Downton Abbey and Blended Families

 

Spoiler alert! If you haven’t watched the season finale of Downton Abbey stop reading now.

Really, if you haven’t seen it stop reading or don’t blame me for telling you part of what happened.

Downton Abbey and Blended Families Wooden door in stone building England www.dianabrandmeyer.comCopyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

In the last episode of Downton Abbey, Isobel Crawley tells Lord Merton she can’t marry him. She refuses to live the last years of her life with children who do not like her and say they never will.

Never mind these are not small children they are Lord Merton’s adult children. Isobel Crawley gives up love, a position in society and amazing gardens because of bratty adults.

Did she do the right thing?

As a blended family mom I’m conflicted. True, the widowed Crawley has already had a child, seen him married, buried and has a grandson. She’s experienced a lot of living in her many years, has good friends and no serious need of someone to support her. That does make it easier to send someone away.

But…

She let love slip away.

She wasn’t willing to see if God had an amazing plan for her.

She wasn’t willing to see if those adult children would come around and find a way to at least like her.

I find it sad she wasn’t willing trust that love can work miracles. While I watched the last show, I understood her reasoning and for a second considered she was making an admirable choice by not bringing discord to Lord Merton’s home. After all, would he continue to feel a deep love for her if his sons refused to accept her? Perhaps even refused to come home for holidays?

Blended families didn’t have the help that’s available now. Maybe that’s one of the reasons she didn’t marry Lord Merton. Would she have made a different decision if she’d had someone to discuss this with? Another couple whom married despite objections and found a new world of love?

Something to think about.

For me, I’m so glad I was willing to remarry and blend a family. It was hard at times but so worth it. I don’t mind telling others-wrote a book about it so others considering blending would be aware of issues and find a way to work through them.

It isn’t always fun, but hey do you know a family where every day is like a trip to Six Flags?

Check out the book. We’re Not Blended We’re Pureed a Survivor’s Guide to Blended Families.

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Don’t Photoshop Me!

Flipping through magazines while waiting for my hairstylist often makes me sad. I look at the photos of perfect bodies and hair and wonder why I can’t achieve it, no matter how hard I try.

Conversations with my stylist are enlightening. The hair is seldom real, extensions are added along with tons of product to hold the hair in shape during a shoot.

Photoshop is often always used to make those bodies a bit tanner and thinner.

What message is being sent to young girls? Or even older women?
We aren’t good enough as we are. Even Christian women who know in our hearts that God created us, we are beautiful and wonderfully made, still think what we look like now can’t be what He desires.

So we tan, eat less, schedule another exercise class and maybe loose a few pounds.
Then we fall into a funk.

Why? Because we still don’t look like the magazine ads, the commercials or our favorite star.

A friend of mine produced this video as a class project. It’s worth watching and not just once. Show it to your daughters and your friends. Get into a discussion about what real people are supposed to look like.

8 Ways to Get Over a Bad Day

Sad Girl photographer: jim

                                         8 Ways to Get Over a Bad Day

1. Play with a puppy
2. Get a pedicure
3. Blow bubbles with some kids
4. Call a good friend
5. Watch a funny movie
6. Eat your favorite comfort food–mine is Annie’s Gluten free mac & cheese
7. Read a new book
8. Use that expensive bubble bath you’ve been saving.

Add to this list by leaving a suggestion in the comment box.

Hotel, RV or Tent?

A group of Christian writers hang out at Take Flight on Facebook and Patty Wysong suggested we do a progressive interview. Writers love this sort of thing and we hope readers do as well. So the question I asked was, “Would you rather sleep in a hotel, RV or tent?” My answer is at the end.

5th wheel and Doge Truck

 

Yvonne Blake Hmmm… that’s a hard one! (It depends on the weather and the company.) I’ll have to say “tent” – hoping the conditions are all favorable. 
Sharon Clements Srock I love being in the open, I hate sleeping on a cot. Never met a comfortable one. So I’d have to say RV, the comforts of home, but the ability to take it with you.
Joanne Sher I have been in an RV and a tent a total of three times – (the RV once). I love the IDEA of a tent, but I’m gonna have to go with the hotel. It doesn’t have to be the Ritz or anything. No RV, cuz I have NO desire to even try to drive something like that (and hubby can’t drive). And if he’s with me, he’d have a HECK of a time getting up from the ground if we were in a tent. My link?
Sherri Wilson Johnson
Grew up with an RV. Can’t wait to own one again one day so me and hubby and the Chihuahua can hit the road!
Valerie Friesen Comer My husband and I tented for years, with numerous camping trips every summer with our kids. Still, eventually, our bones got a little creakier and we switched to a camper. Last year we bought a little camping trailer and absolutely love it. It has all the comforts of home, but we can park it by a creek in the mountains and still enjoy the fresh air, the fishing, the berry picking, and just the peacefulness of nature soothing our souls.
Linda McQuinn Carlblom
RV for short one or two night trips. But hotels for anything longer. I’m a wimpy, spoiled brat at heart! LOL.
Sharon Hoover
RV but I want to say tent. :-/ An RV would allow me to move from place to place with my stuff soooo easily. But a tent is so much more open and relaxing!
Patty Sargent Wysong

When I was a little girl in Maine, my parents had a Shasta. We had such good times in that lil thing! When Dad retired, they were full-time RVers for several years and they had so much fun! They would come visit us, set up in our driveway, and still be home. When they were on the road Mom was the Post Card Queen and we got to travel vicariously through her post cards. So, I’d have to say RV. I like my comfort and the RV would give me comfort and freedom–and for a wimpy free spirit like me, that sounds like a slice of heaven. Where do I sign up?

Kristi Peifer

Tent camping is great, but my youngest, who is autistic, doesn’t do well in a tent. I’m hoping when he’s a bit older we’ll get to try it again. Meanwhile, we have stayed in hotels. The enclosed space of a hotel room is comforting to him.

Janet Sketchley

Hotel, and since I’m wishing, a classy one. In a world without weirdos (wishing again) I’d choose a tent in a campground with trees and lots of water

Christina Rich
I’d say tent, but I’m liking some of those RVs I’ve seen on House Hunters (yep, a fan). 


Audra Christensen Silva

Oh, good question. I’m an all three kinda gal. I love tent camping if it’s a short stay, and the weather is reasonable. If it’s a longer stay, I’d much prefer an RV especially with kids. Can we say baths? If the weather is just plain miserable, give me a hotel.

Diana Lesire Brandmeyer— I’d go for the RV. We had one once and it’s really nice to take your home with you. Pulling into the campground and knowing your room will be ready in a few minutes, your book is where you left it and there aren’t any suitcases to move is delightful. I’d like to have one now since I must eat gluten free it would be wonderful to travel with my own kitchen.

There are a lot more questions and answers, just click a link and head off to see what others have on their blogs. Leave a comment and tell me your answer: Hotel, RV or Tent?

Take Flight. Patty Wysong Helping bloggers blog.

The Greatest of These is Love

And the Greatest of These is Love 

All writers know the faith it takes to put words on paper. They’ve seen the faith required to search for the right word, the right phrase, the right nugget of truth that will mark their work as top-notch. Ultimately, they know the gut-wrenching faith it takes to turn their written baby over to someone who might reject it outright.

They know hope too. Even after they’ve been kicked to the curb by an agent who probably didn’t even read the first sentence of a query, hope prevails. After a few days of chocolate and Kleenexes, hope surges again. Maybe the next editor will love it, buy it, publish it, and send it to be included next to John Grisham’s on the front table of every bookstore in the country. Don’t deny it. You know that hope is real. 

One element, however, sometimes gets lost when faith and hope begin to emerge in our writing journey. That element is love. Sure, we love it, or we wouldn’t stress ourselves out to learn how to do it better, to find someone to publish it, and to put ourselves on the chopping block of rejection time and again. It’s almost a given that we love it. 

The problem is we forget that we love it. As a character who loves music in one of my books says, “You know me, I’d play for the squirrels if they’d listen.” 

Too often the longer we write, the less we remember what we love about it. Our focus shifts from writing for love to writing so others will love what we’ve written. 

When we write for the love of it, every frustrating moment is an exhilarating challenge. Shaping the ephemerally picturesque stories in our minds into something coherent and fluid is like no other experience. The very act of putting that last piece of our word puzzle into place has no equal.

Remember the journals you kept, the poems you wrote, the short stories that are still tucked away in some old notebook. You wrote those not to gain love but because they were burning a hole in your soul to be put on paper. 

Then you began writing not for love but to gain love. You became convinced that you had to twist your writing to meet what others believe is marketable or publishable. And so you let your love for writing morph into wanting your writing to be loved… sometimes at all costs. You twisted yourself into a pretzel, learning perfect grammar, point of view, the “correct” way to write a marketable manuscript. 

 Learning and growing in your writing is one thing, but when that gets so tangled in the rules that you forget why you started in the first place, that is something altogether different. Love is the key to writing real. As the Bible says so eloquently: In the end three things shall last, faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love. –1 Corinthians 13:13 It’s a lesson every writer should take to heart. Copyright 2005, Staci Stallings

Thank you  for that devotion, Staci.  I needed to read that today, even if you  have a published book it is easy to forget about the love when you start writing the next one.

Staci is giving away her ebook for two days! Don’t miss it. 
 
Staci Stallings Author Bio & Tag Deep in the Heart Staci Stallings, the author of this article, is a Contemporary Christian author and the founder of Grace & Faith Author Connection. Staci has a special surprise for you today and tomorrow only… FREE ON KINDLE TWO DAYS ONLY! April 18 & 19, Staci’s novel:

 Deep in the Heart “This is more than a romance. The author cuts straight to the heart of God–love. God is love. Even through unexpected tragedies. And we can overcome evil with good–by His love.” –Betty Anne Bantz Can Keith defy the most powerful men in Texas to follow his heart? Available as a free download from Amazon!

Grilled Cheese Please

Grilled Cheese Gluten-Free


It’s here! April has arrived! 
It’s not about the spring flowers and blooming trees for me. 
No! It’s grilled cheese month! That means they are in season right? So one should eat them as often as possible in April.

Having to eat gluten-free was awful for a long time until I found a bread, Rudi’s that made a delicious grilled delicacy.

I’m a purist with my grilled cheese sandwiches. Two piece of they yellow processed cheese is my all time favorite.

I have made them with Provolone and Havarti cheese or sandwiched bacon, or thinly sliced meatloaf slid between the cheese slices.  They were good but not as good as the real grilled cheese sandwich. 

The one that got me through breakups in high school, college study sessions (ugh math), and pregnancy! 


So celebrate with me. How do you like your grilled cheese sandwich?


Fellow grilled cheese lovers please leave a note in the comment section.

 

The Do-It-All Mom? Who me?

Welcome Cara Putman. I’ve heard people call you the Do-It-All-Mom.Watching you at the ACFW conference taking care of all of us and your children with a smile on your face makes me think the name applies. How did you get that nick name?

My friend Nicole O’Dell has dubbed me the Do-It-All-Mom among a sea of really qualified columnists. Do-It-All-Mom? Me? It’s a wee bit intimidating. Ya know? 

So I’ve been thinking about it. Do I do it all?
Yes, I’m a mom to the four amazing kiddos in the picture. I am forever grateful that God has entrusted them to us. 

Yes, I’m an attorney, but I’m definitely in a season of slowing that down. I stay involved in a couple areas, but I’m not doing litigation, my favorite area, because it doesn’t fit with my life right now. A choice I’d make again — even though I love litigation. 

Yes, I’m a contract lecturer at a University and adjunct faculty at a community college. I LOVE teaching and am so grateful God opened these doors. Lest you think otherwise, remember this too is part time. 

Yes, I’m a writer — between the hours of nine and midnight most weeks…because that’s when my kids sleep. 

Yes, I’m a homeschool mama — it’s a joy and honestly frustrating. If I can be real, I love watching my kids learn. But there are times I long for them to join the school bus crowd. However, God has made it clear this is for us right now, so I do it willingly. Even if it means teaching algebra to the oldest and reading to the 3 year old. I don’t know how one room school teachers did it. 

Yes, I serve at our church. It’s the least I can do for the body God has planted us in and for God. He’s given me so much. I’m more than willing to tithe my time and talent for Him. Besides, I’ve long known I learn more when I teach. 

Yes, I do a lot. But I hope you’re getting a sense of season. There are ebbs and flows to each of these. I love my class at Purdue, but right now it’s not a year round commitment. Maybe some day it will be. I love the law, but it’s no where near full time right now. How do you balance it all in this do-it-all-right-now-life?

Cara, I had three sons and didn’t home school. Most of the time I would have to say my nick name would have been Let-It-Slide-Mom.  Thank you for a glimpse of how you balance everything. 
And as Cara asked, ” How do you balance it all in this do-it-all-right-now-life?


Here’s my review of Cara’s book.

A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island by Cara C. Putman

A delightful tale with surprising twists and turns. I’ve been to Mackinac Island and wondered
what it was like for residents. Did they dislike having the tourists? Did they really bike, walk or take
a horse drawn buggy taxi? Putman answered all of those questions for me.

A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island is what I call a nice bathtub read. The story is engaging and at times gets your heart rate up, but not so much that you
want to run while looking over your shoulder.

I enjoyed returning to Mackinac via the pages of this book.


Back Cover Copy


When Past and present Collide, God Still has a Plan

Attorney Alanna Stone vowed long ago to avoid Mackinac Island. although it may seem like the perfect place to heal, for Alanna it holds to many memories
of a painful past.

But an exhausting high-profile case and an urgent plea from her parents has brought Alanna home. Moving into the cabin next to Jonathan Covington doesn’t help her.  Jonathan may have been her first
love, but he was also her first lesson in betrayal. Now Alanna must protect her privacy and her heart.
Then secrets and a murder intersect, an she’s thrust into controversy again as tragedy turns public opinion against her and potentially her family.

For years, Jonathan has stubbornly resisted the urging of his family and friends to date, believing he’s already found the perfect woman. With Alanna’s return, he begins to wonder if he’s waited to long for someone
who isn’t the right one after all.

Will Alanna and Jonathan be able to lay aside the past and let God heal their hearts?

If you want to know more about Cara check out her website.
Buy her book at Amazon. Barnes and Noble, or CBD.