Give Thanks: Sad Tragic Things

It is the question that is never answered. If God is good, why does he allow suffering and pain? In 1000 Gifts Ann Vosskamp begins to address that dilemma. Though it can never totally be answered. She talks about her son cutting his hand in a farm accident, but living and keeping the hand. That same week a neighboring farm boy dies and she recalls a brother in law who has watched two of his children die from a rare disease. Why are some people spared and others not? God seems so arbitrary in the way in metes out pain. I don’t want to trivialize someone’s pain by trying to explain something so complex in a 300 words blog post.

I can only say that in the book she talks about giving thanks for even the struggles and the trauma. So as an exercise, I thanked God for my loneliness. I thanked him for the uncertainty of my future. I thanked him for my grieving the loss of my husband. I thanked him for all the ugly dark things in my life. I didn’t pretend like those things were good because they are not. But they do have the power to transform us (if we choose) in a way that happy victorious things do not. And the sad tragic things also have the power to connect us to other human beings. So I am practicing gratitude in all things and waiting like a flower opening to the sun, about to bloom. We’ll see…DSC03966

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Give Thanks: Small beautiful things

Currently reading Ann Voskamp’s 1000 gifts. This book could not have come at a better time in my life. I am learning to practice gratitude in all things. It’s easy to be grateful for a promotion, paychecks and a date on prom night, but Ann shows how to be grateful for the small beautiful gifts God gives us everyday. On her list of a thousand gifts, she has simple things like mail in the mailbox or the way light plays across a room. On my list beautiful things like the flutter of bird’s wings above me, a full moon, a meaningful conversation with a repairman, laughter from another room.

Ann says over and over “the remedy is in the retina” Gifts are everywhere. We just have to open our eyes and see. Though not as poetic, I would say that the remedy is in the senses. When I give thanks for everything, food tastes better, music is more pleasing, and flowers more aromatic. The big transformation for me was when I got up at 3 a.m. to go get my son from work, a task that usually reminds me of my loneliness and makes me grumble. But when I started practicing gratitude and went outside that winter morning, the snow looked different. Seriously, it had changed. It wasn’t ordinary dull snow, it looked like diamonds in a field of goose down. Gratitude transforms what we see. God has given us such a beautiful world, so many gifts.

winter-260817_1280

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Flibbertigibbet: Living Without a Brain

It is not that I am without a brain. The physical brain is still inside my head. But when my hubby died something inside of me broke, snapped in two. I am usually a very capable, goal oriented person. No longer. I can’t focus. I make a plan and then move in a different direction entirely. Writing is hard. Forming a sentence is a challenge, let alone writing a whole book. I forget the way to familiar places when I am driving. In short, I have become a flaky space cadet. I actually prefer the word Flibbertigibbet. It’s a little more fancy, don’t you think. Grief causes a personality change. I’m not who I used to be and I can’t go back to doing what I used to do in any part of my life. When I explained to my grief counselor about the loss of cognitive ability. She said, “Oh there’s a word for that. It’s called grief delirium.” Good to know it’s so common it has a name. For now, I get to be a Flibbertigibbet. No matter how hard I try, sorrow won’t let me get back on track. So I just got to accept it and walk through it. I’m pretty sure I’ll never go back to being the person I was before. I do hope there is enough mending in my mind for me to feel like an intelligent person again. We’ll have to see. Only God knows and he meant for this journey to be long one.

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Before and After

 

 

Beloved Michael 1955-2014 I miss you

Beloved Michael
1955-2014
I miss you

Two very different Before and Afters have happened in my life. One is very positive and the other unbearably sad. First, the good before and after. After seven months of work, I finally lost 75 pounds. I exercised and watched what I ate, but to be honest some of the weight loss was due to the stress of watching my husband of 26 years fade before my eyes. Posting about the weight loss feels a little bit bittersweet. I wanted to take steps to insure that I would be around for my kids and hopefully grandkids and to reduce my own chances of cancer after seeing what my hubby went through. Every morning I wake up and think “God I do not understand what you are doing here?” And so I share with you both the happy and the sorrowful.

Before, just a shade under 200 lbs

 

after, me at 135 lbs

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On Losing Weight

Honestly when the scale got over 200 lbs. I stopped paying attention to my weight. It was too depressing. So after a month of exercise and minor diet changes, I can only estimate what my weight loss is–somewhere between 10 and 13 lbs. And I reached my first goal–being able to fit into my size 18 jeans. Yeah!!! Victory!!! At my age and after 3 kids finding jeans that fit is a challenge. I wasn’t going to toss those jeans for anything.

How did all of this start. Having a hubby with stage 4 cancer isn’t easy. One day I decided to take a walk to work through some of the sorrow and anxiety I was feeling. I walked and walked and walked. I felt better when I got home. That lead to getting an I-pod. Walking was my chance to escape into the music. From there I got a gym membership and started seeing a personal trainer two days a week.

When I got a nice royalty check almost a year ago, I told my husband, I was going to spend $1000 on losing weight. He was very supportive of the idea. It took me this long to get the ball rolling.

The exercise helps with the depression and I have more energy. My mom died of cancer in her early fifties when I was in my twenties. I remember  being grateful that I was in grad school at the time because college gave me something to focus on that I had control over.

I have a stronger motivation than I have ever had before. I am going to be the only parent my kids have. I want to be there to see them graduate, get married, find job have grandchildren.

I can do this.

 

 

 

 

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Good News

Just found out that my November release from Love Inspired, Montana Standoff was a Romantic Times Top Pick. Yeah! This is a victory in more ways than one. I wrote that book while my husband was undergoing chemo. Part of it was written in cancer center waiting rooms. There was even one night when we had to go to the ER, not for an emergency but for a routine (if anything with cancer is routine) evening treatment. I propped my laptop up on the counter and just kept writing. With hubby not working it was important for me to make my deadlines. I couldn’t not write.

The last year was hard. The chemo almost killed my hubby and we decided to discontinue it. But Michael is still with me and the kids a year after being told the cancer had spread from his bladder to his lungs and kidney. All of that is such precious victory.

Here’s what the new book looks like–9780373445615

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More Pictures of my Dog

DOG 037DOG 035

Most Recent picture of me with Bart

Most Recent picture of me with Bart

Since my newest book Guard Duty is about a K-9 unit, I am feeling the freedom to share more about my own buddy Bart. Definitely not K-9 unit material (way too jumpy) but really beautiful and very loving to every member of the family. I loved writing about the special bond between dog and owner in Guard Duty. Something I totally understand.

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Part of a Team

My new book Guard Duty is part of a larger Love Inspired Suspense series called the Texas K-9 Unit. Each book features a separate police officer and their canine partner and of course has a romance element to it. My book had the only female officer in the series. Valerie’s K-9 partner is a Rottweiler named Lexi.

Though you can read any book separately and get a complete suspense and romance story, all the books are linked together by a big storyline which concerns a missing police dog and a crime syndicate that has taken over Sagebrush, Texas, the fictional town where the books take place.

This was my first time working on a series like this with five other authors. I had a ton of fun. Writing is by its nature a solitary activity so it was a nice change to be a part of a team.

Here are the books in the order of their release (one each month) starting in January 2013

#1, TRACKING JUSTICE by Shirlee McCoy

#2, DETECTION MISSION, by Margaret Daley

#3, GUARD DUTY by Sharon Dunn (that’s me)

#4, EXPLOSIVE SECRETS, by Valerie Hansen

#5, SCENT OF DANGER, by Terri Reed

#6, LONE STAR PROTECTOR, by Lenora Worth

 

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Border Collies are borderline

His name is Bart and he is crazy…or maybe he just has lots of energy.  When we got Bart at the shelter as a eight week old puppy, the man handling the adoption explained that border collies not only have lots of physical energy but they have to use their mental energy. Bart likes to run patrol around his sheep pen (aka our house) and keep track of his sheep, which is no easy task since his sheep keep leaving the house. He’s comes close to speaking English and knows lots of words and phrases like “Get in the house” and “Cheese”.  He’s got the puppy dog eyes look down pat and knows that placing his chin on my leg and looking up at me is guarenteed to get my attention. We don’t know much about Bart. His mom and him were found abandoned in a house when he was a puppy. We don’t know if he had other brothers and sisters. Don’t know if he is purebred border collie though he certainly looks like it and acts like it. I did manage to teach him to stop nipping at my heels when I walked. Perhaps my favorite thing about him is how he seems to be tuned into the moods and emotions of everyone in the family. He knows when someone is sad or upset and he has lots of love to give and kisses to make us feel better. yes, it does take a lot of energy to keep up with him, but I can’t imagine my life without him.

                                                              Bart as a puppy with my son

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New Love Inspired Romantic Suspense–Broken Trust

My new book Broken Trust comes out on March 6, 2012.  It takes place in one of the most interesting parts of the world, Eastern Montana.  My husband is from Eastern Montana and I have always wanted to set book in this area. This part of the state is ideal for a suspense setting becasue of the remoteness ( a thousand places for a fugitive to hide) and there is this interesting blend of good down to earth people and people who live outside the law.

 

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