Observe/Opine/Inspire

"People's minds are changed through observation and not through argument." ~ Will Rogers

God’s Infinite Power

In 1995 scientists turned the Hubble space telescope towards a corner of space not thought to contain anything. A space that’s no bigger than an inch in our viewing if we hold our finger out at arm’s length. This was a big risk because of the enormous expense involved in using Hubble for something that might not even show them anything.

Not only did it show them something, they witnessed, for the first time in human history, 10,000 previously unknown galaxies, each one containing hundreds of billions of stars. That’s right—every speck in the image is not a star but a complete galaxy. And likely every square inch of our view of space has an equal amount of galaxies in it.

Have you ever sewed something that had a mistake in it, but it wouldn’t show so you didn’t worry about it? Note that God put all this in place billions of years before human eyes would ever see it. Earthlings saw it only 22 years ago. Why do you think he did that? I think perhaps one reason is that he wants us to know what he is capable of. This God of infinite power is the same one who helps us all the time, every day, with the tiniest and biggest of concerns. He is the one who remembers his promises to us.

He is an omnipresent God—he is everywhere. He is an omnipotent God—he is all-powerful. He is an omniscient God—he knows all. The same God who breathed life into the universe and flung these billions of galaxies into their positions billions of years before we would ever set eyes on them 22 years ago, is the same God who cares about your littlest concern as well as your biggest problems.

No, he does not want you to suffer with these things. He wants you to come to him. Actually I think you don’t have to go to him, he’s already there. He wants you to accept his power in your life. You can’t find that kind of power anywhere else. You might feel like you’re alone, or that nothing is happening to help you. But you are never, ever alone. And there are things constantly happening behind the scenes in your behalf. A powerful God who knows all has already started lining up solutions to problems you haven’t even had yet.

What miracles have you experienced that by rights shouldn’t have happened?

Psalm 139:1-3 O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

 

 

 

What I’m Doing

Time for an update! It’s been a different and unusual kind of year for our family after losing my husband and the boys’ dad last summer, lots of feelings to deal with while trying to find our new normal, establishing new traditions while reflecting on and honoring old ones. I’m quite proud of how our family is transitioning to the new route.

For now, I am working part-time where I used to long ago. But one of my immediate goals is to grow my editing business and provide stellar service to many more clients. (You’ll want to visit the page for Eagle Eye and learn about all the services available.)

I have some fantastic plans for my Eagle Shadow series in the future, but…patience, patience. My current creative project is a Southern Baptist comedy book. My inspiration for this project is a secret only a few people know! But suffice to say (or is it ‘sufficeth to say’ or ‘suffice it to say’? Not gonna research it now. Pick your favorite.) you’re gonna just love Pastor Eugene Romans and his colorful congregation. I have been attending a writers critique group since last fall, and so far they have loved what they’ve heard of it. Their great comments and laughter at all the right parts have been encouraging me—or shall we say egging me on. It’s been a great experience as well to hear their creative works read aloud and to learn how to critique. It makes us all better writers. I highly recommend that all authors find such a group.

I’ve also had the opportunity to read a lot more books than I’ve had in recent years (books of my choice, not for homeschool prep). Some of my favorites have been: a couple Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (you see me advancing in age-level as I go!), Lake Wobegon Days, The Secret, rereading The Jackrabbit Factor, and I’m currently on my way through Agatha Christie’s The ABC Murders. My two most favorite and life-transforming books I’ve read this year (for obvious reasons) are: Proof of Heaven by Dr. Eben Alexander and Talking to Heaven by James Van Praagh, both #1 New York Times bestsellers. What amazing books about the ‘other side’.

And recently, my boys and I realized a bucket list dream when we spent two weeks touring London and Paris. For purposes of this blog, I will just mention a couple of our literary adventures: the Treasures of the British Library exhibit where we saw the Gutenberg Bible, the Magna Carta, and many other historical writings dating to the 300s A.D., and the famed Shakespeare & Company bookstore in Paris where we squeezed through tight hallways lined with tons of books and saw the tumbleweeds (writers-in-residence) at work. It was truly a wonderful gift for us to have this opportunity together and to make better memories than last year at this time of year. We came home with a bigger-world perspective and new resolve going forward. Till next time…

“Into Your Thought” by David Davis

A Valentine’s gem from David “Harley” Davis

If I send you a flower

You can throw it away

But the thought will not wither

Only linger

 I could send you a timepiece

And by your neglect stop its pace

But not forevermore

The thought will keep its own time

Vintage key and letterI could send you a note

And by your hand alone

It lay crumpled in waste

But the thought lay indelibly there

I could send you my heart

And unrequited it breaks

And no thought to heal

And I perish evermore.

“I’m Calm” — Tribute to David “Harley” Davis

Stay in the BoatThe world lost a great poet, photographer, and artist this year when my husband, David “Harley” Davis, passed away in July from complications resulting from leukemia. How I miss his talent and creativity, his uncanny ability to find and bring home the unusual and rare antiques, and introduce the rest of us to ideas and worlds we never knew existed. While going through his many treasures and writings this summer, it was especially touching for me to come across poems he’d written that I’d never read before, including this one, a message directly to me from eternal worlds. What better way to pay tribute on my blog, I thought, than by sharing his own words, written October 3, 2014 from his hospital bed, at the beginning of his treatments. These words have been a secret treasure to me these last few months, but it’s time to share them with others now. I’ll let his own words take it from here:

 

“I’m Calm”

 

I’m calm as a summer morning

A time when dews distill

On ground alert with creatures

That graze on a distant hill.

 

I’m calm as whispering heather

That sing in a highland breeze

I’m calm as a crystal lake

With images that mirror me.

 

No greater peace have I then

Where angels came to tell

I’m calm as a summer morning

When Father found me well.

 

Fear not this sad refrain then

Time goes ever on

Beats warmly rich responding

Our hearts are ever calm.

 

No love is lost forever

No psalm is silent sung

No bells go unnoticed

When they ring together as one.

 

I’m calm to see my Master

Embrace him, linger there

I’m calm to see my mother

And enjoy her perfect fair.

 

I’m calm as a summer morning

Feet dangle in celestial foam

On heavenly beaches lapping

A familiar din back home.

 

At last the stars are sparkling

And brighten my heavenly shore

I’m calm and await my darling

And will love thee ever more.

Creative Accountability Group

The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo

I have been part of an online creative accountability group for two months. Each day we post our goals for the day regarding writing, art, and filmmaking endeavors, with each person addressing his or her own type of creativity. At the end of the day, we report how we did. We also share work, offer critique, and cheer each other on. The best part? The group consists only of the members of my immediate family. We know what each other is working on, and it’s a delight to share details in an exclusive group of those we trust. Sure, our critique may sometimes be subjective, but it is the steadiest critique we receive. It can be a strengthening, empowering process to have those closest in our lives, who are also knowledgeable in what we’re doing, to be the first to vet a project before it moves on to other non-biased panels of experts. But mainly, our group effort was born out of a need for more accountability and accomplishment. And it has worked to that end. We have each made more progress in two months than we had previously done.

If you want to start such a group, use whatever medium works for you. We use the Facebook private inbox feature. Although we currently live in the same house, we wanted something that felt “official”, yet we wanted it to be simple enough that we would likely stick with it. Accountability is vital in the creative fields where much of our work is done alone. Look for a person or group wherever you can find one, on or offline, and don’t discount those closest to you. You don’t even have to be working on similar projects to gain the benefit of reporting your progress to another.

…bring all things to your remembrance

“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” ~ John 14:26

I’m all about lifelong reading, studying, and learning, but I have discovered another really cool reason for doing so. As a spiritual person, I believe that one of the purposes of the Holy Spirit is to bring things to our remembrance when we need them. I also believe we have some responsibility here. Experts say that all the things we read and learn stay permanently in our minds, albeit the subconscious mind. I don’t always believe those unnamed experts, but in this case I do. Our brains are computers that take in information from the moment we’re born, catalog it, and file it away, and thankfully, these computers never run out of memory. Oh, you might think you run out of memory (it does often seem that way), but that’s only because the information has left your conscious mind (the 10% we use) and lodged itself in your subconscious mind (the other 90%). But the information is there, every piece of information you’ve ever taken in, every great (and not-so-great) thought you’ve ever had. The Holy Spirit simply brings things to our remembrance, from our subconscious to our conscious minds, when we need them. BUT, he can only bring things to our remembrance that have been put into our minds to begin with, so the more we study and gain wisdom, and life experience, the more he has to draw from to help us. Like the law of attraction says, every single thing we need, we already have! Is that not exciting?

Book and candle

 

 

Need Help Getting Motivated Creatively?

“God left the world unfinished for man to work his skill upon. He left the electricity in the cloud, the oil in the earth. He left the rivers unbridged and the forests unfelled and the cities unbuilt. God gives to man the challenge of raw materials, not the ease of finished things. He leaves the pictures unpainted and the music unsung and the problems unsolved, that man might know the joys and glories of creation.” ~ Thomas S. Monson

Isn’t that a marvelous quote? Doesn’t it just make you want to go create something?

At our house creativity often strikes in the middle of the night. Not sure why, except I have read that creative people tend to be night owls. Here’s my son burning the midnight oil doing filmmaking in the backyard studio.

Burning the Midnight Oil

My husband has done some of his best painting during all-night sprints, and I would venture a guess that 90 percent of my book writing is done between midnight and 2 a.m. Whenever the mood strikes you, don’t resist! Creativity rules!

Gleaning the Most from Technology

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I’ve heard plenty of people express their opinions of Facebook, as well as the internet and television in general, some good, some bad. I thought I’d tell you on which side I fall. As I use the internet to do so—there’s a hint for ya!

I’ve been privy to several group conversations where some swear off of Facebook, stating that it has led some people to improper relationships. (Frankly, so has going to church.) Yes, there are time-wasting games on the internet. It’s the modern-day doodling, or idly twirling a pencil, or playing with a slinky. If people want to waste time, they’ll find a way to do it regardless of internet access.

My feelings about all of technology (Facebook, internet, television) are that those things are inanimate objects. They can be used for good or bad depending on the person using them. It’s just like drugs. There are dangerous and illegal ones, but does that mean we swear off all drugs because of the bad ones?  No, because there are many good medications that help us regain health and feel better, sometimes even imperative to stay alive.

I believe having our free will and learning to use it wisely is a very important thing to God. To ban TV or internet from a home takes away our responsibility to practice making good choices. We may avoid some bad, but we miss out on much more good. We’re throwing the baby out with the bath water. Children who grow up in such a home, with rare exception, will have and use those things at some point in the future. And when they do, they’re likely to binge like a toddler turned loose in a candy store for the first time. My personal MO is to search out that which is good, wherever it can be found. It’s my job to learn self-discipline in the candy store, but don’t deny me some chocolate.

As a dyed-in-the-wool list maker, I’d like to list the many benefits for homeschool (to name just one arena) that the internet has provided me.

1) Research into teaching methods, ideas, and tips

2) Newsletters I’ve subscribed to which give information

3) Curriculum reviews

4) Online ordering of books and supplies

5) Research for the kids’ schoolwork

6) YouTube videos that supplement our science and history classes

7) Online typing courses and scientific calculators

8) Library’s online catalog

9) Research content of movies to find appropriate ones to show

10) Yahoo groups email lists connecting me to nearby homeschoolers which has led to competition opportunities, field trips, used curriculum purchases and sales, information on area happenings and discounts, clubs, and parties.

Yes, the internet and television are wonderful inventions for keeping us informed, educated, and for increasing our individual talents. I love living in the 21st century!

(Image by graur razvan ionut, used with permission from freedigitalphotos.net)

Disabilities vs. Abilities

 

Stolen ideas

In recent years, there seems to have been a rise in the occurrence of mental and emotional disability labels on children. Whether that’s due to a changing, unhealthy environment, or an increase in those seeking professional diagnoses, or both, is unclear. I tend to think it’s some of both, but I also think we as a society have become sort of mental hypochondriacs. Since the advent of the internet, I know I’ve diagnosed myself with all sorts of maladies, some real, some imagined! Time was, we used to receive a doctor’s diagnosis and trek around to other doctors getting second, third, and fourth opinions. Now sometimes we trek around to different psychologists until one does diagnose something that placates us.

But the concern I have is for those children out there who may be, as it were, held back by some label of “abnormality” placed on them by well-meaning adults, an abnormality that, but for the label, they would never know they had. “Treat the disabled normally. They don’t want to be singled out,” the labelers beg of us, when they themselves have already singled them out by placing the glaring label on them for all to see.

Consider my analogy, simplified I know, but it makes sense to me. Suppose half the people of the world prefer blue as their favorite color; the other half likes red as their favorite. It’s been that way for centuries with no notice, but then, during our “enlightened” 21st century, some highly degreed doctors get together and decide that liking blue best is what they’re going to call “normal”, and liking red best is now “abnormal”. The sad news for red-lovers is that there is no cure for their condition. The best hope doctors have for the families of red-lovers is that, perhaps with some medication and/or ongoing therapy, they might get those so disabled to at least like purple, then they could have some semblance of a productive life.

Blue-loving families everywhere demand equal treatment for their unfortunate red-loving family member, but those who haven’t watched the news didn’t even know there was a blue-red debate going on.

And color preference is relative. What about the family made up of all red-lovers, except for that one single blue-lover? Might “normal” have a different definition to them?

Now I’m not saying that “abnormal” doesn’t exist. Genes can go awry. If a person is so obsessed with the color red that they paint every visible object red, the lamps, the carpet, the TV, the dog, then yes, they need some intervention, especially before they go painting the neighbors’ house, lawn, and dog red. But don’t let such persons give all red-lovers a bad name. Most likely, there are a commensurate number of painters whose work has gone unchecked during their blue period.

But if you look at history, you’ll see that it’s been both the blue and red-lovers who have made progress in our world. A worried someone once told me their child had the same disorder as Einstein, Isaac Newton, Mozart, Bill Gates, and Steven Spielberg. “And this is a problem why?” I sorely wanted to know. I submit that if those illustrious figures had not possessed such a, so-called, abnormality, we would not have the scientific discoveries, inventions, and profound cultural arts that we have today. Oh, they may have been trying at times to their mothers, but thank goodness they weren’t medicated and therapied into some ordinary human’s definition of “normalcy”.

We have a family member who no doubt could’ve been diagnosed with a certain disability. I’m not sure because we never took him to a doctor. We bought him a video camera instead so he could give form to his creativity. And our home has often been a hangout for several friends with varying degrees of disabilities. We’ve never noticed anything abnormal about them…I guess because we’re just a bunch of red-lovers over here, happily ignorant of the box we’re thinking outside of. And for the record, my favorite color really is red…..and green, but that’s a whole ‘nuther blog post!

 

Bringing the Arts Home

The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo

As a child, I loved ballet. I attended a performance of “The Nutcracker” every Christmas with my school and listened to my LP of music from the same all year long. And I took ballet classes at the nearby rec center every Wednesday for six years. Becoming a professional ballerina was on my short list of things I wanted to do when I grew up. I progressed to a point where there wasn’t much more to learn, except pointe, where the dancers go up to their tippy toes. It’s a very hard-learned technique, requiring specially fitted shoes and long-term specialized training. I wanted to learn pointe technique, but my parents were dissuaded by the cost and the drive across town to the professional dance school where it was taught. So my dance career sort of dissolved away by high school when my interests turned to other things, one of which was writing. Probably just as well. I doubt I would still be a ballerina now, but I still have many words to be written.

My family has all found, or is in the process of finding, their niche in the arts. One son recently said that it was of prime importance to him that his future children be involved in the arts. That got me thinking about what we’ve done to point him in an artistic direction, and what he might do someday to similarly inspire his children. (And while homeschool is ideal for this, it isn’t required.)

1) Start children young, I mean as toddlers, in introducing them to all forms of the arts. If they don’t know what all categories of the arts there are, they won’t know what they’re good at and what they would enjoy.

2) When you see an interest, feed it with resources and instruction. Many fun things we’ve used are detailed in other articles on this blog.

3) If you’re afraid that it might be difficult or expensive to find resources, be creative (that’s what this is all about!) and find a way. Check with libraries, community resources, recommendations from neighbors. We spent very little to encourage our children in the arts. There are no good excuses!

4) If they lose interest in something you thought they would like, or that they seemed to like at first, it’s perfectly okay. Some things won’t stick. You have to experiment and acquire a taste for some things. A deep and burning passion cannot be forced.

I must close now and get to bed. We have an art museum field trip tomorrow.