The other day I met with a friend from college. She had published her first children’s book and I wanted to celebrate with her and get a signed copy. She lives quite a bit north of town, so we met at a halfway point for brunch. Within a half an hour our table had four writers meeting one another and talking together. I introduced people around, she sold another book and we all quickly caught up before moving onto our meetings and appointments.
From that meeting, I thought I’d introduce you to a couple of books. First, my friend’s Deb Woodard book called Naughty Pants Believes a Lie which has charming illustrations by Rachel Baines from the UK. Naughty Pants has four sisters: Fancy Pants, Smarty Pants, Sassy Pants, and Antsy Pants. In the future, there will be stories about them as well. You can find the book on her website: http://debwoodardstoryteller.com/?fbclid=IwAR3V7pY89zaZK8JFBsrRfUWu-erb80qvzg38yDelM9wLhp9eUzCZCbOnUtk
You have the opportunity to hear the book read up to three times on her site. You may purchase an audio version or hardcopy there as well.
The next book is by my former pastor, Dr. John W. Frye. It’s called Liberate Your Praying Heart. I’ll be honest, when I heard about another book on prayer I thought I’d give it a pass. About 20 years ago I really wanted to deepen my prayer life and I read every book I could get my hands on about prayer. My library expanded exponentially with different prayer traditions and while I’m thankful for that time and for what I learned, in the end prayer is a deep conversation between you and your Creator. It’s personal, and a lot of the books seemed to be formulaic. I donated many of them to a church library that was just starting up. I wasn’t in a rush to get another book on prayer.
But John is a great teacher, and I want to be a supportive friend. So I ended up buying the book. It’s short and easy to read and I’m glad I got it. It’s not about formula, it’s not about guilt. I’ll share this one quote to give you an idea.
“Don’t allow a faulty view of God’s sovereignty to put its squeeze around
your heart. Instead, rejoice that God is all-powerful, that his purposes are
secure, and that he loves and longs to interact with you. - page 70”
He points out that when you begin your relationship with God you get a new heart and a new heart is a praying heart. You’re praying more than you realize. Let that sink in and give you hope if you struggle with prayer. John’s book can be found on Amazon. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/Liberate-Your-Praying-Heart-John/dp/1625860730
I hope you’ll check them out.
Eldercare frequently throws you a curve ball. Just when you think you are in your groove, things change. That’s what happened to us this Thanksgiving.
Our plan was to spend the mid-afternoon with Dad and have lunch with him. He no longer knows the days, dates, or holidays. We do these things more for ourselves than for Dad, really. We visit almost daily and that’s what is most satisfying for him. But we still want to give him a sense of festivity so we try to make holidays special.
However, Dad woke up very confused. He was convinced it was WWII and that he had eaten something bad and was confined to bed and wasn’t supposed to eat. There are still times when he’ll have a kernel of truth, but embellish a story to make sense to his confused mind. So I went in search of the shift nurse to see if he’d had some sort of reaction to food lately. No, she said. He was just very confused. I went back to the room and tried a different tactic. In the past, I’ve been able to get him out of bed and dressed. And slowly get him out of his room to either have something to eat or go for a short walk.
But not this day. He was not going to get out of that bed. No way, no how, no time, no place. No. So I read a card his daughter had sent him, showed it to him and then after a very short visit, we left. The next day he did get out of bed, but still refused to eat. It may be that we’ve entered into a new part of this journey. Earlier this year, Hospice got involved with Dad’s care, but then he improved to a point where they signed off. We will be monitoring the situation and may be getting them back into the care team.
So this Thanksgiving, we are grateful for many things that include a great care team for Dad, for a lovely, safe place close by, and for the work and ministry of Hospice. Peace be with you.
October was a wonderful month for me. First of all, I kicked Facebook to the curb. Posts were getting histrionic about the mid-term elections and there’s really no way to inject sanity into a superheated emotional environment like that. Rather than let that kind of poisonous rhetoric infect my mind, heart, and soul, I bid my contacts adieu, and turned it off.
Then, I got onto a plane and flew to southern California to the fire-free zone of San Juan Capistrano and attended the Creative Church Conference that is put on by J. Scott McElroy’s New Art Renaissance and hosted this year by Saddleback Church. It was fabulous.
It was if I’d found my long lost tribe. A group of creatives of faith gathering together for fellowship and collaboration. Words cannot describe how happy I was to be there. I’m still processing the different stories I heard, workshops I attended, and meals I shared with some wonderful people. Race, gender, nor age mattered - we were all God’s creatives. Enjoying Him and one another, as well as each other’s gifts. At the end, one young woman and her team created a Treasure(ish) Hunt that involved found pieces, installation, interaction, and contemplation ending in a gathering together to create a new installation and break bread with one another. Creativity and community joined as one. It was brilliant.
Connections were made and many of us are keeping in touch in hopes of reuniting for future projects and for fun. In fact, I just received a text from California as I write. I feel so loved.
Once home, I came down with a virus that knocked me out for a bit, but I was still able to attend a calligraphy workshop taught by Julie Wildman and hosted by Pendragons of Kalamazoo. While not feeling my best, it was a great workshop and very worthwhile.
Midterm elections are over - except for some recounts. I’m back on Facebook but I’m being more judicious. While I’ve seen some beautiful sentiments shared on friend’s pages that I considered reposting, I felt that if I did that I’m just preaching at people. Honestly, who likes being preached at?
Information (be it about politics, gun control, immigration, or quotes from the bible) rarely transforms people, but experience makes knowledge real and concrete. I’ll be exploring how to create works of beauty that will engage people’s hearts. As usual, I have no idea what I’m doing.
Which makes this a great adventure.
Donna Kemper put aside her art career to care for a mother she hadn't seen in over a decade. For seven years she followed her mother's journey into dementia, caring for her and putting forgiveness into action.