It’s Christmas Eve!

As I sit in the warm glow of our Christmas tree, I’m reminded of Christmases past. Childhood times where I waited, with my sister, in anticipation of opening presents and scoping out the tree while we waited for our parents to wake up. Sad times where there was an empty seat at the table and a loved one still missed.

The last two years have been hard on so many people who have lost loved ones or jobs. I admit it’s been mentally difficult to endure for me even though I haven’t lost as much as others.

I’ve been looking forward to this Christmas because it’s a joy to see my young adult daughter still delight in the wonder of Christmas. She loves to decorate and bake for Christmas. She loves dressing up to take Christmas pictures with her boyfriend and going out on Christmas Eve to see all the extravagant house lights in our area. I know that one day she’ll have a home of her own and she’ll go all out with her decorations as her way of enjoying the season.

As I continue to reflect on the meaning of Christmas, there’s one thing I anticipate more than all the gifts under the tree or the feast on the table. It’s the gift of Jesus and his eventual return. The imperfect world we live in, filled with sin, division, hatred, and selfishness will meet our perfect savior who will make everything new. No more sickness, death, and sadness for those that have received his gift of redemption. Peace and joy will reign and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

As I watch the world around me spiral further out of control, I can rest in the fact that He is in control of it all and has a plan for us all. Even though I get frustrated at times because I can’t see where I fit in to His plan, I know He’s still working everything out in his perfect time and I am at peace.

I pray that you, too, have peace in Jesus. Merry CHRISTmas!

Righting the ship and getting back on course

All the good habits I had at the beginning of the year have gone by the wayside as I’ve gotten way off course in life. As the year has dragged on, it’s been harder to maintain the life schedule l had at the beginning of the year. I sleep way more than I used to and still always feel tired and worn down.

As this crazy year comes to a close, I’m hoping to use the start of the new year to get back on course. Like many others, I gained “the COVID 19” and want to get back to focusing on my physical health. I know my mental health has suffered this year. Getting back to things that make me happy and have a positive effect on my emotional state will be important.

I know some “experts” are saying not to make any resolutions. The funny thing is I haven’t made resolutions for years because I would never keep them. I feel like this is one year that I need to try to set goals or resolutions to help me get back on track with a life that is still very much stuck in a pandemic.

My family bought a treadmill online, which will arrive next week and will help with physical health. I plan to return to writing more blog posts to help process all the current craziness of life. I will be looking over the online learning courses I bought last year and schedule time in my calendar to complete them. I will continue to declutter and <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="http://<a href='https://www.bonanza.com/booths/MyYardSale24?fref=rNpqJUa4'>Check out my booth, MyYardSale24post collectible toys online for sale. I want to set a general cleaning schedule to avoid spending my weekends catching up on cleaning. I will not feel guilty about relaxing with a good book, playing a fun video game, coloring, or writing to recharge.

This past year has pulled my ship way off course and made it list. As the new year starts, it’s time to right the ship and get back on course.

It’s also time to leave behind the pains and frustrations of 2020 and burn the ships.

A 6K Journey

I spent some time this morning walking for a good cause. Six kilometers, or 3.7 miles, is the average distance a person in the developing world has to walk to find water—water that is often not safe to drink or wash their hands with. I walked that same distance so that someone else no longer has to.

During this crazy time, it’s good to “get out” and do something that will benefit another person, even a person I don’t know.

If you want to learn more about the Global 6K or sponsoring a child, such as Aichatou, visit World Vision.

Thankful for the small things

With all the hardships, stress, and uncertainty caused by the current pandemic, it’s nice to find small things to be thankful for. Whether we may be stuck at home or be hanging by a thread as we head to another essential work day, where others are depending on us, all around us are small miracles. We shouldn’t let those escape our notice, for it’s those little miracles that keep us going through all the hard times.

Small things I’m thankful for:

The forced quiet time at home that’s given me time to catch up on reading and reconnect with my creative side.

The Saturday board games with the family and my daughter’s boyfriend, where we’re all having fun and enjoying each other’s company.

The world may be stressful, but think of the small things you’re thankful for right now and let that bring a smile to your face.

I’d love to hear in the comments what small things you’re thankful for.

Read My New Short Story About Mental Health for Free: ‘Pomegranates’

A poignant short story about mental health and well-worth the read. I have followed this author for many years and her stories and writing are phenomenal.

Shari Lopatin

“They say Arizona is a place for folks to start over, and that’s what I had in mind when I landed in the high desert of Prescott. I remember, it was the year the sun rose red over the United Kingdom, and boilin’ wine flowed across the hills of Northern California.”

~ Pomegranates ~

Sometimes, a story reaches so close to your heart, you decide to publish it for free. A gift to the world.

That’s how I feel about my new short story, “Pomegranates.” I’m giving it to you for free–to read, to ponder, to share with your friends, or family, or book club.

Read “Pomegranates” now.

What is ‘Pomegranates’ About?

“Pomegranates” is very different than my debut novel, The Apollo Illusion, which was a science fiction dystopia. Rather, “Pomegranates” is contemporary realism, more akin to the styles of Where the Crawdads Sing or The Prince…

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In answer to “What if you feel you don’t fit in anywhere?”

(I posted this “letter” to a private forum after a women’s event, but felt it would also be a good general post. It has been edited somewhat from the original post to better fit a blog post format.)

To the lady at the Women’s Breakfast who doesn’t fit in:

Neither do I! In all seriousness though, I haven’t “fit in” since before junior high. I have always had a quirky personality, which I have learned to keep hidden in public to keep from being judged. I’m a master at feeling alone or outside the circle in rooms full of people. I can still be easily described as a “wallflower” or “misfit”.

I have always been a socially-awkward “misfit” and, honestly, when I got to the breakfast today, I dreaded finding a seat, as my mind flashed-back to the cafeterias of my youth. I’m very introverted and shy and probably would have stood at the back of the room with my plate the whole time, but I was lucky enough to find an open seat at a table with a couple of other ladies I knew. I wouldn’t have known either lady, except for the fact that I had met them in past Bible study groups. It’s nice to see familiar faces in a crowd of “strangers”.

The thing about finding a place to “fit in” is that you have to LOOK for it, if you want to FIND it. “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. [Luk 11:9-10 NIV, emphasis added]. Just like me, you won’t find your “place” unless you go looking for it and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you.

If you think about it, as Christ followers, we’re all “misfits” and don’t “fit in” to this world. As it says in John 17:16, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.” Therefore, we find our place among like-minded Christians as our place of refuge, strength, and belonging, but we go out into the world as misfits who are trying to help others see the “light”. I encourage you to change your perspective from feeling as though you don’t fit in at all and look at it as though you’re a puzzle piece searching for the correct spot. As a puzzle piece, you definitely fit into the puzzle, it’s just a matter of matching up with the correct spot. A little trial and error in the process is part of the fun of putting the puzzle together and the picture is definitely incomplete when there’s a piece missing.

I obviously don’t know your specific situation, but I felt the need to reach out as that particular question during the breakfast broke my heart and I completely understand the pain behind the question.

Your sister in Christ.

Be Still

“Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10a (NIV)

After I became a mother, I didn’t know how to “be still” and, if I’m honest, I’m still not good with being still. The NASB versions translates the verse as “cease striving,” which I think is also an apt way to put it. We all need to stop and focus on our creator. Know that everything is in his all-powerful hands: every breath, every step, every trial and triumph.

Life has kept me caught up in the day-to-day, with no quiet time for reflection, introspection, or creativity. When I was younger, I had time get away by myself and write lyrics or poetry. It was something that kept me whole and sane, but as the years progressed I put that practice aside and now I find myself trying to get back to that quiet time, where my heart can sing out in praise and anguish, in joy and sorrow, to my God who holds me in his hands.

The lyrics below were written in one of my rare quiet times:

Let me be still, teach me to hear your voice
Comfort my soul, direct me to the right choice
I long for your peace, I want to feel the joy
Let me be still, I want to know your voice

I long to be in your presence
To be still and know you are God
For your strength to stand
When my world crashes in

I want to shine as your light
And be a servant of hope

I will sing praises to you
Because your ways are higher
You gave me the Word to light my path
I pray that I God will nudge me more into stillness with with Him and I pray He does the same for you.

Journalists Just Want to Tell Stories. Today, Some Died for It

Shari Lopatin

Quote_Capital Gazette

I used to be a reporter at a small daily, community newspaper like the Capital Gazette. We had maybe 14 reporters, and we were like family.

I couldn’t imagine living through a shooting with that family, watching some of them die. Today, I cry with the reporters and staff at the Capital Gazette.

We don’t know the motive behind the crime yet. We don’t know if the alleged shooter was a disgruntled worker, a terrorist (foreign or domestic), or the crazed spouse of an employee. The police did say the suspect mutilated his fingertips to avoid identification, as reported in this article from the Baltimore Sunso that leads me to believe this was planned and malicious (versus a potentially angry worker).

Regardless, I know one thing for sure: journalists just want to tell stories, and today, some died for it.

*** When I was a full-time…

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What’s beyond the wall?

Recently, I had the privilege of reading an advanced copy of Shari Lopatin’s debut novel, The Apollo Illusion, which is due to be released on May 19, 2018.

I have been reading her blog for many years, so jumped at the chance to check our her first novel.  I found it to be an enjoyable read and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading.

The Apollo Illusion is an enthralling dystopian story.  Once I started reading, I could not put it down.  The story is compelling and holds your attention to the very end.  In a George Orwell-type of way, this story makes you think about the future of society, especially given today’s climate about truth, privacy, and privilege.

The story is well-written and captivating.  You are immediately sucked into the lives of the characters.  Shari weaves together mystery, political commentary, and ordinary life into a believable story about a girl who is seeking the truth about what lies beyond the towering wall surrounding her home state of Apollo.

The Apollo Illusion will leave you with many issues to think about, such as the control of information and the power of propaganda, both of which are hot topics in today’s society.  I believe the story does present extremes of both sides, but it does give one a glimpse into what society could become if we go too far in any direction.

Lastly, though The Apollo Illusion does contain a little bit of language and one “steamy” scene, none of it detracts from the story nor was it overly excessive.  It is obvious it wasn’t placed in for shock value, but what was needed for the characters and story line to move forward.

I hope you’ll give this novel a chance. Check out the trailer and pre-order links below.

The Apollo Illusion, is now available for pre-order for just $2.99The Apollo Illusion may increase in price after launch.  So grab it now while you’re only splurging a couple of bucks on an “unknown author” and the book that piqued your curiosity.

You can pre-order the book using one of the following links:

The paperback will be available upon launch on May 19, so sign up for Shari Lopatin’s email list, “The Readers Club,” at http://eepurl.com/c_M_0L to be notified the moment print copies go on sale.

Shari Lopatin can be found on social media at the following places: