete with prompts and helps

Then, there is "National Blog Posting Month" ~ NaBloPoMo ~ the goal is to post something on your blog every day during November (I'm thinking this might work for me - even though I am writing this on Nov. 2 and PLAN TO POST IT AS NOV 1st - so, not REALLY cheating, just a slow starter... hee hee ~ but the one time I managed to post EVERY day on my blog was in April of this year when I hosted a Poem a Day challenge for "National Poetry Month"). So, we'll see how I do.

"Picture Book Idea Month" ~ PiBoIdMo ~ the challenge here is to create 30 picture book ideas in 30 days during November.

Not to be outdone, the National Association of Memoir Writers uses the month of November for their "Memoir Writing" month; celebrating "National Life Writing Month" and "Write Nonfiction" to parallel the National Novel Writing Month  ~ here is the link to their website: National Association of Memoir Writers

There are plenty of people and groups doing a "Gratitude Month" where you journal about and/or post on your social media site or blog, something that you are grateful for each day in November. This one seems like a no-brainer for the month we celebrate Thanksgiving.

November 1st is always "National Authors' Day" and "National Family Literacy Day" - both worthy days. 

So, whether you feature yourself as a writer or not, everyone has a story to tell. Find a way to use this outside motivation and give it a shot!! You might wind up on the best seller list. Who knows?
Enjoy!! And .... WRITE WRITE WRITE!!