Saturday, August 19, 2017

Saturday Summary for August 19, 2017

Ever since I have started doing Saturday Summaries I have felt as though weeks go by way faster.  I'm sure it's my imagination, but it feels like it.

Sunday was a good day - - gym, church, lunch at home with the kids, the grandkids and a "friend."  Sunday night I went back up to Brookneal where I stayed and put in three very full days -- Monday and Tuesday in Lynchburg and Wednesday in Brookneal.   We had our all staff meeting and several of my coworkers bought my book, which was very encouraging.  And I love all staff meetings when we are all together.  It's just awesome.

Thursday I don't think I left the house here in Danville -- I stayed at my desk and caught up on all the work I was behind on.  Friday I was back up in Lynchburg for another full day of meetings and today after the gym and coffee, I have been at my desk again, trying to catch up.

Not sure much happened this week on the family front.   Dominyk moved his stuff back from Brookneal after resigning from his job there since he goes back to college full time Monday.  Salinda has been working 6 nights a week.  Gabby is loving 2nd grade.   I tried to take the grandkids to a baseball game last night but it ended up being a epic failure -- rain, delayed start, a "why won't you buy me candy 2 year old fit" and broken bobbleheads.   Sigh.

I had several conversations with my mom this week.  She is doing great and is just awesome.  I miss her.

I think that's all.   Sorry it's boring.

Buy my novel :-)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Tempted to Hide Under the Covers?


Have you ever just wanted to stay in bed all day?  Have you wished that you didn't have to face whatever is ahead of you?  Are you tempted to pull the covers over your head and hide?

I love the way that the Message translate this portion of Scripture from Isaiah 53:
The Master, God, has given me    a well-taught tongue,So I know how to encourage tired people.    He wakes me up in the morning,Wakes me up, opens my ears    to listen as one ready to take orders.The Master, God, opened my ears,    and I didn’t go back to sleep,    didn’t pull the covers back over my head.
God calls us each day to encourage tired people.  He is the one who wakes up every morning (even if it is with the assistance of an alarm clock, a screaming toddler, or a teenager or young adult who is just getting home :-)  

I used to attend a church decades ago and over and over again people in that church would thank God for waking them up in the morning and giving them one more day to live.  I loved (and still love) the idea that if God woke me up today and gave me another day of life that I need to be grateful for simply the gift of one more day and give that day back to him.

So God wakes us up, opens our years and wants us to listen and be ready to take orders.  And here is the choice we have each day…. we can listen carefully and get up and obey or we can go back to sleep and put the covers over our heads.

Literally that might not be possible.  Nobody can spend their entire day in bed (although I have three adult children right now who are testing that theory, but I digress).  But certainly metaphorically we have two choices:

We can wake up, listen to what God is calling us to do, take orders and get busy, or we can pull the covers back over our heads and go back to sleep.

The choice is yours today and every day.  

Keith Green wrote a powerful song that I memorized back in my teens.  He always wrote and sang with such conviction…. 

Oh, can't you see such sin?!
The world is sleeping in the dark, 
That the church just can't fight,
'cause it's asleep in the light!
How can you be so dead?!
When you've been so well fed
Jesus rose from the grave,
And you!
You can't even get out of bed!

You can hear Keith himself sing it here.   If this doesn’t wake you up, I’m not sure what will.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

You've Got the POWER!


Feeling powerful today?  I guess some days we feel it and some days we don't.  But have you ever asked yourself how much power you really do have?

If you have been a parent, you watch the "power" that you have over your children fade by the day from their birth to adulthood.   Sometimes that influence is allowed back in when they become adults, but often not, and if it has always been about power when they are growing up, that probably will never happen.

If you have been a boss, you realize after a while that if you are trying to yield "power" over your employees, you will quickly lose their respect and loyalty.

If you have tried to change a bad habit, you may have quickly realized that you really don't even have power over yourself.

BUT when it comes to fighting the enemy and doing big things that God has called us to do, we do have the power.  We have the power over the enemy.

I memorized this in the King James as a child:
Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
This is what it says in the Message:
See what I’ve given you? Safe passage as you walk on snakes and scorpions, and protection from every assault of the Enemy. No one can put a hand on you. All the same, the great triumph is not in your authority over evil, but in God’s authority over you and presence with you. Not what you do for God but what God does for you—that’s the agenda for rejoicing.” 
So as you can see, you have the power!  The enemy is not going to win whatever battle you are facing whether it be the battle for the hearts and minds of your children or grandchildren, the battle to destroy a team that is about to do great things, or the battle that rages inside of you.  

In fact, Jesus even said that we could speak to mountains and they would move.  Now that's POWER!

You have the power!

I have loved this song for decades.  I still have it completely memorized.  I hope it runs through your mind all day

Monday, August 14, 2017

Getting God's Attention


Have you wondered if there is a way to get God to respond?    Have you ever tried everything you could think of .... prayed, fasted, denied yourself ... and heard nothing?

The people during Isaiah's time had the same problem.   They asked God about it in Isaiah 58.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it?  Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’
And God answers:
“...on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists.You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.  
And then God tells them what gets His attention:
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke,to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  
Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelterwhen you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 
And He tells them what happens if they participate in the kind of activities that matter to Him:
Your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then righteousness  will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.  Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;  you will cry for help, and he will say:  Here am I."

So we have our answer.  If we want to do something that God will notice, it's not about self-denial and fasting, though those are good things.  But God says  that the kind of "fast" that matters to him isn't what we don't do, but what we do.  It is about losing the chains of injustice, setting the oppressed free, breaking yokes, sharing food, providing shelter, clothing the naked.... that's the point.

We often sing and talk about letting our lights shine ... like we read in Matthew 5:16... so that others may see our good works and glorify God in heaven.  But shining bright through how we treat those lest fortunate is not only so that others will see us -- it is the way that God Himself taught us to get His attention.  

I encourage you to try it.... shine brightly in the ways He describes above and you might be surprised at how quickly He pays attention.













Sunday, August 13, 2017

What Are You Afraid Of?


Are you dreading something this week?  A conversation with an employee or a boss?  A presentation or a speech you have to give that you feel ill equipped for?

Or maybe it's something more serious.  Maybe you have a doctor's appointment that might bring bad news, or a funeral of a loved one.

I have several things this week that are making me anxious.  Or maybe I should say they WERE making me anxious until a couple of things happened.

The first is that I attended the Global Leadership Summit last week and heard several speakers.  One talked of going to a prison to offer forgiveness to the people who killed nearly every member of her family in the Rwandan genocide.    Another spoke of losing members of his staff who were killed by corrupt police officers while defending a poor taxi driver on the streets of Kenya.    A third discussed his work in defending the mentally ill, children and prisoners on death row.

Suddenly the things I was dreading become really really small in comparison.

The second thing that happened was singing a couple of hymns in church yesterday.  The first is very familiar and the second verse struck me.

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

I suddenly realized that God prospers my work and He will defend me.  And that He will give me the courage to face whatever I'm dreading this week....

Life takes courage.  Courage for the big things, and courage for the little things.   And God is calling those of us who are willing to stand and say "I'll go" .... regardless of where we must go or how anxious the situation makes me. 

And then we finished our worship yesterday with this song -- which if you have never heard you should listen to more than once.  

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Saturday Summary August 12, 2017




It was quite a week .... busy, productive and a good week for the Fletchers!

I always like to start with my work report, because I love my job.  It's a combination of an amazing team to work with, a missions that fits perfectly with my life's mission, and big ideas flowing all the time.   This week I had back to back meetings Monday and Tuesday, created and worked through a portion of a 4 page to do list on Wednesday and then headed to the Global Leadership Summit being simulcast at a church in Roanoke.  Our whole leadership team, all nine of us, got to go together and it was phenomenal.   I have been several years now, and I always leave with more ideas and knowledge than I thought was possible to accumulate in two days.

As a family, we started last week with Bart and I going to worship with my coworker, Crystal.  We were by far the minority (as in the only white people) in a congregation of welcoming, warm people who truly blessed us by their hospitality.  And I got to hear Crystal sing and that girl can SING.   It was a great time.  We had lunch together alone afterwards (the kids had decided to go to Mt. Vernon) and by the time we got home it was late afternoon.  My choice to have a long nap messed up my sleep schedule for a day or two, but the nap itself was glorious.  Sunday was completed with a game night at church where I lost repeatedly to a certain unnamed person who insisted on bragging.

Wednesday was the first day of school for Wilson and Gabby.  It was Wilson's last first day of school -- the end of an era.   And Gabby started 2nd grade with great enthusiasm.  In a letter that day reminding Salinda that Gabby would not be around to help keep Carlos safe, I encouraged her to be more vigilant so that nothing happened to him.   That afternoon she feel asleep and he chopped off his hair -- all the way down to the scalp.   So it was Carlos' first day of short hair in his life.... she had been nurturing that hair for almost 3 years.   Good lesson for all of us.... and he is still REALLY cute.

So I returned last night to have dinner out with Bart and tell him everything I learned at the summit.... and watch the best innings of a Reds game.... We won, but it wasn't because they didn't almost lose it at the end.... must have been because I had already gone to bed.

So here we are at the weekend and I'm behind on almost everything there is to be behind on, but that, as you know, is the story of my life.




Friday, August 11, 2017

Being a Brave and Hopeful Leader


Ever attended a Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit?  If not you are missing out on a whole lot of really good stuff.   I am here for I believe the fifth time .... started in 2013 ... and I walk away blessed and challenged.

The day started with song that is nowhere to be found on the internet, which is tragic because I loved it!   Hopefully eventually it will be available to the world.  ((If you can find it, let me know!).   I'm not going to try to sing it, for which you should be grateful :-), but the chorus went something like this, 
We call on the rebels, the fighters, the champions of change... come be leaders, unites, we call on the brave.
The song has not stopped going through my mind ... it was powerful.

In the afternoon, we heard a presentation called "Being a Brave and Hopeful Leader. It was articulately delivered by Brian Stevenson, who Wikipedia will tell you is " an American lawyer, social justice activist, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, and a clinical professor at New York University School of Law.   He wrote a book called, "Just Mercy" that I have already ordered.   He made four main points which I will explain from my context and my own filters.

1)  Leadership involves proximity.   You can't be effective from a distance.  You have to know the people you are serving because problems can't be solved from a  distance.  There is power in proximity. 
Leading from a distance can often result in leading by fear or anger, and that will lead to dangerous places.

2)  We have to understand and change the narratives we believe and when we do that we can be liberated.   Questions like "what are the narratives that I believe about myself... about the poor ... about a particular race ... about the place I work ...." are significant.  

3)  Leaders can never give up hope.  You've heard me say this in this blog countless times, but it is really the key to leadership.  Leaders hold out hope.   Hopelessness is the enemy of justice, the enemy of leadership.  

4)  Leadership means willing to do uncomfortable things.  Walking into situations and and embracing  those who are broken and surrounded by brokenness is the only way to lead.   The first step to this is recognize our own brokenness.

The work that Brian Stevenson does leads him to death row.  It has him defending the mentally ill, children who are tried as adults when they shouldn't be, people who have been wrongly accused. So when he talks about the four principles above, he lives them out every day. 

So I'm starting my day with these words running through my head -- I hope they will run through yours as well:

We call on the rebels, the fighters, the champions of change... come be leaders, unites, we call on the brave. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

I Never Said No to Myself

Self-discipline is absolutely not fun.   I used to think that people who were great athletes were people who loved to work out.   But the more I hear podcasts interviewing them the more I realize they don't love all the hard work they do.   They love the pay off, but the hard work, not so much.   In fact, one of the golfers I heard recently said he has never had one time since a back injury that he has wanted to do his night-time routine of exercise.  Not one time in years.

But the opposite doesn't work out so well.  Listen to what Solomon says in Ecclesiastes (The Message) about how it went for him when he abandoned self-discipline.
Everything I wanted I took—I never said no to myself. I gave in to every impulse, held back nothing. I sucked the marrow of pleasure out of every task—my reward to myself for a hard day’s work!  Then I took a good look at everything I’d done, looked at all the sweat and hard work. But when I looked, I saw nothing but smoke. Smoke and spitting into the wind. There was nothing to any of it. Nothing.
Most of us will probably end up somewhere in the middle between people who become olympic gold medalists and people who never say no to themselves.   But it appears that the payoff comes to those who practice self-discipline.

After the writer of the Hebrews listed all of the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11, the Message paraphrases Hebrews 12 like this:
 Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
So there you have it.  Time to say no to ourselves for the sake of the goal ahead of us.. and keeping our eyes on Jesus is what will take us there!

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Giving Back: What if we are doing it all wrong?

You've heard it all before -- how we need to give back to society, how we need to pay it forward.  How it is important for us to make a difference in the world.  This idea is based on the concept that someone else somewhere did something for you so you should do something for someone else.

But it may be that we are missing a step.   I don't think we give back by giving to other people.  I don't think we give back by paying it forward.  I don't think we give back by making a difference in the world.   At least not directly.

What if it went like this:   God does something for us (in fact, this is how it all began) so we give back to HIM.   Then He uses us to give to someone else.  It's in the giving it back to Him that we have four things:

1)  The wisdom to know who the person/people are that need our help;

2)  The resources (love, joy, peace, time, money etc) to give to others;

3)  The courage to do so when it might not be popular in the eyes of others; and

4)  The strength to carry it through even when it doesn't seem to be making a difference.

So let's join Mandisa and say to God, "I'm giving it all back to you."   Let's pray that God will use what we give back to him to allow us to give to others.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Another Episode of Survivor

Have you had times in your life where you feel like you are in the middle of an episode of survivor?  Have you had challenges that have come at you one right after the other, back to back, until you aren't sure you can take one more?  Have you felt betrayed by those you trusted and left in a state of confusion?

All of those things are part of the human condition.   Our response to a season like that can define our character and definitely determines how well we will handle it the next time.  This is how resiliency is built .... by surviving one thing after another until we have confidence that we can handle the next thing... whatever the next thing might be.

I confess to being in a slump the past few days, but I know that with God's help I will get through this time and head into better days.  I also know that the better days will pass and there will be some tougher days after that.  But the key is this:  I know that because He has done it in the past, God will take care of those as well.

Just like muscles are strengthened when we use them, resiliency is built when we rely on God to take us through the ups and downs of life.  So whether or not you feel like it today, you are a survivor.

I was introduced to this song recently and I want to share it with you today.  I'm not sure who needs to hear it, but I hope it speaks to you.  I've listened to several times the past few days.




Saturday, August 05, 2017

Saturday Summary August 5, 2017

Well that week flew by!  Let's see.... Bart and I did go to Greensboro but we did not get haircuts.  We did, however, have a very nice lunch.

Church Sunday was good..... went out to lunch with Salinda and her kids (Wilson had to work and Dom had to take him) and the rest of the day was pretty low key.  I drove back to Brookneal Sunday night and then worked really hard, pushing myself more than I have in a long time.  Wednesday night Bart and I met Wilson for dinner.....

Went to the gym every morning Thursday-Saturday, had coffee with my friend Cathy on Thursday, and then dinner out with Bart Thursday night.  

Friday -- back to Lynchburg for more meetings and then back here.... actually cooked dinner last night.

Today we headed to a state park for a work picnic and here I am typing this.

Not feeling that great about life at the moment.   Fell off the wagon with the diet a couple days ago.  Trying to hop on quickly but Bart made these chocolate chip cookies....

Feeling a bit resentful, which I need to fix.

Not feeling like working for sure but have things I should be doing.

Hmm.....   I think I'll stop writing now :-)

Friday, August 04, 2017

What's in a Name?


Take a minute to think of a name.  It could be the name of a place, the name of a person, the name of a pet.  

When you think of that name, what comes to your mind?  If it is a person, place or pet that you love, all kinds of good stuff come with that name.  Memories, pleasant emotions... possibly smells and tastes if that person or place (probably not pet) is associated with something good that you have had to eat.  Or maybe you think something that you can touch -- the feel of their fur when you pet them (this would be a pet thing, not a person thing :-)

I'm asking this because I have been puzzling over something over the past several weeks.  I've been wondering why there are so many songs about the name of Jesus.   Why get excited about a name?  I also started asking myself, "Why is Jesus the Name above all names?"

And then it hit me.  It is because of what the name represents.  Just as the name "Gizmo" represented a furry, faithful, walking companion to my husband for over a decade before he died, the names of people, places and pets are more than just a word.  The name is about the feelings and the memories that come when we recall that name.

What comes to your mind when you say the name Jesus?  I will let you answer that question.

But figuring that out has now helped me to understand and appreciates songs like the one below.

Because of all that Jesus is to me, all those memories, feelings and all that the name represents, I can now sing.... what a beautiful Name it is ... what a powerful Name it is.




Thursday, August 03, 2017

The Wisest Man in the World Concluded....

I have a lot of work to do today.  Just like all of us, there are ebbs and flows to our work…. and right now is a very busy time.

I like to work, in fact, my husband will tell you that I like working too much.  But there are times when even I can get weary.

But here is what Solomon concludes in Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 (Yes, you guessed it, the Message).
So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. 
Because I am a preacher, I can see three lessons in this simple verse:

1)  When you are choosing your job, pick well.   My friend Micheal, who calls me pumpkin (I know, Inappropriate, right) taught me something valuable here.  He says that he used to give career advice to college students and tell them that if they wanted meaningful work they should find something that makes them angry and then find a way to get paid for fixing it.   That's good advice.  Or, if you aren't angry about anything, pick something you enjoy.

2)  Find ways to make your work meaningful and enjoyable.  If you are working for an organization that has a mission you are passionate about, it isn't hard to make work meaningful.  All you gotta do is remember the mission.   But if you have a job that is more routine, there are ways to make that enjoyable as well.   I have a long history of doing this since my first job as a part time secretary when I was 16.  I had an envelope in my drawer called the "secretarial olympics" where I kept stats of how fast I could stuff envelopes, put labels on envelopes, type up case notes .... and then I tried to break my record.   Keep yourself motivated with little tricks that make things more fun.   

3)  Enjoy the people you work with.  Find things to like about them.  Do things with them socially to strengthen the relationship.  It's way fun to go to work if you are excited to see the people you work with.

There's nothing better for you to do than to enjoy your work.   Think about it.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Ready to Quit?


When was the last time you said to someone else or to yourself, "I quit!"  Was it a relationship,  a job, or an internal struggle that took you to the point that you just couldn't do it any more?

There are times when it is completely necessary to quit.  But there are many times in our lives that we  just need to keep going .... where God is asking for us to endure just a little longer ... when He knows that just around the next bend there is the miracle we have been waiting for.

In Psalm 188, the King James Bible says, "His mercy endureth forever" over and over and over again.  If you are like me you may have memorized that in the KJV or possibly the NIV that says "His love endures forever."  When I was listening to it in The Message it caught my attention because it says, "His love never quits."  And, as you know, those words repeat themselves throughout the chapter.

I started thinking about this verse today in regards to quitting and reminded myself that when I feel like quitting, my motivation can be that God's love never quits.  It never runs out.   It never fails.

And maybe, with his love sustaining me, I can endure.... I can hang in there .... I don't have to quit.

And you don't either :-)




Monday, July 31, 2017

Getting old? There's good news!


This may not seem like it makes sense but hang in there with me.

Light can make a huge difference, can't it?  The power went out briefly today in my office and it was really hard to work.... not to mention the fact that the iPhone flashlight came in very handy in the bathroom!

In Proverbs Chapter 4 in the Message it says:
The ways of right-living people glow with light;    the longer they live, the brighter they shine.
You have heard me talk about my mom so many times, and this is the truth!  The older she gets, the more she glows with light... and the brighter she shines.

I'm not finding a lot of reasons to be grateful that I'm getting older, but if I'm going to shine brighter each day that I live, that's a good thing.

I shared this song with you in August of 2016 but it’s worth sharing again.  And I am sure I have shared this quote, and it too, is worth sharing again. It is one of my all time favorites. The two go together so read first, then listen :-)

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Marianne Williamson

Three Responses to Infertility


Infertility is not something that we talk about publicly ... we don't bring it up at a work gathering or talk about it at parties.  It is often a lonely, scary, emotionally horrific journey that is only understood by those who have experienced it.

Over the years I have gotten to know many women, personally and professionally, who have shared part of their infertility journey with me.   As a mother of twelve who has never been pregnant, there are often people who broach the subject with me.  I have noticed in talking with these women or couples that there are three basic ways in which people respond.  I recognize that breaking anything as complex as human emotion and behavior down into three categories will miss something but in generalities here is what I have found.

1)  Determination.  Probably the most popular response is determination.   With the medical options available to infertile couples, jumping into a mode of "I am going to make this happen... I can do this..." and the journey begins.  This response often comes from women who have always been able to get things done and to make things happen at work, at home, and as a volunteer at a church or other organization.   So this is their default -- get things done, make things happen -- and becomes their approach to infertility as well.   The dangers of this response is that the more unlikely conceiving becomes, the more angry and frustrated the couple becomes.   If taken to it's extreme, this response leads to a desire for more and more control in every part of life because the infertility battle is being lost and the woman feels she has less and less control.  The relationship is damaged, finances become an issue, and I have even seen situations where women have had mental health breakdowns because they have not been able to achieve what they have determined is the MOST important and suddenly the ONLY important goal.

2)  Depression.  This response can weave in and out of bouts of determination, or for some people is the immediate and only reaction they have to news of infertility.   Life starts to lack joy and seeing other people with children brings immediate tears.  Women going through this depression spend less and less time with other people and more time home or even in bed.  The couple begins to see how it is taking a toll on the marriage as the husband is attempting to be positive and helpful and his efforts are thwarted. Again, taking this to an extreme and the relationship is fractured... sometimes beyond repair.

3)  Relinquishment.   If any couple battling infertility is going to move on and live a life filled with joy and purpose, there is a point in time when they have to "let it go."   Whether you are a person of faith and this means completely putting it in God's hands and not taking it back, or you simply recognize the power of accepting life as it is, moving on is necessary.   This ability to relinquish the idea of giving birth leads to other options and a whole world of possibility.

I think most couples who have gone through the infertility journey will tell you that the above responses are mixed up, not in order, and can all be cycled through in a single day.   It is incredibly complex and there is no "by the book" answer.

But here is the bright side:  I know many people who have gone through the infertility struggle and have come through to the other side better people.  They have learned compassion and grace, they have taken on incredible adventures in life, and they have found a way to make sense of it all.  Those people would tell you that their lives may even be better, richer, and more joyous than a lot of others who have been able to have as many children by worth as they ever wanted to.

******
In small print (pretend because I'm not sure how to do that in Blogger)  (and you may have known this was coming), the novel that I just wrote addresses infertility.  It is called "Little Did She Know" and you can download it at our website www.bartandclaudiafletcher.com.   In fact, you can download it and read the prologue and first four chapters for free -- just download it and apply the coupon INTRO and you will have a zero balance.   I'd love to hear your response about the way that the characters deal with their infertility!


Where Do I Start?


When you look at your to do list this week, are you asking yourself, "Where do I start?"  I certainly know the feeling.  In fact, I am dedicating most of my morning just to organize all the things I need to get done and prioritize them so that I can pack it all into this week.

Fortunately there is an answer to the question "Where Do i Start" in the very first book of Proverbs.  In the Message, Solomon tells us:
Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God;    only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning.

Next time that the words "I don't even know where to start" pop into your mind, I hope that this verse does as well.   Start the to do list with God -- a short prayer, a reminder that He's got you and that with his strength, wisdom and courage, you can accomplish whatever it is he has planned for you today.

Just that one thought makes everything seem a lot more manageable, doesn't it?

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Saturday Summary July 29, 2017


The weeks seem to rush by when I am posting a summary every week.   I've always loved living life at a fast pace, but my body and mind keep sending me signals that I'm getting older and that I will get tired if I don't slow down.   And then I don't slow down and I get tired.  :-)

I will start where I left off last week.  I left that quiet hotel room and when to present at NACAC which I blogged about here.   It went well.  Yolie is awesome and I think people were encouraged by the session.

I then started for the long trip home which was supposed to last 5.5 hours but lasted a little over seven due mostly to some traffic issues near Charlotte.   I came home pretty tired.

Sunday we had church and then that night Bart and I had supper together and then headed over to our friend's porch to hangout.

Monday through Thursday at noon were a blur of work.  It included all day meetings in the Boys and Girls Homes department, which were super exciting and Tuesday was my typical day of back to back meetings.  Wednesday a co-worker and I drove to Richmond for a meeting and even though it was a lot of time in the car, it went fast and we had a great time.  The meeting was well worth attending.

Thursday I had meetings all morning and then headed back here where I tried to help Bart with several things, including yet another trip to the Sprint Store with yet another shattered screen.  Unfortunately my kids seem to have a need to shatter their phone screen at least once before they believe me that they need a screen protector.  Some of them have shattered more than one screen.

We also had to replace our 23 year old fridge as it died and was beyond repair so that was part of our evening.  That and watching the Reds lose.  Again.  Poor Reds.  I am feeling bad for them lately!

Yesterday after my time at the gym, I came home to try and complete work projects while rallying the troops to clean the house for company.  Our friends Jeff and Cheryl came over for a feast of Bart's famous Hay and Straw (Fettucini with ham, bacon, peas, and mushrooms) and it was amazing as always.  If you have had it you know I'm not lying.  It was SOOO good.  And we had a great time with our friends.

There hasn't been much drama on the home front lately, other than the continued discouragement of living with kids who are not always helpful.  But they scored some pretty big points with me yesterday and I'm feeling better about that.

So here it is Saturday morning again.  I'm getting ready to head to the gym and then Bart and I are going to Greensboro to get hair cuts and have lunch together.   And the rest of the weekend will be a mix of child care for adorable grandchildren, work projects that I can fit in here and there, and more Reds baseball.  I also have a stack of books that is getting very high that I want to read.

So there you have it....  a week in the life.   How can anything be that boring and that busy at the same time?

Oh, and one more thing if you have made it this far... I have sold 97 books.  If I sell 125 I will write a sequel.  So if you haven't bought one you should.   And if you have bought one, liked it, and want to read the sequel tell your friends to order one.  Or order one for a friend.  Or order more than one for a friend.

OK, you're getting the idea.


How's NACAC Year 9: It's What You Put Into It.

For many years we have been presenting at NACAC -- the North American Council on Adoptable Children.   Prior to when I started blogging, we attended conferences in Minneapolis and in Chicago.   And then in 2005, when presenting with Bart in Pittsburg, I wrote a legendary blog post called, "How's NACAC?" that was quoted in a NACAC publication. It was from the perspective of a parent. Since then I have attempted to blog a post about each year.

In 2006 I blogged from Long Beach, California from the perspective of a professional.

In 2007, Year Three, I blogged from Tampa about "Support from the past and the future".

2008 we somehow ditched NACAC, but in 2009 we were in Columbus,Ohio and I blogged about how NACAC is about connection

In 2010 I wrote from Hartford, Connecticut about how NACAC demonstrates that everything is intertwined..

In 2011 we were in Denver and I referred to NACAC as the resurgence of hope.

In 2012 I blogged from Washington DC about how NACAC is the re-ignition of passion.

We took a break from NACAC for who knows what reasons and and then last year in 2016 we were in Nashville and I wrote a post called "How's NACAC?" Year Eight:  It's About Remembering."

This year I realized that NACAC, like all things, is about what you put into it.  Things were quite convoluted this year, and I ended up going alone and wanted to see friends on the way. With my limited schedule, and without Bart,  came for literally only two and a half hours of the conference.  The night before I had dinner with Pat O'Brien, as you know, but that was at my hotel which was not the conference hotel.

While I was there I attended only my own seminar (which I did with my friend Yolie and I think it went very well) and I ran into a few people I knew, but I didn't have time to catch up, learn anything, or make the connections I usually do.

I realized then that NACAC is what you put into it.  Just like everything else in life, you have to be fully engaged to get the maximum benefit.

Next year the conference is in Minneapolis and hopefully we will be selected to present.   We may even see if any of our kids want to present with us.   That would be super cool now that they are adults.

I'm determined that next year I have a bit more to say about NACAC than "it's what you put into it."
But after blogging for so many NACAC's I felt like I needed to, albeit ashamedly, post something about this year.

Next year will be better!



Friday, July 28, 2017

Spitting in the Wind


Spitting in the wind is a pretty disgusting thought.   In fact, I really don't want to dwell on it.   So the fact that the Message uses this phrase multiple times in Ecclesiastes both amuses and troubles me.

The first time is in chapter one.
I looked most carefully into everything, searched out all that is done on this earth. And let me tell you, there’s not much to write home about. God hasn’t made it easy for us. I’ve seen it all and it’s nothing but smoke—smoke, and spitting into the wind.
It appears that Solomon did a really good job of examining life for those people who believe they are the only one in "their own little world."  When we look at life from that perspective ... it's nothing.  It's smoke.... and spitting into the wind.

However, when we open our eyes to the bigger picture everything changes.  Most of the time an entire blog post isn't about the song I feature, but today it is.  I encourage you to listen to this song and the message that it brings to us.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Can't Shut Up


Do you know someone who can't shut up?  I have a couple kids like that.   They just can't stop talking.  And I'm pretty sure there are some people, my husband and kids included, that might say that I am one of those people who can't shut up.  

In Psalm 89 (the Message), it reads:
Your love, God, is my song, and I’ll sing it!    I’m forever telling everyone how faithful you are.I’ll never quit telling the story of your love—
Wow!  Someone else who can't shut up!  But pay attention to the story the Psalmist is telling forever.... the story he never quits telling.  It's the story of God's love.

What would our lives look like if we told this story forever.... if we never quit talking about God's love ... if we never shut up in regards to this subject.

And then, what if on top of all that, we LIVED God's love and never quit....

My guess is that we would be a huge blessing to those around us and that the quality of our lives would improve greatly!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Pull Yourself Up by Your Bootstraps?


We live in a society that teaches us to rescue ourselves in times of trouble.  If we see a person who is having a hard time, we often think that they should "get it together" and "Pull themselves up by their bootstraps."  We put an awful lot of confidence in human strength.

I love the way that David puts it in the Psalms when he says:
So why should I fear in bad times, hemmed in by enemy malice, 
Shoved around by bullies, demeaned by the arrogant rich?  
Really! There's no such thing as self-rescue, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. 
The cost of rescue is beyond our means, and even then it doesn't guarantee.  
The cost of rescue is beyond our means.   But the beauty is that we have One who paid the that price -- the price that is beyond our means.  

Paul sums it up best in Philippians three when he says:
The real believers are the ones the Spirit of God leads to work away at this ministry, filling the air with Christ’s praise as we do it. We couldn’t carry this off by our own efforts, and we know it.   
If we recognize that whatever we are in the midst of, trying harder, pushing harder, thinking harder isn't the answer.   Instead, filling the air with Christ's praises and working away at our ministry, whatever it is that God has given us, and recognizing that He is the one who paid the price... that is the answer.

For after all, He is the one who is mighty to save.



Monday, July 24, 2017

What are you running out of?



Energy?  Time?  Resources?  Ideas?  What are you running out of?

Running out of things is part of the the human condition.  As long as we are relying on our own strength, we will always find ourselves coming up short.  There will always be a lack of resources when we rely on ourselves.

But God?  That's another story.  He never runs out.   In the Message Psalm 107:1 says:

Oh, thank God—he’s so good!    His love never runs out.

I don't know about you, but for me that is REALLY good news!