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Monday, August 24, 2009

Wild West Christmas has arrived!

On Friday, someone knocked at my door, carrying two boxes of books. I said, "Oh, my books!"

The UPS delivery man said, "You must like to read."

I corrected him. "No. These are books I wrote. See, that's my name on the cover!"

Oh, the joy of having a new "baby" to show off. And I love our covers for Wild West Christmas. And I counted my blessings that I have had three books release this year.

So in the interests of shameless self-promotion, I'm going to quote from the back cover of Wild West Christmas.

"Sharp-shooting LUCY AMES is thrilled to join Major Paulson's Wild West Show. But is she setting her sights too high when she begins falling for budding evangelist Gordon Paulson? Would she be better off aiming for a stable, widowed rancher?"

My story, Lucy Ames, Sharpshooter, follows Charlsey's Accountant by Lena Nelson Dooley, and before A Breed Apart by Vickie McDonough and Plain Trouble by Kathlee Y'Barbo. Each novella tells the romance for a different sister in the Ames family.

Wild West Christmas is available from Barbour Publishing and coming soon to a bookstore near you.

Lucy Ames, Sharpshooter comes on the heels of my Book-of-the-Year-nominated novella Dressed in Scarlet, which came out last year. Next year, The Face of Mary will appear in another Christmas collection. That's right. Last week I found I get to write another Christmas story. I love 'em! The new contract gave me always-welcome reassurance that I have might the right decision to write full time, at least in August 2009.

Have a good week, everyone!

Monday, August 17, 2009

"E"-sy Does It: A Primer on Dementia

I don't care what the calendar says. There must have been a full moon last Saturday. Nothing else explains the bizarre behavior at the skilled nursing facility where Mom is staying.

At a nursing home, I've learned to tune out the moans, wails and mumblings of other residents and focus on Mom. If I can wheel a patient somewhere, or give a hug or ring for a nurse -- I do it. But otherwise, I have to tune out the excess noise.

On Saturday, a woman named Eloise wandered into Mom's room. Mom introduced her as Eloise Smith. She said Eloise Jones (I've forgotten the real names, but they were different). Mom asked is Smith was her maiden name. Eloise got a confused look on her face, said "That was a long time ago," and then started talking about a boy. She stood in a muddle, unclear where she was or why she was there, so I offered to take her back to her room.

Out in the hallway, I encountered two more E's: Evelyn and Edna. They had joined their wheelchairs in a fierce battle. Whenever Edna tried to move past Evelyn, Evelyn turned to block her passage. Evelyn accused Edna of stealing her blankets.

Eloise couldn't remember her room. And we couldn't get past the wheelchairs.

The blankets belonged to the nursing facility. But Evelyn had it in her mind that they were her blankets. When a nurse's aide intervened, she grumbled. "I'll sell them up north. I can get better prices there."

It was funny and sad, both at the same time.

I joked to Mom, "Is there an Emily, Esther or Earlene?" And thanked God that Mom's mind is sharp, she lives in today, even if she sometimes forgets small things. She is alert and positive, much more so than when I first arrived in Oklahoma.

I walk by a room full of patients every time I go to see Mom. They recognize me, smile, greet me. I feel shame for my previous perception of the elderly living in nursing homes: scary, unattractive, ... unworthy of my time or attention. Only as I see my mother's slide and I catch an Edna or an Evelyn on a good day, do I recognize these people are also God's children. Precious treasures who have lived full lives and deserve respect and love.

And the day comes every closer that I will join their ranks ... and pray someone will still love me.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Difference a Year Makes

Lately I have been reading my prayer journal entries from a year ago.

Man, did I struggle through my birthday. Every event made me miss Jolene all the more, my birthday especially.

This year I had the joy of spending the day with family. Eating ice cream with Mom (soft enough for her to manage). Going to Western Sizzlin' with Jaran and family. Watching Jordan's face go through every expression from disgust to delighted "give me more" as she tried all kinds of new foods: cottage cheese. lime jello. peas. And any number of other things.

Last year, Mom and I were struggling with whether or not she should have her heart valve replaced. Was the surgery successful? I don't know. She has gone downhill rapidly in these last few months, taking me with her on a journey that always arrives at an unexpected time.

A year ago, I asked God for patience, wisdom, courage ... and I still need all those things. And more.

Through good times and bad, surgery and recovery, contracts and rejections ... God is faithful. Praise the Lord that never changes.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Happy Birthday

To me!

I'm off this morning to take care of those darling granddaughters for a few hours then a day full of fun.

Talk with all of you later!