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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Today Is The Day

I was blessed to have another wonderful book signing at Cotton Belles Boutique & Co. over the weekend in Victoria.  I was warmly welcomed by Ashley, Christine, Jill, and Michele and had the opportunity to meet new friends of all ages.  My goddaughter, Sydney, even surprised me with a visit and that truly warmed my heart.  I thank God that she remains cancer-free today!  It was extra cool that she brought along her mom, cousins, and brothers, one of which is named GABRIEL!  Yep.  Awesomeness!

It was interesting that two of my visitors this weekend told me they always wanted to write a book.  One of them started out with a poem about bees and the poem got longer and longer.  He said he just couldn’t come up with a good ending, so he put his work aside six years ago.

The other woman smiled as she told me about being a retired teacher.  She would pass by a publishing company on her way to work each day and wanted so badly to write the book that she had composed in her head.

I encouraged them both to just do it!  Chase the dream and grab on to it tightly.  Feel the fear and do it anyway!  Today is the day!  I hope that they both were inspired to write their books soon because I am anxious to read their stories.

Each of us has a talent or two or twenty.  Seek it out.  Find it.  Embrace it.  Do you write, sing, dance, act, cook, craft, draw, build, or sew?  Are you athletic?  Are you into fashion, gardening, swimming, animals, art, musical instruments, or computers?  Are you an amazing listener or inspirer?  Does your smile or laugh light up a room?  Is your happiness contagious?  Are you incredibly generous?  There are countless gifts and talents among us.  Find yours.  Share it.  Today is the day!

During this holiday season, gift buying is on our minds and to-do lists.  I saw this merchandise “guarantee” the other day that made me giggle, so I had to share:
“We want everyone to be happy.  Our guarantee applies to typically pleasant individuals.  If you are a major grouch who doesn't smile at a puppy or a rainbow, then even WE can't help you!”

Let’s try to be kind this Christmas season.  It won’t always be easy, but as we rush around, let’s make a brave attempt at patience, love, and forgiveness.  One way to show our gratitude and affection for someone is certainly to buy them a gift.  However, I remember a poem that I wrote in 2013 that reminds me to keep things in perspective.  Sometimes I forget that I can’t buy Christmas.

CAN’T BUY CHRISTMAS
Christmas is something we just can’t buy,
Although at times, it seems we try.
We rush around with shoppers galore,
Buying more gifts than ever before.
We fret about cards and wrapping and such,
Causing our stress to be a bit much.
We push and shove for sales and deals,
Sometimes forgetting how anyone feels.
We hurry.  We worry.  Lose sight of the reason,
The heart and soul of this holiday season.
Because the mightiest, glorious gift of them all,
Came surprisingly helpless and ever so small.
Could our Lord Jesus Christ be so humble enough,
To be born in a stable – modest and rough?
Could His mother, so tired, dusty, and worn,
Find comfort in where her Son would be born?
A manger, a trough where animals fed,
Would this be the place to lay His sweet head?
What were her thoughts – this makeshift room?
Did she want to clean up with a mop and a broom?
Or did trusting it all would be okay,
Suppress her fears about that day?
This plain wooden trough, so lowly and trite,
Yet, so very grand – it was just right.
God transforms with a simple touch,
Our lives, a manger, and things that we clutch.
A manger’s a symbol of nothing less,
Than the glory of God.  Our lives He will bless.
We mustn’t lose sight of the reason we give,
Lest we forget He’s the reason we live.
Let’s hold Him close – the baby boy,
With swaddling blankets of love, hope, and joy.
Let’s soften His manger – forgive and be kind.
Let’s pray for all mothers – they surely won’t mind.
Let’s warm the Lord’s room, all covered in dust,
By spreading His peace.  It’s surely a must.
No money could buy this gift of love,
The birthday of Jesus is sent from above.
Without Him on Christmas, it all seems for naught.
We can’t buy Christmas.  It just can’t be bought.

I’m very excited to say that I’ll be heading up the road to St. Philip’s school in El Campo on Wednesday for an author visit.  I truly love sharing Gabriel’s Golden Key with children!  I’ll also be doing some book signings this weekend in Victoria.  Please stop by the Holidazzle Brunch & Bazaar on Saturday, Dec. 3rd at Faith Family from 10am-1pm.  You’ll also find me signing books after each of the Masses at Holy Family Catholic Church on Saturday, Dec. 3rd and Sunday, Dec. 4th.  I’ll have plenty of my books, golden pens, and golden keys ready for the kiddos!  Hope to see you there!

Embrace your dream…whatever it is!  TODAY is the day!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  I’ll be back for more Sips in January!

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!  Bye for now!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thanks For Noticing

Photo Credit:  knaughton from morgueFile.com
Doesn’t it feel good when someone notices?  You know, that new haircut, pair of shoes, dress, or purse, or that you lost a bit of weight?  Or that you put in the sweat hours to tone up that under-arm-dingle-dangle that used to keep swinging long after you stopped waving to that friend of yours?  Whether we voice it or not, it lifts our spirits and brightens our day when someone notices something about us.  It does.

There seems to be an extra skip in a child’s step when we notice how hard they are working in school or how they’ve made extra efforts to get along with their siblings.  Their lights truly shine when we take notice and tell them.

Sometimes, it’s easier to notice things about our close friends and family.  How about someone we don’t know at all?  I took the opportunity last weekend during my book-signing-trip to College Station to “notice” a couple of complete strangers.  Here’s the scoop:

Stranger #1:  My mom, daughter, and I stopped at Dairy Queen late Friday evening during our cold, rainy drive to Aggieland.  After we ate our meal, my daughter and I were eyeing the Blizzard selections while our taste buds were getting primed.  We just wanted a tiny bit of something sweet before we hit the road again, so we decided to split a mini Blizzard.  However, the tough part came when we were supposed to agree upon what flavor to share.  I wasn’t budging and neither was my daughter.  I wanted chocolate chip cookie dough and she wanted M&M.

I had noticed the woman working the cash register when we first arrived.  She appeared very tired and wasn’t smiling.  She was helpful as we purchased our food, but I felt in my heart that she sure could use a laugh. 

So, my daughter and I approached the counter to order “our” Blizzard.  With a grin on my face, I explained to Susan the flavor dilemma that my daughter and I were having.  Then, I proceeded to keep smirking while I winked at the cashier and informed my daughter that I was so sorry to share that they were completely out of M&M’s.  I told my daughter that she would just have to sacrifice for Momma this time and settle on the cookie dough.

Then, I got a huge smile out of Susan, the cashier.  Why?  Well, because the joke was on me.  Guess what?  They weren’t out of M&M’s at all.  HOWEVER, they WERE out of cookie dough because of a recall!  WHAT?!  Oh, I started laughing so hard and so did my daughter, Susan, and the rest of the customers who were eavesdropping on this little conversation.

Much to the happiness and delightful enjoyment of my daughter, we shared a M&M Blizzard that night.  It was so memorable!  Why?  Because we made a complete stranger smile a much needed smile and laugh a much needed laugh.  It was priceless.  She thanked us for making her day!

Stranger #2:  We arrived at the hotel for a late check-in.  The poor young man working there was staring at his computer screen while talking on the phone that was ringing off the wall.  He barely looked up as I gave him my credit card and driver’s license.  I noticed how weary he was and I also noticed his name tag.

After punching in some information on his computer, he politely gave us our room keys.  I said, “Thank you so much, David.  It’s been a busy evening, huh?”

And, there it was!  A smile.  He flashed the smile that I was looking for.  He smiled at me and then proceeded to tell me a little bit about his crazy shift.  Basically, he was saying “thanks for noticing.”  It made my day and I’m pretty sure that it made his too.

During this month of November, many of us are feeling thankfulness and gratitude about the blessings in our life.  One of the many things I thank God for is the gift of laughter.  Here’s an adorable giggle that Brigette shared with me over the weekend while hanging out at her awesome store, The Gift Box, in College Station.

She said that a friend of hers had just purchased a mini-van.  However, her four-year-old son was not okay with the new ride.  He said, “I am absolutely NOT going to call our car a mini-van because it sounds waaaay too girly.”  So, in perfect Disney-fashion, he said, “Instead of a MINNIE Van, we’re going to call it a MICKEY Van!”  How cute is that?!

Anyway, I am also thankful for all of the love and support I’ve received from my family and friends as I share my new children’s book with the world!  Woo-hoo!  So many sweet and generous ladies have warmly welcomed me into their stores to sign Gabriel’s Golden Key and I can’t thank you enough – Angels & Outlaws, The Market of Victoria, and The Gift Box!

I’m excited to say that I’ll be back in Victoria this Saturday, November 26th from 10-5pm at Cotton Belles Boutique & Co. for a book signing!  There will be lots of goodies to munch on and beverages to drink while getting some Christmas shopping done in this beautifully charming and unique boutique!  Thank you so much, Ashley, for having me.  I’m ready with my golden pens and golden keys for the kiddos!

I can’t help but think about the importance of prayer during this time of year.  As we remember and take note of the special people that God has placed in our lives, we can also think about the roof over our head, the clothes on our back, and the food on our plate.  Amidst the hustle and bustle, let’s stop and say a prayer of thanksgiving for all we have.  A grateful heart is a joyful heart. 

I’m quite certain that as we pray in gratitude for the countless blessings in our lives, God is smiling while saying, “Thanks for noticing.”

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!  Bye for now!
Making new friends at book signings is always fun!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Sweet

Sweet.  That word can be used several different ways:  I enjoy a tall glass of sweet tea.  She’s such a sweet lady.  That little boy has a sweet smile.  It was sweet of her to take care of her elderly neighbor.  He has a sweet golf swing.  I love the sweet sounds of jazz.  That puppy has a sweet disposition.  How sweet it is to be loved by you.  I have a sweet tooth…and the list goes on.

There are sweet jokes:  “I lovingly gave my niece a kiss on her cheek upon seeing her at a family get-together.  Afterwards, I noticed her wiping her cheek.  ‘Are you wiping off my kiss?’  I asked her.  ‘No,’ she smartly replied, ‘I’m just rubbing it in!’”  Sweet!

There are, um, “sweet-cheek” jokes:  A couple was in an accident where the woman's face was severely burned.  The doctor told her husband that they wouldn't be able to graft any skin from her own body.

So, the husband offered to donate some of his skin.  However, the only skin on his body that the doctor felt was suitable would have to come from his buttocks.  The husband and wife agreed that they would tell no one about where the skin came from, and requested that the doctor also honor their secret.  After all, this was a very delicate matter.

After the surgery was completed, everyone was astounded at the woman's new beauty.  She looked more beautiful than she ever had before.  All her friends and relatives just went on and on about her youthful beauty!

One day, she was alone with her husband, and she was overcome with emotion at his sacrifice.  She said, "Dear, I just want to thank you for everything you did for me.  There is no way I could ever repay you."

"My darling," he replied, "I get all the thanks I need every time I see your mother kiss you on the cheek."

Ohhhh my goodness! 

Anyway, after that little giggle, I want to share something else that was sweet.  And, that was my book signing this past Saturday!  Debbie, Brigette, and Mary were so kind to warmly welcome me into The Market of Victoria.  They had sweet golden key cookies for the guests as they arrived at their absolutely precious store!  It was such a memorable day, full of making new friends and seeing familiar smiles.  The loving support was truly heartwarming.

Getting to see the happiness on the kiddos’ faces as they picked out their special golden key and took their first bite of their golden key cookie was…SWEET!  Talking to a 13-year-old girl who is finishing up her first book manuscript was just the sweet icing on the cake!  I’m so thrilled for her!  I encouraged her to be patient and persevere.  I told her that I looked forward to seeing her name on the cover of a book very soon!


For anyone who missed this book signing, I'm heading up the road to College Station this weekend to The Gift Box (Saturday, Nov. 19th from 10-6pm) and Jingle Bell Market (Sunday, Nov. 20th from 12-4pm).  College Station holds many dear memories for me, so Aggieland...here I come!  I’m an A&M grad and now I’m an Aggie author!  I can’t wait to share my book with my fellow “Gig ‘Em” friends!  Whoop!

If you haven’t heard about The Gift Box yet, it’s a gift shop that has the perfect gift for any special occasion including candles, home decor, soaps, lotions, fun wine glasses, jewelry, accessories, t-shirts, Yeti, SIC cups, Oggi water bottles, baby gifts, and clothing.  They carry sizes newborn through toddler.  They offer custom monogramming and decals and of course, they are Aggie alumni owned and operated.

I found this sweet tidbit on their website as well:  “We are passionate about respecting our Veterans for their ultimate service.  As a small token of our appreciation, The Gift Box is offering 10% off for our Veterans on Veterans Day and every day!”  How SWEET is that?!

Ever heard of Jingle Bell Market?  The purpose of Jingle Bell Market is to support local businesses and charities, and to provide a unique and enjoyable shopping experience for the College Station community, with over 30 vendors on-hand.  Their goal is also to raise awareness and support for the wonderful local charities, which are making a worldwide difference. Of course, Santa will be there, ready to take pictures with your little ones.  Admission on Sunday is free and that’s super-duperly-sweeeeet!

Thank you once again for your sweet support of my book, Gabriel’s Golden Key!  You all have been incredibly amazing!  Thank you for bearing with me as I talk about my new book week after week!  I appreciate you and can’t thank you enough for sharing in my joyous excitement!

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!  Bye for now!