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Just When You Thought It was Safe – Part II

July 30th, 2009 by stephanie

Earlier this year I wrote about the continuing drama, or ensuing battle, that I seem to have going with the squirrel population in my neighborhood. Many of you may know that the little tree critters seem to love my house. I don’t know why, but time and again, they have been not simply content with dwelling near my home, they insist on finding ways to live inside it.

With that, I have now successfully, personally chased the fluffy-tailed rodents out of both my kitchen and front doors. It’s a rather surreal experience if truth be told. During my second encounter, a tree fell on my roof exposing their nest in my attic. Once the monstrosity was removed, I was content to believe I was now squirrel free. But this past spring—they were back. Critter Control and their forces were called in and they promptly trapped and hauled away the two culprits that had taken over my office. (Dancing on my computer, doing things in my chair…)

But again, this last time, I figured we’d patched all entry holes and would be rid of them soon.

While turning the corner one day onto my street, I heard something roll across what I thought was the roof of my car. It sounded like a nut and I was not the least bit surprised. But many stops and checks later, the noisemaker could not be found. In time, it sounded like nuts or bolts. Loose somewhere and rolling to the opposite end of the car each time I turned.

Finally, in desperation, I asked my mechanic to assist. He climbed in the back of my car and said, “drive me.” It was a little odd driving a man around in the back part of my SUV. I almost asked if he’d like me to lower the window so he could hang his head out, but I resisted.

When we returned to the house, he was confident he had located the culprits. Unscrewing the entire panel above the bumper, he managed to enter the secret chamber. When he called out to me to show me his find, he was laughing. I was not. In his hand he held six, very healthy nuts. My squirrels had obviously sent me a message. If you won’t let us in, we’ll find a way to leave our mark.

I have no idea how I became Snow White, but of late, I feel that birds and critters seem to just find me and stay. I can assure you, I have no plans of inviting them all back in.

With that, the squirrels that have been ousted from my abode on multiple occasions were able to crawl into the undercarriage of my vehicle in the driveway and get the last laugh. Or, maybe my mechanic did. Whatever the case…

All’s well.

I am Spartacus.

July 28th, 2009 by stephanie

She’s one of those friends that you can pick up months later, right where you left off. A relationship that’s like an old pair of slippers. Comfy. Worn in. For the long haul. So when she popped up on Facebook, I was pleased. As she lives states away, is pretty prominent in her community, and quite busy, our chats are by phone. It never dawned on me to connect via FB with her. But we “friended” each other, and now we’re good to go.

What I wasn’t prepared for was her first post that I now saw. She had been expecting. And was due in about three and a half months. 22 weeks along. Her husband headed out for one last guys trip with his son. But while she was relaxing floating in the pool. She began to experience signs that something was very very wrong.

Hours later, in the hospital, the doctors informed her, “We’re losing you.” She didn’t quite understand. “We have to take the baby.” But her mother’s mind in the midst of the trauma couldn’t process. “I don’t understand” was all she could say.

As the baby would not be able to live outside the womb, and as my friend’s life lay in the balance a horrible decision would be made. As her husband raced home from his trip, their greatest nightmare would unfold.

Once removed, they prepared the little body, wrapped it gently, and placed it into my friend’s arms for a first hello and a final goodbye. “What would you like to have him named on the paperwork?” they softly asked.

“Don’t laugh” she responded with a smile, “but my husband and son had taken to calling him—Spartacus.” And so it was. Spartacus Hope.

Life doesn’t always turn out the way we planned. Sometimes, we find there just are no words. But I can tell you, my friend, though grieving, sees that this baby has already touched more lives than what they ever could have imagined. His life will live on in the hearts of thousands for years to come.

So today, Jesus has a new resident. Spartacus’s mother will one day meet her precious son, and I, her friend look forward to meeting the little warrior prince as well. Face to face.

John 14:3 And Jesus said, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

The Simple Life, sans Paris.

July 21st, 2009 by stephanie

Many of you may be familiar with the reality TV show that was called The Simple Life.  It featured Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie.  They would travel to the more rural areas, at times, and experience life outside of the Gucci and Prada set. 

Now, I have been to Arkansas quite a few times, a place they visited. But nothing is as truly “simple” as the areas where you find the Amish.

My mother loves to devour any fiction book that features the Amish in its theme, so, as she was visiting, I figured it would be fun to take her down to the Amish community a few miles away.

I can tell you, there is nothing quite like the beauty of those gorgeous horses elegantly trotting as they pull those sweet carriages. Sitting inside are very quite, composed riders. You can see when you look at their faces, their thoughts are miles away as they make their way through town or down the lanes. It is in a way a poetry in motion of its own. I could have sat and watched that similar scene over and over again. 

As we spent some time at the produce auction, we watched the barefooted little boys in their straw hats and their blue shirts as they downed cans of Coca Cola.

The teen-aged boys huddled in a back corner off to the side. And I bet you money they somehow talked about girls in those hushed tones. The women in their dresses stayed together and at the other side the of the building while minding the little ones.

As we drove down dirt roads and past their homes it was laundry day. Wash on Monday. That made sense. Sabbath was over and it was time for a fresh new week.  Gardens needed tending, food needed preparing. What they had done before, they would begin a new. They know the drill. Season after season after season. There is something soothing about simplicity and routine. 

It got to me. “Why do we feel the need to be so busy? And why do Ineed so much stuff?” I asked myself. These people are truly of the “with food and clothing, with these we shall be content” crowd. It was inspiring. 

I don’t know about you, but the more I am around money, or those who have it, I find that I too need more.  Why? I have no idea. I have food. I have clothes. But suddenly I feel that I need that special new handbag or that condo at the beach. However, when I step away, even for a short time, like I did for a few hours to where the simple life is led, it’s amazing the perspective that comes washing over me.  These people require very little. And their lives are healthy and whole. Perfect? No. But man, there’s something to be said for the simple life.

If you find yourself stressing and straining today over the “what you don’t haves”, pause if you will and take a moment. Do you have clothes? Do you have food? Do you have a roof over your head?  If you can answer “yes” to all three of those questions, for today, I’d say you’re doing pretty good.

Just my thoughts.


Be Careful What You Ask for.

July 18th, 2009 by stephanie

It was a gorgeous day and I knew my dog needed to be outside. I did too, but circumstances kept preventing.  At one point, I saw a squirrel on the ground by the side yard, so I hurriedly let the pup out in hopes he’d get a little exercise.

When nothing came of the chase, he wandered back in, as lethargic as before and returned to his afternoon nap.

Some time later I noticed something move by the fence again. So out the dog went as I chided, “Get it, Judge. Get it.” I was half way joking, but, this time, before I knew it, my adorable lab had a huge furry creature clenched in his jaws and was not letting loose. Screaming like a banshee, I ran toward them and hoped to part the two. I felt terrible for the trapped ground hog and was hoping to prevent the dog from the retaliation of razor sharp claws or rabies both.

Unfortunately, the ground hog did not survive the ordeal, and my dog earned a new name: killer.

As my neighbor, who graciously came to my rescue rounded up the ruined rodent, he asked how big the dog was. I opened the screen door and out walked Judge. Staring down my hound, the man quietly spoke, “Good dog.” Then, picking up the trash bag he swaggered off and back down the drive.

If only I’d have looked twice, I said to myself. If I wouldn’t have provoked the dog until I did some closer research. I probably would have gone out back, realized a huge critter was stuck and opened the gate to let the him out. But alas, I spoke too soon. My dog, to my amazement, rose to the challenge and obeyed my command without question.

It made me wonder, how many times do we inadvertently provoke someone to respond or react to a situation a certain way. Or, we instruct them to do something that results in serious consequences. Before we truly get the facts.

It’s something to ponder.

Just my thoughts and may the ground hog rest in peace. Poor thing.


You Are Not Alone.

July 16th, 2009 by stephanie

While waiting for my pilates class to begin, my instructor hopped by and quickly sat down to catch up. As we chatted, I could tell the woman sitting behind her was hearing bits of our conversation. I had been updating the teacher about my upcoming book and she’d asked about the title. “When You Grow Up & Get Single” I said. “I get that,” she replied to my surprise, ” I’m on my second. First one was 17 years.” Then she jumped up and headed off to prepare for class. As she started through the doors, I heard the woman that was listening in say to her, “I need that book.”

The woman and I began to chat and she confessed that she’d been married a few times herself. She was feeling a bit awkward about it. “That’s quite alright,” I assured her. “I have a friend that’s been married nine times. Yes, you heard me right. Nine. She has a book you truly want to read.”

In today’s day and age, I still marvel that no matter how many times we mess up in life, something inside of us rises that makes us willing to get up, brush ourselves off and give whatever it is another try. I guess that’s a gift. There’s no other explanation. It’s universal and most of the population has it. We just want to try and get things right. Some of us are a bit slower and take longer to catch on while others get things right the first time around.

What I wanted this gal to know first and foremost was that she was not alone. She’s not the first woman to be divorced, more than once, and she won’t be the last either. Lots of people walk down the aisle and say vows again, and again, and again. Sad, but true.

It does speak quite loudly about us humans. Something inside knows that we were not built to walk this life alone. It’s just easier with two. And a family isn’t bad either. But amazingly, many of us these days are living alone. Unmarried. But still hoping. Still looking. Still willing to give marriage a go should the “right one” come along.

If you’ve found yourself in the situation of my new friend, you might pick up the book SURVIVING MYSELF by Jennifer O’Neill. I think you’ll find it not only mind blowing (that someone can survive the life she has led) but I think you’ll find it comforting as well.

Just my thoughts.


A Little Fuel for the Little Engine that could.

July 7th, 2009 by stephanie

In keeping with our theme this week, if you are working on a particular project, or mulling over that certain goal, vision, or passion, here are some thoughts I keep nearby and review quite often. I thought they might be of encouragement to you today.


Just be sure that every step you take is headed in the right direction.

The very worst waste of time is doing something very well that need not be done at all.
Don’t tell GOD how Big your storm is.
Tell the storm how Big your GOD is!

Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner (Tao Te Ching, ancient Chinese philosophy).

Single Focus and perseverance

80% of your time should be spent preparing, with 15% getting set and only 5% actually going. Done in that order, with that amount of care, the doing actually will take the least amount of effort… and really get you further.

You lose to those that ARE prepared

Remember, just starting off first doesn’t mean you’ll automatically finish first. Those who run the race better win.

Don’t complain too much. Just do your best. Discover yourself. Challenge yourself.

Be a Miracle

Help others. Serve others.

Free Will.

What do you want me to do? I surrender.

Keep looking up,

July 3rd, 2009 by stephanie

Where liberty dwells, there is my country.

– Benjamin Franklin

July 3rd, 2009 by stephanie

There is no such thing as a little freedom. Either you are all free, or you are not free.
– Walter Cronkite

Declaring Independence. You’re Kidding, Right?

July 3rd, 2009 by stephanie

That is what one farmer said to the other I would imagine. “Now let me get this straight, you plan to take on the King?”

“You heard me right.” Came the confident response.

They were fishermen, farmers, book store keepers and more. They had no uniforms. No formal weaponry. Nothing that would back up a desire to take on the Super Power of the world at that time. But they did.

They were the inhabitants of The Colonies. And they’d had enough. But more than that. They had a vision. A passion. A plan. And they carried it out.

Even certain citizens and neighbors thought the rebellion was a crazy idea, “Who in their right mind…”

232 years later. Here we stand. The United States of America. They said it couldn’t be done. It was a bad idea. Wouldn’t work. But it did. Like a few other things that were doomed to fail. See what you think:

“Far too noisy, my dear Mozart. Far too many notes.” —The Emperor Ferdinand after the first performance of The Marriage of Figaro

“If Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony is not by some means abridged, it will soon fall into disuse.” —Philip Hale, Boston music critic, 1837

“Rembrandt is not to be compared in the painting of character with our extraordinarily gifted English artist Mr. Rippingille.” —John Hunt (1775-1848)

“Flight by machines heavier than air is unpractical and insignificant . . . utterly impossible.” —Simon Newcomb (1835-1909)

“We don’t like their sound. Groups of guitars are on their way out.” —Decca Recording Company when turning down the Beatles in 1962

“You will never amount to very much.” —A Munich schoolmaster to Albert Einstein, aged ten

What are you working on that people may feel is futile. May I suggest, if the project is for the greater good, stay focused. Forge onward. You will get to the other side. And when you do, people will be there to help you celebrate.

Happy 4th!


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