Jan 2, 2018

The ANWA Founder & Friends Blog

It's been Eleven Years!

I refer to the ANWA Founder & Friends Blog, which has been running for that length of time.

I'm Marsha Ward, the Founder of ANWA and the host of this blog. The original purpose, to illuminate ANWA and its authors, has been met. The additional goal to help other writers is now served in other, better ways. Therefore, it's time to end the blog and move onward to new adventures.

We've had many members on our Blog Team through the years. I want to acknowledge all these women and their wonderful blog posts, as well as our current Team. Included are two current Team Members who have been blogging along with me for the entire time: Kari Pike and Terri Wagner. Susan Cady Allred, Deb Graham, and Cindy R. Williams fill out the team. Thank you! Thank you all!

Now we're all moving on. We all have a lot to do in our lives as well as our writing careers, so I'm pretty sure the prick of losing this opportunity will not last long.

I will leave the blog up so that you can return and read your favorite posts from years gone by.

May you all have a wonderful New Year, full of joy and good cheer.

~Marsha Ward

Dec 29, 2017

Looking forward to 2018

I'm not gonna lie.  I was done with 2017 by about January 27th. And March 12th. And I'm pretty sure I begged for 2018 about 37 1/2 times throughout the year. Somehow I survived with all my fingers and toes still attached, though some family members didn't kept all their body parts. 

I've spent years telling myself, "As soon as I get through this, I'll (insert goal here)."  My great epiphany of 2017 was that life is not going to settle down for me. This is my normal and I'd better figure out some way to cope and move forward.  If things haven't settled down after seven years, they're not going to settle down. 

So I pulled up my big girl panties until I had a wedgie, pulled back my shoulders, and decided to push onward.

This year, I refuse to look back. Only forward.  Goals are set and excitement is building.  Instead of enduring the torrential downpour, I choose to dance in the rain, puddle-jump to my heart's content, marvel at the lightening shooting across the sky, and howl with the thunder as it vibrates through my bones.

No matter what life throws at you, I hope I find you dancing in the rain with me - it's always more fun when you have someone to splash with. May your new year be amazing and filled with wonder.

Happy New Year!

Dec 23, 2017

Be a Bonfire

 Be A Bonfire 

by Deb Graham

I have Seasonal Affective Disorder, as do about 10% of western Washington’s residents. It’s an inconvenient disorder to contend with during the gloomy, dank, dark, dismal, sunless, often rainy, never-ending winters that plague this area. Symptoms include a mad desire for light in any form, carbo-craving, fatigue and lethargy, and a little internal voice that chants, “HiberNATE! HiberNATE!” when attempting to do anything vaguely ambitious.

Days are entirely too short here; often, streetlights shine before school buses pass the house. The only treatment I’ve found that sometimes helps, besides running up the electric bill and surrounding myself with special lights, is to plan a trip. Planning a sunny journey mid-winter gives me something to look forward to, as well as boosting my spirits enough to make through until springtime. Conveniently, my mother lives in Florida. I make a point to visit her in the darkest part of the year, To Be Sure She’s Alright. Mind you, she’s just fine the rest of the year, but in the middle of winter, I’d better go see for myself, and take a week or more doing it. I admit it’s a little transparent, as ruses go, but it beats jumping off a high building.

I think about light a lot this time of year. I find myself drawn to Christmas lights and candles and lightbulbs and flashlights and lamps and stars, when they’re visible, which isn’t often around here. Did I mention it rains? And I think about the Savior, the Light of the World, the reason for the pretty little Christmas lights all around. An oft-repeated admonition of Jesus is found in Matthew, and a few other places as well throughout the scriptures.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
                      Matthew 5: 14-16

 The Lord is big on light, it seems, and expects us to shine.

Who am I to shine? This time of year, especially, I feel more like a weak, wet match than a bonfire. But let’s look at that match. Once lit, however fleeting or weak, it has the power to light a long-burning candle, a bonfire, a forest fire. When I taught my Girl Scout troop to light cooking fires, they did so under a sprinkler. It’s easy enough to light dry firewood, but to light rain-soaked wet wood, the kind we find north of Seattle ten months of any year, well, that’s a skill! They all succeeded in not only striking a spark, but boiling water and a single spaghetti strand soft enough to tie a square knot in.

As I sit in darkness, being a little candle, I feel mighty inadequate. And a thought comes to me: not one about a light big enough to cast a dim glow across a room, but a full-on summer-beach-sized bonfire. That’s the kind of fire to be; a roaring fire that gives so much light, tourists can smile from three miles down the beach, wishing they were included. That’s the kind of light I want to be, the kind of old that steered sailors from a rocky jetty, bigger than a birthday candle. I can do this through my writing as well as human interaction.

So is Letting My Light So Shine Before Men That They May See (My) Good Works a daunting task? Likely, but I can take small steps. I’m all about small good works, anything that pushes back the darkness a little more. My goal: Be a bonfire. Any spark has potential, right?

Dec 21, 2017

Christmas Blessings

by Kari Diane Pike

Having grown up in the snowy mountains of northwest Montana, I always struggle to get into "Christmas mode" without some snow and ice. Thank goodness for music and cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies and yummy cookie traditions.

This year has proven to be particularly difficult. Honestly, between health challenges and the recent loss of family members and close friends, I couldn't find it in me to drag out the tree and the boxes and the strings of lights. My husband knew it was bad when, after wandering a bookstore for nearly an hour with the intent of purchasing Christmas gifts, I turned to him and motioned toward the door.

"Get me out of here." 

"But you didn't buy anything. Where else you would like to go?" Doug put one arm around my shoulders and pushed the exit door open with the other. A cool breeze swirled through the door and I shivered. The ache in my heart and the fatigue of a long day made it difficult to walk let alone think and make decisions. All I wanted was my bed.

"Can we just go to church Sunday, sing a few Christmas hymns and listen to a couple of talks and go home and go to bed? Can we just call off all the celebrations this year? I can't do it."

So home we went. A little chocolate and good night's rest helped restore my mood for a day or two. When I realized I had 9 days until Christmas and I hadn't even started shopping yet, I kind of freaked out. 

Then Tuesday happened. 

There's nothing like a little "could have been deadly" accident to bring the important things back into perspective. Doug and Amy were driving north from Gilbert to Prescott Valley on I-17. Just before the Pinnacle Peak road exit on the north end of Phoenix, the semi in front of them changed lanes, revealing a hand truck in the road. With no time to react, they hit the hand truck and lost part of the front bumper along with a parking light and damage to cowling around the tire and some sensors. But no one got hurt!!! And the car was driveable.

The highway patrolman asked if they saw what they hit, because all he could find was a couple of wheels. The hand truck had disintegrated. We have insurance and they will cover a rental car while repairs are made. The mechanics couldn't believe everyone walked away uninjured. We are blessed beyond measure.

Tomorrow the grandchildren are spending the day here decorating cookies and having fun. We will go caroling and play games Saturday evening. Sunday we will change up our traditional Christmas Eve trip to the zoo and act out a family version of the nativity. Family members will perform musical/reading numbers and we will enjoy lots of food and laughter. There might even be a few gifts exchanged...(assuming I can get off the computer and go shopping!)
It's going to be a magnificent Christmas.

I hope your holidays are full of love and joy. Merry Christmas to all and a very happy New Year.