Can’t Is a Four Letter Word

November 3, 2018 at 8:40 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, Life beyond parenting, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , )

The older I get, I am the more I am looking to the positive in my life. I understand some folks get worried with changes in their lives; They cannot imagine what the next day is going to look like. I understand with some people we have to take baby steps with their ever-changing needs, but eventually, if it is feasible, we need to get back on track to where we need to be.

Change is a funny thing. We had our lives planned out and wham, all of a sudden, an injury interrupted your once in a lifetime vacation plans, your daughter decided he isn’t really the one for her after you made all the plans, College is put on hold again, instead of having the house to yourselves, one of the kids returns home with her four not for a visit this time. I think if the situation can work for the family, a son who has a good career and staying home to help the family is a great option. Many young adults are opting to stay home longer, some have the right idea, so they can save for a good down payment on a condo or a first home.

Leaving the nest can be scary. We reach the certain age where we felt it was time to be out on our own. I remember when my husband and I bought our first home it was a trailer in a well established neighborhood. After living there for two years, I became pregnant with our son. We decided to look for a house for our growing family. We were lucky to find one in a new neighborhood with kids. When my husband and I met and married, we thought we would grow old and grey together, raise our family and look forward to our retirement and grand kids. We planned to travel after we retired in our motor home. Jerry had always wanted to take his time seeing the country.

My life took a different direction than I had planned. My husband died after six short years of wedded bliss from complications of his disease. I was suddenly a single parent to my four-year old son. I realized life can be difficult and throw you some curve balls along the way but you can do it. I raised Levi from childhood through his teens no easy feat. I am proud of the fine young man he had become. Some of my friends tried to talk me into selling the home and buying a place of my own. I laugh today at the thought,all of my wonderful memories are right here within these four walls. All the teenage arguments, door slamming, late night pizza deliveries, friends gathering for the evening, everything that makes a house a home. I believe “Can’t” is a four letter word, put your mind to it and yes, you can. I did.

 

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A New Perspective

October 29, 2018 at 2:28 am (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, Life beyond parenting, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

A couple of weeks ago, my mom suffered an injury. She underwent surgery to correct the problem and now is in rehabilitation hospital for a few weeks. Both our lives were changed temporarily. She has intense therapy three times daily, to get back into her home living independent again. She used to be busy in the kitchen making a berry cobbler in the afternoon and sampling a piece before dinner.(One has to be sure it ready to serve for desert).

I am part of the sandwich generation who works full-time and care for my aging mom. I know many couples have younger children or have the grandchildren living with them full-time as well. It can be a challenge taking care of two households sometimes. Grocery shopping, before our shower aid came, fitting that into a daily routine, having dinner with mom, laundry,etc. I think we never thought our parents would get old and more dependent on the kids. We remember growing up when you gathered around the dinner table and shared your day, homework after dinner was bedtime. Now, you make dinner, maybe they can help with the dishes,and then sit in the living room and visit.

I was laughing this week because my mom has never spent her birthday in the hospital before. She received all her phone calls she would have at home, her flower arrangement from her nephew,the only thing missing was her at home.  Mom can still do her bills every month, just this time sitting in her wheel chair in front of a nice picture window. It is hard to think of our parents as the Geritol crowd. Some, like my mom are starting to slow down or needing persuaded to get dressed and take a walk, therapy got her started on memory game version of poker she really enjoys the challenge.

We never know what tomorrow may bring, enjoy every moment you have with family and friends and never look back with any regrets. I still sometimes struggle with the loss of my son Levi. I think about him often, where would he be today. Married, have children, still live in the area, still drive his beloved car or would he trade it for his first mini-van. I feel blessed to have been his mom for twenty years. I have so many wonderful memories of the good times and the challenging times we had. I am proud of the fine young man Levi had become. 

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Older and Wiser I Hope

October 7, 2018 at 11:11 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, grief, Life beyond parenting, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Last week, my brother and I turned fifty-seven. I can’t talk for my brother, but age to me is just a number. I do not feel older or depressed as some do. My brother and I have difficult circumstances to endure and we are thankful to be on this side of the pain.

I wound like to think I am an easy-going person who takes circumstances in stride. I don’t understand rude behavior in the checkout line, talking loud on the cell phone just because the person was having a bad day and they make sure everyone knows. I do not understand the sassy kids who throw themselves on the floor of the supermarket because they were told they could not have the toy. I do not understand the disrespect of this generation. I was raised with manners and we better remember them when talking to an adult, tantrums were not tolerated and discipline followed.

When I was raising my young son, I was a widow who had the awesome responsibility of raising my young son from childhood through his teens-no easy feat. We had many hardships and difficulties, but I would not trade one them the struggles for anything. When life became difficult with Levi, he always knew I believed in him, I supported him and I was there for him. Many of his friends were not as fortunate. It is always hard to hear when a parent gives up on a child.

Some ask me how am I doing now. I have living life day by day and thankful for great memories I have as a wife and a mother. My life was forever changed in a flash with deaths of both my husband and son, but I have so many fond memories of a house alive with many boys getting ready to paint ball, dad taking his son on a motorcycle ride, pulling the sled around by the ATV, watching Levi build his snow fort, the harvest carnival, the last time we put gas in Levi’s new car. We both never knew our lives would forever change the next evening. I am truly thankful to god for giving me the opportunity to be a wife and mother even if for a little while. Kids are a blessing, hug them extra tight today, let them know how much you love them, how proud of them you are, how much they mean to you, life can change in a moment. 

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A Brand New Driver

September 21, 2018 at 2:50 am (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, Life beyond parenting, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Single Parent, Uncategorized) (, , , )

I am sitting here at my computer wishing I had renewed my driver’s license sooner. I was involved in an altercation last week and twisted my ankle. It will fun standing outside in the chilly morning tomorrow waiting to get in to renew my precious photo taken last time. Our small town has grown in population the past few years. You are not in and out like times were. It takes three times as long-standing in lines waiting your turn.

As I sit here typing, a fond memory is taking hold. I remember when I and a good girlfriend were juniors in high school. My friend had to get her driver’s license. No one would consider taking her,not her mom, her mom’s boyfriend, her sister or her friends who already were driving. I thought this was terrible. After all, we all had to face the dreaded driving instructor why deprive my dear friend of her turn. After all she was so excited , just needed a ride.

The big day had arrived. I was busy feeding the animals, getting dressed, called my friend to see how much longer for her  to be ready. Her mom said in the background” she has been up since five tried on every outfit she owns and has done her hair three times for the picture. She is ready to go”. So on my way I went to pick her up. It was fun for me because she didn’t know I was letting her use my car to take her driving test in. She just thought she was taking the written test and then her driving part later.

Since it was her birthday, we went to Bob’s Big Boy to celebrate. We had the hamburger combination with a strawberry milkshake. We were full, happy, laughing and ready to head over to Thousand Oaks. I sat in the lobby waiting for her to finish her written test. She came over to me and let me know she passed.”Of course you did silly” I told her. We were starting to walk out the front door when I asked her”don’t you have another part of the test to complete today?” She almost cried when realized I was letting her drive my car to take her test in. She passed that day and what a wonderful memory of a friend I miss still today. She has passed away several years ago, but I remember her giggle, her “Hi” on the phone, and her zest for life itself.

I am thankful for all the memories I have from loved ones, friends, my son and my life as an empty nester. I never thought my golden years I would be writing stories about my husband and son. I am thankful for all the good time I have shared with my family and  all the hardships I have had to endure. No matter what life throws at you, it is still a great life and wonderful t be alive.

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Life Beyond Parenting

September 14, 2018 at 12:10 am (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, Life beyond parenting, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, Single Parent, Uncategorized) (, , , )

If someone were to tell me eleven years ago my life would be forever changed, I wouldn’t have believed them. My son was a vibrant twenty year old with a good job, friends, a solid church family. I guess we, as parents don’t think past our kids maybe one day moving out on their own, getting married, going off to college. Some of these life stages can be tough.

Your child has enlisted in the Military, you are frightened for their safe return home, your tween daughter decided to get married(elopes). You son announces he would like to live with you forever….. Life beyond parenting is an interesting term for me. I said goodbye to my world one day when he was involved in a tragic car accident. Life could not prepare me for the depth of grief I felt the day his life support machine was turned off. Many parents suffer the child they love and raised decides she doesn’t like living at home with the rules anymore and becomes a runaway, parents dealing with addicted children or the parents who visit the child in jail.

We think these hard days are never going to end. For some, the pain never will end, for many others, the pain eases as time goes on and they learn how to rebuild their lives again. Every family story is a success story, no matter the outcome, the parent was there for the child, watched the kids games, took them to practice, supported their concerns. It is true, kids did not come with an instruction manual, with Levi, I would have thrown the manual out anyway. I wanted the joy that comes with the challenges, I raised Levi from childhood through his teens no easy feat. I am proud of the fine young man he had become.

A few years ago there was a popular book out called” Motherhood ain’t For Wimps”. It is true, parenting is tough business. I would have loved to have more than one son, but as I have been told over the years”Levi gave you a run for your money, but you gave it back.”A strong faith really is essential for your(the parent) sanity. Over night, I became mom, dad and sole provider of my family of two now. Looking back now, I would not trade one single hardship or difficulty I have been through. Levi was the best gift God could have ever given to me and I am thankful I had the opportunity to be a wife and mother even if for a little while. 

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treasured Finds

August 16, 2018 at 1:28 am (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, Life beyond parenting, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Single Parent, Uncategorized) (, , , )

Yesterday, I went under my house to clean out some more treasures that have stored under there for the past thirty plus years. I found my son Levi’s paint ball gear; I sat on the dirt floor and laughed at the memories of his friends coming over in full gear getting ready for an all out battle. I am thinking I am going to donate the gear to Levi’s best friend Mike who now has preteens of his own. Most of the stuff stored down here belonged to you guessed it, Levi. I had fun looking at some of his prized possessions and remembering when he had bought the items.

I know how easy it would be to just leave his belongings under the house and not deal with the emotional ties, but I would rather his personal possessions go to someone else who could use them now. Some of my friends wonder how I could turn his old bedroom into my dressing room. I made a decision after my son had well ‘almost’ moved out at nineteen to make his old bedroom into my space now. I knew he would never come back over to spend the night, or have dinner with me, or even to sit down to visit. he was too busy and plus he said “I knew where he was at most of the time, come see me there”. It is a funny thing about being an empty nester, sometimes our dreams do not come true. I used to hear my friends talk about the kids came home for Sunday supper. The parents had fun learning the truth about The stain in the carpet, or how the back door really got broken.

I ran across a couple of my childhood belongings down in the crawl space. I ran across my high school year books, some of my 4-H Club ribbons for my lamb, prized ribbons from the fair. I enjoyed growing up on the ranch. I had many opportunities my friends did not. raising all our animals was a once in a lifetime experience. I could ride my horse in the orchard after school, play with the baby lambs, feed the chickens, or ride our mini-bike. Being raised on the ranch taught my twin brother and I responsibility, dedication,and personal growth. It was fun seeing the birth of a baby lamb grow up and become a Grand Champion in the sheep class the next year.

Life has a way of passing us by if we are not careful. I can say I have some very good memories of the life I had lived and some not so pleasant. I thought when I married my husband, we would grow old and grey together. My life too another direction. I also thought when we had our son Levi, we would one day be proud grandparents to his children, I could watch him buy his first house,upgrade from his beloved car to a mini-van,  watch him enjoy being a father now. My life was again changed forever when he passed away in a tragic car accident in 2007. He was only 20. I am so proud of the fine young man he had become.

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The Heat Is On

August 1, 2018 at 7:41 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, Life beyond parenting, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , , )

The heat has finally hit my home town. I am one of the lucky ones who cannot handle heat well. After eating, I feel nauseous, it takes awhile for my stomach to calm down. I also suffer from summertime allergies; I get the runny itchy water eyes, it feels like a hair is caught under your eyelid. Summer lasts but a few months here, and I am glad when the temperature cools down and gives my lawn another chance to recover.

I decided this year to try and keep my front lawn greener and water the backyard less often. I don’t really entertain much so I do not need the golf course looking backyard. The more friends I talk to, I am finding that they have invested money into creating a outdoor paradise instead of vacationing. If you have three kids, you have the plane fares, hotels ,food, and theme parks. families have decided to create the backyard of thier dreams. An outdoor kitchen,fire pit, water feature and an outdoor fireplace adds beauty and resale value to the home.

It is ironic to me how just a few years ago the trend was a man cave or mom cave. A place where the parent could create the perfect hideaway from the family to watch the big game or sew the perfect quilt.  Later, the trend became the tiny luxury buildings,or just Another version of the mom hideaway. I have seen some beautiful hideaways out there. It is funny how family members respect the privacy of a man cave or moms tiny special place. I have watched some of the shows  where the couple doesn’t care what the house looks like just give them thier hideout.

When my husband and I were raising our family, I am glad we lived in a time before the trends. We went shopping together, paid our bills together, had date nights, rented our favorite movie. (Until my husband passed away, I didn’t know there were movies made other than karate films)He was a die hard fan. Times have changed, families are crazy busy with games,practice, separate dinner schedules, it is hard to have family time anymore. Folks are opting for a stay-cation for a weekend rejuvenation. Soon school will be back in session, a new schedule to get used to, homework, school sports continue, and life still moves forward. 

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A Nice Day Trip

June 7, 2018 at 9:19 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, Life beyond parenting, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Survivor, Uncategorized) (, , , )

 

Yesterday, a dear friend of mine and I decided to plan a day trip. We were going to spend the day in a quaint little town overlooking the lake. First my friend needed to pick up a Memorial wrath as her mothers headstone had been delivered. Her parents had a plot bought several years earlier so they could be buried together and not burden the children. When my friend and I had gotten into town, we headed for the cemetery to place the wreath on the grave. Let me tell you, there is nothing like getting lost near a cemetery and cannot find the right road to take. After driving around for a half hour, we finally found the road. When we arrived, the grounds keeper was cutting the grass. It took us several minutes walking up and down the rows of graves to find her mom and dad. We took a few pictures and then headed back into town. I am glad I had the day off from work that I could go and help her celebrate her parents. They were like parents to me as well. 

The morning was sunny and breezy, the drive is a picturesque drive with good 1970’s music, beautiful scenery, and great conversation. I never get tired of driving through the forest, or passing a pretty lake. We are always on the lookout for deer on the way. Sharon and I were reminiscing about the first time we had met. She was my son Levi’s Kindergarten teacher; we had become fast and lasting friends over the years. On Friday nights, we would take the kids for an hour drive to our favorite church the out for ice cream after. I needed some good friends, it was a difficult time for me after my husband passed away. Their kids were a couple of years older than my son, so we would talk child rearing. it was nice to have someone I could talk to. 

 I find even if the plans you have are not what you expected, you can still make an enjoyable day out of it. I would like to think I am getting older and more creative with my days off. summer has never been one season I liked. The heat, the humidity, the bugs, the allergies, the water bill (that took the place of the furnace bills in the winter), keeping your flowers alive long enough to enjoy them. This year, I have decided enjoy the summer by being ‘a tourist in my town and maybe a quaint small town or two.’ Enjoying a walk around the boardwalk, having a snack at an outside cafe, have a coffee at a new coffee-house, check out a new art gallery, it has changed how I live my days.  I only have to water my lawn and flowers for three months, the only project this year is fill the holes in my backyard from the trees I had removed and maybe extend my patio. I live in a great neighborhood with awesome neighbors, have a nice little house that really feels like a vacation year round. 

I do not have the money to build an outdoor kitchen, a fire pit, a swimming pool, or an outdoor fireplace. I will leave that to my home where I go to celebrate my can’t take care of this anymore years. I know it is a growing trend to have an outdoor retreat for the family. I am glad families are investing into the future with grand kids someday, but for now, they can enjoy a yard where it is a home away from home stay-cation spot. I have seen some beautiful homes nestled in the forest or by a lake. Why would you want to go anywhere else?  Some backyards are landscaped in multi levels. a great place to pitch a couple tents and a fire pit. Mom and daughter afternoon pool day. Pack your towel and sunscreen in a tote bag and carry it to the pool party. Simple ways to create lasting memories that is passed on. 

 

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Starting Out

March 21, 2018 at 9:42 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, Life beyond parenting, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , , )

When my husband and I were barely married, we were blessed to find our fist place to call home. I remember the nice new trailer was set inside a retirement village. We were living in our park for a year when I found out I was pregnant. The manager informed us we would have to move after the new baby was six month old. As luck would have it, the previous owners came moved back to town and wondered if we would like to sell the trailer. Well, we pondered, no, we said yes right away and began packing not knowing where we were going to move next.

While I was at work one afternoon, my husband and my mom were grocery shopping, and decided to look for our forever home. ( I always wondered why I was never invited to come “look” with them. I guess Jerry wanted to surprise me. It is a good thing I am not picky because I can just hear some couples fight. Jerry saw the for sale sign in the yard. The owner was outside watering his wife’s flowers and waved as Jerry drove by. The young man was friendly and told him to bring me back this evening and look the place over. When I got off work, Jerry was waiting for me at my parents home. He told me he had a surprise for me. We went over and stepped inside the door, and both knew we came home. Three Months later, our son Levi was born.

It is hard to believe it has been thirty two years since we moved into our home. We had the struggles most new homeowners have. Money was tight, we were about to have our baby, energy was running lower than the money and we did not have one thing on our dining room wall for one year. I kid you not. The more I was criticized for my decorating style or lack of as one put it, I did not care anymore. My husband had an illness, I had a new baby and you should have heard our arguments about what to put on the dining room wall. Looking back it is funny now, but it is funny how people perceive others and what their home should look like. Home decorating is an ongoing process. As I lived in my home longer, I started to put the house together more with a style. I have been blessed with Victorian pieces I have either bought or was given to me over the years. I love coming home everyday.

I often wondered just for fun if my late husband and my son could come back for an afternoon, what would they think. I think Jerry would marvel at what I had accomplished without his laughing comments. My son would be surprised I turned his old bedroom into my dressing room. I think they would both be happy I created such a lovely home for myself. I kept my husbands office, but the walls are no longer plain white, they are now a soft peach. I am using my son Levi’s computer, and I am displaying a few of the special gifts Jerry had given to me on display. My bedroom is painted a soft blue/green color with nice floral bedding. (He never minded the pretty bedspreads my mom bough me for my birthdays). My dear friend came over ten years ago and refreshed my bedroom for me. I laugh at the thought now but she wondered how long it had been since the room was touched. Seventeen years it was time I think.

I think with age comes confidence. Jerry and I were excited about owning our first home, a new trailer. We were lucky because it was pretty much decorated for us. We made some lasting friendships along the way. When we moved into our forever home, we were blessed to have neighbors with kids for our son to grow up with.  I would not trade the early years for anything.We were young , had our first baby coming, and we were both tired. I had always wished I had my dad, my brother, and both my Aunts talent for drawing, water colors, or oil paintings. I have several displayed in my home. My one Aunt gave me the best compliment one day. I told her I wished I was as talented in painting like the rest of the family. She told me “you are talented Julienne. Not many can put a house together like you have and have it look as nice as you do.” It warmed my heart to have more confidence in my abilities and then I realized it was not that I could not decorate, I have another person living here and I have to make him happy also. it is fun to look back on the lean years, raising our families and now the empty nest years. I must say , I have lived a pretty good life so far and looking forward to many more.

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Vacation Planing

February 2, 2018 at 9:33 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, Life beyond parenting, Memoir, Middle age) (, , , , )

 

 

Today is another unseasonably warmer day. I took advantage of the sunny morning by having my moms gardener help me start my backyard makeover. I have been wanting to remove a few sad-looking pine trees for a couple of years. I could not believe the change taking out a couple of trees made – I can almost see a normal backyard again. I am planning on adding butterfly attracting plants where my trees once were, and adding shrubs along the back fence.

I found out the hard way last Winter it is difficult to have a lush planting bed in your front yard when you have a metal roof. Yep, four feet f snow dropped down on by shrubs last year and split them in half.  I planted a Hydrangea bushes last Spring and had a beautiful front garden. I did not however plan for the snowy conditions thumping my poor bushes flat. I am told they will come back, just trim them in the Spring. The older I get, I hope I getting a little wiser about how to care for my yard. I am not a gardener by any means, but I would like to have a simple yard I can enjoy in the warm months.

In a couple of weeks, I will be on my Stay-cation. I decided to put my money into fleshing up my home instead of traveling. My backyard is a good start. I feel good that I have less to worry about later. I can take some time and plan what I would like my outdoor retreat to look like. Even though it is still cold outside, I can look out the sliding glass doors and see the birds flying around the trees, I open the door a crack to hear them chirping to one another. I visit my friend and pass moose eating the neighbors trees. I went out to dinner the other night and a small deer walked across the road in front of me. I would rather stay here at home and enjoy what I have all around me than travel to a city and hear traffic, horns honking, another smoggy day, and maybe a day at the beach. The older I get, I like staying home surrounded by those I love to get together with.

Some of my friends are envious that I own my home. My husband and I found our forever home when I was pregnant with our son. Jerry was able to live in our home four years until he passed away from complications of his disease. I raised our son here until he moved out to help care for his grandma after his grandpa passed away. I was now an empty nester. This took some getting used to. You always dream when your child moves out, he is starving and begging to eat dinner with you. Not the case, I had to visit my mom or my neighbor to see my son. At least I saw him on Taco Tuesday every week. I look back at this time with fondness. My son died in 2007 when he involved in a fatal car accident. he was only 20.

I turned Levis’ old bedroom into my dressing room after he moved out. I love getting dressed in the morning and putting on my pajamas at night. I remember the phases his room went through,from cowboy bedspreads, to Ninja Turtles, Football Fantasy, and finally Military. When Levi was fifteen, he painted his bedroom a hideous shade of green while I was working. I came home that evening, he thought I would be mad at him and his friend. I told him he had to live with his choice not me. He turned the room into a cave with netting on the ceiling, his bed in the closet, and a sickly green color on the walls. he was happy in there. After he moved out, I painted the room a pretty beige color with Victorian accents on the wall. ( I know what you are thinking, he would not want to come home now anyway). This wasn’t my motive. It was a way for me to deal with the fact my son had moved out. All I had home was his cat-who was a great source of company. I think the cat talked more than Levi did.

Seasons come and go in our lives. I try to enjoy each one as it comes along. I enjoy all four season here, I get together with dear friends as much as possible. Sometimes, I stop over to see friends  when the grandkids are having a sleepover.   I have been asked if I was angry with God because I have lost both husband and son and have no grandchild.  I tell them no; I would have a hard time enjoying my grandchild if Levi was not here to share in the joy with me.My life took another direction than I had expected, but, I am able to care for my aging mom, I have a job in health care I love, a good church with plenty of love and support, a house I love to hang out in, and knowing my husband and son looks down from heaven and smiles upon my life gives me the most joy and courage to carry on.

 

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