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God Isn’t Finished With Me Yet…

Between 2005 and 2007, we returned home to the U.S. to live full time in late 2005, though Ken would continue to return for short consulting assignments for several more years. These times I spent alone allowed me to get involved in new and creative endeavors, giving birth to some new hobbies that focused on exploring my creativity. At some point during this time, I also decided to dust off the story and resubmit it. But first, I wasn’t going to take the chance that while it lay silently inside the computer, it might need a tune-up. If you hang in with me here, you will soon come to the first and most important miracle of the entire story.

I perused the internet for a free-lance editor. I found a very likeable one in Audrey Owen, a Canadian published author with a helpful website (www.writershelper.com). Our agreement was for a fixed price, and her obligation that she would read the story up to three times and make grammar and content suggestions. After round two, Audrey thought the story was where it should be and that she had no other changes to offer, though she did also suggest a change in title. I thanked her for her conscientious efforts and we ended our joint venture.

I sent the modified version of the story to eight more well-researched publishing houses in eight more neat little packets. I received eight more nice rejections. (At least, receiving nice rejections hurts one’s pride less, and at least they all responded.)

I didn’t have a clue what to do next, but was very close to quitting and doing nothing with the story. But God wasn’t finished with it, or me.

By |June 14th, 2014|Uncategorized|Comments Off|

The Magic Middle…..East….

Ken’s retirement in 2003 brought us an incredible opportunity. He was invited to serve as special advisor to Shaikh Nayahan, the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research for the United Arab Emirates (UAE). We lived in the UAE for three years, learning incredible cultural lessons, making life-long ex-pat friends from all over the world, and managing to visit most of our bucket-list countries while we traveled either to or from the Emirates. We worked as a team at the United Arab Emirates University. I got to see first-hand the changes starting to develop among the women students as they began to “stretch their wings” from a male-dominant society to an inclusive one. I am pleased to note that today, UAE has female cabinet members in the government. Many highly-educated national women now own businesses, wear open abayas, and are more self-sufficient. I was pleased to be an observer in this subtle change over time toward more empowerment for Emirati women. Most important to me was that such experiences make you kiss imaginary ground when you arrive back home in the U.S.

While in the UAE, Ken and I traveled on weekends with the Emirati Natural History Group (ENHG), where we visited many archeological sites, cultural icons, and got to see native flora and fauna. A special local friend made us welcome in his home and to his family, a rare opportunity. He treated us to special nights in the desert, watching falcons hunt and then enjoying bread baked under the sand.

UAE’s society is undergoing major increases in personal wealth, and as the family shopper, I was especially intrigued by the offerings at market from around the world. The UAE’s architecture is beyond imaginable, including [...]

By |June 11th, 2014|Uncategorized|Comments Off|

Before the Millennium…

The story sat quietly inside my computer, taking up barely any space in the multiple megabytes of available storage for great works and creative ideas. I began to feel guilty that I had not put into service something the Spirit had obviously given to me for a reason. Could it have just been given to me for the express purpose of softening my heart toward the designer of the universe? I didn’t see it that way at that time. I acknowledged what scared me most about it–bringing it to life and then having it fail. If God was truly the author, and I failed to get it produced in a way that brought Him the glory, then I have failed GOD! Who gets to heaven that way?

I’ve since learned that waiting on God’s timing is a crucial part of discipleship. His timing is not our timing and His ways are not our ways. But it’s still early in this walk, so I am not attuned to the waiting game for the perfect moment just yet.

I decide to pull the story out, select a few publishers, and send it off in neat little packets with cover letters on special paper, and included self-addressed stamped envelopes. My dreams included opening the “acceptance” letter while rose petals fell from the skies, seeing the story on the New York Times Best Seller list, and being interviewed by major outlets about the little place in Talladega-where? Alabama that was so near and dear to my heart. I had always known I wanted to write, from grade three on, when Ms. Edwards liked my poem about flying to my grandmother’s funeral. But, as dad said, I probably wouldn’t make enough [...]

By |May 11th, 2014|Uncategorized|Comments Off|

A Valuable Lesson Learned

Sometime between 1997 and 1999, I got my nerve up to finally show the story to someone I wasn’t married to.

My cousin Lucy was visiting us, and I had made an off-hand comment about having a story with an unknown purpose. I told her I didn’t know what to do with it, but was also sure I didn’t write it (Lucy would understand that comment, and not think me crazy). She wanted to read it. Reviewer #2 then went on to my back porch, with her back to me and read. I could tell when she was finished so I joined her (after all, you only needed to turn the page once). She was crying. Then I was crying. Her tears confused me. Mine, I was beginning to understand. I wanted so much to help “the kids,” yet at the same time, I was saying silent, head-screaming grateful prayers that I had eyes and ears that worked, and began to actually thank God for them, rather than thanking lucky genes. Lucy understood that too. Lucy just looked at me and asked me “what are you going to do with it?” I gave the reply I was always giving myself: “I don’t know.”

Lucy’s tears gave me courage. I interpreted them as the result of “getting it.” I decided to try someone else. I approached a person I felt was a friend, but who also might have “connections” and “ideas” about what I should do with it—somebody who could grease the skids, somebody who also daily experienced some of what I was experiencing by association with these special children and adults, but with the added benefit of professional connections. Surely, she had “gotten it.” I took [...]

By |April 20th, 2014|Uncategorized|Comments Off|

I Haven’t a Clue…

My own experiences with the dogs I have been blessed to have are so compelling to me of a heavenly design that no amount of science will ever convince me otherwise. Studies, anecdotes, and eyewitness accounts abound as to the value of having a dog nearby. I watched for several years as our two pet therapy dogs (Golden Retrievers named Rambeau and her offspring Muttley) wandered the halls of both AIDB and a nearby nursing home, making a difference to children and seniors. Both dogs used insights and instincts to bring a totally different joy to the recipients of their affections and caring, literally based on the dog’s perception of the needs of the individual. Those stories are not unique to my dogs, and books have been written with evidences of canine abilities regarding therapies and usefulness.

As I leave the story to the inner guts of computer storage, I still didn’t know what to do with it. It remained quietly there as a series of binary codes for some three more years. Its real author and I were the only ones who knew about it, and He wasn’t talking to me much. Nor I to Him.

A few years down the road….

I finally got up the nerve to show the story to my husband.

Ken was an incredible intellect (a bona-fide member of Mensa) whom I met while finishing my dissertation at Georgia State University. He became a built-in editor for me, as his Bachelor’s degree was in Linguistics and he was used to reading and writing academic papers. He became my chief advisor in getting a 550-page dissertation out the graduation door. He never tired of reading what I thought was the most boring document [...]

By |March 17th, 2014|Uncategorized|Comments Off|

ALL Dogs Go To Heaven

To understand the “environment” in which this story arrived into my life, I must digress a bit to explain our life at the time. We had moved to a beautiful lake property in Alabama, a place we came to recognize as our “retirement home,” not long before the spirit-writing of Why Dogs Are occurred. My husband had taken the position of Vice President of the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB), an incredible institution with a national reputation. It housed individual schools for deaf, blind or multihandicapped children, an adaptive program for adults who found themselves losing their hearing or vision, a sheltered workshop for adult workers with blindness, and a statewide early intervention program for timely identification of very young children who needed such services and the beginnings of offering those services to parents.

We heartily joined in at the “gusto” level, realizing this job was no job—it was a calling that provided more to us than we gave to it. Working with children with special needs, parents and families adapting to challenges, and adults trying to forge a living and a life without letting a disability hamper them, brought rewards far in excess of, “it’s a job and it pays money.” About eight years later, I would come to work at AIDB and felt the experience to be the best of my entire working life.
So, it was no accident that the “dictated” story had recognizable [...]

By |November 5th, 2013|Story|Comments Off|

Where did THAT come from?

Good Lord, what just happened? Where did THAT come from? What does it MEAN? WHO wrote it?

I’ve had this experience more than once—words just spew out of me–sometimes written, sometimes spoken—I don’t consciously recall even having them pass through my brain, much less get filtered, censored or amended. In fact, in school, I perfected the “first draft = final draft” methodology, never using so much as a single piece of correction tape for my typed efforts, nor ever getting a smidgeon of white-out on my fingernails. Granted, I had to be in the right mood for that strategy to work, but it got me through my Master’s degree. It didn’t work as well for the next one, however. The intimidation, striving to please a dissertation professor, hoping to avoid rewrites just for the sake of rewriting. During that effort, professors were quick to point out that “this degree is different—this degree teaches you how little you really know.” Who could, after such a speech, even pretend the seventh or twelfth draft would be good enough. After all, there was so much more I could say if I really put in the effort. With my career riding on the outcome of that degree effort, I could not afford the luxury of a “no rewrites” policy. From that time on, writing became drudgery, filled with much scrutiny and major research and editing. The only joy in writing came [...]

By |October 28th, 2013|Story|Comments Off|