Thursday, April 30, 2009


I've been thinking a lot about dreams of the future.

This was panning out to be a very tough year for me. I will turn 50 in September and let me tell you, that has drained the energy right out of me. There's no way that I'm ready to hit the half-century mark. I have friends that tell me it's just a number. Other friends tell me that I don't act 50, I shouldn't be worried about it. Well ... horse-patootie. It scared me to death.

When I was 17 years old, I faced life knowing that there was nothing I couldn't learn, nothing I couldn't accomplish, nothing I couldn't do. It might take some hard work and effort, but I was fearless. When I made errors in judgment, I didn't worry about it, I had plenty of time to fix it and change the pace of my life.

I graduated from college and soon became aware that those 4 years of education really weren't going to be the focus of my career. Jobs in the music education field in 1981 were not really available. I began considering a career in Christian Education ... at least something in the church. So, I spent two years working in that type of position. I enjoyed it, but knew I needed more. No problem, let's go back to school and get a master's degree. I applied to the seminary I wanted to attend and was accepted.

Mom called. "Diane, would you consider helping me out in starting a business? It won't be for very long, just until we get some things established. Then, your dad is coming on board and you'll be free to go on."

Great. Sure. I could use the experience and mom needed me. Three years later, she had died and I was saddled with a business that required an incredible amount of my time and effort. I began to set my dreams aside so that I could keep this business going.

Nearly 20 years after that, the business closed and I was free. By this time I was married, living with way too much stuff and had responsibilities to friends and family. I was an established middle-aged woman with absolutely no memory of the dreams I had as a youth. I found a great job, one I thought would be a dream job. I was working in a church as a Communication Director. I loved my family, my friends. It should all be amazing, right?

Except there was that part of me that wondered what had happened to the dream? What had happened to the girl who believed that she could accomplish anything? Why was I limiting myself to the life that I was living? At what point did I accept the mundane world as MY world?

This is part of the baggage I was carrying into my 50th birthday.

Through extraordinary events in the last month or so, I have been reminded of the 17 year old girl that had big dreams and no fears. I had her tucked away so deeply that I'd forgotten she even existed. But, I found her again and she is just begging to be released. Imagine what I can do with the maturity of a 50 year old and the fearlessness of a 17 year old.

The thing is, I can see how God has been setting things into place and preparing me for this journey. When I thought that my existence would remain the same for the rest of my life, He knew better.

The first scripture passage that I chose to memorize in 2009 says, "O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago." (Isaiah 25:1)

I need to step back into His faithfulness. He and I had a lot of plans and dreams that were set into place. I walked away from them, sometimes by design, sometimes because of circumstance. The reminder that came to me is that there is absolutely no reason I can't return to those plans and dreams. And you know what? All it's going to take is a little bit of hard work and effort.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

May Pour Out a Blessing Blogs

Over on my other blog, Pour Out a Blessing, I am excited to introduce you to a friend of mine, Rebecca Bauman. I met her several years ago on Myspace when I ran across her blog. We have been corresponding since then and in her I discovered a kindred spirit with a very different way to look at her walk with Jesus and her interaction with Scripture. You can read her personal blog at

She tells a great story and loves to tell parables to describe her relationship with God. Her writing is over-the-top creative and her insight is not only witty but compelling.

We will be writing together throughout the month of May. I will introduce the passage and then let her take off and pour her heart out to you.

While many of you read this blog through the email I send, I encourage you to click to the online blog every once in a while and send a note of encouragement or feel free to ask questions. A lot of heart and soul gets poured into these things and its sometimes really nice to know someone is reading.

We will go through First & Second Timothy and see what Paul has to say to us as he instructs Timothy on how to deal with the church and as he approaches the end of his own life on earth.

Please invite friends to join us by following this blog or subscribing via an RSS blog reader or they can receive daily emails from me by requesting it at nammynools (@) cox (.) net.

Friday, April 24, 2009

To really know someone ...

What is the most important BIG thing going on in your life right now? Stop and think about it a minute. Identify it. No really ... I'm not going to write any more until you do. Stop reading.

Do you have it in mind? Good, now you can keep reading.

What is the most important BIG thing going on in your best friend's life right now (spouse, significant other, friend, boyfriend/girlfriend, sibling, parent)? Name 5 little things that they are worried about or thinking about. Name 5 things that they are excited about right now.

Now while some of you are quite empathic and might know these things about 1 or 2 people in your life, you have extended friends and family that you actually don't spend a lot of time finding out about because you are too wrapped up in your own small world. You can't actually answer those questions about most of your friends and extended family. You may not even be able to answer those questions about the one person who is closest to you.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately and the way that I respond and react to the many people who weave in and out of my life as well as the way that they respond and react to me.

How many people do you actually trust with the inner depths of your soul - even the ugliness and things that you have buried so far down because you don't want to acknowledge that they exist in your past? What about your fears? Or your dreams?

It is usually one or two people and then we manage to interact with the rest of the world on a very surface level.

We are conditioned to not trust each other. We have to 'earn' trust, it isn't something that is easily given and rarely something that is given unconditionally. If we break trust, then it is removed from the relationship, sometimes with little hope of renewal. Many times great punishment comes and destruction happens.

We also create our relationships based on our past history. We project our own reactions to behavior onto those around us, so expect them to handle our tender soul as we might handle theirs. If you know that you lie to others, that you reveal secrets easily, that you are callous and cruel ... you fully expect the world to treat you with that same behavior, even though people come in and out of your life that have never treated anyone like that. We project our own bad behavior on everyone around us and they have to prove to us over and over that they won't behave in that manner.

I expose a lot of myself in this blog and people who know me on any kind of a personal level know that I expose most of my 'self' to them through many different venues. But, what if I were to share everything inside me ... my greatest fears and the things I am most ashamed of ... my dreams and desires. The things that only 1 or 2 people might know about me.

You see, I wonder if you'd really care (no, I'm not going for teenage angst here - I want you to really think about this). Do you actually care to know that much depth about the people you are close to? Do you want the responsibility for knowing their shame? Do you want the responsibility for helping them to achieve their dreams?

This is for more than the one or two people you are the closest to.

I wonder what life would be like ...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


What are you passionate about?

I don't think I mean to be asking about your political leanings, favorite causes, or even a soulmate, but what is it in your life that completely undoes you.

My friend, Matt Hill, is absolutely passionate about music. He loves to create music, he loves to help others create music. His passion sometimes overloads him and he can barely function because he wants to achieve such a high level of excellence and finds that things hold him back. It is a huge joy to work with him, but at the same time because of the depth of his passion, sometimes it gets a little freaky. Very few can match that depth and he so desperately wants everyone to be there with him.

His wife, Jen is over the top passionate about worship. Her desire to bring others into the presence of God has caused her enormous pain in the past, but that hasn't deterred her. Amy is passionate about her kids and family. She has consciously made choices to be the very best mom and wife that she can be. Cody has a passion for bringing people into the church and taking the church to people. You can tell by the way that he is setting his career forward. Carol is passionate about encouraging growth in young kids and has focused on building that career for a long time.

One of the things that I have treasured in my life is the amount of passion that I can find within myself for so many different things. Long ago, I learned that I wanted to know a lot about a lot of things, but not necessarily everything about one thing.

I can't imagine living a life of 'quiet desperation,' being unable to express yourself with everything available. Those who work in stressful jobs and find that they are living one day to the next with no end in sight haven't found their passion.

I've been thinking a lot lately about where we look for that, how we find it and how we bring it out. Huh. I think the first thing we have to do is release the idea that we have to be able to make money by implementing our passion. If that is a side effect of it, then we win, but it can't be a driving goal or we lose sight of the passion and begin focusing on the end goal.

There are so many things I am passionate about ... Scripture, teaching, writing (notice how easily these can all fall together), people, telling people about the Love of Christ and what He did for them, encouraging people,. These are the things I want to invest my time in and bring to the forefront of my life ... what about you?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Happy Birthday, Jim

Today is my brother's birthday. We'll see if he comes up with something witty to say on his own blog. He tells me that he has the day off. Good for him! It brings him great joy to remind me that I am 5 years older ... yes, he's right. I am.

Today is also a day that we celebrate Mom and Dad's purchase of our haven ... Bell's Dell. Located in north central Iowa on the Boone River, this is the home of our family's best memories. When mom was still in the hospital, just after giving birth to Jim, Dad was finishing the purchase.

Seventeen acres of gorgeous land ... meadows, forest, river. This was a little piece of heaven on earth. Our family grew up there, Jim's family is falling in love with it now as we share it with the next generation and begin to make changes in the structures so that we can continue to enjoy it for many more years. We've hosted youth group retreats and family retreats there, friends have joined us for long weekends ... it's a place to hide, it's a place to share.

1969 - Dad laid concrete and we built a small cabin on 1/4 of the foundation. The rest would come in a few years. But, this was a fun place for us kids.

1971 - Dad found that a church bell was available from a little country church that was being torn down. He got that thing up a hill and it still tolls to remind us when dinner is on the table. You can hear it throughout the valley.

1971 - Mom cooking on an outdoor fire.

The final iteration of the cabin ... Dad added the front screen porch after he retired.

The Boone River ... can you see why we love this place? It's gorgeous!

Monday, April 20, 2009


I don't suppose that I meant to, but I've felt less than whole for the last week and just couldn't come up with any interesting words to put on a page! Here's hoping that turns around quickly!

Last night was the final SingOmaha concert for the season and it was pretty amazing. We performed some terrific literature. If you haven't been to a concert, you need to make an effort. This choir rocks! And you will hear gorgeous choral music performed with very high standards. We'll be back in the fall and just remember, if you aren't coming to these concerts, you're missing something special.

I managed to totally embarrass myself, though. This cold that has wiped me out for the last 6 days? Well ... it got me. I had been dosing on Dayquil to get through the concerts without coughing. Because from my high school years, I have had trouble with this cold. This one settles into my chest and I get terrible coughing spasms. Knowing this, I tried my best to prepare for and avert this. I failed.

I felt terrific - we had gotten to the final piece on the concert - a 5 movement work and we were in the middle of the last movement when I felt the tickle in my throat. I was totally stuck at the piano and there was absolutely nothing I can do to fix it. I had a bottle of water sitting there, so managed to get the top of the water and grab it to soothe the throat. I even looked up to heaven and said, "Really God! I've only got 5 more pages, can you help me here?" Obviously He didn't think that was going to happen. I was coughing and spluttering ... yes, it was gross, spurting tears out of my eyes and snot out of my nose while trying to suppress the cough. Sucking down water ... all the time playing, turning pages, and I freakin' managed to not lose a beat and got all of the notes played.

We made it to the end. I knew that the audience had been watching me ... worrying ... and I knew that I was done - I needed to explode with coughing. I acknowledged the director and the audience and bolted out of there. I wanted to die! Somehow I managed to take the attention away from this beautiful piece of music. All I could think was that if I had been behind the choir, no one would have seen me and I could have just suffered by myself ...

Oh well ... sigh. I simply know that humility is mine to be had at the most inopportune times.

Humility. You know ... I've discovered that is the best thing to keep a person's head on straight. The ability to laugh at oneself and acknowledge that we are less than perfect. As soon as we do that, we discover that the earth continues to revolve, people still love us, and God is still God. It's good to come to that place in the world.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I've been talking to a couple of friends about the Strengths Finder results and in doing so, looked at mine again. This is really an amazing test that managed to offer up some information about me that I had never actually articulated. I kind of wish I had known this when I was much younger, it definitely would have changed my career path. I've always thought that research was something I should have pursued, but it just never happened. As I read through these strengths, I realize I should have gone after this with a vengeance!

Check this out - there's a lot of information and I'm going to highlight some of it so you don't have to read it all. Make your own assumptions about how absolutely correct this is about me. Maybe it will help you understand me better. If you'd like to take this test yourself, here is a link for getting the book (from Gallup Corporation) from Amazon. There's a code in there that will get you to the Strengths Finder website. Oh, and by the way ... I REALLY want to know if you've taken this and what your strengths are

You are fascinated by ideas. What is an idea? An idea is a concept, the best explanation of the most events. You are delighted when you discover beneath the complex surface an elegantly simple concept to explain why things are the way they are. An idea is a connection. Yours is the kind of mind that is always looking for connections, and so you are intrigued when seemingly disparate phenomena can be linked by an obscure connection. An idea is a new perspective on familiar challenges. You revel in taking the world we all know and turning it around so we can view it from a strange but strangely enlightening angle. You love all these ideas because they are profound, because they are novel, because they are clarifying, because they are contrary, because they are bizarre. For all these reasons you derive a jolt of energy whenever a new idea occurs to you. Others may label you creative or original or conceptual or even smart. Perhaps you are all of these. Who can be sure? What you are sure of is that ideas are thrilling. And on most days this is enough.

You are inquisitive. You collect things. You might collect information—words, facts, books, and quotations—or you might collect tangible objects such as butterflies, baseball cards, porcelain dolls, or sepia photographs. Whatever you collect, you collect it because it interests you. And yours is the kind of mind that finds so many things interesting. The world is exciting precisely because of its infinite variety and complexity. If you read a great deal, it is not necessarily to refine your theories but, rather, to add more information to your archives. If you like to travel, it is because each new location offers novel artifacts and facts. These can be acquired and then stored away. Why are they worth storing? At the time of storing it is often hard to say exactly when or why you might need them, but who knows when they might become useful? With all those possible uses in mind, you really don’t feel comfortable throwing anything away. So you keep acquiring and compiling and filing stuff away. It’s interesting. It keeps your mind fresh. And perhaps one day some of it will prove valuable.

You like to think. You like mental activity. You like exercising the “muscles” of your brain, stretching them in multiple directions. This need for mental activity may be focused; for example, you may be trying to solve a problem or develop an idea or understand another person’s feelings. The exact focus will depend on your other strengths. On the other hand, this mental activity may very well lack focus. The theme of Intellection does not dictate what you are thinking about; it simply describes that you like to think. You are the kind of person who enjoys your time alone because it is your time for musing and reflection. You are introspective. In a sense you are your own best companion, as you pose yourself questions and try out answers on yourself to see how they sound. This introspection may lead you to a slight sense of discontent as you compare what you are actually doing with all the thoughts and ideas that your mind conceives. Or this introspection may tend toward more pragmatic matters such as the events of the day or a conversation that you plan to have later. Wherever it leads you, this mental hum is one of the constants of your life.

You love to learn. The subject matter that interests you most will be determined by your other themes and experiences, but whatever the subject, you will always be drawn to the process of learning. The process, more than the content or the result, is especially exciting for you. You are energized by the steady and deliberate journey from ignorance to competence. The thrill of the first few facts, the early efforts to recite or practice what you have learned, the growing confidence of a skill mastered—this is the process that entices you. Your excitement leads you to engage in adult learning experiences—yoga or piano lessons or graduate classes. It enables you to thrive in dynamic work environments where you are asked to take on short project assignments and are expected to learn a lot about the new subject matter in a short period of time and then move on to the next one. This Learner theme does not necessarily mean that you seek to become the subject matter expert, or that you are striving for the respect that accompanies a professional or academic credential. The outcome of the learning is less significant than the “getting there.”

Relator describes your attitude toward your relationships. In simple terms, the Relator theme pulls you toward people you already know. You do not necessarily shy away from meeting new people—in fact, you may have other themes that cause you to enjoy the thrill of turning strangers into friends—but you do derive a great deal of pleasure and strength from being around your close friends. You are comfortable with intimacy. Once the initial connection has been made, you deliberately encourage a deepening of the relationship. You want to understand their feelings, their goals, their fears, and their dreams; and you want them to understand yours. You know that this kind of closeness implies a certain amount of risk—you might be taken advantage of—but you are willing to accept that risk. For you a relationship has value only if it is genuine. And the only way to know that is to entrust yourself to the other person. The more you share with each other, the more you risk together. The more you risk together, the more each of you proves your caring is genuine. These are your steps toward real friendship, and you take them willingly.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Glory Days

There are many things that I love to do, but a couple of them happened this weekend and wow ... it reminds me how much God has blessed me.

Spending time with family and spending time at our cabin. Combine them and it's glorious. It didn't hurt at all that today was a beautiful day!

Deconstruction is happening at the cabin in a major way. Dad (and friends) built this 30-40 years ago (depending on which part). He was a wanna-be carpenter, electrician, plumber ... builder. He scavenged cupboards and windows and other things when they tore down the parsonage in Sigourney. Mom painted them and he put them on the wall. Jim discovered, as he ripped things off these walls, just how minimal Dad's talents were. He did the job and used lots of nails and 2x4s to ensure solidity.

After 30+ years, needs are changing and it really was time to update the look of that place. Since it was one of those things that mom and dad shared, I don't think Dad was willing to make the changes necessary to keep updating the place. He wanted to keep his memories.

Out came the cabinets, out came the kitchen sink, last fall the bathroom was deconstructed, leaving a toilet with a shower curtain and sheets hanging for privacy (trust me, that's not enough).

Jim has already totally transformed the look of the place on the inside by putting knotty pine paneling on the walls. At least in one part of the cabin, we no longer have to look at raw structure and insulation. At some point, this place is going to be amazing!

Max and I pulled in last night after the rest of the family had already been there for a day and a half. I suspect they were a little worried at my reaction to the massive deconstruction. Wow ... it's going to be cool when it's done. We had brought dinner so they were also starving. After a fun evening, we came over to the hotel and fell asleep. Got up this morning and on the way out of here, discovered that Jim's family was returning home early ... I was going to miss seeing them. Max and I started our day with a photo-shoot in Stanford, Iowa ... just a few miles from the cabin.

We had planned to traipse along the backroads of the neighborhood up here, but with no decision needed, changed our plan and headed back out to the cabin. He napped, then spent hours in the woods with his camera. I can't wait to see what he's got ... he'll work on those photos when we get back home. Watch his site. I did some reading and chatted with Carol. She and a friend of hers spent time picking up sticks from the windstorms so that they can mow more easily later this spring.

I didn't get any writing done. But, I did enjoy a beautiful day in a beautiful place. Spring is just beginning to shake off the greys of winter. I can't wait to see it explode in all of its glory!

Happy Easter today ... He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Life is scary

I've been whining for a day or two now about feeling sick. I don't particularly appreciate that side of me. This morning I woke up feeling terrible and called Max just so I could whine all over him. I promptly went back to bed. After waking up for real a second time, I was going through my email and blogs and other assorted online reading. Still feeling a bit sorry for myself. I think I might have even growled at the dog a little bit.

God has interesting ways of bringing me up short. This morning it was in the form of Beth Moore's blog. She spoke at the funeral yesterday of a friend and as I read, I became more and more emotional. I won't give you the whole story here, I want you to read it here!

At the end of her post, she wrote something, though, that took me over the edge. As she and her daughter, Melissa, sat in a doctor's office perusing cancer booklets (no she doesn't have cancer - it was a precautionary visit), Melissa's response to the overwhelming power of cancer and death was, "He knows it's scary to be us."

He knows it's scary to be us.

He knows it's scary to be us.

We get so caught up in our lives and in the pain and struggles that we seem to face regularly. We forget to relax and trust that God cares so much for us ... individually. We push Him away so that we can handle our pain by ourselves and then we think that is where God spends His time ... far from us and far from our pain.

I remember participating in a state piano contest when I was in high school. I was absolutely terrified. Terrified! I had been practicing and practicing for this day, yet my performance anxiety was destroying my confidence. Mom and I went into the bathroom to pray together before I went on stage. I made it through my performance and when I came back out, she had run from the auditorium to be there for me. I saw, at that moment, that she had been on that stage every moment of my performance. She knew when I skidded over a note, when I hit a chord perfectly, when I shook through a measure, when my face crumpled with the loss of a count. She knew every moment of fear that I was feeling up there because she had listened to me practice every day and had heard me as I talked and gave life to my fears. (I did great ... no worries, my fears were nonsense and she knew that as well.)

If my mom knew how scary it was to be me at that moment, how much moreso does God know how scary it is to be us when we have unspoken fears and terrors that we only dream about in our sleep. She couldn't be on stage with me, putting a comforting hand on my back while I played, but God could. Mom died when I was 28. She can no longer assure me of her knowledge of my fears and encourage me to get through them. But, God can! From before the beginning of my life to long after the end of my life on earth, God will care for me through my fears and terrors.

He knows it's scary to be us.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Good night

I know ... it's 3 am and I should be in bed. The problem is - both Max and I have colds and we're not feeling great. It's that 'hacky, crap in the throat along with a little nasal drip' cold. And, he's really restless, even after taking Nyquil. Since he's the one that has to get up at 6:30 am to go to work tomorrow, I want him to get as much rest without me being in the bed and causing him and trouble. I tried to talk him into a sick day tomorrow and he said 'no.' Ok, fine ... I'll make it as easy as possible on you, then.

So, I did a little writing, watched "Chaos Theory" from Netflix, then decided to clean off my desk. Remember my distractions? Oh, I've got 'em. In fact, as I'm writing this, I see a few more things that could be rearranged to make life easier. And, hmmm ... I've got a huge stack of magazines I should read and toss out.

I don't know WHY I order magazine subscriptions. They seem like such a good idea at the time. The thing is, I even know this about myself and for years I refused to allow any more to come into the house! Did I simply lose my mind when I left the workplace? At what point did I think I would actually take time to read through these magazines. Ok, "Wired" was a free subscription because I ordered some electronics or something from Amazon. And "Christianity Today" was actually free because I participate in a series of surveys. But, "The Writer" and "National Geographic" were choices that I made. Oh, don't forget "Biblical Archeological Review." Yup ... ordered all of those. They're building up.

While cleaning, I was trying to wipe down my keyboard. A couple of keys had something funny on them. Oh. Huh. It's not that there's something funny on them, I have simply worn the paint off the tops of the keys. And let's see, does this mean that the shift key, the period, the 'c,' 'd,' and 'L' keys are the ones I use the most often? Because they are all beginning to show serious signs of wear.

Max tells me that keyboards should be replaced at least once a year because of all of the germs and garbage that they collect. (think about that for a few minutes and see if you don't begin to consider it.) I think that once a year is a bit too often. Actually, I generally end up killing my keyboards. The poor pathetic things can't hold up under the constant battering. There is nothing worse than a keyboard that refuses to allow you to type specific letters.

Well, that was gross. I just turned mine upside down and shook it. Don't do it unless you are exceptionally clean or really well prepared for the stuff that falls out on your desk.

Alright ... things have gotten quiet. Maybe I'll take my Kindle in and read for awhile. Hopefully I won't disturb him too badly.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Holy Week

We are in the middle of one of the Holiest Weeks of the Christian Calendar.

Two years ago, I wrote about the week as it unfolded. If you would like to read those entries, I am posting links to them here:

Palm Sunday
Maundy Thursday
Good Friday

Scripture says nothing about what happened on Saturday of that week. My bet is that after the emotional upheaval of the week, everyone that knew Jesus was resting. He had promised that He was coming again. They were either waiting or they were too traumatized to even think about it.

Dream to Reality. Ever?

I have a cold ... so, I seem to be unable to grapple my way back to happy, sunshiny Diane. This might explain some stuff over the last few days. I've been absolutely frozen! That's weird for me, I tend to the 'warm' side of things. But, I've been covering up with a blanket and wearing a sweatshirt jacket around the house. I just figured I was reacting against the weather around here. But, it wasn't that bad even when temps outside were in the teens and below. It makes more sense now.


I've started a writing journal. Sheesh, what a great idea and how stupid of me not to think of it before now (ok, I didn't really think of it - I read about it on a writing forum somewhere). In it goes all sorts of little tidbits - all of those things that on the spur of the moment seem incredibly creative and like a really good idea. I always figure I'll remember them, but I never do and within a few hours, they are long gone. This little guy will travel with me and if you see me scribbling a quick note, it's only to ensure that I can keep the memory. I have totally fallen in love with the moleskin journals. Are you kidding me? I love my Calendar Journal and now I have gotten a lined journal. These just make it fun to write.

Yup ... I can't believe I prefer this over some type of electronic item, but there it is.


I just started reading John C. Maxwell's "Put Your Dream to the Test." Ok, they offered it to me FREE on the Kindle, so I could hardly refuse. Here's the product description from Amazon:

What's the difference between a dreamer and someone who achieves a dream? According to best-selling author Dr. John Maxwell, the answer lies in answering ten powerful, yet straightforward, questions. Whether you've lost sight of an old dream or you are searching for a new one within you, Put Your Dream to the Test provides a step-by-step action plan that you can start using today to see, own, and reach your dream. Dr. Maxwell draws on his forty years of mentoring experience to expertly guide you through the ten questions required of every successful dreamer:

· The Ownership Question
· The Clarity Question
· The Reality Question
· The Passion Question
· The Pathway Question
· The People Question
· The Cost Question
· The Tenacity Question
· The Fulfillment Question
· The Significance Question

More importantly, Dr. Maxwell helps you to create the right answers, giving you principles and tips to so you can make good decisions and maximize every moment to achieve your dream. Don't leave your dream to chance. This book is a must-have and can make the difference between failure and success.

It's an interesting book. I've just started it and am a little overwhelmed at what he's saying to me. In some ways, I've made great strides, yet in others, I might have to cross a bridge that absolutely terrifies me (think: swinging bridge made of hemp over a large gorge - many of the links are missing).

I also read an interesting thing from a publisher who said (in essence) that if a writer can just get the first draft written, they can get on the path to publication. In other words, most people who think they are writers are nowhere near getting even that far.

There is a huge chasm between dreaming about something and then making that dream a reality. Let me tell you from experience that it sometimes seems as if every single stumbling block that could occur ... will occur.

And distractions? They are everywhere! Paying bills, doing taxes, sick animals, sick family members, sick me! And then there are all of the things that I need to read before writing something and those always lead to something else and something else ... and before I know it, I am NOWHERE near my original thought process. There's making a decision about dinner and lunch and letting the dog out and taking a shower and ... oh ... a nap! There's straightening my desk, and emptying the trash and clearing out a bookshelf and folding some laundry and ... oh ... the cat needs snuggling.

THIS is why I need to be a hermit. But, I worry that I would simply find other distractions. Can you imagine the distractions in a wooded area? I'd be a goner. Trees and birds and oh, crap ... there's a tick in my hair. Then, the breeze in the woods and the sound of the river and look! there's a deer in the meadow.

HAH ... I'm never going to get that first draft of my novel written.

Monday, April 06, 2009

And now, for something totally different.

Last week, I mentioned that I had harangued Max until he just placed a small camera in the cart on Amazon for me. It came in today!!! I was so darned excited, I could hardly wait.

I went out to lunch with my sister and some other friends (at Pepperjax, because it's the BEST place EVAR!) and I was hoping that the Amazon box would be at my back door by the time she got there, because when it comes to fun things in packages, I get a little giddy. Alas, it wasn't there.

But, when she pulled in my driveway to drop me off, I saw the box with its happy little smile waiting for me. I couldn't open it, though ... Leica was bouncing at the back door, waiting for me to let her outside. Then I hauled it upstairs and nearly wet my own pants trying to get everything up the steps and me into the bathroom.

I checked Facebook and my email when I got into the study and found a couple of things that needed to be answered right away, and I had to call my brother to figure out the weekend and then call the hotel in Webster City for reservations and then a friend called and then I had to gather laundry for the evening (Max does laundry, but only what is in the basket).

So, I waited and waited and waited and waited to open the box and play with the new camera. FINALLY!

Now, the funniest thing about my camera demand is that Max has a perfectly good camera for me. In fact, it's a camera that most people would yearn for. You would think I would be happy. But, I just couldn't do it. It was too much! So ... I got my new camera. I DID read that it was about the size of a deck of cards. Ummm ... yup! *giggle*

The camera I COULD be using and the camera I prefer to use ... all in one shot. Because I'm the biggest goofball ever.

More boxes

I guess I'm not finished with my introspective study yet. After writing the "Little Boxes" blog yesterday, I set it aside, assuming that outside influences caused me to set that in motion.

However, it garnered some comments which made me realize that a lot of people feel pressured by society to design and manipulate the boxes that define them.

Of course, that caused me to spend time in thought today and while I'm fairly certain that the pathology of human interaction will remain the same, I'm still going to push against the definitions that others have of me so that I can establish my own sense of being.

I remember sitting at the dining room table with most of my family. Jim was away at college, so poor Dad was stuck with three women. We were chattering away as quickly as we could and he sat there in stunned silence, completely unable to speak over our words. Then, the giggling began.

You see, Carol had asked Dad a question and before the poor man had even recognized his name in the query, mom or I had responded for him. We felt that we knew him well enough to know what his response would be to the question.

Now while that was hilarious at the time, I find that I absolutely despise it when people assume to know what my response to a given situation will be.

When meeting with my friend from high school last week, I heard more tales of a community's assumptions about me. Boys wouldn't ask me to go out with them because they were afraid of my father's response. I wasn't asked to be at most of the fun parties in town (read: keggars) because my father would find out. Consequently, I didn't know half of the fun things that were happening, because kids assumed that I told my dad everything.

Reality? I told him NOTHING! In my world, what Dad didn't know - wouldn't hurt me. Being the preacher's kid in a small town was tough ... because of assumptions that were made about my reaction to a given situation. I would have liked the option to make my own decisions, but the box that wrapped itself around me eliminated that possibility.

As an old lady (less than 50 years old, thank you very much), I look back and realize that I stayed out of a lot of trouble because of what happened, but as an old lady who knows what she could have handled at that age, I'm annoyed that my options were stripped away from me and that I was never given the choice to participate or walk away.

I still can not bear it when I discover that people make decisions based on what they think they know about me. They won't discuss things with me because they assume I have a certain opinion and lump me in a box. There are behind-door conversations regarding what I might or might not do or say in a conversation or situation, but I don't find out about those until after decisions have been made and again ... options are stripped away.

So, what is that you think you know about me? Whether it is right or wrong, good or bad ... set it aside. I want you to always be questing to know me better, to let me redefine myself to you constantly. I don't want to fit into your definition of Diane Greenwood Muir. And I promise to do my best to give you the same consideration.


This is Easter week. We remember and celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ who gave His life, not just to save His friends, but to redeem all of mankind. His sacrifice was so amazing that it transformed the world.

Last night as I was skimming the news, I came across this article and everything within me wept. I understand that there is hunger in Omaha and throughout our country, but this reminder tore at me.

I told Max that I was sending money to one of the local food charities and wrote the check. The only thing that disturbs me about this is that I needed to be reminded.

How many of us go out to dinner regularly and order incredible amounts of expensive food with our friends and families? Or ensure that there is more than enough in our homes for everyone to eat. How many times have we pushed back from the table - sated.

I don't believe that we should ever feel guilty for the blessings that we have or the enjoyment of a great meal. But, I do believe that we should share those blessings. There are children in our communities that will be desperately hungry over spring break because they aren't receiving a meal at school. When a family relies on a few snacks such as those given away by CampFire in the article above, which would barely feed one child, for their weekend's food ... we have to help!

This blog won't promote any one of the huge number of food assistance programs, but if you don't have one that you support, be proactive and do a little research. They're all caring for many, many people right now and your sacrifice can bring blessings.

When in doubt

Don't hit 'post.'

The problem with a 40+ year old woman having access to immediately publishing her thoughts online is that she has access to immediately publishing her thoughts online.

You see, I get weary of angst-ridden blogs and the painful sharing of thoughts that will be replaced with normal thoughts within a short time.

I generally know better.

But, between the hormones of a 40+ year old woman (Fran, if you say a word, I will do very bad things to you) and the fact that I'm darned tired of the cold weather, I decided that I needed to whine about something incredibly insignificant in my world ... boxes. HAH. The words and thoughts sounded so deep and terribly important. Sheesh ... I'm a dork.

The only good thing about it was that I gave you a link to this blog in one of my comments.

So, when you read angst in my blogs ... I give you permission to assume that hormones prevailed in my day.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Little Boxes on a Hillside

I grew up singing this song for some reason. Everytime Max and I drive by a large development with matching houses, the words creep into my mind.

The thing is ... that's not really the subject for my blog. Though it's a good subject for another blog. Maybe another day.

I've been thinking about the boxes that we expect each other to fit in. I ran up against this last night and have been processing it quite a bit today, wondering at my response to the whole thing. I met some people last night and spent time with them for the first time ever. While at dinner, knowing that I wasn't attending a church right now, one of them asked if I had found a church and I discovered that I needed to defend myself and explain myself. I don't fit into a proper box with this issue because in America, all good Christians attend and are involved in a local church on Sunday mornings. If you aren't, well ... you are either fallen away or are in rebellion. I don't fit in that box.

A little later on, the subject of me not working outside the home came up and I realized that I no longer fit in that box either. Now, 20-25 years ago, no one automatically assumed that women worked outside the home, but at this point ... everyone should be in the workplace ensuring productivity for the family. I don't fit in that box.

I then discovered that I felt the need to explain my goals and hopes for the future. You see, I'm supposed to have those well defined if I'm not going to be a productive member of society right now. If it's seminary or continuing education or something like that, well, those are boxes that people understand and can accept, so they'll conveniently drop me into one of those and brush their hands together in relief. But, I really don't fit in that box.

I'm expected to go and do a lot. I prefer to be in my study, reading and studying and writing and being a hermit. But, that's not a box that people are comfortable with. So, when I don't want to go out and do all the time, I raise eyebrows of confusion from my friends. I don't fit in a normal 'friend' box.

When I was a small child, I tended to run up against the popular girls quite often. They didn't really like me because I was a bit of an independent thinker. And, when I didn't fit in their box, they eliminated me from their play. I would run home in tears not understanding what had happened to me. Mom spent a lot of time ensuring that I understood that unique was not the worst way to live in the world. I've never been comfortable with well-defined boxes.

At the same time, because I also grew up in a family that learned to play the game and fit in so that Dad's ministry could be effective in a community, I find myself trying to adjust the boxes so that they will fit my personality. What I need to do is toss off the idea of a box completely!

I am still struggling back and forth with this. I try to keep people around me content and satisfied and I attempt to avoid stirring up dissension. I want my friends to be happy and not stressed, I want them to see normalcy when I'm around. But, all kidding aside (I know you all want to tease me about that word - normal), I'm not comfortable in the defined walls of the boxes that I am expected to reside within.

So ... busting out of the boxes and shredding them to pieces seems to be a great idea. I wonder if I have the courage.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Random Thursday evening blathering

This has been a weird week. It's been great, but I feel kind of (hmmm) fuzzy.

I've been doing a lot of writing and studying. Working on the May Pour Out a Blessing blog right now so that I can surprise you all with some FUN!! (announcement later in the month). But because it's so much FUN, I need to be working on it right now so that it all pulls together.


The weather might be messing with my brain. I desperately want gorgeous, spring temps but I wake up to freezing temps in the morning, warming up later in the day ... I'm obviously confused by stuff.

I've actually been gone from the house a lot more this week and that always messes with my days. I count on having a long period of time to concentrate and think so that I can get my focus pulled together. When I know that I only have a few hours to get everything done, I tend to avoid the things that require several hours of focused concentration and then I'm frustrated. It's not bad ... just a different way that I'm spending this week.

Today was awesome ... I had no commitments and was able to spend a lot of time just processing and concentrating. But, this is the last day of that for awhile again, so I felt pressured to push forward a bit.

Sheesh ... I am such a hermit!


Leica is a riot. She has taken to following Max everywhere he goes. The poor guy feels like she wants something from him (like a quick trip outside), but really, she just wants to be where he is at. She has become quite used to having us around a lot. Ichabod's personality has transformed with me at home during the day, too. He is now following ME everywhere. If I go to the bathroom, he is there with me, if I go downstairs, he follows and watches from a distance (because Leica is usually tripping around my feet). When Max and Leica go to bed (yes, she keeps a close eye on his bedtime), Ichabod can hardly wait to jump in the basket beside me so that he can be close. Our animals are definitely thrilled with having us around. It's kind of cute and it's pretty wonderful.


Poor Max. I drive him crazy. You would think I'd be satisfied with the amazing cameras that he has in the house. But, honestly ... those are his cameras. I don't want to be bothered with having to think about lens caps or which lens I should be using. I don't like having this massive contraption sitting beside me all the time and if we're out messing around, I don't want to have to stop everything to dig in the camera bag and get out a camera.

So, I whined ... a lot!!! And reminded Max at every opportunity that I was missing a photo op because I didn't have a point and shoot camera. Do you feel sorry for him? You should. I was merciless.

Earlier this week I logged into Amazon and was confused by a recommendation that showed up on my home page. Based on things that I had in the cart (a pair of jeans and a pair of glasses and a moleskin journal?) it was recommending that I purchase a camera case. Errr ... what?

Poor Max had been doing research on a good point and shoot for me and found one and placed it in the cart. I WIN!!! (don't I always?) I can't wait for it to show up. My camera, my camera, my camera!!! Whee!!!


My brother told me this morning that I needed to be taken off caffeine. He might be right. But, I can't help it when I get excited about something. All I did was send him an email about these cool toys and the subject line said "COOL! COOL! COOL! COOL! COOL!" He told me he was cutting me off the caffeine. But, they're so cool! ... sigh


I took a nap at 7:30 this evening. Jealous? Yah ... baby. I had done so much reading and studying during the day, I wore my poor brain out! But, that means I'm going to be up for awhile tonight. And THAT just makes me smile. I like my nights. Things are quiet and the world around me is at peace. Yup, I'm such a hermit.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

My affections can be bought ?! Sometimes!!!

So ... I wrote an innocent blog a few weeks ago when Max and I returned from northwest Iowa. Just kinda chatting about the things we had done on our trip through the area. I happened to mention the Ice Cream Capital of the World in LeMars, Iowa.

Well, if you read the comments under that blog, you will see that someone from the PR firm for Blue Bunny asked if I would like a couple of coupons since I had missed getting ice cream while I was there. Ummm ... YES! Please! and Thank You!

They showed up today with a very nice letter (written not in email, but on stationery - hah! Who still does that?).

Talk about some customer service!

So, the moral of this story is ... take care of your customers and they will definitely root for you in the big, bad competitive world. I'm just saying.

LeMars isn't that far of a drive - we're going back one of these days and I AM getting ice cream on site!

Reading ... and stuff

Would you believe that I never read the Anne of Green Gables/Avonlea stories when I was young? Well, I didn't believe it either. And it's kind of weird, because Carol read them. So, that means they were in the house. Now either she hid them from me or something, because there weren't too many books in that house that I didn't read. I drove mom crazy when I was a kid. If there was printing, I was reading it. At breakfast, I read every cereal box on the table ... over and over. If there was a newspaper nearby, I read the entire thing. I learned to read upside down so that I could figure out what was on her desk (a trick that has gotten me lots of information through the years). I couldn't just sit still. If I tried it, I was fiddling with something or messing with something else unless you put words in front of me. Then I would just calm down and read.

I'm not sure how I managed to miss this entire series, but I did! Some of the more contemporary young adult books didn't come out until after I had gotten too old for them, but heavens, this series was written in the early 1900s!

A friend challenged me to read them. So, off to Amazon I went. If they were available on the Kindle, I was certainly up for that challenge. And there they were - at 99 cents each (yup, you read that right). I finished the first book this afternoon. Yes. I cried.

I also started re-reading "Little Men" by Louisa May Alcott and I'm still reading a wonderful series by Kim Harrison - all about vampires and witches and werewolves, pixies, fairies and elves. Another friend recommended "Gomorrah" about the Naples Organized Crime syndicate. I just realized that I'm only 2/3 through Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat Pray, Love" and am in the middle of "Red Mars" (free on the Kindle right now) and "The Ghost Brigades" by John Scalzi.

Whoa. I'm never going to run out of words to read!

The thing is, I need to stop reading these words and start writing words! I have a ton of them in my head right now. But, it is so much more fun to read.