Monday, May 29, 2017

Pomp and Circumstance along the Highway


Stephen walking the highway procession to graduation

The Graduate!

The Graduate with mom and sister

The Graduate with Dad

Stephen, age one, just beginning his life's adventure


Yesterday our firstborn graduated from college. Imagine the band playing “Pomp and Circumstance,” taking pictures outdoors with the sun shining on our son’s cap and gown and smelling the fresh cut grass which brings to mind new growth and new beginnings as our graduate enters the next chapter in his young adult life. Okay, now erase that picture because that’s someone else’s graduation.  

Since FIT is in Manhattan, Stephen told us the graduation was going to be at Radio City Music Hall, where it was when I graduated from the same school. We were all set to take the train in and celebrate Stephen’s special day by going out to a nice restaurant after the ceremony. Not sure how or when plans changed, but three days before his graduation, Stephen informed us it was being held at the Arthur Ashe Stadium, next to Citi Field. That changed everything. 

He had to be there by nine o’clock, so we left early to allow for the usual rush hour traffic. Who picked this time? Three blocks away from our house, I prayed for a safe drive in the rain. I think God whispered, “The rain is the least of your worries. You forgot the tickets to graduation.” That was a “Phew!” moment. We only wasted ten minutes turning around and still had plenty of time to get him there early. 

But traffic. And more traffic. By the time we reached the exit, the line of traffic stopped moving. Thirty minutes passed and we hadn’t moved an inch. We saw one graduate hop out of a car and start walking along the highway…then another…and another. Stephen threw on his robe and joined the procession. In pouring rain, young ladies dressed in high heels walked in mud. Stephen couldn’t find his dress shoes that morning, so he wore sneakers—which he decided to tie in the rain. 

From the time Stephen got out to walk, another hour passed before we were able to park. And from this long-awaited parking spot, we had to walk twenty minutes in the rain to get to the stadium. Stephen had my only umbrella, but we had hoods. Even though we were over an hour late, we didn’t miss anything. Thank God they delayed the ceremony, or they’d have had a lot of empty seats among the graduates. 

In all the craziness of the drive there, I forgot to get emotional. My thoughts were more like: “I wish Stephen decorated his cap so I could find him among the sea of blue squares. How many more names do they have to call? Where are we going to eat? I’m hungry.” All sentimental feelings would trail behind until basic needs were met. 

I didn’t think of the day he was born, or his first steps; our homeschool days, or watching him play sports; his high school years of learning to play the guitar and trying to become a rock star, or his first two years majoring in classical music before discovering his love for art and computer animation… and all the experiences in between the years. I didn’t think about the infinite number of times I prayed for him since I first cradled his newborn body in my arms. I didn’t think about how blessed we’ve been all these years.

Okay, now I’m ready to cry. I am also excited to see Stephen’s passion to do what he loves.

Just as my husband and I trusted God to help us raise our son, we have to trust Him to guide his future. One down, four to go.






 

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Proverbs 22:6











Visit my website: francesjudge.com

Sunday, March 26, 2017

I Can Do All Things . . . with some help









If you have ever tried to create a website, and are a newbie like me, you will understand why I want to celebrate. After two weeks of pulling my hair out, I finished it. At least it’s functional…could use some fancy improvements, but for now I’m happy.

On my not-new-enough laptop, the program for creating the website was so glitchy. Sometimes I could swear the screen had hiccups. It often cooperated like a two year old in the middle of a temper tantrum. Whenever I tried to drag words, they went too far one way then too far the other way…until I screamed for my son to help. In ten seconds, Elijah typed some numbers and moved my words exactly where I wanted them. My thirteen year-old daughter helped with the slide show of my illustrations. I had pictures disappear then reappear and sometimes hide behind an invisible wall. Just when I thought I got rid of an extra picture, the crazy wall would open and let the twin drawings say hello. Thank God for computer savvy kids.

A scripture comes to mind: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 Creating a website may not be seem like a big deal to most—I realize this is not finding a cure for a disease or helping the environment—but it was a goal I set, something I wanted to accomplish without a clue of how to get it done. I like goals, and it’s okay to ask for help. And when those larger problems arise, the problems that seem impossible to overcome, the Lord wants us to know He is there to give us the help we need. He is world savvy.
So now I have a website.  Frances Judge / Inspirational Author & Illustrator

Now what? Try skydiving? Climb Mount Everest? Maybe I'll write with God's help.


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Just A Line




Drawing by my son, Elijah Judge


I had plans to become a famous artist. If I didn’t achieve instant recognition, I would teach at Harvard University until galleries began requesting my paintings. But here I am…after four years of art school, I stand on an alphabet rug and attempt to gain the attention of fifteen pairs of eyes. 


Instead of demonstrating the importance of the subtle variations in line thickness as the artist feels the edge of his subject through his medium, whether charcoal or paintbrush, I draw a line with chalk. “Can anyone tell me what I drew?” 


Many hands wiggle in the air, so I call on the last hand raised, belonging to Anniah with large eyes and braids to her waist. “It looks like my shoelace before my mommy ties it into a bow.” 


I need to change the subject before tears well as the class misses mom and wants to go home. “Well, it could be a shoelace. Does anyone else have an idea?” 


I point to Liam who bounces on his seat. “Is it silly string?” 


“Could be. Let’s start at the beginning and call this a line. Everything begins with a line. With a line we can form shapes…and with shapes we can form objects we see or something we imagine.” 


“What’s imujin?” 


“You imagine all the time. Does anyone like to build with Legos?”  


“Me! Me! I do!”  


“When you first get your box of Legos, you probably follow the directions to build the car on the box, but what do you do when it falls apart?” 


“I throw the pieces.” 


“Okay. That might hurt someone. Maybe you can build something else that you imagine. A spaceship or a monster.” 


I hand out the favorite medium for kindergarteners—crayons. “First draw a straight line. Then draw a squiggly line that looks like it’s dancing. Next draw an angry line. Now take your favorite color and draw a happy line.” As I suggest ideas, I stroll around the tables admiring the abstract designs they’ve created. My heart smiles. 


Ryan looks up at me and says, “Look…I made music with my lines. It’s Mozart.”  


“Are you sure you’re only five-years-old?”


When they appear to drift into thoughts of playtime and lunch, I call them to the front of the classroom. “Does anyone want to draw outside?” 


“Me! Me! Me!” 


I hand each student a clipboard with paper and a pencil, and we march outside. Two by two. “I’d like everyone to draw the lines they see around this courtyard. Some lines will be straight. Others will be bumpy.” 


It’s refreshing to hear birds singing and smell lilacs and fresh cut grass. I feel like starting a painting after school. The children are quiet as they scratch away at their paper. Maybe a few in the class will blossom into future artists.  


At the end of the class, the students hand me their paper and pencils. Anniah turns back to me and says, “You are the best teacher in the world!” She hugs me and skips out the door with the rest of the class. 


I remember praying that God would guide my future. Of course I meant future as an artist. He had a better plan for me.  Even though I won’t be teaching advanced courses here. I never had so much fun with a line.



*****




Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Words for the Weary








Our very tired guard dog
 

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 NIV

“Let us not become weary in doing good.” But sometimes I don’t even feel like being nice. Forget doing good! I’m tired. Irritable. Overwhelmed…in an Oscar the Grouch mood. All I want to do is hide from the dishes and dust that pile up while I work full-time. Is there any time left in my day to do good? God knows how hard it is for us to combat these emotions—He must, because he reminds us to persevere many times in His word. And He says He will help us.

Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me. Psalm 54:4, NIV.

Our little Yorkie runs around yapping most of the morning as she barks at neighbors who dare to walk their dogs. Usually she is able to leap up on our bed, but after a morning of playing guard dog, she will look up at me with pleading eyes, begging for some help with the jump. Of course I help her. Even if she gave me a headache barking for an hour, I love her and will help in her time of need. God loves us and will help us to overcome the obstacles that seem like mountains when we are tired. I can do good in His strength. I can have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…in His strength.

God wants strong children. I want strong children and hate to see them sitting for hours hugging their phones. If they don’t use their muscles, they’ll become weak and unhealthy, prone to injury. See, there’s a reason I nag. I’m the mom who knows what will benefit my children if they are willing to listen. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect, but he wants us to continue to strive for a goal—to emulate our heavenly Father.

I admire the nurses and nurses’ aides at the nursing home where I work. They can’t grow weary in doing good—it’s their job to be kind and helpful. They are able to persist in kindness no matter how difficult the resident’s demands. This humble attitude takes the strong character God desires in us.

So the moral of my blog…bark less, love more, trust in God to renew our strength each day.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2.






Sunday, February 19, 2017

This Saturday 2/18/2017






Coffee date with my husband. When I remember our love matters
more than burnt toast.



Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18. 

I started my day reading this scripture, one of my favorites because I need it drilled into my brain. My troubles are trivial compared to eternity, so why do I stress about the stupid stuff? Could be because I’m human. I want to be focused on the end of the race and what matters along the way.

So how did I do in listening to that scripture today? Hmmm.

  • Displayed morning bad mood when my toast burnt because husband changed the setting on toaster—
       it’s too early. Scripture hasn’t settled in my heart yet.
  • After the necessary eating breakfast and showering, I pulled a giant hairball out of the tub. Not very important, but satisfying to see the water go down. This got me motivated to clean the tub—
      good  for our house…eternity, not so much.

  • Ran with the dog and my daughter—
      good for our health.

  • Got mad at myself for not writing or reading enough and wasting my time—
      trivial problem, easily solved by turning off phone.

  • Got impatient when the kids took too long to get outside to play soccer—
      trivial, but come on…the sun goes down before they can find a pair of socks.
Trivial, but rather annoying.

  • Played soccer with kids on a basketball court to avoid stepping on geese poop—
     enjoying the blessings of family and fresh air even though a fight ensued
about boundary lines  and which team really won.

  • Went out for coffee with my husband—
     thankful for him, our quiet time together, and caffeine.

  • Watched a movie—Woman in Gold—a great movie that reflects back to the atrocities of the
      holocaust—  
      good for inspiring my mind and heart. 

And that’s my Saturday, skipping through the day with my mind on mostly trivial trials as I try to keep my eyes focused on God’s blessings. I didn't save the world or move any mountains, but took baby steps in my walk with the Lord. I need to memorize that verse and trust God to help me. If I don’t, I’ll walk around with this moping face of my childhood.

My sister glows like an angel as I sulk in the background, jealous of the attention she's getting.
I never want to look like this again.



*******
You can read more stories by Francy:
Novel:
Award winning short stories:



Saturday, December 24, 2016

Unwrapping Love















UNWRAPPING LOVE

By Frances Judge





If love were wrapped in golden paper, tied with silken strings,

It couldn’t reach around the world

Or open up its wings.

Love isn’t placed on pedestals, positioned for display;

It needs the flexibility

Of a potter’s clay.

Love doesn’t need embellishment to prove its fortitude;

Its strength is in its meekness

And forgiving attitude.

Love risks its life and swims the depths to save a drowning friend,

But Christ risked all for enemies,

And who can comprehend?

So love was wrapped in swaddling clothes and destined once to die;

Christ would pay the sacrifice,

God’s love, exemplified.

He didn’t wear His royal robes though he was born a king;

He wore the love His Father gave

Of which the angels sing.

Love doesn’t wait for storms to stop to cross the swirling seas;

Jesus walked across the water,

Turned tempest into breeze.

Love washes feet, love heals the blind, love cries with those who mourn,

And has power to erase the past

Of those who are reborn.

So love unwrapped its burial clothes and prepared to reach the nations,

With angels calling all the earth,

“Join the celebration!”






Wednesday, November 30, 2016

24th Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards ... Book Review










Randi's Steps did not win the Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards,
BUT...
The judges wrote a wonderful review that I'm thrilled to share.


"Randi’s Steps is a beautiful, bittersweet story told by Francie, the little girl neighbor who befriends Randi when she moves in next door. Judge captures a wonderful narrative voice, real and warm and very human. Francie loves having a best friend like Randi, who is different in seemingly tiny ways, like being Jewish, but who loves enough of the same things that Francie loves to make her the best of best friends. I liked the description of Randi’s Tinker Bell laugh with the occasional snort (13). Right away, Randi is described as being subject to headaches, which of course adults will understand. I think Judge conveys a progress of Randi’s illness perfectly. For all that Francie loves Randi, Francie is healthy and in need of healthy friends. She reacts with joy to happy playtime and reluctance to having to endure hardship. When she is called upon to accompany Randi to the hospital, her deepest thoughts reveal she is not having a great time. Judge uses wry humor and perception, on her narrator’s part, to demonstrate the misery suffered by children with cancer. She also uses deft strokes to show that Francie, being healthy, needs to live, and is in many ways as doomed as Randi to experience weakness insofar as Randi’s illness is concerned. Francie tries to be the best of best friends and fails, just as Randi fails to survive. This is a brilliant story told by a talented author. The cover art is simple and fetching, revealing a sub title that doesn’t show up as much as it might. Red letters might have been better, as in the title itself!"


In their judging system, 1 = Needs improvement; 5 = Outstanding


Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 5


Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 5

Production Quality and Cover Design: 4

Plot and Story Appeal: 5

Character Appeal and Development: 5

Voice and Writing Style: 5


(Judge, 24th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.)



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