Additional Information

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Honest Questions Regarding Religion

When I was a child, I believed in Santa Claus.  On Christmas Eve, I would search the sky in hopeful anticipation, fully expecting to see Santa and his reindeer.  Over time, I learned that Santa was not real after all.  However, I knew of many kids who still believed.  I did not ridicule them because I didn't care.  Their belief in Santa wasn't, and still isn't, a threat to me.

I tell you this because I often wonder why people who do not believe in God get so worked up about the subject of religion.  Why get so defensive if you don't believe? I believe in God.  I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins.  I have accepted him as my savior and I have a close, personal relationship with him.  When I share that knowledge, I do it with respect, and I understand many people do not share my beliefs.  I don't force anything upon other people.  So I honestly and sincerely ask, if you don't believe, why are you so disrespectful to those of us who do believe?

I don't believe in Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, or Zeus for that matter.  But I don't accuse believers of non-Christian faiths as being babies who believe in fairy tales.  I don't lash out at them or ridicule them.  I may pray for them, but only out of brotherly love.  Not hate.

So why fight so hard agaisnt something you do not believe to be real? If you think the Bible is a book of fiction, why do you care if I read it? And why do you care what it says? Better yet, why do some atheists use parts of the Bible to justify their disbelief? That doesn't make any sense at all!

Friday, August 26, 2011


Earlier this year, a fellow writer friend of mine advised I begin networking.  A few of the things networking is good for is getting familiar with the writing business, learning what agents/publishers are looking for, and establishing a fan base.  I considered what my friend said and agreed it would be a smart thing to do.  So I began browsing online writing forums, checking out agent websites, etc.  After a couple months, I joined AbsoluteWrite, which is just awesome.  And, as you have noticed, I am now blogging. 

My goal, though, is to do more than the things I listed above.  I want to get to know other writers.  I want to share in their writing journey and have them share in mine.  Being a writer can be incredibly exciting and sometimes just horribly frustrating, and I don't think people really understand that unless they, too, are writers. 

So if you're a writer, get involved with other writers! Push them, encourage them, learn from them, and allow them to do the same for you.  You won't be sorry.

Friday, August 19, 2011

United States ~ United By What?

You know the phrase, "You've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything?" I am a true believer in this.  I feel like the United States of America used to stand for something.  However, I often find myself asking what that something is now.  Perhaps equality is the answer.  But in our determination to offer equality to everybody, we've become so diversified that we no longer have unity.  We've got different cultures, different religions, even different languages.  So what unites us? There might have been a time when we could at least claim it was our citizenship that united us, but we can't say that anymore! There are too many people living here who are not citizens.  Why is that, by the way? Illegal immigrants seek our country for better opportunities~ better jobs, better money, better education, etc.  But they don't seek citizenship.  Why not? I wonder where their true loyalties lie.  But I digress.

So I ask again.  What unites us? Freedom? Maybe.  Ask yourself this, though.  Do you want freedom for everyone or just for a few? If you really ask yourself, you may find an unpleasant answer. 

I believe the problem is we've strayed too far from what the United States was intended to be.  We use (and abuse) the Constitution without taking into account what was intended when it was written.  That's my thought anyway.  What does everyone else think?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Surrounded By Blessings

Last year, on August 13th, which happened to be Friday the 13th, my husband and I went to the hospital for a scheduled visit.  My husband had been having chest pains for about a month, and a CT scan had showed a few lumps in his lungs.  On this particular day, my husband was scheduled for a lung biopsy which was to reveal one of two possibilities: Lymphoma or Sarcoidosis.  Up to that point, he'd had x-rays, CT scans, and a PET scan.  I evaluated every document given to us from each of the tests and did tons of research.  To say I was worried would be a gross understatement.  In fact, I was convinced he had cancer. 

The biopsy was supposed to take about two hours, but ended up taking almost four.  And though I had planned on sitting in the waiting room by myself, a close friend of ours came and sat with me.  It was a long wait, but my understanding was we would have the results as soon as the procedure was over.  That was not the case, so my fears were neither confirmed or relieved.  Our friend spent the night in the ICU room with my husband and I, which meant more than words could say.  She left the following day, but she kept in contact with us.  We also had many friends and family members stop by the hospital to see us.  By Monday, we still had no results and we weren't sure when my husband would be released from the hospital.  Late that afternoon, a large group of our friends stopped by and asked if they could pray with us.  Of course they could! We gathered around my husband's bed and each friend took a turn saying a prayer.  Not long after they left, a nurse came in to tell us my husband was being released.  Yes! We could go home! We were upset that we didn't have answers yet, but being able to go home lifted our spirits.  And then, just as we were leaving, a nurse brought us a message from my husband's family physician.  The results were in: he didn't have cancer! I don't know why the family physician had the results before the surgeon, or why he contacted us first.  But it didn't matter.  We believed, as we still do, it was our prayer warriors (those who stopped by and prayed along with the many others praying all weekend) and their prayers that enabled us to be released from the hospital with such good news. 

I write all this because this past weekend marked the one year anniversary of the biopsy.  And I can't help but think about how different this past year would have been if my husband had been diagnosed differently.  Instead of having cancer, my husband had (and still has) Sarcoidosis which is much easier to deal with than cancer.  To this day, we have friends and family ask all the time about how my husband is doing.  You see, we are surrounded by blessings.  And no matter what negative circumstances we are faced with, I am reminded that the blessings we have are the people we have.  Nothing else really matters.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Welcome Home

Last week my husband was at a state park and found a stray puppy.  Nobody would claim the poor thing, and the park didn't want to pay the $75 fee to take the dog to the humane shelter.  The only option left was to call the sheriff and have the dog shot.  So what did my husband do? He called me and told me about it, knowing I would feel the need to save the cute little guy.  Of course I told my husband to bring the dog home.  When I first saw this puppy, I quickly came up with a suitable name for him.  Try saying chip-chip-chip really fast in a high pitched voice and you'll get an idea of the sound he was making.  I suggested we name the puppy Chip, and my husband approved.  Tucker was excited to see Chip; they've become playmates.

Having a puppy in the house has required a few changes.  Tucker is nine, doesn't eat much, and typically goes outside only three or four times a day.  My husband and I are used to this.  What we aren't used to is putting a puppy outside every couple hours, watching said puppy devour food like crazy, and following the puppy around the house to make sure he doesn't potty on the floors.  So far, he's only had a few accidents.  One was last night when he decided to stand a few feet behind me and let loose on the living room carpet. 

For the most part, Chip has been pretty good.  He hasn't chewed up anything, but my husband did find him standing on our coffee table a couple days ago.  And this morning, after I set my bowl of cereal down on the table, he decided to lift his front paws to the table and help himself to my milk.  I quickly let him know that kind of behavior is not allowed in our house.

I almost hate to yell at him because he's a bit skittish.  Whoever had him before must have abused him.  He's not very old, though.  My husband and I guess he's about six or seven months old.  And he's a mutt with a lot of German Shepard mixed in.  He's so dang cute, too.  I'm not sure why I even bothered telling my husband we could only keep the dog until we found a home for him.

Welcome home, Chip!  

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Back to the Beginning

I had to take another break from editing my story; circumstances prevented me from working on the task.  And that's probably a good thing.  Editing is all about finding a balance, and I think I lost mine.  At some point I fell off the balance beam and didn't have enough enthusiasm to get back on.  I began dragging my feet because I didn't like the changes I was making, even though I believed they were necessary.  Most of the changes I am sticking with because I still believe in them.  However, I made one very big change that I've never been content with.  The removal of Part I.  I mentioned in a previous post that I thought maybe it wasn't as necessary as I originally believed.  Now I am reconsidering.  There is a lot of character development in Part I.  Actually, there's a lot of everything in Part I.

I'm probably over-thinking it.  And doubt does creep in occasionally.  This story is unlike anything I've ever written, and I want it to be right.  This is why I'm going back to the beginning.  In other words, I'm asking myself the following questions: what was the point of writing the story? what was the motivation? what is it supposed to be about? And I think I've got the answers.  My enthusiasm has returned!         

Friday, August 5, 2011

Raising Chickens~Part II

**Continued from yesterday's post**

Thanks for coming back! Now, where was I? Oh yes...

Late in the year, we decided it was time to build a new home for the remaining hens.  They barely fit inside the box they were sleeping in and would need more adequate shelter for the winter months.  My husband and his brother got to work building a new coop.  My other brother-in-law also helped, and between me and the three of them, we got the coop moved from the garage to our back yard.  Then we moved the hens out of Motel 6 and into the Hilton.  During the winter, we had no problems with the chickens.  I didn't particularly enjoy being outside at 6:30 in the morning when it was ten degrees out, or checking on them at night, but the hens had to be fed and watered.  The hens stayed nice and cozy...until Spring came.

One of the hens became sick.  She could get herself out of the coop but then had to prop herself up against any convenient item she was able to find.  She couldn't even bend down.  Her sides began to swell at an alarming rate, and after a few days, we decided to end her suffering since she couldn't eat, drink, or hold herself up.  Not quite two weeks later, I had let the chickens out of the coop so they could run around the yard, get their fill of grass and bugs, and take some dirt baths.  When I went to put them away, I noticed my one remaining white chicken sitting by my house.  Now, when it starts to get late and they're ready for bed, I can usually pick them up without them fussing.  I was able to do this with the white hen and assumed she was ready to sleep.  However, as I carried her, I noticed another hen a few feet in front of the coop.  She was dead.  My first thought was the chicken that had been sick passed on a disease to my other hens.  I set the white hen down and began looking for the other hens.  Within minutes, my poor white hen was on her side, flapping her wings sporadically.  She gave out a couple cries and was then quiet, and still.  A quick inspection confirmed that she, too, was dead.  The next morning, another had died, and I had no idea what to do.  My husband called a friend of ours who raises chickens and the cause of death was discovered: GNATS! They were really thick around our house and the chicken coop.  Our friend informed us that chickens can go into shock and die if they are bit too many times by gnats and that gnats can clog the orifices on the chickens.  Who knew? I didn't! Learning this helped me to understand why my hens were suddenly hiding under my shed when I let them out- they were trying to get away from the tiny buggers! A fourth chicken soon went missing, and I still believe she crawled off and died somewhere.  Our chicken count was now dwindled down to five.

A very large raccoon more recently devoured one of the hens before I got them put away one evening which left us with four hens.  About a week ago, another hen went missing and I assumed she was also eaten.  Imagine my surprise when my husband called the day before yesterday to let me know he found the dead hen by the opening to our crawlspace.  How she got there, I don't know.  She could have jumped in, but none of the chickens have ever done so.  And the hole was barely a foot deep so she should have been able to jump out or fly out.  Perhaps the heat was too much for her, though. 

Alas, we are now down to three hens.  Egg production and sales have skidded to a halt, which isn't a big deal.  I feel bad, though.  I didn't cause the death of this hen, but I feel responsible.  I remember my husband and I standing not twenty feet away, discussing her disappearance that evening.  She was probably still alive in that hole, but I never thought to look for her there.

My husband is ready to buy more chickens, but I'm not because most of the responsibility is mine.  It's been an adventure, that's for sure.  I've been scratched multiple times; I even have a few scars.  And one chicken almost pecked my eye out.  In its defense, I don't think it was trying to.  I had a hair hanging in front of my face and I think the chicken wanted it.  Good thing I closed my eye soon enough.  The chicken got a piece of skin off my eyelid instead of the hair or my eye.

That's it for now.  We're down to three chickens and there will be more stories to share later on.  And next year, I'm sure we'll buy more.  But not twenty-five.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Raising Chickens~Part I

I never dreamed I would become a chicken farmer, but last year I became one quite unexpectedly.  My mother-in-law purchased twenty-five chicks for my niece.  Unfortunately, my mother-in-law's plan for the small fuzz balls fell through when she found out she would not be able to keep them where she had intended.  So she made a phone call ~ to my husband.  Shortly after, we became chicken farmers.
Raising chickens has been a learning experience.  When we first got them, we could see one of them was sick.  I found it the next morning, dead.  Another one looked similar, and it, too, died later that evening.  This brought the number to twenty-three.  Being inexperienced, we couldn't tell how many males and how many females we had.  But we had red ones, black ones, speckled ones, and some white ones.  The whites were my favorite, and I quickly named one Sunburst due to the yellow spot on the top of its head.  They grew quickly, and as they did, I gradually introduced them to my dog Tucker.  Even though Tucker is not an aggressive dog, I had no way of knowing whether or not he would see the chickens as a special "treat."  I wasn't taking any chances.  And it was cute watching one of the white ones walk on his back; they got along just fine. 

Of course it didn't take long for the twenty-three chicks to outgrow their cage.  My niece's father built a chicken coop for us to put in our back yard.  The box part was just big enough for the chickens to have room to sleep, and the run (i.e. cage part) gave them room to, well, run.  By this time, we knew about half of the chickens were roosters and half were hens.  One speckled rooster seemed to be deformed (I learned later the "deformity" was just a characteristic of the breed) and he was the most aggressive.  He would puff his feathers out and run at me as if he was set to attack, but then he always backed off when I stomped my foot at him.  He was, after all, a chicken.

Egg production began to soar.  On average, we had about nine dozen eggs in our fridge every day.  We sold them to friends and to people at church.  The sales paid for the chicken feed and put a few extra dollars in our pocket, which was always nice. 

We soon lost two more chickens when our neighbor's dog got loose and took advantage of the free meal our yard roaming chickens provided.  One of the ill fated hens was a white one.  I was very upset about that, even though by this time I could no longer tell which white chicken was Sunburst.  Another month or so went by before my husband and I decided we needed to do something.  The roosters were...abusing the hens.  Many of them had their feathers ripped from their backs.  Some even had raw/bloody spots.  Though we had originally intended on eating the roosters, they were too old by this point.  Once a chicken becomes more than a few months old, the meat is very tough.  So we got ride of the meanest roosters.  Eventually my husband gave the remaining roosters to a guy he worked with which put our chicken count at ten.  Ten was much more manageable.  And my husband didn't miss being woken up at 5:30 in the morning by the roosters crowing.

**In an effort to keep this from becoming too long, I will post more tomorrow.**