Monday, June 24, 2019

Book Review: Breaking Vases by Dima Ghawi




A stunning and inspiring biography


Have you ever read a biography and felt the author became a friend you’d like to meet in person? Dima Ghawi is the author I’d like to meet. 

In Breaking Vases, Dima writes about her life growing up in the Middle East in an upper middle-class home under continuous oppression as a female in her country. Reading about her life was an eye-opening experience, transporting me to a place I have only seen in movies. The vivid details she weaves throughout her book are captivating, painting a clear picture of the culture she lived. 

Her writing is both poetic and honest, including her worst experiences and her happiest memories. Dima does not attack her family and culture. She suffered, and doesn’t hide what she felt, but she also remembers and shares what she did love. She persevered and overcame horrendous challenges while remaining kind and optimistic. She inspires the reader to hope and follow dreams for a better life. 

Dima Ghawi was the winner of the 2018 Writer’s Digest Self Published Book Contest and fully deserves the prize. Not only would I like to meet this amazing, accomplished woman, I would love to read her future works.

******

Visit my website at: francesjudge.com

Saturday, June 8, 2019

And the Night Goes On





Andrew, our second oldest, at age three, 
when he wore overalls and slept in his racecar bed


Let me tell you, this was a dark and stormy night, of another kind. 

Sitting across from my three-year-old son at the dinner table, I tilted my head, like our Yorkie when she is trying to understand what we’re saying. “Does Andrew look a little green?” I asked my husband.  

He glanced up from his pasta. “He looks fine. If he was sick, he wouldn’t have eaten his dinner.”  

The plate still had a mound of squiggly noodles, his favorite. He ate about half. 

His five-year-old brother, Stephen, continued his car noises in between mouthfuls. He looked fine. Sounded fine. 

“Andrew, do you feel ok?” 

“My tummy hurts.” He scrunched his little nose and pushed the plate away as if it were his enemy or a serving of his most hated vegetable, broccoli. 

Pale skin with a green hue isn’t cute, especially on a three-year-old. By now I knew what was coming. You know what’s coming. Ooh, the dread…wondering if there is any way to prevent the inevitable. 

“Let’s get you ready for bed.” No argument, or begging to read “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” for the billionth time. This was not good. 

“Do you think you might throw up now?” 

“No.” His eyes looked glossy, filling up with tears. And filling my eyes with tears too. 

“Okay. You’ll be fine. Just need to sleep and you’ll wake up and feel like Superman.” Was I lying to my little boy? I slid his blond bangs to the side and kissed his forehead. 

I turned off the lights and went to bed, not to sleep much, only listen. Counting cricket chirps eventually forced my eyes closed until three in the morning. Then the song of groans began with an exploding "Gaahh!" intermingled with coughing and a splashing sound. Was I dreaming? 

“Please, let this not be as bad as it sounds.” 

It was worse. 

Backtrack to when Stephen was two and we got him the cool Little Tikes car shaped bed. He loved it, and Andrew loved getting it when his brother moved up to a regular bed. But this day, I regretted that purchase. 

I ran to Andrew’s room when I realized this was not a dream. Too late. He was hunched over, gagging in between exploding vomit everywhere. Ev-er-y-where! Stepping over the peach-colored pond, I scooped him up to bring to the bathroom for a wash down. The worst part is that he couldn’t go back to bed until I cleaned the mess. Not something to put off until tomorrow. 

Aside from the pond, which was hard enough to mop, chunks of thrown-up noodles and glop filled every crevice of the adorable car bed. And I couldn’t complain that this is the worst thing moms have to do while Andrew was crying in the bathroom. 

It took about an hour to get it scrubbed and ready with fresh sheets. Finally, we were all back to sleep at five in the morning…until I heard the groaning song coming from Stephen’s room.  

It was a long night, but the storm of sickness ended in twenty-four hours. 

I’m thankful God doesn’t give us more than we can handle each day. He didn’t tell me: “This is nothing—just wait until a hurricane destroys your home and you are staying in a small space of two rooms and have five sick kids throwing up in their pastel colored Easter bowls.” 

Some things I’d rather not know ahead of time. Thank you, Lord.



P.S.



God doesn’t say the words “won’t give us more than we can handle,” but He does offer us the help we need to get through any situation—even sick days. One of my favorite Bible verses is found in the book of Matthew.  

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-30 

God will give us the rest we need. I find comfort in those words. Aah…rest. 

*******
This story received first place in the Faithwriter's Weekly Contest for the topic "sick."

You can visit Francy at her author website: Francesjudge.com

Or check out her book on Amazon: Randi's Steps

Thursday, March 7, 2019

A Note to Nurses







I am not a nurse. I wasn’t born with the genes for nursing, but I work alongside nurses each day. They’re busy from the second they clock in at the nursing home until they leave, often working overtime to finish their patient notes or working a double shift. Some residents are demanding and unappreciative, yet the nurses still devote their time to providing the best care. They have bus-size more patience than me.

Last week, I had the surprise of observing from the flip side—from a hospital bed, a humbling position. From the moment the admitting nurse handed me a white cotton gown with the blue diamond print, snaps on shoulders, and open back, I was humbled. The ties, dangling at the side, are completely useless and do nothing to improve the silhouette. One size fits all.

Lying on that hospital bed, I was quickly transformed into a patient, dependent on nursing care. It’s hard to do much when your arm is attached to an IV pole. Of course, I wanted to get better, so I let the nurses invade my personal space and check vitals every hour. I appreciated their compassion, their thorough care and friendly smiles even at 4:00 AM.

I was thankful for each act of kindness. After a few days there, when I was desperate to get clean, one nurse wrapped my IV in plastic and tape so it wouldn’t get wet, and I could shower. Another nurse stopped to talk to me about the books she enjoys and ask what I’ve written—took my mind off where I was for the moment. In the morning, a nursing assistant sang “Jesus is the Answer,” a church song I loved from years ago, while she made my bed. Nurses were often in my room helping the patient next to me. She was suffering with excruciating pain and called for help day and night. The nurses answered every time. And the call bells kept ringing.

I’m home now, but I’ll remember the faces of the nurses—the light in a depressing place. I thank God for all those blessed with the nursing gene. They are an example of “The Good Samaritan,” what God desires us all to be.

  •            The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40 

  •          “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”                Galatians 6:2 

  •          “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



 Visit my author website at: francesjudge.com
  

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Writer's Digest 87th Annual Competition






Time to celebrate! I received my copies of this year’s Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition Collection. I have entered this contest for years and have only won two honorable mentions. I never thought I would win first place. There were over 5300 entries this year for the nine categories. I always pray before writing, so I have to thank God for this blessing.

I encourage you to persevere in your writing endeavors. Keep writing. Keep submitting. Consider rejections as steps to improve. You can’t succeed without trying.  

“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15:7

You can buy your copy of the 2018 winning stories (only $10) at this link:

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas 2018









 
FROM THE BRANCHES
By Frances Judge



Memories dangle

from the branches of our decked-out tree;

gold bead garland snakes around

treasures hung haphazardly—

Backwards and tangled



Popsicle stick squares,

sprinkled with glitter, frame silly boy smiles,

laughter I could hold forever,

blessings worth tears and trials,

And whispered prayers



Some decorations

span three generations; one Wise Man persevered;

though his orange robe tattered,

his gift will still be revered—

Calls for celebration



Ruby ballet shoes,

trimmed with gold ribbon from the year of pink lace;

Crystal girl angels declare

the great gift of God’s grace.

Share the good news



Displayed at the core,

a special glass ball, painted a violet night;

Messiah sleeps in a stable,

cradled beneath divine light.

“O come let us adore…”



Memories transcend

time, from the branches of our love-filled veins,

displaying gifts of thankfulness

to our Savior, Christ who reigns.

His love never ends



“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

This Is Us After Thanksgiving











Post-thanksgiving, when the turkey carcass had been thrown away, the grease cleaned off the counters, and hundreds of dishes washed, I couldn’t wait to go to bed and read a book. It was 2:00 AM. I have heard other homes quiet down by that hour. Out of our 4 sons and 1 daughter ages 15-26, only the oldest prefers sleeping before midnight. 

I had one more task to accomplish—brushing our little dog’s teeth—a task neither one of us particularly enjoys. As I turned on the faucet to wet Keyra’s scraggly, chewed toothbrush, I found myself victim of my kids’ favorite prank. They wrapped duct tape around the hand-held sink sprayer head, so when the unaware hand washer, me, turns on the faucet, the handle is squeezed and shoots water everywhere. I was not amused. I was too tired and cold to enjoy being drenched.  

They said it wasn’t meant for me as they giggled. Hmm. At that moment, I forgot the day’s theme of thankfulness. No, not a hint of it left. I did grumble: They didn’t do anything to help today…and all they do is a stupid prank. Ungrateful blah blah blah…I should have gone to bed. I needed sleep but decided to handle my aggravated feelings first in the most mature way, of course. I’d get them back.  

My version of a prank: while they were still playing games in the living room, I tossed all their bedding, comforters, pillows, sheets and anything else floating around into the hall. Ha! So…when they are finally tired and want sleep, they’ll have to remake their beds. I’m sure that will teach them. I’m not sure what, but something. Mom can sink to their level of immaturity. 

The next morning, I was over it. Why was I angry? This is raising boys. Pranks, jokes, teasing, laughter and hugs. Now, as young men, not much has changed.  They can still drive me crazy, and I still love them. I am still thankful for them. I’m thankful my Heavenly Father still loves me even when I do something spiritually immature. 

A Bible verse I should memorize: 

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of The Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:16-17.  

Well, then. I need some work. I doubt my revenge prank was done in the name of The Lord.  Got to pray more, sleep more, laugh more, grumble less. 

“Let perseverance finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:4  

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” Psalm 103:8

    
I have much to be thankful for, most of all that God is patient and doesn’t give up on me.


Saturday, October 27, 2018

My Shopping Nightmare




THIS IS NOT ME



If you have ever watched the movie Terms of Endearment, you must remember that humiliating scene at the supermarket. That was me last night. Tired after work, I drove with my oldest son, Stephen, to CVS for a few items because…you know they did use the word Northeaster for the storm coming. And of course we can never find the fifty flashlights and batteries we bought in the past years. And three gallons of milk might not be enough for our four grown-up sons and teenage daughter. 

I prefer using the self-checkout line so I have control, can change my mind, decide I don’t really need a bag of M&Ms, but none of those registers were working at CVS last night. The young blond didn’t look happy that I had about twenty items—I had to get more stuff because…you know when a storm is coming, you need extras like macaroni and cheese and soup and toothpaste. Anyway, I’m holding out my important CVS card and coupons because…of the storm…I got more stuff than expected and couldn’t have the total go over the sixty dollars in cash I brought. Then the girl hits total before she notices my coupons held in front of her nose.  

“Ugh.” She sighed. “I’m going to have to ring everything all over again. You have to give me the coupons before I hit total.” 

I didn’t say that she should have asked if I had coupons before hitting total or this wouldn’t have happened if they ever fixed the stupid self-checkout registers. I just watched her miserable face as she rechecked the items. If I brought more money, I would have skipped the coupons, but couldn’t do that since I cut it too close. It was the storm’s fault. 

Somehow I miscounted. The total was sixty-two-something, and I had sixty-one something in my wallet. A line was forming behind me, so I handed her a toothpaste. “Can you take this off?” 

She sighed again. “I’ll have to start all over and recheck everything. Once I hit total, I can’t go back.” 

“Okay. I might have it.” I mumbled as I fished around my pocketbook with hope of finding some loose change. Nothing. Now would be a great time for the rapture, Lord. I want to disappear. My cheeks were on fire now as I called for Stephen, who was waiting by the exit, to come over and help. “Do you have a dollar?” 

He held open an empty wallet. 
At this point, I panicked. “Give me your credit card, and I’ll pay you back.” 

I was thankful when he swiped his card so it was done, but I still had to pack my twenty-something items in the two bags I brought. Too late to pay for another bag. When I’m anxious, my hands feel like they’ve got butter-slathered mittens on trying gather falling cereal boxes. No help from the blond who didn’t smile.

Stephen helped me grab the rest of the stuff, and I rushed out without looking at the faces of the people in line. At least no one said anything out loud. 

Stephen smiled. “That was fun.” 

“I’m never shopping again.” 

I realized two things when I got home: One. I accidentally bought the more expensive paper towels—the reason I was off by a dollar. Two. I forgot the flashlights and batteries.

If the Northeaster slams us, at least we’ll have plenty of toothpaste and the heavy duty paper towels to clean up what we spill in the dark. 

Reflection:

Why was I so embarrassed at such a small flake of life? Paying a cashier in an orderly fashion is hardly a death or life matter.  The answer has to be pride. I don’t want to make mistakes no matter where I am or what I’m doing, big or small. God doesn’t care about perfection; he cares about our heart and how we treat others. Maybe in my failure, God was pleased I kept my mouth shut. 

Scripture verses to think about:

·          “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” James 4:10

·          “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” James 3:13

·          “Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:18





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