Dating and the Single Mom

Not so very long ago, the idea of a mother of teenagers going out on a date was unheard of in the context of real life and good girls. You just simply didn’t do it, and if you did, nobody was supposed to know. Not that Aunt Martha and Grandma Suzzette weren’t discussing your immoral behavior at every family dinner between Easter and Christmas, but… you certainly didn’t tell anyone and you NEVER, EVER would have brought him home to meet the family until you were wearing a little gold band.

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Personal Columnist – Write Your Own

Write a Column – 5 Steps to Your Own Personal Columnist
By Jan Verhoeff

Small town papers the world over are looking for personal columnists to add content to their papers. Ideas run rampant, but as a writer, how can you take advantage of the need for personal columnists? Here are some suggestions you can take to heart.

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Challenge – Life’s Opportunities

Rafting the Arkansas
Rafting the Arkansas
Some view the challenges life offers up with fear. I view them as opportunities to achieve my goals, set new, better goals, or to change my direction all together. When life gives you a challenge, what do you do?

On a river raft, you drift along with the flow of the water and move faster only when you row ahead. When rocks get in the way, you guide the boat away from the rocks. You choose the course for your boat and encourage the boat to go where you want it to go, hoping the river currents accept your superior choice of direction.

But there’s more…

Before you raft a river, you drive the river and have some clue where the rapids are, how far along the river you can raft safely before you hit high risk rapids, or worse, waterfalls. The objective is to raft the river with expected challenges and know the risk before hand, because you want to successfully raft the river.

Change happens.

Life isn’t always predictable. There are changes that happen without our permission or acknowledgement and those changes are the presentation of challenge in our lives. When those challenges come, you know you can get through, because you have the skills to surpass the challenge presented. You now have the edge.

Confidence.

Once you have the edge, you need confidence to carry you through. This week, I experienced the challenge that builds confidence. I learned some valuable lessons while planning and preparing for a conference. The biggest lesson came at the conference when my star speaker, a man I’d been handed on a silver platter and backed out… With less than 24 hours until the conference started, I contacted him and asked if there was any way he could make an appearance. He worked with me to make the appearance, but at some cost, both to himself and to me.

I gained the confidence to ask him, even in the face of his denial, to appear for the event. He came.

I learned to never take the word of a middle man when I need confirmation from a speaker for an event. I learned to get the facts before the press release. And, I learned that no matter how many awards a person has earned, they’re no different than any other person on the planet.

My speaker lost his pedestal, but he gained my respect.

Challenge Presents – A life Opportunity.

The Write One

The Write One presents: Jan Verhoeff

So much fun… I thought about the title for a bit and wondered what I could do that would give power to this blog, and still provide me with a place to write information I enjoy writing about. I’m a constant journaler, always adding to the information in my journals and increasing the pages. But I’m also a people watcher, readily watching and writing what I see.

some of my favorite times are spent writing. I write when I’m happy, or sad, or blue, or angry. It helps to write out my feelings and keep them in my journals. It gives me something to look back on to measure how far I’ve come from where I was last year. Occasionally, I look back and read them. But more often I look forward, and write something new.

The Write One – a message of faith.

When you put words on paper, you give credibility to the words. The Write One offers solid faith substance of the words. A love affair with words effectually changes a writer. One writer known to comment frequently on his own love affair with words, suggested, “Words fold together and harmonize with the way we live. They form the foundation of our lives. Certain words effectively change the the world.”

Jan Verhoeff believes in Nothing but the Write One.

Ice Cream Socials – Friends & Neighbors

Hometowns offer events you’ll never find in a big city. Not that big cities can’t have them, they just don’t. But that’s the fun of living in a small town.

Tonight was the end of summer, Ice Cream Social and Free Swim, put on by the Lamar Chamber of Commerce. KVAY hosted a hamburger and hotdog grill to help a local boy with high medical bills, and the Chamber served up some incredibly delicious ice cream. But the best part was running into friends.

Kevin Estes, a friend from high school was there with his daughter Becky, enjoying time with family and friends. Kirk Carpenter stopped by with his wife and daughter. Andy Curry stopped by to visit with his wife.  New City Administrator Ron Stock and wife Tatiana took a moment to visit with City Counselman, Roger Stagner and wife Leslie. Cindy and Rick Akers held down a picnic table for a while, enjoying the laughter and chatter, while visiting with Mrs. Monroe and daughter Polly.

The Class of 77 from Lamar High School is thinking seriously about setting up a monthly “Meet for chats” date. Several classmates are available in our hometown and it just makes sense to set an evening once a month or so, and do the dinner thing… The question is where?

I sat with a neighbor I’ve known since before I can remember and visited about the short period of time she lived in Washington state. We talked about her summer. She spent time with her kids in the mountains. We discussed family, friends, events, and life. She’s the mother of the little boy I got caught kissing behind the blackboard in Kindergarten, and still a very good friend.

Political wanna-bees had a time visiting, drumming up votes and scaring up new support. Their efforts in a small town event were successful, because they asked the right questions, used the right tone, and smiled a lot. It’s a good town.

I recommend the Ice Cream Socials. They’re fun and full of friends and neighbors.

Giving with an Open Hand

“Life has been generous, and I’ve received the benefit and generousity of others, so it’s time to give back.” These words came from the mouth of a man whom I call friend. I watched as his generousity was received by many, the knowing and understanding grasp he has on giving didn’t surprise me. I’ve known most of my life that people who give benefit greatly from the gifts they give.

How can I give generously? The thought came about out of sheer consideration of the understanding of the source of provision. All things come from God, and in Him, all things are plentiful and good. Blessings are poured out on those who give.

A gift no matter how small, offers the giver an opportunity to bless and be blessed. Can you imagine a greater benefit?

Standing on the rainy side of the grandstands, I watched as a small child reached up to hold her father’s hand. She could barely reach his weathered, work worn hand with her own tiny fingers, but she stretched high and he reached down just a bit and her hand grasped his finger. The look of appreciation on her tiny face sent magical sparkles into the air.  Two teeth shimmered between her lips when she smiled.

I watched from the covered booth where I waited for others to stop and catch a glimpse of history or some conversation under the cover. The drizzle continued for hours. Only a few people stopped by during that time, but that little girl and her daddy stopped in every booth for a moment. She held onto his finger and walked slowly beside him every step of the way.

At the end of our row of booths, a puddle wider than the sidewalk and about six inches deep in the middle loomed. Her eyes grew bigger as they neared the puddle. Before they got to the puddle, her father reached down and swept her up in both arms to carry her across. She laughed with delight as she wrapped tiny arms around his neck and snuggled in for a comfortable ride.

The gift of love.

Such a tender moment, and so freely given. The child’s trust and love came sparkling through. Generousity comes with more than benefits to the receiver. The giver is grandly acknowledged and recognized too.

Sand and Sage Fair

Big Timbers Museum offered a booth at the local county fair this week and there was much to-do about not a lot of anything. Although all the usual folks were there for 4-H and politicians made a big show of appearing in person at the event, including a registration booth for new voters, and a means of turning your registration into a vote by mail option, there really wasn’t a lot going on.

Is it the economy? Was the big question of the day.

No, it wasn’t the economy. In sunny Colorado where the weather in august often reaches a balmy 105 degrees, it was 64 degrees. It wasn’t the weather friends, it was the rain. Nobody wanted to leave their nice cosy homes where they were getting a blessed afternoon to read a book and enjoy life to mosy around the local county fair and look at political booths. And there was precious little else to offer.

A fine lunch put on by the 4-H’ers in Elmer’s Garden offered a fine Saturday noon meal without spending hours in the kitchen. You could have your choice of cookies, cakes, pies or delicious cream puff deserts to top it all off. An afternoon spent bidding on cattle at the auction in the newly completed Pavilion offers a dream come true on a rainy summer afternoon. Bright lights, friends, room to roam around and the galant ring of the auctioneer’s voice bring memories rushing back. Nothing is better.

But there’s still not enough people.

The only commercial booths sold for the event were makeup, jewelry, and candles, under the grand stands and the Big Timbers Museum booth where A.C.E. Writers representative, Jan Verhoeff, offered an ACE Writers drawing for the coming Conference on August 23rd.

When people complain about there not being enough going on in town to keep the kids busy, I always have to wonder where they spend their summers. This year in particular, the Fair was unattended and left wanting on many accounts. I’d like to know where the people went.

Parenting under half a moon…

Summers often remind me of childhood. As a parent, I see visions of the future for my children and I wonder if they’ll remember these days as fondly as I remember my childhood.

Times when we talk into the wee hours of the morning, or when we spend hours watching the stars, the moon, or a lightening show move across the sky. Last night was such a night. Life had gotten the better of my son and I. It was time to talk.

We parked on a knoll and watched the storm build under half a moon, far off in the east. Tall thunderheads billowed, lightening flashed, and color split the sky, somewhere the earth got a drenching.

As we talked, I realized that parenting is like that thunder storm. Two sets of emotions collide, they build to a frenzy and erupt into displays of color and light, thunder rolls, and the skies split open to drench the soul with a cleansing shower. Time passes and the storm moves on to come again another day.

Life is what you make it. Without the thunderstorms and rain showers, we’d never know the blessing of transformation. My son grew last night, to understand that no matter how bad life gets, the good parts of life make them worthwhile. He began to know the value of building strong relationships that can weather the storms, and he gave me great pleasure in the form of acceptance. By knowing that life does continue on, the storms pass, and we grow and learn every single day we exist here on earth.

Burning Bridges & Midnight Oil

Time passes slowly in the summer when the heat beats down on your head and you’re working the hot afternoon. Living in the Arkansas Valley means hot dry summers through most years, and too many afternoons of heat beating down. Dirt blows and the days grow hot and long.

I remember as a child, my grandfather saying, “It’s two in the afternoon and that sun ain’t gonna budge until well after four, I might as well go in and take a nap.” And he did.

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Writer Outreach – The Helping Pen Award

Occasionally, I feel the helping hand of another writer, and I realize that I’ve been given a gift. Writers often sense the need from others to receive, and we give a lot. But when that gift comes back to you, without asking for it, the gift feels different.

Today, out of generosity, a man gave me a gift, and I accepted. I’ve known this man for years. He lives in my hometown, and I know him as a generous and caring man who gives of himself to others. Today, he gave more of himself to me.

He gave me a compliment from the heart, one I’ve never expected. In a conversation with a group of people, he told the group that I was one very talented and giving person. I smiled and said, “Thank you” but the compliment came home. I’ve said the same thing about him, many times, always thinking about how much I appreciate his input on various projects, his encouragement, and his talents.

My point here is that when we live in a community and take part in the lives around us, the interaction becomes a part of who we are. I appreciate this man’s comments, but I realize he could have been any one of any men who live in my community and know me well. This man didn’t have to give me the compliment. But he did. And for that I’m grateful, because I feel the appreciation for what I do.

We can give others the same kind of feeling, inside themselves simply by acknowledging what they do.

Who can you acknowledge this week?

I shall be issuing the Helping Pen Award at an event in late September. If you’d like to nominate someone, contact me at verhoeff.jan@gmail.com

Jan