Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Hardest Thing About Being a Mother is…

I’ve been a mother for approximately 26 years, 151 days, 16 hours and 14 minutes.

I decided very early in life I wanted to have six kids.  My husband and I have raised four kids to adulthood, and have one older teenager and one “I’m almost a teenager” 11-year-old at home.  The Lord blessed me with the desires of my heart, something I don’t take for granted.

But, parenting has been the hardest job we’ve ever loved. Psalm 56:8 tells us the Lord saves our tears in bottles; my husband and I might have our own personal storage room in Heaven for our bottles.  But, we also have an immeasurable amount of love, laughs, kisses, hugs and precious memories stored up. In my immaturity, this was the only part of parenting I imagined.  Even after I gave birth to my first precious daughter, I never thought it would be so hard.

Parents ask us advice, especially when they think they’re alone in their struggles.  They want to be assured and encouraged that every day won’t be so hard. I was recently asked, “What’s the hardest thing about being a mother?”

10.  …being a sinner who gave birth to sinners.  Parenting would be easier if I were perfect.  If I had ultimate wisdom, patience and understanding, success would be guaranteed. It’s not.  As my children grow up, I’m growing in my faith.  I fall as often as they do.

9. …when children don’t listen. There can be two people in the room less than three feet apart.  If one is a momma and one a child, the words can get lost in space between momma’s lips and child’s ears. For every year of a child’s growth, this vortex exponentially increases.

8. …when they ignore good advice. I’ve earned my gray hair and would like my wisdom count for something. Not only have I been-there-done-that, I would love my kids to learn from my mistakes and experiences, not theirs.  That’s why I say, “When I was your age…”  But, when a parent says “I understand”, children interpret, “You don’t understand.” They can’t or won’t understand that you do understand.

7.  …when they lie.  Parents can deal with the truth, but can’t help if a child lies.  When a child tells the truth, there’s one issue to deal with. When they lie, there’s two.

6. …when they disobey.  You  give a simple command, explain the consequences, the reasons (concerning their safety and best interests) and they may do exactly the opposite. Then you have to follow-through with the consequences that were chosen to deter disobedience, not punish it. We don’t want to give the consequences, we have to! The goal is to teach blessing comes through obedience, whether it’s your mommy, teacher, the law or your boss.

5.  …when they make a bad decision.  The best parenting might be no parenting.  Instead of intervening, allow them to reap the consequences. It takes wisdom from above to discern when to step in and when to step back.

4. …keeping them safe. We  can’t be with our kids 24/7, but they’re always our responsibility. Stand your ground concerning their physical, spiritual, emotional and sexual safety, especially when they don’t agree or understand.

3.  …letting them grow.  Give  them space to closely examine the beliefs, convictions, values and family norms they were raised with.  They hear and experience new ideas and sometimes want to try them on for size.  The calmer you are, the clearer the conversation can be.   If they copy without conviction, they may fall harder or be fruitless.

2. …letting them go.  When they’re out of your home, they’re not out of your concern. In their eyes and the world’s eyes, they’re an adult. Older parents know this is the hardest stage of parenting. Commit them to the Heavenly Father, who loves them and  longs for their holiness and well-being more than you.  The Holy Spirit is their parent, and  will go where you cannot go and be who you cannot be.

 

1. …being a mom.  At every stage, mothering is the hardest job, because we’re dealing with eternal souls.

 We have an enemy
who wants our children
in his trophy case. 

Never rest in peace at any stage assuming your job is done, because the enemy never rests. If your child is saved and their salvation cannot be stolen, the enemy will war against their testimony, their peace, their fruit. He wants everything and anything he can have. Do not give in, do not give up, do not become complacent.  Your job will not be over until you hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” 

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We were entrusted with precious souls, blessed with talents and personalities, to nurture, train, instruct, and love them into their place in the world.

Because the best thing about being a mom, is being a mom.

 Making your home sing MondaysWHWButton#2

Are You Suffering from Pinterest Guilt Syndrome?

 

flashback friday

Women have always gleaned information to improve their lives.  We  seek tastier recipes, cleaner bathrooms, more flattering clothes and better entertaining ideas. We want to arrange our cupboards, lower our food bill, travel abroad on dimes and raise amazing children.

To gather these ideas before the Internet, we might call friends, go to the library or buy a magazine.

If you couldn’t afford magazines, sitting in a waiting room wasn’t such an ordeal.  Many times I scribbled ideas or recipes from those glossy promise-making missives on receipts in my purse.  When I was really on the ball, I remembered paper and pen to capture brilliant, life-changing ideas.

The organized women would arrange their ideas in a clip file to tap into the inspiration when redecorating a room, choosing a menu for holiday dinner, or planning a child’s birthday-on-a-budget.

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For years this re-purposed clip file has held all my promises of birthday success. Of course, we didn’t use the word repurpose back then, because it was a way of life and didn’t need a title.  But, repurpose sounds better than stingy.

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When I had enough change to buy a $1.09 women’s magazine, I’d read, reread, rip out the articles I wanted, and file them.

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My kids enjoyed dreaming through the files. My oldest daughter, Jana, copied this idea and took her younger siblings on special Teddy Bear Picnics.

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After seeing this spread, I found $1 fabric covered with bright clowns.  I made cloth napkins and a table runner to reuse for birthday parties. 

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The kids painted and decorated these clothespin clowns and we’ve played Drop the Clothespins with them over 15 years.

And yes, I know that many of you saw this idea and have at least three ways to improve them.  Smile Go for it!

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What little girl doesn’t want to be a princess?

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I loved the idea of including children’s books in the theme.  A trip to the library can make it a themed birthday week, instead of just one day.

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Need original gift wrapping ideas? Burlap and sea glass have been the craft material of choice by several generations.

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As much as I loved the idea of making a beautiful cake, it rarely happened. Sometimes the clip file produced inspiration, other times guilt.

Sound like Pinterest?

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This would have been more my speed.  Why didn’t I ever make this one? That’s right, we don’t like coconut.

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Kids Magazine, Chickadee, provided a cute decorating idea, a paper chain to cut out and tape together.

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After 30 years, it’s still unused in the file.  I wonder if that’s today’s equivalent of a pin that never gets used or repinned.

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Before treat bags,  little goody cups were set at each place setting.

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Like kids needed an extra cup of candy while gorging on cake, ice-cream and pop.  Maybe  treat bags were invented so the party-giving mom could send the extra sugar home with the kids.

Although we gather our information in different ways, every generation of women has had the same passion for their families, to make things beautiful, homey and organized, while saving money and resources. And each generation has allowed this information to make her feel guilty for all she isn’t doing in her home.

The explosion of social media has created a deeper level of unspoken pressure to be Super Woman. Instead of celebrating personal wins, we can become discouraged because we can’t or don’t do all the things other women are doing.

I call it the Pinterest Guilt Syndrome.

Trust me, the woman who turned her fruit into exotic flower creations for a healthy toddler snack, might have a pile of ironing the size of a a compact car. The woman who crafted an entire dollhouse out of upcycled items, might have two weeks of leftovers molding in her fridge. The woman who can whip up a dress out of a pillowcase, a man’s t-shirt or 42 ties, probably ordered pizza for dinner – again.

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In the real world we each have a few areas that deserve a cape and other areas that need help. Let the explosion of input build you up and not tear you down.

Reuse the inspiration.

Refuse the guilt.

When Everything Became Black and White

On a North Dakota morning in July, I rose before the sun to begin a leg of my journey home to Washington. In the states where the sun dares to shine all day, driving into the sunset isn’t a poetic ending, it’s a  sun-blinding disaster when you get to the Rocky Mountains in Montana.

As always, my camera was standing by in automatic mode for quick shots through the windows as I drove on the country roads that were being utilized by only one car – mine.

After living nearly half my life on the prairie, I knew a new day wouldn’t  merely begin.

The

sun

would

rise.

It’s the kiss of Creation that greets us every day.

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The glory reminds us  there’s new mercies, new strength, and new hope for each day.

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The prairie scenery, tinged with wisps of heavenly color and wrapped in fog, was a comforting and familiar friend. In my fumbling to capture the scenes searing peace into my soul, I accidentally moved a button on my camera.

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When I pulled into an approach to shoot this abandoned barn, I was stunned by the image on my screen. Raw beauty stood starkly in the absence of color.

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I had unknowingly changed the way I saw the world.

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It’s not that we don’t enjoy the beauty of color, we long for clarity. simplicity. understanding. We want to easily identify and categorize every aspect of our lives.

Our longing for for black and white grows from real lives that can be complicated. burdensomeoverwhelming. Lack of understanding and moments of weak faith may cause us to illogically pursue easy answers instead of endurance.

If only it were as easy to change our emotional and spiritual view as our view through the viewfinder.

 

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In case the heat of the day makes us forget the promise of the morning, we’re reminded again in the evening.  We can’t let our longing for black and white strip our enjoyment in creation and our loving Creator.

And that Montana sunset I was driving into?  It was as resplendent as the promise of the North Dakota sunrise.

Making your home sing Mondays    WHWButton#2

Experience Success at a Writers Conference

 

In the olden days, writers painstakingly hand penned a book manuscript without ink blots,  tied it up with string, wrapped it in brown paper and mailed it to an editor.

Josephine March sending off her manuscript

Over time, query letters came into vogue.

You  typed out your polite letter, described your amazing work, and asked the editor if they wanted to review your manuscript for publication.

If they said yes, you would tie it up with string, wrap it in brown paper and mail it.

More than just the mailing format has changed for today’s writer. Many editors will toss not only unsolicited manuscripts, but unsolicited query letters and proposals. Without regret. Without warning. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200.

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In the Christian Writer’s Market Guide and the Writer’s Market many  publishers advise they accept manuscripts only through agents.

You can’t directly communicate with the editors, and you have to prove yourself to an agent to get to an editor?

What? How can authors meet people in the industry?

 

Writers Conferences

 

It’s as simple as that. Not only do you get instruction on the craft and marketing and meet like-minded writers, you meet the gatekeepers in the industry, editors and agents.

But, many newbie writers spend the money to attend a conference, only to discover they really weren’t prepared. They zealously pitch their novel, and find they should have done their homework, the editor isn’t looking for that particular genre. They didn’t print business cards, so end up scribbling their contact information on a torn piece of paper. Newbies are unsure about what to wear, what to bring, and how to act.

I just described my very first writers conference.

But, their hope of publication depends meeting and successfully connecting with those all-important editors and agents.

If you’re like most pre-published writers, this very thought has you shaking in your boots, quivering like a leaf, and frightened to death. Can ya’ tell I opened my Cliché’ Drawer for that sentence?

The Christian Writers Coach  answers all the questions you have and the ones you didn’t know to ask.

NWCWA Final Cover (4)

It was written by members of the Northwest Christian Writers Association in Kirkland, WA, who have a passion to help writers succeed. The articles are broken into four sections, beginning  with biographies of five successful people in the industry, to encourage you on the path. Chronologically, the how-to articles help you  prepare for, survive through and follow-through after a conference. Specific topics included are on proposals, one-sheets, conference binders, networking tips, preparing and giving a pitch, and  critique groups.

Links are included at the end of each chapter to encourage further study and introduce you to some of the names in the industry. A writer needs to have the mindset of constantly learning the craft and polishing their skills. (If you buy the e-book, you’ll be able to click your way right to further study.) 

 
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After meeting Robin Jones Gunn at an Oregon Christian Writers conference,  I wanted to share how the Lord led her into the ministry of writing in the biography section. She writes for women of all ages, from pre-teen to mature, and teaches at writers conferences.  A few years later, I still feel blessed  I met her. 

(I blogged This Chick Met the Sister Chick.)

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I still love her testimony. We serve an amazing God!

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An extrovert who loves helping writers succeed,  I also wrote the article on networking.

Are you one of those 90% of Americans who dream about writing a novel?  I can’t help you finish it, but I can help you rock the next writers conference you attend.

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You just need a little coaching.

***********

For further encouragement:

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Then, after you’ve been coached, you’ll be  ready to learn from Oxford scholar and prolific writer, Davis Bunn, and meet our line-up of editors and agents.

Get Coached!

 

Birthday Party for a Cowgirl Wannabe’

My daughter wants to be a cowgirl.  She dreams of owning a horse  and wearing cowboy boots with manure on them, instead of city-slicking fashion cowgirl boots tucked into skinny jeans. But, we live in town.  A big town.  A big town not zoned for horses.

She dreams about horses so much, one night she sleepwalked into our room looking for the barn to feed the horses.

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Meeting Miss Rodeo Montana last summer only fueled the dream. 

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Visiting my friend high school friend, Janet, and her horses, didn’t help either. 

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Each summer we visited she petted, fed, rode and fell in love all over again. What’s not to love? Chaz with her twins, Whiskey Girl and Wyoming on the North Dakota prairie. Even as a toddler, Beka walked under and around these hand-fed pets.

When my Cowgirl Wannabe’ was planning her birthday party, we discovered early on it would be challenging to combine her loves if buying ready-made items. She wanted pink.  She wanted lace. She wanted vintage.  She wanted horses. Many things I found on the internet or in the stores were red/blue and geared towards cowboys. Since I’ve always been a DIY, homemade kinda’ mom, we were up for the challenge.

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When she found this beautiful calendar at the Dollar Store, I knew we could pull off the horse part easily and inexpensively.  On the back of each calendar was a page with smaller pictures of each month’s pictures.

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These were laminated and turned into magnets for each guests’ goodie bag.

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We hung the pictures from the grapevine garland that’s along the fireplace year around and added twine.

 

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A doll was dressed in denim and cowboy boots and decorated the desert bar on the buffet.

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We already had strips of fabric for a background from another birthday party, so we took out some colors and added strips of tan fabric and lengths of twine. The girls stood on a step stool for their picture.

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A wooden crate was decorated with lace, twine and a flower, then filled with props for the Cowgirl photo shoot. Pictures of each guest were emailed to them after the party. We printed off one picture for each girl and put it in a picture frame card for the thank you.

After being inspired by a summer project of serving from Focus on the Family, Beka decided instead of each girl bringing a gift for her, they would bring a gift or used clothing for the shelter for women and children.  We were thrilled to see the donations brought in.

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Even grandson, Finnean, looked adorable in a mustache.

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Glasses were pint jars and 1/2 pint milk bottles with strips of tan fabric previously used for vases at our writers conference last May.  Beka pulled off tan buttons and added some pink. She made a few out of lace just because.

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A drink station was staged on a child’s cupboard.  The white enamel coffee pot held pink lemonade.

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Pink plastic silverware was wrapped in brown paper and white doilies, which was Beka’s creation. The pink paper plates looked adorable on vintage white paper plate holders.  The small crate was found at the thrift store for $.99 and stained to look aged. The meal was a sandwich bar, fresh fruit and veggies.  Simple. Healthy.  Adaptable to food allergies or strong dislikes.

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A ladder in the dining room held the chips.

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These “feed bags” are actually burlap rice bags. I removed the zippers, turned them inside out, and  hot-glued a doily on.

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Beka didn’t want cake, she wanted cookies and ice cream. To simplify feeding the girls, we purchased the small cups of strawberry swirl ice cream.

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The sugar horse decorations were found at Dawn’s Cake and Candy World. I can’t give you the recipe for the sugar cookies, because the dough came in a tube. Sometimes a momma’s gotta’ do what a momma’s got to do.

 

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Since we had a hard time finding horse party items, we  also bought this horse mold at Dawn’s for melting chocolate.  The gold is a fine edible powder that rubbed on easily.

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After seeing these on a blog, we knew this would be the one thing we HAD to make for the party.  These are Nutter Butter cookies dipped in chocolate, with Wilton candy eyes, almond ears and hard caramel noses.  Instead of cookie sticks, I used skewers because they matched our theme better, were thinner, and cheaper.

Since this was way too much sugar for one day, some horses were on display, the rest were tied up in clear bags and sent home in the girls’ goodie bags.

 

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Granddaughter, Maddelyn, loved her little horsie.  She came with her mommy and siblings to help make them a few days before the party and had a hard time waiting until she could actually eat one.

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Aunt Cindy’s recipe has been a family favorite since Christmas of 1996, and  was the first cookie Beka baked for her party. 

 

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At the end of the day, the City-Slickin’ Cowgirl was very, very, happy, even without a horse in the backyard.

 

Raspberry Almond Shortbread Cookies

Cream together:

2/3 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Add:

2 cup flour

Chill dough if too soft.  Roll into balls and flatten slightly with a fingerprint hole in the middle. Fill the hole with seedless raspberry jam.  Bake at 350° 14-18 minutes, until edges are brown.  Do not over bake.

Drizzle glaze over baked cookies.

Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2-3 teaspoons water

Making your home sing Mondays        WHWButton#2

An Unexpected Time Capsule

 

 

flashback friday

 

A box of canning jars stashed in the attic was an expected time capsule.  When I had wrapped them carefully in newspaper, I had no idea I wouldn’t see those jars or pages for another 17 years.

The crinkled, yellowed pages made me recall where I lived, what I was doing and what my life was life at the time.  I was a young mom, full of hope and good health.

We never know what the future holds, and it’s a good thing.  Had I known what the next 17 years would hold for me physically, spiritually and emotionally, I might have packed myself in that box and hidden in the attic, leaving the canning jars to fend for themselves.

In those 17 years, I’ve learned to  walk by faith, day by day, moment by moment. Some of these headlines were the beginning of that journey to find peace in uncertain times.

(scanned images are mine.  click on other images to find source.)

1997 Survived Flood

North Dakota and Minnesota had just survived the 1997 Flood of the Century. The Red River of the North is the boundary between the two states, so they shared the burden. We were battle sore and weary, but determined to survive.  Nobody was begging the government to intervene or blaming anybody, people rolled up their sleeves, helped themselves and helped their neighbors.  It was a horrifically, wonderful time. The attire of the time was rubber boots and warm flannel and the duty was to help where there was need.There were no strangers.

  • 117 inches of snow of Fargo
  • 4.5 million acres covered by floodwaters in two states
  • waters reached up to 3 miles away from the river

The floodwaters surrounded the farmstead we were renting.  We sandbagged, ran sump pump 24/7, prayed and eventually were evacuated to town for a week, not knowing if we would come home to salvageable belongings. We spend months picking up broken tree branches and cleaning up flood damage.

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And 2013 brought floods to Colorado as reported by the Denver Post.

1997 Political Ad1

Only 2.6 million?  Chump change!  (What does that saying mean, anyway?)

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And I guess the Senate is still spending money. Click on the above image to watch the US Debt Clock tick.  It will make you sick.

1997 November Dow Jones

It’s like the heartbeat of America.

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I think someone is going to have a heart attack.

 

1997 Tuition Increase Concerns

The article said “the University of North Dakota (Go Fighting Sioux!) and North Dakota State University charge $2,236 in tuition to attend school full-time for a year.  That adds up to $93.17 per credit hour over two semesters.”

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Currently, NDSU freshmen students pay $264 per credit. (Hey you people in the west, notice that out-of-state tuition is lower with the Western Undergraduate Exchange program.) 

1997 Greenspan and Social Security

Greenspan’s warning in 1997.

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Fox News warning us that Social Security checks could be stopped.  Really?  Take it out on our retired and disabled citizens?

Why do I have this nagging feeling that 100 housewives in Washington could have made and kept a budget better than 100 politicians? You know, if I couldn’t afford steak, I didn’t buy steak.  And if I really, really wanted steak, I didn’t go to the neighbor’s to borrow money to buy steak, I waited until it was on sale or went without. My kids had to earn their allowance.   I purchased needs before wants.  Anyhoo…

1997 Saddam1

Remember being worried about him?

imageNow we have him.

1997 Septuplets McCaughey

Who didn’t enjoy some good news at this time?  Many of us rejoiced with the McCaughey family and their many blessings.

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Dateline introduced the world to these beautiful kids, and have followed them through the years.  Click on NBC’s picture to watch a video interview of teenagers about to enter high school.

I didn’t find a lot of pictures and interviews on the internet.   The parents are raising children, not celebrities.  Good for them!

1997 cell phone ad

Did you ever have a phone that looked like this?

1997 Cell Phone Plan

Or a plan like this?

Looking back is always bittersweet.  Some memories can be enjoyed and embraced, others need to be healed and forgotten.

But, as we look at our past, live in the problems of today, and face our uncertain future, we have this great comfort.

 

Hebrews 13 v 8 third

There’s one thing that will never change.

Are ya’ PINNED yet?

 

In my mother’s teen years, if you got “pinned” you received a pin from your boyfriend and were going steady.  It might be from his frat house, one of his clubs, or a pin from his letterman’s jacket. The pin proved YOU were the one he chose above all the other girls and he was willing to publically display his commitment.

In “The Telephone Hour” in Bye Bye Birdie they sing about the teenage ritual of getting pinned.

Have you heard about Hugo and Kim?
Did they really get pinned?
Did she kiss him and cry?
Did he pin the pin on?
Or was he too shy?
Well, I heard they got pinned
Yeah! Yeah!
I was hopin’ they would!
Oho!
Now they’re livin’ at last,
Goin’ steady for good!

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Pinterest is the same thing, only different. It’s a Cool Tool that can improve your blogging.

Today getting pinned still means you were chosen – picked out of a crowd.  Someone liked your idea and displayed it in their inspirational corner of cyberspace – Pinterest.

If you’re not a crafty, kitcheny person, you might think it’s a waste of time. Think again. There’s an explosion of talent, ideas and inspiration useful to everyone.

I know, I know, one more thing to learn.  One more thing to take time away from everything else you don’t have time for. 

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One more thing to drive traffic to your blog.

In case you can’t read that little number, in the short time that I’ve limped along learning how to pin, 638 people have clicked to my blog from Pinterest.

I blogged for years before I added social media to my writing life.  My blog grew slowly. Followers were added one at a time by visiting blogs, leaving comments and creating relationships.  Some of these women became true friends and I’ve even met them in person. It’s been such a blessing! This is the best foundation for a blog, good internet relationships.

However, when you are trying to build a platform as a writer, you need to increase your audience.

I created a Facebook author page in February and started Pinterest in the spring. Prior to this,  I had been using my personal Facebook page to promote blog posts, so the stats aren’t just from this year.

The impact social media can have on your blog traffic can’t be denied.

 

You can create a board for the various topics areas you write about. When you pin from your blog, the title of the blog is in bold print and you can add a one-liner to entice the browsers to learn more. When people click on the image, it will lead them to your post.

If people like your visuals, they will pin them into their own Pinterest boards.  You get pinned and sometimes repinned. Being on Pinterest will also inspire you to have great visuals in your blog posts, visuals  worthy of being pinned.

.

(Each icon is hyperlinked to a blog post.)

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MARRIAGE

 

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PARENTING

 

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INSPIRATION

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WRITING   INSPIRATION

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COOL TOOLS FORBLOGGING

There’s a lot of great bloggers out there, but having Pinterest-worthy visuals could give you an advantage in driving traffic your way.

Are ya’ PINNED yet?

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