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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

95 Reasons

"Gabriel & Elah" artwork by Evelyn
We all have reasons to smile each day.  Even on days we don’t think we do, there are surely some blessings that we’ve forgotten about.  However, last Friday, I had 95 reasons to smile…all at one time!  Yes, I received 95 of the most beautiful, thoughtful, and loving thank you letters from the sweet students at William Wood Elementary.  I had visited their school the week before for an author reading.  They wanted to show their appreciation through priceless notes and pictures that they had written and drawn especially for me.

If you ever want to feel loved, take some time and read a book to children.  Interact with them.  Ask them questions.  Let them ask you questions.  Encourage them.  Inspire them.  Let them encourage and inspire you.  I’ll never forget these letters.

Of course, I’m going to share some excerpts with you today!  I will certainly keep their unique spelling and punctuation just so you can enjoy the cuteness as well:
  • Thank you for writing “Gabriel’s golden key.”  I had a very good time.  I loved the majic trick!  It was brilliant
  • I really appreciate you coming and taking your time and efferot.  I realy look forward to buying your book.  Thank you so much.  I loved your book.
  • I really enjoyed your magic and your reading.  it was awsome!  Thanks for visiting.  I’m still planing on getting your book.  But I really enjoyed your visit.  And your presentation.
  • You inspired me to be an author.
  • Your book is so fun and fantastic.  You rock.  I am bying your book.  I want to take a picture with you!
  • You inspire me to wright books and I love when Elah jumps out of the book into the glas of water.
  • Good job for making the book called Gabriel’s Golden key.  You are the best for comeing to Willam Wood Elemetery and tell us all about yourself.  You are the coolest reader ever too.
  • Thank you for coming to our school.  We all had a great time!  You’re the best auther I know.
  • I love your book and I encourage you to write more books.  I also love your magic.  I loved Elah.  She was my favorite.
  • Your book is amazing and inspiring.
  • We loved you telling us about your book.  Gabriel relates to me in so many ways and Elah she was amazing.  I also loved your Brittish accent.
  • Your book was fantastic because you were the arothor of the book.
  • I love your book.  I hope you come back.
  • I can’t wait until you publish your next book!
  • You are the best author in the hold wide world and that book was the greatest book in the wold.
  • You are a star!  Your cool!
  • I really loved your book and how you put Christianity in it.  Thank you for putting your time in coming to our school.  We love you!
  • Thank you for donating the book to our school. 
  • Thank you for coming to our school and presenting your book.  We love you dearly.   I hope you keep persuing your dreams of being an author.  Gabriel’s Golden Key is the best book I ever layed my eyes on and hope I can by your book cause it’s a really good book.  Never reavel your magic secrets, Ms. Magican!
  • You are the best author in the world and I loved your Bridish accent.
  • I wishe you can come every day!
  • I will give you 200 dollers for your book!
  • I love your bridis ackint.  You are funny and nice.
  • I luv you a lot.
  • You are awesome and I thank you for your time.
  • What I like most about the book is the 7 Angeles.
  • Thank you for coming and telling your famous book Gabriel’s Golden Key.  I loved your book.  What I loved is the pictures and words and magic and fun.  It was amazing!  Sincerely, your body gaurd
  • I had a blast!  I loved the accent you had.  It was marvlous.  Your book is really, really good.  I don’t know if I want to be a author when I grow up.  It seems like a lot of work.  I loved it when you visited yesterday!
  • You inspier me to wright and read.  I loved it!  I hope to see you again!  I’m very happy you came.  Thank you!
And, THIS ONE (sniff, sniff with tears of joy):
  • My favrite part of your visit was…YOU!  I love you!  I love yoor book!
So, that’s just a taste of the 95 reasons I had to smile last Friday, Sunshines!

What I love most is the fact that these 95 reasons didn’t include anything they had to buy for me.  It was free.  It was heartfelt.  It was genuine.  It was unforgettable.

What reasons do you have to smile today?  There doesn’t have to be 95 reasons, but surely there is at least one?  Right?

As I re-read through these letters again and again, I’m smiling and feeling thankful.  I’m grateful to God for this journey and for the beautiful people I’ve met - young and old and in between - all while sharing my book!

I can’t thank you enough, Ms. Dana, for initiating this memorable project with your students!  I have 95 reasons to THANK YOU!  Keep sharing your light with all those around you because you really do shine, my friend!

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!  Bye for now!
95 Letters = 95 Reasons to Smile!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

I "Wood" Love To

Photo Credit:  cohdra from morgueFile.com
Love, love, love.  This month of February is synonymous with love.  Tis the season for red and pink, chocolate-covered strawberries, hearts, roses, jewelry, stuffed animals, balloons, and more chocolate-covered chocolate.  Happy Valentine’s Day, Sunshines!

February also marks 5 years since I’ve been doing something that I absolutely LOVE!  That love is writing and this month is my 5-year Sips of Sunshine anniversary!  So, it’s my blogiversary!  My Sipsiversary!  My Sunshine-i-versary!  We can call it all kinds of things, but I’m excited about it and I just want to thank you for celebrating with me!

Thank you for encouraging me, for supporting me, for reading and sharing my blog posts, and for paying it forward by inspiring others in your life.  You’ve also been amazing cheerleaders for my new children’s book, Gabriel’s Golden Key, and I can’t thank you enough for that!

Since it’s my anniversary, I found some scoop that I thought I’d share.  The traditional anniversary gift for 5 years is wood.  The modern gift is silverware.  The gemstone is sapphire and daisy is the flower.  So, wait, before you go out and get me a wooden clock, some silver flatware, a sapphire necklace, or a huge bouquet of daisies, I want to express my love…to a couple who taught me what love is.  Yes, that couple is my precious mom and dad!

My sweet parents are celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary this year!  Woo-hoo!  Happy Anniversary to you both!  Thank you for being a beautiful example to me and all those around you.  I pray that God blesses you with 45 more years!  I so love you!

Guess what the traditional anniversary gift for 45 years is?  Yep!  It’s sapphire, just like the 5_year gift.  Cool, huh?  I don’t own any sapphire and I don’t think Mom does either, but I did a bit of research on the lovely gem. 

Here is some of what I found:  “Sapphire is a very hard stone and its history dates back to biblical times.  It is thought that the tablets containing the Ten Commandments were made from sapphire.  It was also thought that the earth rested on a huge piece of sapphire which in turn reflected the sun and gave the sky its bluish color.  Royalty has worn sapphire to symbolize wisdom, holiness, virtue, and good fortune.  Suggested sapphire gifts include rings, pendants, earrings, and bracelets.”

So, Dad…looks like Mom needs some jewelry!  Or, maybe dinner, a foot massage, cleaning the house, dishes, and a bit of laundry will do!  And, Mom…Dad mentioned a trip to the Coushatta Casino?  However you choose to celebrate, know that you mean the world to me and I’m so blessed that God chose you to be my parents!  I’m a lucky, lucky lady to call you Mom and Dad!

Since love is in the air, I wanted to also share a fantastic reminder from Mikey:

A group of professionals posed a question to a group of 4 to 8 year olds.  They asked, "What does love mean?"  The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined.  See what you think:

"When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore.  So, my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too.  That's love."  Rebecca - age 8

"When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different.  You know that your name is safe in their mouth."  Billy - age 4

"Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your french fries without making them give you any of theirs."  Chrissy - age 6

"Love is what makes you smile when you're tired."  Terri - age 4

"Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is okay."  Danny - age 7

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen."  Bobby - age 7

"If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate."  Nikka - age 6

"There are two kinds of love, our love and God's love.  But, God makes both kinds of them."  Jenny - age 8

"Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well."  Tommy - age 6

"Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken."  Elaine - age 5

 "When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you."  Karen - age 7

"You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it.  But, if you mean it, you should say it a lot.  People forget."  Jessica - age 8

Wow, huh?  We can learn a great deal from children! 

On this 5th Sipsiversary of mine, you might ask me to be your Valentine.  And, I will gladly respond with a little pun to celebrate my 5th year of blogging.  I “WOOD” love to!  Hee hee!

Thank you for continuing this journey with me!  Here’s to writing many, many more Sips…and books!  It’s a fun ride with you by my side!  For an anniversary gift, please don’t worry about getting me that set of wooden spoons, but I’d love for you to hop on over to Amazon and do a review of Gabriel’s Golden Key.  You rock!  Thanks again!

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!  Happy Valentine’s Day!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

On Days of Doubt

Photo Credit:  anitapeppers from morgueFile.com
Last week was absolutely amazing!  It’s a bit surreal to me that I was blessed with the wonderful opportunity to share my children’s book, Gabriel’s Golden Key, with almost 800 children last week during my author visits!  Nearly 800 children in just ONE week!  So cool!  So very, very cool!

Many of you have asked me what I do at an author visit, so I thought I’d take the time to share that with you today.  When I visit a school, I like to break it up into two or three sessions, depending on school enrollment and according to age: (K & 1st), (2nd & 3rd), and (4th & 5th).  The sessions are 30 minutes each.  I love the library or classroom setting where the kiddos can get cozy and sit on the floor together as I share a few chapters of my book.

Of course, I like to throw in a few other fun attention-getting-extras in addition to reading my story.  Then, we have some Question & Answer time and I donate a book to the school’s library.  I send home order forms with the children so they can purchase their own book – either the paperback or hardcover version.  A special golden key comes with the autographed copy as well and the kiddos LOVE that!  Do I use my golden pen to sign the books?  Why certainly!  Plus, for each book sold, I donate $1.00 per book back to the school library.  Woo-hoo!

The children probably don’t realize how much inspiration and encouragement that I receive from them during each author visit.  Their eager, attentive eyes follow my every move as I walk back and forth reading the words and showing them the illustrations, while “getting into character.”

During a recent school visit, I received one of the best compliments that an author can get!  A precious little boy named Bodie told me that for "Favorite Book Character" day at school, he dressed like Gabriel from my book.  YES, I held back some tears!  He absolutely made my day!

The students exude such joy during my visits and I truly feel it in my heart and soul!  Their happiness and laughter light up the library or classroom and I love it!  I treasure the time I have to motivate children to read and follow their dreams.  I cherish the chance to instill a love for reading and encourage them to never give up.  I always share that it takes a great deal of patience in any worthwhile journey.

What I also adore are the questions they ask:  How long did it take you to write this book?  What inspired you to write it?  Will there be a second book?  Are you going to make a movie about this book?  (LOVE the big dreams out there!)  Who is your favorite author?  What is your favorite book?  Can I do your make-up and hair?  Can I design the clothes you wear to author visits?  Yes, I get ALL KINDS of questions.

Anyway, sometimes this author adventure catches me by surprise when I stop to think about it.  I’m humbled by the fact that God used me as a writing instrument to share His love.  I believe that He wanted me to be an author and I just answered…yes.

Mixed in with the excitement of any new adventure will be days of doubt – days when we doubt our gifts and talents, abilities, mission, plan, or purpose.  There are days when we might doubt just about everything.  So, it was timely that I received this reminder from Mikey and I knew it must be shared!  Here goes:

Use ME?!  ME?  The next time you feel like God can't use you, just remember...

~ Noah was a drunk.

~ Abraham was too old.

~ Isaac was a daydreamer.

~ Jacob was a liar.

~ Leah was ugly.

~ Joseph was abused.

~ Moses had a stuttering problem.

~ Gideon was afraid.

~ Samson had long hair and was a womanizer.

~ Rahab was a prostitute.

~ Jeremiah and Timothy were too young.

~ David was an adulterer and a murderer.

~ Elijah was suicidal.

~ Jonah ran from God.

~ Naomi was a widow.

~ Job went bankrupt.

~ John the Baptist ate bugs.

~ Peter denied Christ.

~ The disciples fell asleep while praying.

~ Martha worried about everything.

~ The Samaritan woman was divorced (more than once).

~ Zacchaeus was too small.

~ Paul was too religious.

~ Timothy had an ulcer.

~ Lazarus was dead!

And, there you have it!  God wants to use YOU!  God wants to use ME!  God wants to use US!  Yes!  He does.  So, let’s continue to make ourselves available…even on days of doubt.

Oh, Oh, Oh!!!  Drum roll please!  The lucky winner of the $100 for doing an Amazon review of Gabriel’s Golden Key is…Genevieve W.  Congratulations to you!

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!  Bye for now!