Amazing Love

Where Hope Blooms

by Pat Nichols

Pat Nichols

When our teenage daughter fell in love with Jesus, she had no idea how much that love would sustain her through years of loss and physical ailments.

Unbeknownst to us, Shelly’s health issues began in high school. As a guard for her varsity basketball team, she didn’t reveal the excruciating pain in her legs and feet, because she didn’t want anything to keep her from playing the game she loved. In college, after she was diagnosed with epilepsy, the same tenacity that kept her on the basketball court drove her to push through seizures and mounting physical challenges to earn two degrees from Georgia Tech, pursue a career as an industrial engineering consultant, and launch her own company as a partner in an engineering group.

In the early years of her marriage, a mysterious illness attacked her. When it seemed to run its course, she and her…

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Miles Davis and short stories

My dear friend, Matthew Curry. So much talent!

The Chia Pet Circus

Here’s my little drawing of Miles Davis. The drawing is actually bigger than what you see in the photo, but I didn’t like the way his hands turned out. They were supposed to be clasped together with the fingers interlaced, but they ended up looking like a sloppy bird’s nest made out of old twigs. So I just cropped that part out altogether. But I’m pretty happy with the face. I loved drawing the glasses. I like the overall look of Miles Davis. Serious, intense.

Anyway, I hope you’re doing well, wherever you are in the world.

For the past four years, I’ve been writing and self-publishing books on Amazon. It’s a lot of fun, especially the last one I wrote. I loved watching the characters come to life and surprise me. I even enjoy the proofreading stage of the process ….  although it’s horrendously tedious and gives me six or seven nervous breakdowns and completely destroys…

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Ask Accordingly

1 John 5:14-15

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

Do you remember the popular 50’s Mattel toy called the Magic 8 Ball? I wasn’t around back then but it is such a popular thing that toy companies have been reproducing the fortune-telling fun for years. It looks like an 8-ball but when turned over after asking a yes-or-no question, an answer magically appears on the bottom. We all knew that it was fake; just a shake and see what pops up kind of thing, but when we wanted to know if the little boy at school was as into us as we were into him, we were digging through our toy boxes looking for it.

How many of us expect God to work this way? We are cruising through life and everything is grand until something comes up and we need God’s advice. We start digging around looking for our Magic 8 Ball while we throw our petitions at God, expecting an immediate response. God simply does not work that way.

So, how does God work? How can we know that He hears our prayers? In 1 John 5:14-15, we learn that we can have confidence in God. He hears our prayers and petitions. He listens to His children. The catch is the middle portion of verse 14. “If we ask anything ACCORDING TO HIS WILL.” You see, God has purpose for everything that happens in this world and as His children, we are a part of that. Everything is either for Kingdom Demonstration or Kingdom Preparation. Yes, God loves us and wants us to be happy, but whatever He is doing in our lives is to fulfill one of these great missions.

This is why it is important to maintain our relationship with God through our spiritual disciplines. When we do so, we align ourselves with the will of God, guided by the Holy Spirit, instead of aimlessly asking God for our wish list items which will only glorify self and bring temporary happiness. So, when God answers a prayer or provides an unexpected blessing, we should give thanks to God and then look for ways to utilize those blessings for furthering God’s kingdom. For example, if you receive a promotion at work, you have a greater opportunity to bless others. It may be financially supporting a mission or ministry or God could be putting you in a position to witness to a new co-worker.

So, is it okay to ask God for blessings? Absolutely, but first remembering that God isn’t going to just hand over things that won’t bring glory (Kingdom Demonstration) or direct souls to Him (Kingdom Preparation). We must remember that God is sovereign and when we don’t think that God is answering our prayers the way we want doesn’t mean He doesn’t have a plan or a purpose for our current situation.

What I Found In Santa’s Beard

I was looking for cookies,

At least a small crumb

Maybe some sugar plums

Or a big ball of gum


I thought I’d find pie

Maybe apple or cherry

I looked for turkey and gravy

I searched for a hint of cranberry


I was sure there would be snowflakes

And a pound or two of glitter

But all I found was rotten milk

And a scent of reindeer litter


I didn’t hear laughter or giggling

There was no music or sound

It wasn’t long after starting

Signs of a struggle I found


The trail of bright red icing

Looked eerily like a sugary blood

And the brown mush that lay all around

Like smooshed cookie as thick as mud


I saw evidence of a bright, shiny button

And the most adorable green bowtie

And I knew without as much as a question

I smelled ginger but didn’t know why


All of a sudden it hit me

I knew just what was wrong

It was right there in front of me

It had been there all along


This man with the image of goodness

I had become such a fan

But look out for our sweet, jolly Santa

For he ate the Gingerbread Man

Treading Open Water

20150630_171647When it is the middle of summer in the great state of sunshine, the possibilities are endless. These are the days of jumping off of a dock somewhere or perhaps you prefer a cool, clear pool. If you travel anywhere near the beach, you are bound to see some visitors from my neck of the woods as we North Georgians flock to the Florida beaches every chance we get. For me, growing up in Frostproof, summer meant more time to fish. I have very fond memories of grabbing a coke and a bag of donuts from Harvey’s convenience store and falling back asleep in a boat as we traveled across a lake to the ‘sweet spot’ where all the bass were expected to be. We would fish until the sun ran us back ashore and I’d watch my dad clean our catch and prepare it for lunch.

Last week, I found a new love for Florida fishing adventures. I took my dad deep-sea fishing off the coast of Clearwater. I had the best time and am counting down the days until I can go again. I was able to learn a thing or two and have some tips I’d like to share on what to bring with you when you go and what can be left behind.

What to bring:

Sunscreen- Most boats have a shaded or inside area where you can hide from the bright rays if necessary. That being said, you don’t want to be stuck inside avoiding Mr. Sunshine while others are reeling in your catch.

Hat- I suggest a ball cap or other tight fitting hat. Even after the boat stops there is usually a breeze that kicks up off of the waves. The last thing you want to do is buy a new summer hat and watch as it sinks to the bottom of the ocean.

Snacks- Many boats have food available for purchase, especially all-day charters. This is helpful when you want to sit down for a meal but while fishing, you will probably need a light snack and lots of water. You will want to get the all-clear to bring aboard your own small cooler so that you can have what you need to get you through the trip. I suggest several bottles of water and another beverage of choice. You can pack something light, like fruit and nuts or you can go ahead and fix up some sub sandwiches, depending on your usual appetite. Remember that you will have your hands in bait and hopefully fish as you’re snacking so you may want to consider bringing along a fork or at least some hand sanitizer.

What not to bring:

Your own equipment- These things are provided for you and while you may prefer your own, the crew that will be working the boat are familiar with theirs. If you end up needing help, you will want them to be able to get you fixed up quickly without cutting into your fishing time. *Note- most boats have banned braided line so even if you decide to bring your own rod, check before trying to bring this on board. The concern is tangling issues with your fishing neighbors as you can sometimes find yourself working closely with the fishermen beside you.

A banana- While I am not a superstitious person, many fishermen are. Bananas are considered to be bad luck when brought on-board a fishing trip and will get you a few looks. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, in the 1700s when boats would carry loads of bananas from one shore to another, they would have to move quickly to keep the bananas from spoiling in the sun. This meant very little time for the crews to fish and it was eventually assumed that the bananas were the reason no fish were pulled in. The other concern is that bananas cause your boat to sink. This also dates back to the same time period when many of the frail boats used to carry loads of bananas would sink under the weight, leaving hundreds of bananas floating in the water above the wreckage.

A firearm- Most boats simply do not allow them.

A fishing license- You won’t need to obtain your own license. Charter boats are equipped with all the proper licensing.

For more information about my trip, visit or search for Queen Fleet Deep Sea Fishing. If you have even the slightest interest in fighting a big fish into a boat with you, I highly recommend deep-sea fishing. Give it a try and let me know what you catch!

On the day you were born

Intimate reflection of a mother’s heart so perfectly worded. I’m left in tears.

Renea Winchester

On the day you were born nothing went according to my plan.

I had read What to Expect When You are Expecting.

I had dog-eared the pages.

I was prepared.


Let’s do this. Let’s gather together and welcome my daughter into this world.

My brother-whom you definitely would want by your side in any emergency situation-was by mine, as was my mother, and my dad until things got bad.

And they did, get bad.

We were known as the miracle birth, because we were both so close to death. I remember the nurse standing on a stool squeezing IV fluid into me . . . fast.

I was cold, so very cold.

I remember the doctor, shouting, “Bring me the baby! She needs to see her daughter!”

He was not my original OBGYN, but a stranger, because we needed-or so it seemed- every available doctor to bring you into this world.

Only you…

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5 Reasons Why It’s Great To Be A Writer Today

Dysfunctional Literacy

He’s grinning because he hasn’t noticed any of his mistakes yet. (image via wikimedia) He’s grinning because he hasn’t noticed any of his mistakes yet. (image via wikimedia)

It’s easy for most writers to be negative.   It’s tough to make enough money to earn a living.   We’re never satisfied with what we’ve written.  No matter how many people read and respond to our work, it’s never enough.  But even with these challenges, it’s better to be a writer today than it’s ever been.

1. Writing is physically easier than it’s ever been.

Authors used to have to physically hold a pencil or a pen and physically write out each word on a sheet of paper.  Even worse, back in the really old days, writers had to dip quills into ink and then got beaten by monks if they made a mistake.

I’m not sure that ever really happened because there’s no ancient video footage of monks beating writers who made mistakes.  If there’s no…

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Writing to a Picture Prompt

Picture Prompt

I very much enjoy writing to a prompt. It is refreshing to narrow down your options a little and let creativity flow within the confines of said prompt! At our last Dalton Area Writers meeting, we all shared a picture that we had chosen and written about. I chose this photo for several reasons that all boil down to….because I liked it. I wrote a poem which is not my normal genre but I am working hard to stretch myself a little. I wanted my readers to feel as though the lady in the photograph was simply desiring to jump into the cool waters when in reality, she was speaking of jumping to her death. My purpose was to bring awareness to the hearts of those around us. Enjoy!

The water before me, just out of reach

Poetic refreshment, it whispers to me

I long for its depth, to know how it flows

I follow its moves, it carries so free

I stand upon the rocks

Its movements entice me

It grasps at my soul

We dance like we are free

I’m left with desire, the need to jump

The void inside, I beg now to fill me

Waiting. Wanting. Not yet completed

Pull back limitations, set us free

On the verge of fiendish iniquity

Will it open to receive me

I glance down at my objective

And leap just to be free

Submerged in its refuge

It now completes me

But soon awake to realize

My dream can never be

Gardening Tips from a Florida Girl: What NOT to do!

I’m talking about what NOT to do because I have yet to figure out what TO do. You see, I knew very little about gardening as a child. I knew that people grew flowers, like my grandparents, who had the most beautiful rose bushes growing in their front yard. I also knew that the neighbor down the street spent the start of every summer digging up row after row in his backyard and sometime later, leafy plants would appear. I also remember being at a particular friend’s house and seeing canning jars full of veggies swimming around in icky wetness but I just assumed her mother shopped at some kind of fancy grocery boutique.

Fast forward 25 years. Now living in Northwest Georgia, such ignorance is simply unacceptable. Walking the aisles of Wal-Mart about this time of year is when you start hearing things like,

“Have you got your tomatoes planted yet?”

“Naw, I hope I can still get a good bunch of em’ before the first freeze this year.”

I am completely lost in a conversation such as this and find myself hiding behind my canned tomatoes. Or a casual church conversation which goes about like,

“I sent some corn over to Betty. I had way too much and you know once that stuff starts poppin up, it just keeps on comin.”

“Yeah, I know. My garden was overrun with squash and beans last year. I darn-well couldn’t keep all the critters out for the free food layin around out there.”

Now, I can honestly say that I’ve never had free food laying around in my backyard but being a thrifty shopper, this sounded heavenly! Thus, I decided that if I wanted into this way of life, I was going to have to dig in and learn some stuff. I started asking my friends questions, visiting garden centers and local feed stores, and stopping by Farmer’s Markets to listen in on conversations to see if I could pick up any free tips. I have tried everything from a raised garden, to container gardening, to just throwing out a bunch of seeds to see what pops up. I have yet to pull anything edible out of the ground but I have learned a lot about my methods and why they don’t work. Here are some of my gardening life-lessons…

1. Seeds like to be babied.

I have tried starting seeds and have discovered that this takes way too much effort for me. My first attempt at growing seeds into plants was a disaster. I bought a cute little seed-starting greenhouse. All I had to do, according to the directions, was throw in a few seeds and watch em’ grow. I carefully placed 2-3 seeds into each little soil lined compartment and made sure they were nice and damp. I then was to spend the next month transporting these seeds out onto my back deck for the proper amount of sunshine each day while being sure they did not receive too much or too little water. Now, this doesn’t sound difficult but take a container which holds lots of soil and soak it all in water and what you have is a very heavy container. By the end of my treacherous month, I had dropped it twice and most of the seeds were eaten out of the container by birds who spotted them as they rose to the surface of the soil. I finally chunked the entire thing over the side of the balcony one day and made the hour-long trip to Costco to stock up on canned veggies.

2. Bugs suck.

I think that I could have had a good bit of something growing a few years back but my season-long toil quickly turned into an all-you-can-eat buffet for bugs. This wouldn’t have been so devastating had they eaten everything before I began to see some signs of life in my garden but they did not. They let me get my hopes up for almost an entire month. I started to see green leaves with little buds forming. I even caught a glimpse of a yellow pepper peeking through its little green flower petals. I sat back in my chair and marveled over my yummy success. I started planning my meals and preparing my dishes for all the vegetable goodness that was to come. But those meals would never appear on my table. Instead, they would fill the belly of a greedy insect and allow him to go on for another day.

3. Onions like to breathe.

I love onions. Despite my children’s protests and picket signs, I put them into everything I cook. Last year, I decided that I needed to learn to grow them. With my previous seed experiences, I chose to forgo that route and just bought bunches and bunches of plants. I figured that I would like to have about 30 onions to put away in the freezer so I would need 30 onion plants. I figured this one was easy. A no-brainer. I dug 30 holes, about a half-foot deep each and tossed in my onion plants. I was about a month away from the most glorious crop of oniony goodness anyone had ever seen.  Later that day, a friend stopped by to see my work.

“Where are the plants?” she asked.

“In the ground,” I replied.

“In the ground?”

“Yes, in the ground.”

“All the way? Like, you buried them?”

She assured me that they would pop up eventually. I waited and waited. I watered and watered and waited some more. The soil began to move and crack and my hard work and dedication began to pay off. I started to see the tops of my plants, poking through reaching for sunshine. But the onions never came. Days passed, weeks passed, months passed.

Winter seemed to take forever so when spring rolled around, I was ready for some sunshine. I decided to give this gardening thing another go. I would need to dig around a little, let my soil breathe and enjoy some sunshine before throwing in something new to kill off. But, much to my surprise, there was more than soil sitting under the top surface of my garden. In fact, there were 30 somethings sitting in there and boy did they stink! I knew growing onions would carry a smell through the neighborhood but 30 rotting ones was so much more than I could have prepared myself for. Three bottles of Febreeze later, I’m pretty sure nothing is going to grow in there again….and all of my neighbors hate me!

So, if you are thinking of starting your own garden this year, by all means, consider taking a class first. And if you have some great tips to share, email me!

Now, if you’ll excuse me…..I’m off to Costco….