Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Changing Dreams

Model drawing I did at FIT

Found the final term garment I made at FIT
My Ladybug dress

When I was a junior, I knew exactly what I was going to do after high school. I only applied to one college, the Fashion Institute of Technology. A friend of the family graduated from FIT and raved about their fashion design program and the high reputation of the school. Her passion clinched my decision…I would become a successful fashion designer.  

I was so sure.

My dad urged me to apply to other schools “just in case you don’t get accepted.” He read how hard it was to get into FIT. Not a good idea to “throw all my eggs in one basket,” but that’s what I did. I earned the grades, wrote the essay, and prepared a portfolio of my artwork. I was confident until I stepped onto the city campus. Nothing like a million people to make one feel small. And the most interesting, stylish, beautiful of the million stood in the same room as me, waiting for their interview to attend FIT. My thoughts:

·         I’m as fashionable as a country mouse.

·         My portfolio is shrinking.

·         Why did I wear a pink skirt? I should’ve died my hair pink instead.

Three professors looked through my artwork while asking me questions about my art, life, and goals. They didn’t seem that impressed with my artwork until they saw my pencil sketch of a chick breaking through an egg. I explained it was a project for the theme “trapped.” That one drawing may have been what got me into FIT. It had nothing to do with fashion. 

I should have realized then, I was an artist, not a fashionista, but I tried. I bought vintage clothing downtown and died my hair magenta. Black clothes replaced pink and pastels. After a year of working my butt off toward my dream, my dream changed. New goal: 

·         Finish my second year in fashion design and switch to illustration

·         Give up sewing—never pick up a needle and thread again, avoid buttons, bury my sewing machine

·         Find the peace my roommate has in knowing God…she didn’t have nervous breakdowns doing her homework 

I was so sure.  

After having a blast as an illustration major for two years, my direction yielded again to my latest plans…get married. Our wedding was two months after graduation. Since I got involved with a church in Manhattan, a friend there offered me a job working for Bridal Guide Magazine. I couldn’t have planned a better job to have while engaged. 

At this point in my young life, I thought I finally knew my direction. Married, living in the suburbs thirty minutes from Manhattan, working as a freelance illustrator, learning about Jesus. 

I was so sure because I didn’t know the surprises life would bring as God braided my dreams, desires, and experiences into a better plan.  

Somehow my original career choice to become a fashion designer led me here: 

·         Managed a group home with my husband for mentally handicapped adults one year

·         Blessed with five kids and the chance to homeschool them for many years

·         Discovered my passion for writing surpassed my love of art

I was stubborn, but God used my stubbornness and determination to lead me to Him. I can’t say I’m sure of what I’ll do tomorrow or next week or next year, but I’ll continue to strive toward goals and see where He leads me.

Combining passions: My novel. Cover designed by me.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Bad Tooth on Good Friday

Painting (section of larger work) by Eugene Judge

I have a toothache. A week ago I chomped down on a hard piece of granola, about the consistency of cement, and chipped an old filling. My family knows how obsessed I am about cleaning my teeth. I floss at least three times a day and brush at least four times a day…but I was less diligent as a kid. So this old filling in my molar cracked through to the tooth. The dentist knocked out the half that hung by a thread. It didn’t hurt then, but after he placed a temporary something to shape a tooth, it gradually ached, gradually throbbed, and felt infected. Oh, the regret for loving junk food as a child!

Today is Good Friday, and the day after Purim, so my dentist is on vacation. I will have to suffer until Monday morning. I never thought I’d look forward to a root canal, but I’m ready to do anything to rip out this pain.

I’m reminded of the pain Jesus suffered. My little pain, intolerable to me, doesn’t even reach one percent of what Jesus endured. He didn’t complain when He was beaten, spat upon, tortured and finally hung on the cross. I can’t imagine that kind of agony. And to think He suffered this punishment that He never deserved in our place.

Isaiah 53 says it all:

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him. He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.

This is love. When I read this, my tiny tooth doesn’t hurt so much. I am humbled. I look forward to my mouth healing, but Jesus looked forward to His resurrection and victory over sin and death. He would join the Father and make a way for His children to enter heaven’s gate. He saw the place of no more pain, or sorrow or tears. Or toothaches. He was willing to suffer because He loves us more than we can imagine and wants us to follow Him into His perfect kingdom.

A toothache won’t stop me from celebrating the most amazing day in history. Jesus is alive, and I choose to live in Him.


If you'd like to read other stories by Francy...


Anthology: Three poems, one short story

Monday, February 15, 2016

Family Fun in the Poconos

Some of our family’s winter fun…

Every January, my family stays in the Poconos for a long weekend with my parents, sister, brother-in-law, and nephew. We used to look forward to going to Daniels, a family resort, until it closed down two years ago. That place had enough activities to keep everyone busy-an indoor pool, ping pong, a pool table, scheduled competitions, sledding, night entertainment, and karaoke. We have great memories from that place. The last two years, my parents found a house to rent close to the same area, but we had to create our own entertainment.

Last year, the kids played monopoly at night—their version that included dares. They didn’t realize they were going to an indoor water park the next day when they wrote silly phrases in permanent marker all over my son’s back and arms. He got plenty of stares that day. 

This year aside from having fun snowboarding on man made snow, we drove to Hickory State Park to play Disc Golf. I’ve never heard of the game. We each had our own dog Frisbee that we threw toward a numbered basket, similar to miniature golfing. Two young men, the only other people at the park, showed us the proper discs meant for the game that work better than dog Frisbees, but who cares. Each person counted how many throws it took to get it inside. The fewer the better, like golf. It was a cold, fun time…and a Frisbee only got stuck in a tree once.

At night we played Pictionary on a white board and watched movies. The best part was being together with family. Nothing can replace those times together and the memories that last.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Invitation... a poem for Christmas 2015


By Frances Judge

Come follow me to the river of life,

Where I wash away sorrow and pain.

The paths might be winding, the mountains too steep,

But I’ll carry you through rough terrain.

Child don’t fear the swells of the ocean,

Or the trials that burden your soul.

My arms are outstretched and willing to save you

From winds that you cannot control.

Come follow me as shepherds and wise men

Who followed without hesitation.

They gazed at the star in wonder and awe

At the divine invitation.

Come as you are to the table of grace

                  Where forgiveness and joy are provided.                 

Before heaven’s time, the plan was in place

To redeem the lost souls and misguided.

Come follow me to the whispering sea;

Hear my thoughts that outnumber the sand.

Believe me, your Savior, the gift of the heart,

Delivered by God’s Holy hands.

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;
He is Christ the Lord.”
Luke 2:11


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Book Blog Tour for Randi's Steps

 My Book Blog tour begins with Double Decker Books.

You can enter the contest to win an Amazon gift card or

sign up to read a review and get a FREE copy of Randi's Steps

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Book Review: 21 Days of Grace

Fiction Devotionals Compiled by Kathy Ide

Kathy Ide combines heartwarming fiction with devotionals that bring a personal meaning to each story. These beautifully written stories, written by talented authors, touched my heart. I loved the depth of the characters—spanning from a homeless young girl to a faith-filled old man. The life applications helped me to relate the struggles each character went through to my own life. The stories demonstrate God’s love and grace. I enjoyed being able to finish a story a day on my lunch break and look forward to getting the next book in the series.
Review by Frances Judge
Authors featured: Kathy Ide; Rene Gutteridge; Cindy Woodsmall; Robin Bayne; Angela Elwell Hunt; Barbara Curtis; Cecil Murphey; Deborah Raney; Roxanne Anderson; Nancy Arant Williams; Kathi Macias; Diane Simmons Dill; Buck Storm; Dona Watson; Jeanette Morris; Amarilys Gacio Rassler; Carolyn Bennett Fraiser; Jeanette Hanscome; Tracy Higley; Nanette Thorsen-Snipes; DiAnn Mills; Lori Freeland

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Water Trance



Robins splash in a birdbath…without a care in the world. A breeze draws the earthy scent into the classroom, inviting me to leap into summer. Mr. Thomas points to the SMART Board and directs our eyes across a diagram of water dissolving rock as he drones on…

“Rain mixes with carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as it travels. This forms an acidic solution that dissolves calcite, the main mineral of karst rocks, where most caves form…” 

I wish I was climbing out of my cave, not just hearing about one. 

“This acidic water drips through cracks and fractures and creates tunnels and passageways like an underground plumbing system.” 

My own life has enough cracks and fractures to crumble into dust if I let it. What if I followed the tunnel that led to my dream instead? I’d be in New York City, designing graphic arts. 

“Ally, are you with us?” I nod. “Then please tell us how stalactites are formed.” 

“By a drip,” I answer, wishing I did my homework. Thank God the bell rings, so I won’t have to say more. 

Michelle grabs my arm as we leave. “Want to come to the mall with us after school?” 

“Can’t, sorry. Got to watch Tommy.” 

“You say that every day, girl... okay, next time. You’re not supposed to be your mom at seventeen.” 

She doesn’t get it.  

I like school. The order, routine, and even rules. Normal kids, mostly normal adults. Not like home. I pray every day something would change—something like my entire life. I’d settle for a morsel, but it never does. 

I toss the mail on the table, even the letter from the School of Visual Arts. I can’t read it now.
Tommy is running the water again. I’m surprised he didn’t flood the bathroom; the sink is filled half an inch from the top. I open the drain. “Hey, buddy.” 

“Hi.” He stays in his water trance. At thirteen, he already towers over me, so he kneels on the worn rug to be eyelevel with the faucet. His eyes are close enough to the water to get sprayed and wet his lashes. Sometimes he turns it almost off to watch it drip. Sometimes he counts the drips as they splatter in the sink. Sometimes he catches the drips in a bowl until it fills; then he dumps it and starts again…for hours. 

“Where’s Mom?” He doesn’t answer, but I know.  

I collect the empty glasses and wine bottle from the den. I drape a blanket over her on the couch, shut off the TV, and kiss her forehead. “Please don’t give up on us like Dad did,” I whisper and pray. 

The air conditioner is rattling and spewing lukewarm air. I kick it, but nothing changes. I shut it off and get an ice cube. I lie back on my bed and hold the ice an inch above my face. My eyes have to cross to look at it. I stare at the water beading around the surface. Some light filters through the edges. Droplets drip down my cheeks and pool at my neck. For just a moment, I see what my brother sees. Only the water. 

But I get restless after three minutes of water watching and get up to fry two grilled cheeses, maybe three if I can wake Mom. 

She is still sleeping when I tell Tommy to go brush his teeth for bed. He loves brushing his teeth; the problem is getting him to stop without throwing a fit. 

Finally, I curl up under my covers and peel back the envelope. “Congratulations…” I smell the envelope to make sure I’m not dreaming. 

But in the morning, I rip it up and walk Tommy to school. He drinks from his water bottle I packed for him and pours some on his hand. “Don’t waste it. You’ll be thirsty later.” He pours it until it’s empty. “Oh well.” 

When I get home Mom is at the table, holding a tissue to her nose. Fear runs through my veins for a second until she smiles. “Come here, Ally.” She holds an envelope.  

“Is something wrong?” In a normal family, I wouldn’t be surprised to see her awake. 

“You didn’t tell me you got into SVA.” 

“It doesn’t matter. It costs a fortune, and Tommy...” 

“This letter says you have a full scholarship. You deserve to go.” 

I blink back tears and read the letter and the rehab pamphlet she shows me. 

For the first time, I see an opening to my cave. I take Tommy outside, and we splash through the puddles.










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