Monday, August 17, 2015

The Mustard Seed

My granddaughter goes off to college in a few days and I've been melancholy for about a week now just thinking about it. She lived next door to us during her entire childhood and popped in and out of our house when she pleased. They moved about 5 years ago, but only about a mile away. Today was the last time I'll see her before she moves on campus, so I went to visit and take her a gift and a letter.
The gift is a small pendant necklace containing a mustard seed along with the gift of my heart.

Dear Chloe,
You’re off to college and a whole new world. I’m excited for you and teary eyed at the same time.

You’re my little one who, before you started school, would come bustin' through our front door every afternoon when I came home from work, exuberantly yelling “Hey, Mamaw"! And then you would hang out with me for the rest of the afternoon.  Then, “Hey Mamaw” in the mornings when you starting riding with me to school and the same when you came in my office in the afternoons after school.  I would love to know how many “Hey Mamaws” I have heard in your eighteen years with each one of them sounding sweeter than the one before.

You’re my little one who told an impromptu story of Moses in its entirety to a packed congregation during Mr. Al’s children’s sermon one Sunday morning when you weren't quite three years old, delighting the whole crowd, and causing Mr. Al to say, “Amen. You told it much better than I could have”. 

You started going to our church when you were a little over a year old and everyone fell in love with you, and then later, your sister Genevieve.  Remember that our church family still loves you and prays for you as you go off to school. Always remember the things you learned during confirmation classes with Randy and the commitment you made when you joined the church. We also made a commitment to you to when you were baptized and you can be assured we won’t forget.

The little necklace I’m giving you symbolizes having faith – even the tiniest bit of faith - as small as a mustard seed. One of my favorite mentions of the mustard seed in scripture is from Matthew 13: 31-32. I know you’ve heard this passage before, and it was just used Sunday in our children’s sermon.

31  "He put another story before them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and put in his field: 32  Which is smaller than all seeds; but when it has come up it is greater than the plants, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of heaven come and make their resting-places in its branches."

The church has played an integral part in planting seeds in your heart from your early years. If you let them, the seeds will grow and multiply and the kingdom of God inside you will be carried on. You may not understand it now, but a little encouragement on your part to make the seeds grow will give you strength and will be more useful than you’ll ever know.  When the gospel comes alive in you, it works and spreads itself into all the powers and faculties of the heart and soul. I hope this necklace reminds you of that!

I love you, my sweet princess. Have a wonderful year in school! You may open your dorm door one day soon and find me there for a quick visit - just long enough for me to hear you say, “Hey Mamaw”, in that same exuberant sweet voice that I’ve always loved.


Love you!

Mamaw


Note:
There are many things that influence our children and grandchildren as they go off to school. As their Christian mentors we can offer them encouragement and pray they'll cling to the Word in times of uncertainty and in times when their faith may waver.

In most Protestant churches, we make a commitment when children are baptized. We, "as members of the church of Jesus Christ, promise to guide and nurture them by word and deed, with love and prayer, encouraging them to know and follow Christ and to be faithful members of His church." That is a huge responsibility.

We can send them cards letting them know that their church family hasn't forgotten them even though they may be far away.

Glenda Manus, 8/18/2015



Monday, August 3, 2015

High Tide at Pelican Pointe goes LIVE

As I saw my new book, High Tide at Pelican Pointe, "go live" on Amazon this week, I felt the same giddiness and excitement that I felt with the two earlier books. It made me wonder how seasoned authors feel when publishing their latest books. Does book number forty still carry that WOW factor feeling that book number one did? Is the excitement still there when you see your book in print?

I certainly hope so! Here's the latest excitement in my life!

High Tide at Pelican Pointe


Monday, July 27, 2015

Pause for Reflection

It's nice to take a little break from writing now that my book is in the formatting stage. In other words, it's finished except for being published. I've taken little breaks throughout the year for sanity's sake, but there's always that cloud hanging over my head, kinda' like one of those cartoon caption clouds, saying "You're not finished yet - get back to work!"

I'm glad to say the cloud is gone and without it there, I can take time to reflect on the here and now in my time and place, without having my characters in my head screaming for my attention.

I'm so accustomed to getting up early in the morning, making my coffee and bringing it to the computer desk. I surf through emails and FB, then ideally go on to my devotional time. After I get the fog lifted from my brain with my coffee, I can have some quiet writing time before hubby gets up and at 'em. But if I don't discipline myself, I sometimes find that I'm still surfing an hour later. Then once I'm in front of the computer and get the thought process flowing, it's hard to make myself get up.

This morning I put myself on a new schedule. I was up at 7 and took my cup of coffee out to the patio area out back. I listened to the roosters as they upped the ante on who could crow the loudest. I don't know what their prize was - maybe a romp in the hen house with their favorite lady, but one's voice definitely stood out from all the rest. I'm glad my neighbors are early risers - if not, they would be turning him in for breaking the noise ordinance.

There were so many summer noises and sights that I've been missing. Birds singing, bees buzzing, the sun peaking over the treetops. A train clickity-clacking down the track with its whistle blowing as it approaches the cross arms, making me wonder where it's been and where it's going.

The morning dew was still on the grass and I watched as Theo bounded across the yard, knowing full well what was about to happen but my brain didn't register fast enough for me to move out of his way. Then with his water sogged, spring-loaded back legs, he landed right in my lap nearly knocking my coffee out of my hand. His previous rolling around in the red dust combined with the heavy dew on his feet did nothing for my black and white (Henry calls them prison striped) pajamas except add a little color and character to them. That was okay though. This cool cat rarely displays emotion, but it was apparent by his snuggles that he was happy that I was outside enjoying his favorite time of the day.

Being outside in the morning makes you see things that are not so noticeable in the heat of the day when you're in a hurry to get back in the cool house. Like my white porch railings that were filthy, the porch floor which needed a good brushing and mopping, and the screen door which had a thousand and one hand prints.  What better time to tackle a job like that while the temperature is pleasant - and I did. Then it was on to tackle other jobs outside and in, and by the time I finally took a seat in front of the computer, it was 11:30 a.m.

Being outside early with no electronic distractions gives me time to reflect and to count my blessings. Granted, I always read my Bible and devotional at my computer desk each morning, but that alone isn't enough. The one-on-one companionship and commune with God that you get from being surrounded by nature adds a whole new dimension to worship. It's like the Holy Spirit is feeding you the things you've been hungering for. It's a schedule I plan to keep following. What a great way to start a day!

Later I went out and took some photos of our flowers and our old house with good bones before it got so hot.

Bottle tree

Tiny blue flowers make a big splash





Old iron headboard frames some little shade flowers

Made from the steps that walk down to the street. Our house will have a big birthday in 2019.  A whopping 100 years old. 

Old wheelbarrow filled with color

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Topsy Turvy

Topsy Turvy is a great way to describe May and June at our house this year although I shouldn't limit topsy turvy to two months - it's more like for the past two years.

My life turned upside down, or maybe I should say right side up since the publication of my first book in the Southern Grace Series in late December, 2013, followed quickly by the second and any day now, the third book which will complete the trilogy. I went from trudging along writing hour after hour, to the crazy world of book promotions, book signings, and speaking at events. It has truly taken me out of my comfort zone and I can't say enough good things about getting out of a comfort zone! Everyone should just do it. It took me far too many years to make the plunge and gain the confidence, but with God's help, I did it.

Now, back to May and June. Grandchildren have a way of turning your life upside down anyway, and then when they start reaching those life changing milestones in their lives, it starts shaking yours up a little bit more. Jake, our oldest grandchild graduated from high school last year, and last month he completed his freshman year. Now the second grandchild, Chloe has graduated and will begin her freshman year of college in August. And the third and last one, Genevieve will enter 8th grade this year, so she's not so far behind.

It's these milestones, the metamorphosis of your babies from childhood to adulthood, that turns you into a Melancholy Mama - or in this case Grandmama, pouring through hundreds of photos and wondering how those childhood years of cuddles and hugs got away. The last two weeks have especially been tough. Seeing Chloe walk across that stage as one of the top 5 in her class, then watching as if by magic turning 18 years old on Sunday turned her into an adult right before my eyes. I literally could see it! One day looking into the eyes of a child, the next looking into the eyes of woman.

Do we grandmothers just notice these things more than we did with our own children? I think so. We develop a keener insight when we know that time REALLY does fly. And we learn that living in a topsy turvy world is just fine.

Glenda Manus
June 16, 2015



Thursday, May 21, 2015

Just Yesterday

Do you ever get a little nostalgic for days gone by? When you have children and grandchildren, those days seem to fly and before you know it, the little ones aren't little anymore. I was feeling this way as my family gathered around the table eating lunch on Mother's Day this year. All of a sudden, it hit me that two of my three grandchildren are adults now. Jake talked of finishing his first year of college, Chloe talked with excitement about high school graduation and beginning her first year of college, and thirteen year old Genevieve just listened. Her time will come. Then they left us and ventured upstairs to what was once their giant playroom. As the rest of us talked downstairs, it was the absence of noise coming from upstairs that caught my attention. It seemed that just yesterday there was loud raucous laughter, spats of "I am not" - "Yes you are", the creaky suspension springs of the old 1950's "Wonder Horse" rocking wildly threatening to throw its rider to the floor, and screams followed by one of us running up the stairs to see which one of them was badly injured, only to find them rolling on the floor laughing.


But this Mother's Day, Chloe and Jake were quietly talking about the past and future, and Genevieve, growing bored of grown-up talk was taking a nap on the bed. But in my head, I could still hear the laughter, I could still picture the rocking horse swinging wildly to and fro, and I could feel the little bodies, one by one giving me a hug when I finally heeded their little voices of “Maw-maw, come upstairs and play with us”.


No voices asking me to play came this Mother’s Day, but their hugs came, nonetheless, as they readied to go home. Only this time, instead of me stooping to their level to accept their hugs, I stood on my tiptoes to accept Jake’s and Chloe’s, and stood dead even to hug Genevieve.


So much has changed, and I miss those days terribly, but instead of brooding over it and living in the past, I am looking forward to seeing the adults they will become; looking forward to attending more graduations, weddings, and finally, welcoming great-grandchildren into this old house full of memories, where I’ll once again hear the sounds of laughter, the even squeakier springs of “Wonder Horse”, and the hugs of little ones as I make my way up the stairs - a little slower with the passing years.

Pass the tissues, please. Sniff, sniff.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Watering Can "Wreath" for Spring

I'm on a deadline to finish the third book in my Southern Grace Series and have had little time to use my penny-pinching style of decorating lately. I've been looking for a nice Spring wreath to put on my door but didn't want to pay the $50 price tag I've been seeing at the florists and lawn and garden shops, so I decided to make my own. I can't remember when I bought this red watering can but I'll lay odds that it was at our local flea market and I'm sure I didn't pay over $5 for it. It's been idly wasting time on a bottom shelf in my library, simply because it doesn't fit anywhere else. I do love vintage watering cans. They look great on garden benches outside and there's lots of ways you can use them indoors. I've used them on my sun porch intermingled with my potted plants. I have a good friend who has a large collection of them.

But this is no normal watering can. It's a half can - a large wall pocket - flat on the back. When the idea hit me, I started raiding some flower arrangements stored in my attic and came up with just enough seasonal stuff to make a nice Spring arrangement to hang from a wreath hanger to display on my front door. Just the look I was hoping for.

Happy Easter!











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Monday, March 2, 2015

Bringing Characters to Life

I've had a good, productive morning of writing after several days of not picking up my pen. Book Three (I still haven't settled on a title) is picking up steam. I've just finished Chapter 13.

Someone asked me recently if I have a firm outline that I go by before I begin a book. Not really. I have a general outline, but when I start, I never quite know how it will end until I get there. I know that's a pretty unconventional method of writing, but it works best for me. I put a lot of time into creating my characters, their strengths, their faults, their likes and dislikes. Then I hand them my general outline and let them take it from there. They live out their lives in my book with a gentle nudging here and there from me. By the time I finish a book, they are totally such a part of me that I have a hard time letting them go. That's why I carried Rock and Liz and a few others over into my second and third books. They were on a roll and I didn't want to stop them. This third book will be the end though - a trilogy. They're ready to live their lives with a little less excitement when they play out this last story. There will be more books, God willing. I'm just not sure yet the direction He is leading me to write after this.
The following Bible verse has come up in several of my readings today, so I'm sure it is speaking directly to me. Let it be your own verse today - it carries profound words of wisdom.
II Timothy 1:7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.