Wednesday, March 28, 2007

And LIFE again.

I feel like I've been riding a roller coaster of schtuff the past few weeks. I'm wondering if it's ever going to end. But then, if it ends, I guess that means that it's OVER, right? I don't think I'm quite ready for that, so I'm just pretending to be Honey Moon, riding Black Thunder these days, hanging on for dear life, riding out the dips and the drops, waiting to hit the top of the mountain and be able to touch God again. If you have any idea what I'm talking about, good for you. All you other people - you need to READ more, man. If you want a list of decent books, let me know!

The final burial service for my friend was today. I didn't go. I would have gone. Maybe even should have gone. But seriously, his funeral service last week was rough. Way rough. It was even harder to sit in church on Sunday morning and watch his beautiful wife, struggle through her first Sunday morning church service without him. I almost didn't make it. The only thing that kept me there was seeing her strength. But let me tell you, there were times when I had to really remind myself that there is a Perfect Plan in all of this. It's hard not to question. Really. Really. Hard.

However, my reason for not going today are different. You know that I've all but gone underground the past few weeks. I can't tell you how much your love and support has meant. From the daily e-mails from some of you, to the PERFECT 'sympathy' cards (yes, it IS the perfect card, don't even think twice about it McB!), to the well placed (answer your damn phone) calls, to everything in between, you guys have been awesome. Thanks for letting me just be. I needed it.

But now I need to start getting on with things. And that means getting back to doing what I like to do. Which means helpig people that need it. So, today I spent the day at Bethesda with a friend, while she went through her first radiation treatment. The drive was long, but very fun. The waiting room was not too cold. The lunch after was wonderful. And she's doing GREAT. Thanks so much for all of your prayers about her. She reminded me, in that special way that she has, that there is still a lot of living left to do here. She's fought so hard to hang on to life, it just doesn't seem right to wallow in my sorrow any longer.

On the downside, the past few weeks have brought a few more hard knocks. My brother is going through a certain amount of turmoil in his life. Please keep him in your thoughts. His ex-girlfriend just found out she's got Lupus. Keep her in your thoughts as well. A friend at work learned that a recent mammogram reveals something, and will have to have a biopsy. Pray for her please. Another very dear friend is having some fairly serious health issues, and another friend is going through a very difficult pregnancy.

All in all, it seems like every day has brought a new set of challenges, one right after the next. I feel like I've gone 15 rounds against Tyson lately. I come to grips with one issue just to have a new one pop up the very next day. It's been exhausting, to say the least. Today is the first day in almost a week that I've even been on the computer. I literally haven't checked e-mail since the weekend, and that's saying a lot for a person that generally checks it every few minutes. So if you've sent me something in the past few weeks, please be patient as I wade through the 800 or so that have accumulated while life has been knocking around the people I love most. I've set aside some time this week to sort through stuff that I've been pushing aside, and I will try my hardest to get back on track.

In the midst of all of this, work has been keeping me busy. For a job that's supposed to be 'part time' I've been spending a ridiculous amount of time up there. Yes, I know I said I was going to quit, so stop grumbling, ok, Char? I will when I can. I want to save some cash for the long dry months of summer, when I plan to be writing my fingers to the bone in preparation for New Jersey. I have to have a story done by then.

I've got to take the kids off to church now. Tomorrow I'm running a training class at work. On Friday, it's All About Dee Day. Which means I plan on spending lots of time online, getting out a questionaire to a brilliant writer that agreed to be my FAB Pick over on the book review site, clearing off my old computer and getting everything loaded onto the Mac, and maybe even sneaking out to get a pedicure. Who knows. I may even blog again. Til then though, know that you guys are awesome, I love you all, and please keep the following people in your thoughts and prayers:

Ron, Shelley, Renee, Pat, Danny, Caroline, Sarah, Kim, Kelly, Kimber, Jessica, and me.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


It sometimes amazes me how time has a way of changing your perspective on things. A few weeks ago, I was walking on air. Today, I feel like my heart is in pieces.

A very dear man is gone from my life today.

A friend from church went in to the hospital for a very routine surgery on Thursday. On Friday morning, he slipped into a coma. Today, we gathered at the hospital while his family said their goodbyes.

I don't have the words to express the heaviness of my heart today.

I would like to say that I understand that death happens. That sometimes it is just a person's time to go to be with the Lord. I know that's true, but when it's someone that you know, someone that you love, those words are very little comfort.

My friend leaves behind a wife that adores him, a strong oldest daughter, an amazing son, and a wonderful youngest daughter. They are all grown, but their adulthood will do little to lessen their pain. He also leaves behind many other family members, friends, co-workers, and church family. We are all in shock, and have barely begun to believe that he is really gone.

When something like this happens, you have to deal with it in your own way. Yes, there will probably be anger, and confusion, and sorrow. But there may also be joy. We know that this man is with the Lord today, and we can rejoice in that. We know that, given the choice of life here or being in Heaven, he would choose Heaven. We can rejoice in that. The sorrow comes with knowing that he will be gone from our lives, for a season. That hurts. Oh my soul, it hurts so much.

Please keep his family in your prayers. Please pray that they will have the strength to deal with his loss. Please hold tight to your own loved ones today. Give them a kiss. A hug. Tell them you love them. Don't hold back that love. Share it.

If you don't hear from me for a while, just know that I'm dealing with this in my own way. I'll be back here when I'm ready.

I miss you, my friend. I miss you so much!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Random Acts of Kindness

There are days when I have a million things on my plate, when it will take more hours than a day consists of just to complete half of my tasks, days when I've got a mission, or a list of things that MUST get done, days when I need to write.
Then there are days, you know? When I forget that the world does not, in fact, revolve around me. That this planet does not spin just for me to accomplish my goals. That other people, yes, other than me, are important. Even as important as me. Hard to imagine, I know, but it's true.
Guess which kind of day I had?
Yeah, I got slapped with a big ol' dose of reality today. I was reminded, in a rather obvious way, that my purpose here on earth is really NOT to accomplish MY goals. Sheesh. Sometimes, I think it would be much easier to be a Christian if I could just manage to get around that whole 'strive to be like Christ' part of it. Because Christ? He was a pretty impressive guy. And trying to be like him? Yeah, it ain't easy. Not even close.
What am I babbling about? Well, I'll explain.
Some of you know my husband. Some of you have only read about him. For those that don't actually know him, I can only hope that I have led you to understand that he is an incredible man. Really, he's quite possibly the very best man that I've ever met. The only other man in my entire life that can even hold a candle to my husband is my Papa, my grandfather, and as I don't actually remember ever meeting him (he was just always there, you know?) that leaves my man as the very best of the best. He does things like send me e-mails from the train at 5am, knowing that I generally check e-mail before I start writing in the mornings, just to say "You're beautiful", even though I look nothing even close to beautiful when I'm reading those e-mails. And he knows it. He'll bring me flowers. On a Tuesday. That isn't my birthday. Or anniversary. Or anything other than a Tuesday. Just because he says they were pretty and made him think of me. He always makes his first call of the day in the mornings, and before anything else, he asks "Are you writing yet? I wanted to call before you started writing." Because he knows how hard it is for me to get back into a scene once I've been interrupted by the phone. He travels two hours each way to work, so we make enough that I don't really have to work, and still doesn't complain when my part-time sanity job means I'm not home every night. And those are just the things he does for me.
For other people? Yeah, he's just as wonderful. At least once a week, he spends his lunch money buying food for a homeless person in DC. He always stops at accidents. He has, literally, given the shirt off his back to someone that needed it. If he has something and someone else is in need, he gives what he has. That's just the kind of man he is. The very best kind.
Sometimes, it's really hard being married to someone so good. I mean, this man goes without lunch so homeless people can eat. He donates money to just about anyone with a cause. He's kind, and thoughtful, and caring. How can you complain about him running out of lunch money early, knowing that he gave it away to someone that was hungry? And he witnesses to people about the Lord in a way that I've never been able to do. Really, he's out there, every day, living the Gospel. Showing love, and patience, and honesty, and kindness. That's a lot to deal with on a daily basis. If I didn't know that he was human, it would be scary. No, he's not perfect. He has his flaws, I know. But still, in the big scheme of things, he's pretty dern great.
Today, I saw him in action again. We're in the middle of our annual Missions conference at church. Missionaries have been there all week long, preaching and sharing and hoping for support and prayer. I went to church early to help set up for the banquet, he stayed home a bit longer to finish homework. On his way to church with 3 of the kids, he saw a man walking along the side of the road. He dropped the kids off at church and went back for the man. Yes, he even picks up hitchhikers. When I asked him about this, he explained that he doesn't do it all the time, only after he prays, and never with kids in the car. Kind, but not stupid, ok?
So he picks up the hitchhiker and brings him to church. There's a banquet, so the man gets fed. Then my husband gave him a Bible, and invited him to stay for the sermon. He stayed. Then the guy took a shower at the church. This is where the story takes an almost unusual turn though. See, hubby had a date with the boys to go to the movies. Plans had been made for weeks, tickets already bought, boys already hyped. So how to get the hitchhiker to where he needed to be was the new problem. He wasn't going all that far, just a little over a hundred miles up the road, to Frederick, MD. Do you see where this is going?
I got to do the deed. Me. I got to finish what my husband started. I drove the man where he needed to go. Why? What on earth would possess me to allow a stranger in my van and truck him 100+ miles up the road? Did I lose my mind?
Not quite. Actually, I think I found my heart.
Tonight, the missionary said that part of our job as a Christian is to "go". He didn't say we had to go to Africa, or Brazil, or Crete. He didn't say we had to leave our country, or even our state. He just said our job was to "go", to take the Word to the world, to people that need it. To find a way to make a difference.
Well, I'm not a preacher. I'm not able to go to the Congo and reach tribal peoples. I can't start a church overseas. But tonight? Yeah, I could "go". It took some time, and some gas, and a bit of faith, but tonight? I got to "go". It wasn't that far. I know that. I drove farther for a booksigning event recently (though, admittedly, not much farther). But it was far enough. It made a difference, to that man and his children that he was going to see. It made a difference.
My husband's ability to see a need in a man on the side of the road opened up a door for me to take a step closer towards that whole 'trying to be like Jesus' thing. I got to be the final step in his journey. Will that man read the Bible? I don't know. Did the sermon he heard mean anything to him? I have no idea. Will he make a change in his life? Not a clue. But I took a chance, put my faith to the test, and did what I know I was supposed to do. I went.
One random act of kindness (offering a meal to a hitchhiker) resulted in my heart being expanded. Did my husband pick that man up because he knew I needed to get re-focussed? I doubt it. But that's what happened.
Random Acts of Kindness. You never know where they will lead. You never know who they will help. You can never tell what will happen. But if you're not careful, you may be the one that really gets the blessing.
Random acts of kindness. Have you been part of one lately?
Try it.
The life you change just might be your own.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Walking on air. Breathing sunshine. Sleeping on a cloud. Tap dancing in the stars. Floating through space. That's how I feel right now.

I got to witness another miracle early this morning, and I'm still high on life. I've got tears coursing down my cheeks, I can hardly see, my heart feels like it's beating an African drum rhythm in my chest. Yes, LIFE is good! It's beautiful, really.

I have some friends that have had some pretty rough days lately. Gone through losses. Had heartache happen. Felt like their very souls were stomped on. And, me being who I am, I've felt those things right along with them.

But you know, dawn always follows the darkest night. That's a lesson I re-learned recently, and I even blogged about it. But, as with most lessons, sometimes it takes me a bit to remember it when I need it most.

I got to witness a birth this morning. That explains my euphoria, doesn't it? Have you ever been to a birth, besides the day YOU made an appearance in the world? And I have to say here, if you're thinking of when you gave birth to your children, that doesn't count either. Have you ever been in the room, been standing next to, or helping, a woman bring life into this world? Have you ever been able to hold her hand through a contraction, remind her to breathe, gently push the hair from her eyes, help her hold her legs when it came time to push, whisper encouragement into her ear, have her so focussed on you and your voice that you actually feel like you are the only link between this world and the one where the pain is taking over? Have you ever been there to see that tiny little head emerge, see that sweet little body slip out into those waiting arms, watch the face of the momma as she glimpses that baby for the very first time?

It. Is. Something.

I cant describe it. I am too overwhelmed, still, 10 hours later, to even attempt to be truly coherent.

My friend gave birth shortly after midnight this morning. Her husband was there to help her. So was I. She is an AMAZING woman, and she did an INCREDIBLE thing. She brought her baby into the world with no drugs, no intervention, only her man at her side, and my voice reminding her that it would be over soon. I feel honored that I got to share such a miracle with their family. I feel blown away to have seen, yet again, the miracle of birth. I think of her strength, and courage, and determination, and I am in awe. Today, she is the most beautiful woman in the world.

Today, I was given a reminder that LIFE, in all of its wonderful glory, has a way of soothing the troubles and pains of this mean, cruel world. Today, I woke from the darkness of the night and saw a beautiful, bright dawn.

Thank you.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

It's all about Lani

and McB, and RSS, and Samantha, and Misty, and Patricia, and Elaine, and... me! (of course)

Oh my oh my. I had the greatest Saturday in a very long time. I got to do one of my favorite things - go to a booksigning, with some of my favorite people - CherryBombs. And it was so much more than I could have ever imagined! I won't go into minute-by-minute detail, but I do want to give you the highlights. Be prepared to turn green.

RSS picked me up and drove me to McBs house. McB climbed in the car and we all headed off to Turn The Page, the bookstore of Nora Roberts in Boonsboro, MD. Nora was hosting a booksigning, and there were two authors that I wanted to see. This is where I tell you that I wouldn't recognize Nora Roberts if she came up and introduced herself to me. I haven't read anything by her since she was writing for Silhouette, oh so many years ago. It's not that I don't like her. It's that I'm really scared to read her books. See, if I like an author, then I really must read everything they've ever written. I mean EVERYTHING. This has caused me to pay way too much money for very old books on e-bay. It has caused me to lose endless sleep finishing up backlists. It has caused angst when I couldn't find that one book (which shall not be named!) for close to a year. And let me tell you something - Nora has a HUGE backlist. And I just can't afford it. Yes, I know I could go to the library, but I just don't do that, ok? Because once I bring a book into my home, I have a hard time letting it leave. So Nora? Yeah, I'm positive she's wonderful. I've read her older stuff and loved it. But I'm just not sure I have the time (or the money!) to read her now. Not that I have a choice, because I have friends that love me. But that's another part of the story. I was talking about her guests.

Elaine Fox was one of the first writers that I ever "reviewed", and I had to meet her. I got lucky and also met her mom, sister and daughter. I think it must be genetic, because all of them are just beautiful. I got books signed, and they will be used as a prize next week over on the review blog.

But the main reason I was there was Lani. Lani Diane Rich is my FAB Pick over on the review blog this month. She's written a book that will be released on Tuesday. The book is called The Fortune Quilt, and I'm going to share the BCC with you here:

Carly McKay's life is going just fine until she produces a television piece on psychic quilt maker Brandywine Seaver and receives a quilt with an enigmatic reading telling her that everything is about to change. Carly blows off the reading until it comes true. Her boss runs off with all the station's assets, leaving her jobless; her best friend, Christopher, proclaims his (unrequited) love for her, leaving her friendless; and her mother, who deserted he family seventeen years ago, returns, sending Carly into a serious tilt.

Convinced it's the quilt's fault, Carly races down to the small artists' community of Bilby, Arizona, to confront its maker, and ends up with an unexpected friend in Brandy - and in Will, the laid-back painter who rents the cabin next door. With quirky new buddies and no more deadlines, Carly starts to enjoy her reimagined life, until her old one comes calling. Now Carly has to decide what parts of each world she wants to patchwork in.. and how much she's willing to leave to fate.

Doesn't that sound lovely? Well, I got to read the book last month, and I can assure you that the book is really great. And so is Lani.

She let us CherryBombs hang out with her after the signing. We actually got to have lunch with her and her friend, the charming Samantha Graves. Plus, Misty Simon was also there. If you don't know about Misty yet, check out her site. She's hysterical. And Samantha? Oh my, she's just lovely. She's got a new book coming out next month, and I know I'll be reviewing it.

As usual though, I was overwhelmed with how kind and generous book people are. The very talented and totally classy Patricia Gaffney was kind enough to let me drag her outside to meet the other CBs. She even let us take pics with her. Patricia also has a new book coming out, in August. I can't wait for that release!

I won't tell you all that we discussed while eating some of the best deli sandwiches in Maryland. But I will tell you that there was much laughter. Many smiles. Lots of snorts. Nods of agreement. And one totally priceless look of astonishment that I will remember for the rest of my days.

All in all, it was one of the best afternoons I can recall ever having. The only thing that could have made it better is if my friend Kim had been able to join us. I hear she's saving up all of her free time for New Jersey though, so I won't complain.

Be sure to check out the review blog for your chance to win some of Lani's books this week.

Thanks Lani, Misty, Samantha, Patricia, and Elaine, for showing us the very best that the romance genre has to offer.

And of course- thanks to McB and RSS for yet another wonderful day. You guys are the greatest!!