Holiday Book Special

bigstock_Kitchen_Corner_601604If you haven’t had the opportunity to read The House Guest, for a limited time you can order a Kindle edition for only $.99. Get your copy today! The House Guest

SAMPLE EXCERPT FROM THE HOUSE GUEST:  When dinner was ready, Maggie ushered everyone into the dining room to be seated, and Reverend Flagstadt took his place at the far end of the large mahogany dining table to conduct what was a time-honored Thanksgiving tradition at the manor. “Let’s take just a moment to individually express thanks for our many blessings. Maggie, as the gracious hostess, would you like to begin?”

“I’m most thankful for my family, good friends, and such a beautiful day to spend with the ones I love.” She looked around the table at her many guests and smiled warmly.

Reverend Flagstadt then glanced in Lee’s direction. “Lee, how about you?”

“Frankly, I never did quite understand the purpose of this little exercise because it seems that the only outcome is cold food,” she complained.

“Aren’t you especially thankful for something, Lee?”  Reverend Flagstadt seemed a little perplexed at Lee’s reluctance to express her gratitude for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

“I’d be especially thankful to start eating.” She folded her arms across her chest in a show of defiance. “I think you should take this opportunity to offer a brief prayer, and then let’s dig in while everything is hot.” She glanced around the table, taking notice that all eyes were fixed upon her. “Well, I don’t know about all of you, but I missed breakfast this morning.”

Jenna respectfully lowered her head in preparation for a prayer that was likely forthcoming, but mostly it served as an effort to disguise her struggle for control of giggles. As it was, Reverend Flagstadt took his time with the Thanksgiving prayer, expressing gratitude for nearly everything that crossed his mind. Lee’s deep sighs of irritation failed to deter him.

Saturday Morning Glory

WafflesBaconIt was pretty much the same routine every Saturday morning, but, believe me, it never grew old. Really. The kitchen always smelled of waffles and warm maple syrup. Bacon sizzled in a cast iron skillet on the stovetop. The wonderful aromas, along with gospel music from the record player drew us all to the table for breakfast and happy conversation. Sometimes my Grandpa would walk the ten blocks from his house to ours and join us. He loved bacon, and I loved to hear him pray.

Saturday morning household chores were a family affair and everyone was involved – even the dog. Princess was our miniature black and tan dachshund. She had learned very quickly that she could earn a special treat if she gathered up our slippers and delivered them to their respective closets.

Mom always made cleaning and organizing fun. She would get a piece of colored paper and list all of the chores to be tackled. Then, she would cut the paper into strips, fold them, and place them all in a round metal bowl. We would each take a folded piece with a corresponding task. Once the job was done, we’d take another strip, and so on until the bowl was empty. Before we knew it, the house was clean and tidy.

Then there was the yard work. Dad wasn’t so much about making the task fun as just getting the job done. I loved working alongside my Dad and being his helper. He mowed the grass and I raked the clippings. We were a team.

Once all the chores were completed, Mom and I would get dressed and walk to the corner to catch the bus to town.  I had my allowance tucked away in my red purse – 50 cents went a long way, even with 10 cents set aside for church the following morning.  A trip into town usually meant lunch at the JJ Newberry counter and then a little shopping in the store. Of course, it never failed that we would have our pictures taken in the little photo booth. I always got a small white sack filled with favorite candy. Something was inevitably put on layaway for the start of school in September or for Christmas. Mom usually made a few small purchases; embroidery thread, crochet needles, and handkerchiefs for Dad.

After a stroll down the streets of town to do a little window shopping, we happily carried our treasures back onto the bus and made our way home. It had been another wonderful Saturday, with memories made that would last a lifetime and beyond.

All About Perspective

CaptureForestGreenA dear lady and very good friend of mine once remarked to me, “Honey, it’s really all in the way you look at things.” I’ve often recalled her words of wisdom, especially during difficult seasons of my life. Obviously, this positive and faith-filled individual had discovered a very precious secret along life’s way which enabled her to view her circumstances through eyes of hope and thankfulness.

When I was  a child, my parents and I would often go camping on the weekend in our small travel trailer. We had a favorite site located next to the river and under the tall Idaho pines. Because our “spot” was almost a hundred miles from home, we would usually arrive long after dark on Friday night. Once we were settled and in bed, I would gaze out the small upper bunk window at the towering pines, thinking to myself just how big and unfriendly they looked in the night shadows. After a time, I’d snuggle deep into my sleeping bag, close my eyes, and dream of morning. When the first rays of sunlight appeared, I would again look out the small window. The huge pines which had seemed so threatening in the dark now glistened in the morning sun. Same scene. Different perspective.

We can make the choice to view our circumstances through eyes of despair and negativity, or we can shift our focus to one of joy and gratitude.

An Attitude of Gratitude

Grist Mill

Take a moment to imagine what it would be like if we expressed gratitude on a daily basis. Researchers say that such thankfulness would certainly be rewarded with better health. Is this true? Can a positive feeling such as gratitude offer physical and mental benefits?  It may be a dramatic departure from what we’ve been taught about how to get healthier, but the connection between gratitude and health actually goes back a long way.  Throughout history, philosophers and religious leaders have praised gratitude as a virtue that is integral to health and well-being. Now, thanks to new research, there is scientific evidence that gratitude is a health enhancer; proven to lower stress, promote a more efficient immune system, improve emotional equilibrium, and enhance deeper relaxation.