Seeing through boxador colored glasses

Tags

, , , , ,

We found our Bella at a local shelter. A delightful Boxador, she lavishes joy every moment she’s awake. Maybe it’s a gift unique to dogs, maybe we just don’t spend enough time practicing it, but lavishing joy is certainly a lost art.

All it takes for her day to turn from great to out-of-this-world-awesome is a lizard, or the morning, people walking in the door, or just being alive. Bella finds reason to celebrate from every angle.

Lizards, awesome! *Lick*20150620_142518
A dirt pile, awesome! *Bounce*
Morning breath. *Slobber kiss*

Frankly, she’s a breath of fresh air after living inside a human’s skin all my life. When I wake up in the morning, bed head and pillow creases across my face aren’t something I brag about, but to Bella? It’s the best thing ever!

Dogs can wake up with half their face smooshed an inch higher, and people think they’re adorable. They have no hidden agenda, political differences, nor do they fume over something that someone said they said that might be offensive that grows to something several people are saying thatmayormaynotbetrue.

Dogs just love us anyway.

Yesterday, my daughter said, “the house looks so different with Bella in it.” And she’s right—it does! Her delightful nature continuously points us to the good things—some of them we didn’t think were so good until she came along.

I believe God sent us dogs as illustrations to help us understand this:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Philippians 4:8
Even if they have bedhead and smell, because being able to wake each day to your families faces is lovely indeed.

 

P.S. It’s been a busy summer…I’m close to finishing my newest YA novel and would love a few more beta readers. Did you enjoy Faith Seekers? Do you like Christian YA fiction with that pushes the boundaries? If you’re interested in becoming a beta reader, contact me at srossbook@gmail.com. Have a great Monday!

Lessons from the Forbidden Realm

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Are Smurfs evil? Yes, I really asked myself that question when a childhood friend wouldn’t watch the show with me. Her parents equated any kind of “magic” with evil, even good ol’ Papa Smurf.

I must admit, after her anti-magic proclamation, I felt a little “wrong” like maybe my desire to watch the Smurfs came from the dark side. Was I missing something? Was it okay to watch The Thundercats and She-Ra, or did those shows make me a bad Christian too?

I’m happy to report that I didn’t turn blue or grow up to think I should summon the forces of anything in the supernatural world but God.

Did I question things? Sure, who doesn’t?20150622_083638

Did those shows influence me? You bet. My talents are not as broad as some, but I do have a great imagination. Fantasy inspires me—I get it. You wouldn’t believe the thoughts that whirl around in my head, but I know who gave me this imagination—I know Who runs it all, therefore…

I can relate to people who like fantasy movies and books, whether it’s Christian or secular. Fantasy-minded people like metaphors, deeper thinking and don’t have trouble believing that angels exist and that we rub shoulders with the spiritual world every day. God is not confined to the box of human logic and we get that too.

So it disappoints me when the loudest critics of Christian fantasy, whether in movies or books, are not anti-Christian, but Christians themselves.

What are we supposed to do as Christians? Despite the messages displayed in front of us every day, life is not about what we deserve (Jesus fixed that). It’s not about judging others, chasing after worldly ambition, or spending the majority of our time living up to each others expectations. Mankind is not God (and for heaven’s sake, don’t change who you are for man—man did not design you).

So what does the real God say?

Here it is: He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Mark 16:15 (emphasis mine)

What is your corner of creation? Is it in medicine, ministry, grounds work?

You are uniquely made, given a unique language in which to speak to your corner of creation.

A lot of people who don’t know God, read, watch, and breathe fantasy, so wouldn’t it make sense for God to get through to them with people who speak their language? Or is your world more black and white? I don’t get that at all, but my husband is (technical) and I love him (loads the dishwasher likes it the great physics experiment) and appreciate his (he thinks math is fun) talents.

Let’s all accept each others differences, shall we? We are a tapestry—different threads, colors, shades—God’s artwork.

Trying to unravel it is not God’s design—that’s the influence of what some call dark magic.

Or Satan. Whatever.

Who are you, and what is your ministry? Tell us in the comments.

Behold the Yellow Cup

Tags

, , , , , ,

About three decades ago, in the land of Yonder, an atrocity happened. Deep in play, running through our country yard of part grass, part goat heads, me and my two brothers were scarred for life. While in the midst of a game I no longer remember, our neighbor peed in his water cup. Our water cup—our yellow plastic, color of the brightest sun, water cup.

Being economically-minded, my mom thought some elbow grease and some bleach would do. She placed the yellow cup back in the cupboard.

Where it sat for YEARS, unused. It didn’t help that the cup happened to be yellow. For me, this color had been forever branded as the “ew” color.

I think my mom finally used it out of frustration—“we don’t waste”, she said.

“We don’t drink out of pee cups”, we said.20150615_084231

She wouldn’t throw it away, we wouldn’t use it, and there sat the most stubborn statement of all time, gathering dust in the cabinet.

Now that I have kids of my own, I understand the value of pasticware. It can withstand drops, punts, sword fights, rock collections and temper tantrums. When Costco displayed a beautiful, multicolored set of cups that looked like glasses straight from the colors on Claude Monet’s palette, we grabbed a box and nearly sang as we pulled them out, one by one.

Two of them are yellow.

One of the first things I did was serve water to my brother from one of the new yellow cups—just for my own entertainment. Heh.

But every time I look at those yellow cups, pee comes to mind. Why? Why, why why why? It’s been close to three decades, yet one offensive act from a neighbor has ruined yellow for me.
My kids don’t even like the yellow cups. I’ve never told them the story, but they must sense my revulsion when I go around it for any other color (even light green, which thanks to the 90’s craze about the color green, that color is (almost) ruined for me too).

But I don’t want to see the world through pee colored glasses, I mean, really, this is getting ridiculous.

So I started drinking from the yellow cups, and serving my kids drinks from the yellow cups (It’s like they’re learning my prejudices through osmosis). I must see yellow as beautiful again.

Time to train the brain. Yellow is sunshine, yellow is butter, yellow is jelly beans, sunflowers and Belle’s dress.

Yellow is the center stripe in the rainbow, the glint of gold, and is the best flavor in a package of skittles.

God made yellow and if anyone can take a yellow pee cup and make it into a lemonade cup, He can.

Do you have a reason why I should embrace yellow? Or maybe you have a similar story of your own? Tell us in the comments.

The Road to Greekdom, and Other Good Things

Tags

, , , ,

Since sugar has been named the super villain ingredient of all diets, my family has decided to cut down. It’s hard with kids, especially on our Harkins Summer Movie Fun Days. I let my two have a drink and a small bag of candy, which is still too much, but it keeps my son focused on the movie instead of turning the theater into his personal gymnasium. We’re working on an alternative.

But when they see the full popcorn/drink/candy/villain pack that many of the parents buy their kids, they think I’m denying them one of life’s greatest pleasures.

And the words cavities, illness, and tummy ache from planet Naseum don’t do much to placate them.

So we started with yogurt. I thought it was healthy—my son eats bucketsful of the 20150604_124252stuff—but when I actually read the sugar content, I nearly lost my Yoplait all over the kitchen. You could make sugar sculptures of superheroes eating the villains with the amount of sugar in one cup. So we’ve gone Greek.

It was a bit of a tough sell at first—I had to hunt down lemon meringue, Boston cream pie and pie flavors of all kinds to get them to eat it. But what motivated me to stick with it was my cousin. Recently diagnosed with leukemia, he cleaned the sugar and other “junk” from his diet, successfully lowering his white blood cell count. Motivated by this change, we’re taking one healthy step at a time.

After about two weeks of whining, they gave in and embraced the greek.

Then we took off for Disneyland, the land of regular sugar and more expensive sugar. Our hotel served a great breakfast, but they only had one kind of yogurt. That’s right; it was a giant bowl full of strawberry, sugar-dumped, disease-causing yogurt. But since we were on a rare vacation, I dug in, filled my bowl, and sat at our table with a view of Cars Land. Spoon to hungry mouth.

It. Was. Disgusting. I could finally taste the amount of sugar we had consumed day in and day out for years. It was like the time I switched from milk chocolate to dark chocolate, never being able to go back because the extra sugar in the m.c. makes me feel sick.

Should we do this with everything? I started thinking about the excess we surround ourselves with: dust covered stuff over all the shelves at home, over processed appearances (although we’re pretty good at keeping that to a minimum), food just as equally processed. I believe we’re consuming more hazards than actual sustenance.

This is the land of plenty, for sure. A great country, no doubt, but we’re all drowning in the additives.

I think good health is in shedding much of what we think we need.

My new goal, in between raising a family and working, is too take a good long look at our life, and really see what’s immediately good versus what’s everlasting good.

What about you? Have you stopped to reevaluate about the way you take care of your health? Tell us in the comments.

Oh Joy

Tags

, , , ,

Soon, we’ll be going to Disneyland. We’re going to step out of our worn-out work shoes and slide into our fun shoes as we shed our adulthood for a few days of wonder.

We will eat jelly beans.

We will ride roller coasters, and when our kids’ smiles stretch farther than they ever have, ours will stretch with them, because we’ll be kids too.

We’ll laugh, becoming drunk on sugar and freedom.tinkerbell

Our toes will tingle with delight in the haunted house, because unlike the horror that comes out of the TV news channel at home, the Disney version has a happy ending.

What work phone?

The only high-pitched tone we’ll respond to will be the whistle on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

We will play,

play,

play,

All day, until the knots loosen their grips in our shoulders.

We will dine with a mermaid and embrace a mouse

And when we return to our house…

Our shoes will be wings once again.

Talent is for Showing

Tags

, , , , , ,

My faith in our future generation raised quite a few notches after watching the talent show at my daughter’s school. Not that my former estimation was really low, but maybe too low. It wasn’t the level of talent either—some were good, some needed a little more polishing, or a lot, but that wasn’t it.

For two hours, child after child conquered the stage. Lots of braced teeth, nerves either lifting or lowering eyebrows, and many girls on the balance between girly-girl and sporty-girl strode across the stage. When I was in elementary school, there were nowhere near that many kids willing to show their skills—maybe it’s because Chloe’s school emphasizes the arts—maybe the current culture values entertainment more than it used too.

But what impressed me the most? They got up there. They danced or sang or did a

Be Bold

Be Bold

few tricks and showed their willingness to be bold. That’s it—they were bold. Some of them sang with shaky hands clutching the microphone, but they gave us their voices anyway. Some forgot their dance steps, but they caught up and plowed ahead.

These kids all have something to say, and expressed that to us the best they could—they just don’t know yet they’re future leaders, teachers or artists.

Sometimes people try their “thing” once or twice, but a little adversity presses them down like a concrete sidewalk on a blade of grass.

It’s easy to feel beyond repair–but God specializes in rebuilding.

I hope Chloe and all those kids remember this talent show, and remember how to be brave. One big step can teach them how to fight their way through the cracks, showing the world how lovely and exquisite determination is.

Want to show us your (family friendly) skills? Feel free to post your links in the comments.

P.S. I want to give a big thanks for all of you who helped put Faith Seekers on Amazon’s bestseller’s list. Mostly, I hope you enjoy the story. Don’t have a copy yet? The ebook is on sale for a few more days…get it here.

Old People are Awesome

Tags

, , , , , ,

Slim was giant swizzle stick, Geneva was a little bean. They were the coolest octogenarians in the retirement place. Every evening for dinner, they had a date in the dining room with a sea of blue hairs, chatting about health problems and the cost of prescriptions.

scooter
I grew weary of my duties like answering phones. They rang when Security called me on the radio, when Walter wanted his Rx, when Hilda kept asking me the same question over and over even though I was on the phone, the radio, and fishing through the closet for narcotics.
For a while, work was static…showing it’s monotonous face to me when others were swimming in full color…
Until Slim and Geneva zoomed through the lobby. Geneva wanted to keep up with miles-tall Slim, but her little legs couldn’t handle the speed of his scooter. So they came up with a solution that reminded me that dull days and Mondays are seasoned with rainbows too.
She sat on his knee. Yep, his white horse was a retiree’s hot rod, cruising along at the speed of rabbit. She grinned all the way to dinner, on the knee of her prince, knowing the more proper peeps would point and disapprove—and it made my evening every time.
It’s the little things. Look for the good stuff today.

The Magic Sandals

Tags

, , , , , ,

Six years ago, I found a miracle in Walmart.

Yes, I said Walmart.

In exchange for a beautiful, smart, perfect, precious daughter, my husband and I gave up all hope of having spare change. Or high fashion, sleep…dignity.

But we had our Princess, and she was worth it (still is).

Summer was blazing in like a beast and I needed sandals. I’d been wearing my “pregnant” sandals for close to three years, and was tired of the old lady footwear.

Chloe was eighteen months old which means she was allergic to sitting still and silence. Shopping was now a marathon event, and I knew to expect a toddler circus through. every. aisle.

So there I went, walking my ballet-beaten, pregnancy-stretched, flat, achy, feet into Walmart in hopes of finding an affordable sandal that would last me several years and bring comfort at the same time. Did I mention my eighteen-month-old came along to help?

I tried on a few, but my daughter kept running out of my sight, so I grabbed the ones that fit the best and dropped less than $20 at the cash register. I wasn’t overjoyed sandalsby them, and doubted those cheapies would last the summer, but with our budget, Walmart was THE option.

As soon as I strapped them on, God happened. I loved them. With barely a sole to stand on, they were comfortable. It was as if an invisible cushion materialized, and the strength of the Almighty Himself held those man-made straps together. They held my feet through another pregnancy where my feet stretched a half-size bigger. They survived a run-by-puking when I was hit by a severe bout of morning sickness, when my two BEST leather boots kicked the bucket.

After I had my son, most of my shoes had to be tossed, but those sandals, still size 8.5 with a thinning sole, still magically fit my size 9 feet.

God bless Walmart.

They carried my feet through seasons of financial hardship, races after busy children followed by miles of walking to soothe my babies to sleep.

Recently, I finally bought a new pair of sandals. My magical Walmart shoes lasted me as long as I needed them…down to the day. No fairy godmother can match God.

Do you need it? He’ll bring it. It may not seem like the right answer at the time, but He always comes through when life is one big bundle of crazy.

 

Have your own magical story to share? Tell us in the comments.

Fashion for The Rest of Us

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Ever feel misunderstood? Like you pull on the most awesome outfit of the century, slide into your shiny-like-new car, pull into work with the latest tunes that wrap your “vibe” into one awesome moment—but instead of flowing with the rhythm of awesomeness, your day pukes onto you 15 raised eyebrows, 10 corners of mouths lifted in sarcasm and exactly 1 million snickers when people pass you but are still within earshot?

Oh, poop. I’m still wearing my daughter’s blinged-out head band from our fashion fun this morning. Strangely enough, a few people got it.

Yep, that’s like many of my days. I like to use the word unique, sheesh, even God uses the word, unique, but on some days that word feels more like scatter-brained mess. Sometimes those of us who are normally challenged want less uniqueness and more ordinary. Sometimes.

Really, Jesus used ordinary people to change the world. Of course, Peter had a lot FS Quote #1of unique foibles with the whole cutting off an ear thing and sinking into the lake when the KING OF THE WORLD was watching. But God still used him for the good stuff.

Think of Peter, think of Peter.

So on those days when I’m not thinking of Peter, I do what the experts say not to do and read the reviews of my novel.

I think I started to twitch about half-way through. Let’s see:

One reviewer:Lyrical”. Another reviewer: Staccato”.

One reviewer: Slow start”. Another reviewer: “Excellent pacing”.

One reviewer: “Outside the classic Christian genre”. Another: Classic ideas based on the knowledge of God”.

And my all-time favorite: “This would have been a good story, I think, if the author had just used evil people in the story, and left God, the devil, and his demons out of the plot.” They go on later to say it wasn’t enough Christian enough. And yet another reviewer: “It was an interesting and new take on Christian fiction.”

Is my book schizophrenic?

We’ll call it unique.

Some dig it, some don’t, and that’s okay because Peter eventually found his peeps like I’m finding mine. But sometimes, there are misunderstandings that need clarification.

I need to address one thing that a few reviewers have suggested (spoiler alert). They said my book represents paganistic or idol worshipping ideas because God appears to my protagonist as an elk. Negative. God is I AM, the one true God and the Father of Jesus. The elk is a symbol, like the Lion in The Chronicles of Narnia.

This book is for out-of-the-box thinkers, and fans of fantasy, so reader beware. And so is my fashion, heh.

My readers might also get blinged-silly by their children, or even delight in kids that mismatch their clothes because to them, the interpretation works.

Are you a writer with out-of-the-box ideas, or someone who feels too normal? Guess what? There is no normal. That’s why God calls each one of use unique. Tell us your story in the comments.
Have an awesome grooving-with-your-own-vibe kind of Monday.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 140 other followers