100 Followers!

IMG_20180721_175143029 I started this blog as a way of practicing my writing and hoping someone might be inspired or encouraged along the way. I didn’t know if anyone would actually want to follow me and am so excited to reach 100 followers!

I am very grateful to all of you who find my blogs worthy of your time!

They’ll Be Back

woman in grey shirt holding brown cardboard box
Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

For those who miss my normal posts… especially the creative nonfiction and Bella posts… they will be back as soon as my life gets back into a routine. I’m transitioning between my home and my daughter’s home. Just give me a few days, or maybe a week, to settle in. Bella is not giving up until she gets her answers! And there are more creative nonfiction stories hiding in my journals.

Plans:  Do I Believe… or Not?

I had planned to be there when my daughter had her first baby. Both my mother and my mother-in-law had been there when my babies were born. And I wanted to do the same for my daughter.

But I was 500 miles away when I got the call. “Mom, don’t panic, but they want to take the baby now…”

I knew my daughter had struggled with high blood pressure throughout her pregnancy, and that they were planning for an early birth. But that was a month away! Surely the doctor could wait twelve hours before inducing, giving me time to drive over there.

But before I finished  packing, a picture of my newborn granddaughter popped up on Facebook. Proud daddy and adorable AJ. An awesome shot of the two of them together moments after the birth.

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I knew I should be happy. I knew I should be thankful for both mom and baby doing well.

But all I could feel was disappointment. Which quickly turned to bitterness as I added this event to so many others in which I didn’t get my way. Why couldn’t I be there with them at this incredible time? Just one more example of the bad luck that followed me my whole life? Another dream that was not allowed to come true?

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But was it luck? Did God really have control over every detail of my life? If He was in control, then it wasn’t luck, it was His plan.

Grieving over my broken dream, I wailed out at Him: “Why didn’t you want me there?” He let me cry, but He didn’t answer me as I struggled with questions that rose up from deep within. Why was I denied what so many other grandparents got to have? Didn’t God love me as much as He loved them? Was I inferior to other people, as life had convinced me I was since I was little? Always second class, never first? Never worth enough for God to bother with fulfilling my dreams? Always dealing with second best answers?

I knew God loved me regardless of what I felt at this moment. I tried to choose to believe His word over my feelings. “God, I don’t understand this. But I know You are good and that You love me.”

I wish I could say that peace flooded me or that light filled me or some other wonderful result of my prayer. But nothing changed. I still hurt. I was still 500 miles away. And I still had questions.

An hour of packing turned into three, and an eight hour drive turned into twelve. I couldn’t figure out how getting to my daughter took an extra six hours. There had been no incidents that would account for that much delay. Where had the time gone? Was it more bad luck – or God’s plan?

I didn’t want to get into that again, so I ignored the pain, put on a happy face, and went up to the third floor of the hospital. At least I would be able to spend time watching my grandbaby through the nursery window.

But that was not to be either. Baby AJ, being six weeks premature, was in a special ward where visitation was very limited. I wouldn’t be allowed in there without my daughter or son-in-law, and then only for a very short time.

Eventually, I did make it to my daughter’s room, And meet my new granddaughter. And watch with pride the strength of my daughter and son-in-law as they dealt with the curve ball God had also thrown at them. They hadn’t planned on such an early birth either. In fact, their curve ball was much larger than mine. My daughter could hear the other full term healthy babies as they passed in the hall on their way to visit their moms while she was denied her own baby due to medical concerns. Her husband also had to deal with the stress of closing on their new house, which should have happened months ago but kept getting delayed, and packing/moving/unpacking pretty much by himself. Were they questioning God’s love for them also? Were they also feeling inferior to others who’s plans always seem to work out?

“Count your blessings.” “Focus on the good, not the bad.” I can hear people saying as they read my words. I know it’s good advice. So many years I have walked with Him, learning of His love and faithfulness. Time after time I have seen Him intervene in my life in one form or another. Yet evidently this whole experience has revealed that I still have deep issues that need healing.

I know that God is in this. My husband and I were both able to leave at a moment’s notice and drive through the night without an accident despite how sleepy we became. And I am able to stay here with my daughter indefinitely, helping with the move, and later with the baby. Hearing my daughter’s story, it’s amazing how many things “just happened” to happen at just the right moment from the time her body went into crisis and continuing even as I type this.

The bottom line? None of us got what we wanted. God had a different plan. Now we have to decide whether or not we truly believe God has full control over our lives like we profess, and whether His plans were made with our best interest in mind. Are we going to believe our circumstances – or – are we going to believe God’s Word?

The struggle is real.

A Conversation With Myself (or Can We Get Some Feedback?)

Me: We have a problem.

Myself: What kind of problem? Are we out of keyboard strokes?

Me: What? Never mind. We’re going to need to change our blog posts. Do you think our readers are aware that our stories are based on real life events from the journals we kept in our earlier life?

Myself: Maybe. But I bet few would know that genre is called creative nonfiction. I had never heard of that before we began writing in it! I wonder how many other genres are out there that we’ve never heard of.

Me: Focus, man! We’re not talking about genres. We talking about our blogs! We need some information.

Myself: You mean, like what our readers like to read?

Me: Yes. If you haven’t noticed, we’re pretty much done with the journals from the 1970’s.  We need to move on to the 80’s.

Myself: So?

Me: So there’s a problem with that. Our life changed more than a few times during the 80’s. And so our journal entries changed also.

Myself: How? The handwriting?

Me: No, you fool. They went from event based to thinking based. More about what we thought about things than actual events.

Myself: So? I still don’t see the problem.

Me: Really? How can we write about events when there aren’t many to choose from?

Myself: Oh, I get it. So what do we do?

Me: There’s several directions we can go, but I just can’t decide.

Myself: Well, maybe if we figured out why we’re writing in the first place, it might help us figure out which direction to go.

Me: OK. At first we wrote to practice our writing skills. But that changed over time after we began getting feedback. So we need new goals.

Myself: I have one! How about to brighten our reader’s day with a little entertainment?

Me: That’s good. We definitely want to do that. But that seems so trivial. We need to think deeper. Like maybe to inspire our readers to keep on keeping on with their own walks with God.

Myself: Ooo, I like it! But I have one even deeper than that! To glorify God by acknowledging, and in a way thanking, Him for all the ways He has been faithful to us!

Me: Perfect!  So we have three new goals. Now how do we reach them?

Myself: Get readers to read them of course!

Me: Duh! And how do we do that when we don’t know what they like?

Myself: Now who’s being dumb. Ask them!

Me: Their time is precious with so many daily demands on their lives. And there’s so many great blogs they could be reading. I always feel honored when they choose to spend some of that time reading what we write.  I don’t want to ask even more of their time. I want them to be glad each time they visit us.

Myself: Well, it won’t hurt to ask them. Maybe a few of them would be kind enough to answer.

Me: Wow! If they would, I think I would jump with joy!

Myself: That I would love to see!  I don’t think I’ve ever seen you jump, except for when you see a roach. lol

Me: Very funny. Let’s write a letter to our readers with our questions.

Myself: Good idea. Here’ s what I think it should say:

“Dear Readers,

We love you! Thank you so much for spending some of your valuable time with us! Could we please ask you a few questions? It would help us out tremendously as we contemplate the direction we want our blog to take.”

Me: Tremendously? Contemplate?

Myself: Shhh… big words might make them think we’re smarter than we are.

Me: sigh

“Here are some questions, but any comments or suggestions would also be greatly appreciated!

Which of our stories had the greatest impact on you?

What kinds of stories would you like to see more of? Humorous, thought provoking, emotional, chapters (where one long story is divided into several blogs), etc.?

Are there any type stories you don’t like?

Would you be interested in other kinds of writing such as our commentary as we studied different scriptures? Or pictures we drew that told a story all on their own (with maybe just a caption when necessary)?

Do you prefer daily short stories or fewer longer stories (like 2-3 per week)?

What else can we do to make our blogs more inspiring, entertaining, and/or worthwhile of your time?

Very gratefully yours,

Me and Myself”

Me: Sounds good. Let’s post it!

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I hope this blog brought you a smile or two! The dialogue was meant to be humorous but the questions are serious. I really would like feedback. When I was still teaching, I used to ask parents as well as my students for feedback from time to time in order to evaluate my performance and make changes when necessary in order to become the most effective teacher I could be. I would like to use that same strategy to help me become the most effective, inspiring, impactful blogger I can be. I would truly be honored for any time you spend providing this feedback to me! And I truly do love you!

Linda

A Request for Help From My Readers

This is off topic – not a short story at all.  It’s actually a request. If I were to enter one of IMG_20180412_055520329my stories in a contest, which one should I choose? Which one would you chose? Which one do you think meets this criteria the best?

The judges will evaluate each one based on the following criteria: style, content, clarity, pacing, inspiration, and originality

  1. Is the submission well-written and readable?
  2. Does the submission engage the reader?
  3. Is the subject matter consistent with the contest’s theme?
  4. Does the author effectively use mood to convey the overall theme?
  5. Is the author’s personal style distinctive?

 

The theme is just Christian. It says, “Perhaps it is a story of answered prayer, of God coming through for you when you least expected it. Or maybe your story is humorous, illustrating God’s work at play.”

This would be the first writing contest I enter. As a new writer, I need your help to make the best, most objective choice. The deadline is April 16, 2018 and must be under 800 words. So my longer stories are not options.

Thank you so much for helping me!

Linda

A Warning to Cat Owners

A Startling Discovery… Cats Can Read and Write!

Confiscated Letters from Our Rescue Cats

A collaboration, by Linda Schnepel and  BibleBloggerGirl 

 

The following are a collection of letters that we were shocked to recently discover . Seems our cats have more in common than just being rescue cats . They can read and write! I shudder to think how many times Cassi sat on my lap as I wrote in my journal, probably reading every word. But I have to credit her with one thing… she can keep a secret! It was just by accident that I stumbled onto these letters. I’m posting them here as a warning to all cat owners. Be careful what you write, whether by hand on by keyboard – your cat just might be reading it!

 

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Dear Miss Potter,                                                                I just read BibleBloggerGirl’s post about you and was moved to write to you concerning her attitude. She sure didn’t seem to appreciate your gifts very much, did she? And after all that work to spit them up at just the right times! I hope you thought of a way to change that!                                                                                                                   With much sympathy,                                               Cassi

 

 

Dear Cassi,
So nice to hear from you! I read about you in Linda’s post. Thank you for reading my girl’s posts. I know she appreciates it. I do try with my gifts for her, and she seems to be warming up to them! Do you ever give your Linda gifts that she doesn’t enjoy? Write soon! I think I’ll go find someone to feed me.
With purrs and rubs,
Miss Potter

 

Dear Miss Potter,                                                                                                                                             No, because I never give gifts. I AM a gift so why should I give them? They already have me!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Indignantly,                                                                                                                                             Cassi

 

Dear Cassi,
I didn’t think of it like that! I’m a gift too, and at least they appreciate me, if not my gifts! Who are the people you own?
Curiously,
Miss P.

 

Dear Miss Potter,                                                                                                                                               I own mostly a little girl who thinks I’m her best friend. But there’s also a smaller boy I try to stay away from, and two grown people. They’re a lot to manage but I get it done. Who do you own?                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Proudly,                                                                                                                                                     Cassi

 

Dear Cassi,
I mostly own that girl I was telling you about, the one who didn’t like my presents. I sit on her lap and sleep on her bed and follow her around. Never outside, though! I don’t go out there anymore. Do you?
The other people I own are a little boy I don’t like, an older boy that I tolerate, a woman who loves me devotedly, and a man who really doesn’t like me. I think if it weren’t for the girl, the man might start a mutiny against me. They are hard to handle sometimes, but I always put them in their place if they start acting out.
Lovingly,
Miss P.

 

Dear Miss. Potter,                                                                                                                                               Outside? Not since I was a kitten. At first my people wouldn’t let me in the house. They said it was for my safety, but I don’t know. I think I could have taken on that dog. In any case, they made a bed for me in the garage and left the garage door open a little so I could get in and out. As if that was as good enough. I wanted IN and I wasn’t afraid to show it! You would think climbing their screens and staring at them through the windows would clue them in!  I even chased the neighborhood dogs to show I could handle that puny one in the house. Eventually they let me in. And I never left. No way was I going to give them the chance to change their minds. I wanted to be with my girl as much as she wanted to be with  me.                                                                                                           So, your people can be hard to handle, too. Go figure.  People! Keeping them in their place sure is an ongoing struggle sometimes. Let me know if that man tries to start anything. I’ll come over and show him a thing or two.                                                                                                                                                           All my support,                                                                                                                                        Cassi

 

Dear Cassi,
Yes, I agree completely – humans are so clueless sometimes! And they can’t seem to make up their minds. When I first moved in, they kept me in the mudroom where all the shoes and coats are put – how undignified. They wouldn’t let me in the house at all! Then, they got these dogs (I don’t know why, as they should have been perfectly content with me) and brought me inside. After that, they wouldn’t let me out! Eventually, I saw that being inside made it much easier to keep the humans in order, so I remained there.
Do your humans ever leave you alone? Mine do that sometimes. They will put my food, water, bed, and litter box all in my girl’s room and shut the door… Then they don’t return for days! I have no laps to sit on, no one to talk to, no one to sleep on, and no one to pet me. I get lonely and sad, and when they do come back I am even happy to see the annoying little one.
Bye for now,
Miss P.

 

Dear Miss Potter,                                                                                                                                                I know it can feel bad to be left alone… even for just a few hours. Days must feel like an eternity!  Hey, this is might be stretching it a bit. All right, quite a bit. But I was just wondering if that’s how humans feel when they think God has left them. WE know better – God is always here. But THEY aren’t so wise. Actually, they can be quite dumb sometimes. Acting all lonely and sad just because they can’t see Him every moment of every day. Sometimes they act so spoiled. But I can’t really fault them too much. After all, I kind of like having my girl around 24/7 myself.  I just know that when she does leave for hours, she will be back. And that belief gives me so much peace that I fall asleep for a good part of the day. But when she’s gone longer than I anticipate and  I find myself starting to feel bad, I make myself jump up and find ways to keep busy. I especially enjoy batting those dazzling dust specks that sparkle in the sunlight – I never can resist anything that sparkles – and knocking everything off the shelves is quite fun too. I like to watch things fall and listen to what sound they make as they hit the floor. Some of those things sure get broken up, though.                                                                                                               That reminds me…  I was pretty broken up when my people found me.  I wonder who pushed me off a shelf. Hmmm… I’ve gotta go sleep on this for awhile.  Write when you get a chance. I always enjoy hearing from you.                                                                                                                                                         Sleepily,                                                                                                                                                      Cassi

 

Dear Cassi,
So nice to hear from you! You are so right about the whole humans missing God thing. When they don’t hear his voice or anything right then, they tend to get depressed or even panicky thinking God isn’t there anymore. But they will hear his voice again, they just have to trust that. Just like we trust that our humans love us and will come back.
Ooh, battling dust sounds like fun! I’ve never tried that before. One game I like is chasing crumbs across the floor. Have you played that one? It’s really a good time. Oh Cassi, you made me tired just reading that… I think I’ll go find my girl’s lap and curl up for a bit. Write soon! Always a pleasure reading your letters 😺
Sleepily also,
Miss P.

 

Dear Miss Potter,                                                                                                                                             Yes, I have chased crumbs, and ribbons and spiders and laser lights. I especially love those laser lights! My humans laugh at me for chasing what they call silly things. They love to watch me but they don’t get it. It’s not about the things. It’s about the chase. Just like with God. It’s not about all the books and studies and sermons – those are all fun and all – but it’s about  hearts chasing after God. And I bet He’s not laughing about how silly it looks. He’s laughing because He enjoys watching the chase.                                                                  You know in my last letter that I wondered who pushed me off the shelf? I think I got it figured out. It was … no, probably not. Got to sleep on it a bit longer.                                                                                                                                   Cassi

 

Dear Cassi,
Ribbons are fun too! You are absolutely right about the chase – that’s what’s fun 😺
The humans do look silly, knowing what God tells them to do and not always doing it, don’t they? Although, sometimes my humans do know what’s better for me than I do, and I won’t listen to them.
What were you going to say about the one who pushed you off the shelf? I’m curious.
Miss Potter

 

Dear Miss. P,                                                                                    I hesitate to say this because it seems so far-fetched, but I believe it was God who pushed me off that shelf. That seems like such a mean thing to do, and God is not mean. So it’s hard to think He would do such a thing. But then, if I had stayed on that shelf (the place I was born, with my mom and siblings), I would never have been found by my people, and I couldn’t have been my girl’s best friend when she needed me most. So really, it was a good thing I got pushed off the shelf. Even though I did break a little, it was only temporary and probably made my people love me all the more. It reminds me all over again how we only see what’s in front of our noses, while God sees the bigger picture.                                                                                                                                

IMG_20180326_011903589On a different note, have you noticed anything… weird about your girl lately? It seems like my girl is looking at my strangely, like she knows something about me. And she’s starting to minimize her computer screen whenever I jump up on her keyboard. Almost like she doesn’t want me to see what she’s been writing. Hey, do you think it’s possible she has found the letters you’ve written me? That would be horrible! We’re not supposed to let ever them find out we can read and write! Maybe we’d better stop writing to each other!                                                                           With Some Anxiety,                                                              Cassi

 

Dear Cassi,
I think you could be right about God doing that for you. Sometimes his plans don’t show themselves right away, but there definitely was a reason for your family finding you.
You know, you are right! My girl has been doing similar things with me. Maybe we should stop writing to each other, at least for a little while, so they will stop suspecting anything.
With much love (and a little sadness that I won’t hear from you for some time),
Miss Potter

 

 

There you have it – proof cats are way more capable than we could ever imagine!  Anyone else have a similar experience with their cat? What unlikely things have you caught your cats doing? We would love to read them in the comments. And we promise not to let our cats look!

And in case you’re curious, here are links to our posts about our cats.

Just Like… The Kitten in the Woods

Can I Get a Cat?

Miss Potter’s Gifts