Author Archives: lcrawford1

Inspiration and JOY from Others

stairway to heaven

Yesterday I said goodbye to a dear woman. She lived to the ripe age of ninety, surviving her husband and son. I smiled during the service when I thought about the gift this lovely woman gave me. She never knew how much she taught me about myself.

I met Jane five years ago after the death of her husband. Due to health issues, she couldn’t stay alone more than a few hours at a time. Her daughter asked me if I would stay with her at night.

For three weeks, I drove to her home late in the afternoon. We prepared and ate dinner together. Then, we retired to the family room to listen to music or watch television. But, throughout the evening, we mostly talked. At ten o’clock every night, Jane took her weary body to bed. Once she fell asleep, I retired to the room across the hall from her. In the morning after breakfast, I left for home, only to return later in the day.

On Sundays, I drove Jane to church—the church she and her husband attended for fifty plus years. After Mass, we stopped to buy flowers and headed to the cemetery to place them on the graves of her husband and son. Then we went to Denny’s, her favorite place for brunch. She knew all of the servers and regulars at the restaurant and made sure I walked out of there with new friends.

The weeks went by quickly. During our many hours together, Jane shared her life story. I listened to this woman, intrigued by what she told me. She talked endlessly about her Joe. The stories were fascinating, and I felt as if I knew her family well.

On the drive to my house one morning, I found my creativity blooming. I decided I needed to express myself in a new avenue. Thus began my adventure in writing.

Since that time, I have written two stories and 50,000 words of a third. I am obsessed with writing. I find my creativity continues to grow and make it a point to nurture the artist within me. I know I’m not alone on my journey. When I sit at my computer, I am amazed when the words God brings to mind flow from my fingertips. I am elated and full of JOY at the turn my life has taken.

I told Jane’s daughter and grandson that their loved one is the reason I write. She brought out an excitement for life in me. She lit a flame of inspiration deep within me. I learned something about myself during those three weeks in 2011. I learned of a passion deep inside—one that sat dormant for sixty years. On January 1, 2012, I wrote my first words, and I haven’t stopped.

Yesterday, the priest used the words everlasting JOY in regards to what Jane has now. I thank her, from the bottom of my heart, for what she gave to me. There is no better way to say it than everlasting JOY.

If I could speak to Jane today, I would say, “Thank you for sharing the journey of your life with me. Thank you for sparking passion in my heart and helping me realize I have a God-given gift. I will always remember your smiling face and sweet voice as you shared your heart. I am thankful God intersected our paths. As you took your last breath, I bet you JOYfully ran into your Joe’s arms, and Jesus smiled as he engulfed both of you in His loving embrace. I miss you, but you’re in a perfect place. I will love you forever.”


Each of us has someone who has taught or shown us something valuable about ourselves. Many times, that someone is a parent, grandparent, teacher, or friend. Sometimes the person is a spouse, child, or stranger. Right about now, a person who encouraged you has come to your mind and heart. Perhaps there’s a smile on your face and your heart beats with JOY at the thought of what this person gave to you.

Who inspired you? Who took you under their wing and taught you something about yourself? What did he or she encourage you to do—become a better person, listen to others, get out of your shell, love? Perhaps you discovered you could write, draw, or run a marathon. The readers and I would love to hear about your passion. When were you inspired? Who helped you be more than you thought you could be? Click on the Leave a Reply button and share your JOYous journey with us.

Be blessed today, my friend. Thank the person who inspired you. Thank God for bringing that special person into your life. Experience the JOY that comes your way.

trust in the Lordmake a difference

Family JOY on Christmas


As I prepare for our family Christmas Eve festivities, I find myself deep in thought about my children—thoughts of when they were young and how they’ve grown into remarkable adults. Of course, like any parent, I suppose I’m bias. But, JOY comes from watching their lives unfold. I am amazed and realize how blessed I am to be their mother.

My son is the oldest, and he puts all of his passion into his work. He wants to help people succeed in life and have restored health. He manages an organic farm and supervises individuals who are returning to the workforce. His goal is to teach the world about health and wellness through proper nutrition. I respect his passion for helping others and believe he makes a difference in lives each day.

The oldest daughter is a mother of five. Two are in college already; where has the time gone? She juggles her hours with the other three, taking them here and there. Plus, she works at the school during the day. I’m proud of the type of mother she is to my grandchildren. I should have known she would be a good mom. She is my stepdaughter and many years ago, when my two kids visited their father on weekends, she always hung around and showered me with love and attention. She must have sensed how lonely I felt without them home. I’ll always be thankful for her empathy and kindness.  She made a difference on those many weekends. She makes a difference today as a mom.

My middle daughter is an incredible woman. From the time she was little, she wanted to be a nurse. But, life didn’t oblige. She became a software developer. After a twelve-year career and two babies, she quit her job and put herself through nursing school. She now works in ICU at a local hospital.  I hear the passion in her voice when she talks about how good it feels to help, care for, and comfort the sick. Although I haven’t seen her at work, I know without a doubt that she puts her heart and soul into taking care of her patients. She’s a dedicated, compassionate woman who makes a difference to those in her care and their families.

The youngest daughter has a heart for special needs children. She began working with them while still in high school. When she graduated, she acquired a job with the high school district. I’ve seen her in action, and she’s amazing with the students. Her passion takes over, and she always seems to know just what to do in any given situation. Her co-workers respect her and utilize her passion and expertise to diffuse many circumstances. My little girl has grown into an awesome young woman and mommy who is making a difference in this world. She has no idea how she blesses me as she lives her selfless life.


Christmas is about giving of ourselves. I share these accomplishments because, at this time of the year, it’s important to put others first. My children live to make a difference in lives. They are examples of passionate, giving human beings. They give me JOY.

On Christmas Eve, I get to be with all of them. Once a year, we share dinner and open gifts. This year, however, my son will be missing from the equation. He moved away last year and can’t get home for Christmas. But, the girls will be here with their spouses and children. My house will be noisy—full of JOY, laughter, chatter, and celebration.

Some time before opening the gifts, I will ask the grandchildren why we celebrate. Two or three will answer, “Because it’s Jesus’ birthday.” In satisfaction, I will sit back and watch my loved ones interact as I reminisce of past Christmases. I will love every minute of our time together.

Christmas may only come once a year, but the gift of giving to others can happen every day. May you experience the JOY of giving from the heart this wonderful season.

Merry Christmas from my home to yours.

light of love



NaNoWriMo. What in the world does that mean?

November is National Novel Writing Month. Writers at all levels think about the month of November as an intense writing month. We live and breathe words as we sprint and make ourselves meet a goal of 50,000 words during the month.

Last year was my first year to participate. I decided I would do over and above the qualifications for NaNoWriMo. I wanted to begin a new book on the first of November every year.

On November 1, 2014, I wrote the first word of JOURNEY OF A DISTANT HEART. On November 30, I finished NaNoWriMo with 50,485 words. I averaged 1,682 words a day. Last week, I sent an 111,000-word draft to my JOYful Heart readers for feedback.

Originally, my goal was to have the story to them by October 31 so I could jump right into NaNoWriMo on November 1. I was about a week behind schedule. I stressed and didn’t know how I was going to finish my last edits on the current story and get it to my readers; let alone start writing 1,666 words a day during the month of November.

I was in a pickle because I’m big on setting dates and holding myself accountable. If no one else is giving me a due date, then it is up to me to do so. I need to stay motivated.

Then it dawned on me—the goal is a personal goal. No one is telling me I have to do any of this. I do it because of a creative passion deep inside of me—a God-given passion. I have choices.

I could finish the edits and get the story out to my readers. Then, start writing the new story for NaNoWriMo. I could attempt to do them simultaneously. My Super-Woman-self said, “Do them both at the same time. Yes. You can do it, I know you can.” However, I was stressing.

I don’t know about you, but when I stress over something, I get very flustered. I make mistakes. I become grumpy to all my loved ones. I snap at strangers. I might even get depressed.

I reminded myself again that my deadline is a personal one. No one is telling me I have to do this.

I refocused. I wanted my readers to have up to a month to read JOURNEY OF A DISTANT HEART. When they get back with their opinions, I need a few weeks to make any changes that I feel are necessary. In January, I plan to send a few queries to agents. I decided that I needed to finish one project before I began the other, no matter how much I wanted to do the thirty-day NaNoWriMo.

On November 1, 2015, I sat in front of my computer with a blank Word document in front of me and began typing page one of THE FORGOTTEN HEART. I wrote five hundred and ninety-seven words and plugged my word count into the NaNoWriMo site.

For the next week, I did nothing but my edits on the book for my readers. On November 8, I made copies and prepared the document for them. On November 9, I sent the rough draft to the JOYful Heart readers. Also, on November 9, I picked up where I left off on the new story.

So, how am I doing? I am very excited and full of JOY. I have written over 11,600 words since the morning of November 9. If I write 2,300 words a day, I can still make the 50,000-word goal by November 30. That is still my goal, and I am a dedicated woman who plans, works the plan, and succeeds whenever possible. I write in increments of 500 words at a time, and I am on the move. By this time next year, I’ll be finished with THE FORGOTTEN HEART, and be on to the next NaNoWriMo creation.


So, what is my message?

If you want something bad enough, plan how you will accomplish it, start working that plan, and watch it come to fruition. If you run into a life snag, refocus, re-plan, and make your dreams come true. I know you can do it. The sky is the limit. JOY awaits you.

never too old for goal or dream

Halloween Scarecrows of JOY

scarecrow 3 amigos and wine server

I am not the person you want to talk to about Halloween because I’m not fond of the holiday. From the time I was a little girl, I remember being afraid of scary things. Halloween brings eerie, dark-sided people and things into view. No JOY there.

When I went trick-or-treating, I wore something pretty or cute. As long as I was a princess, baby, beatnik, or something else nonscary, I could walk the streets with my like-minded friends and handle my fears.

I remember one dark, Halloween night when my companions and I sauntered up the sidewalk to a house with no lights. I told my friends that we shouldn’t go to the house because there were no lights on and they weren’t home anyway. But, the crowd headed to the door, and I tagged along. No one answered. When we turned to walk away, two very monster-like men came out of the bushes at us with snarls and grunts. I almost wet my pants. Times like that ruined Halloween for me.

And, then there were the cavities and fillings that went with the huge bag of candy I collected. I remember many a winter afternoon walking to the dentist to get more fillings. No, thank you. Halloween is not for me.

Today, though, I have grandchildren who come to my home all dressed for the occasion. This year, I know at least three of them will stop by—a cupcake, cat, and egg. Perhaps even more of our grands will stop and say hi. It’s difficult not to have some JOY when I look at their happy faces of excitement. We always have candy for them, and they trick-or-treat along our street where their parents did the same many years ago. This is the highlight of my Halloween.

My youngest daughter brings her two-year-old to our home and two or three big bags of candy. She and her daughter sit in the driveway and hand out a few pieces to each child visitor. Occasionally, I will sit outside with them and chit chat, but even though the trick-or-treaters are cute, I don’t enjoy it much. I’d prefer to read a good book, sew, or watch a program on television.

In October, my husband and I were enJOYing a drive along the coast and happened upon the Cambria Scarecrow Festival in California. When I saw the name of the event, I told Don I wasn’t interested in seeing a bunch of scarecrows. Nevertheless, we drove through the quaint town and checked out some of the creative art.

The first one I saw looked like a skeleton in clothes. I panicked and wanted to leave right then. However, as we drove down the main street, every store had devised some type of paper mache scarecrow. Many of them were symbolic of the store or restaurant where they stood.

A nice-looking scarecrow dressed in jean overalls and holding a bucket guarded the creamery. He was not threatening. A beautiful fairy and a young boy were somewhat cute. And, I can’t forget the three amigo mariachis and the man serving wine outside of a Mexican restaurant.

On the main drag of Cambria, I had a good laugh. Three nuns stood alongside the road holding a surfboard, their habits blowing in the wind. If we could have stopped for a picture, we would have. A family of five, the paper mache kind, rode their bicycles along the edge of a street. The bikes were real and each person in the family was dressed for their age group. Very cute indeed.

But, my favorite was a man and woman in front of a hotel along Highway 1 near the outskirts of town. He was supposed to be William Randolph Hearst and her, Julia Morgan, his architect. They were peering across the highway, she pointing up toward the hills to the place where Hearst Castle towers over the area.

Did these scarecrows frighten me? For the most part, no. Were they fun loving, cute, and fun? For scarecrows, yes. Since the figures were made of paper mache, only their mothers could love their faces. Nevertheless, each scarecrow was unique—dressed in real clothes and true to their theme.

The artists obviously had a JOYful time creating their sculptures. As we left Cambria, a paper mache man with jeans, a red shirt, and suspenders held on for dear life to a lamp post as the wind carried him off the ground and horizontal to the road. His mouth was wide open as he screamed his silent scream and for a brief moment, I liked Halloween.


My trip through Cambria taught me that things are not always as they seem. Halloween is a time to let yourself go. I’m still learning how to do that, but the JOY I get along the way is priceless.

Is Halloween one of your favorites? Do you believe in magic, ghosts, and goblins? I’d love to hear how this fun filled day brings you JOY.

scarecrow couple pointing

scarecrow dairy farmer

Scarecrow fairy          scarecrow boy









The Pure JOY of Manners

please thanks

Did someone teach you manners? My mother was adamant that my siblings and I were explicit with our words. As a child, please became the magic word in our house. We would ask our mom, “Can I have a cookie?” Mom would reply, “What’s the magic word?” Walla, our brains would process and please would automatically escape from our mouths. What JOY our parents felt when we made a good impression in front of other people.

Thank you, your welcome, excuse me, yes (never yeah), no (never nope), God bless you—these were expected. I’m not certain if I’m sorry was part of the etiquette, but that was necessary for our household, too. And, don’t forget I love you—the words that always made others feel special and full of JOY.

You may have used different words of etiquette in the house where you lived. Growing up in military surroundings, some of my friends were required to say yes sir and no mam instead of yes and no. My parents never took the manners thing that far.

I’m happy they taught me the art of good manners. As I watch people around me, I’m amazed at what I see at times. Folks go about their business with happy-go-lucky attitudes. I don’t hear please, thank you, or you’re welcome as much as I used to. And God bless you—I’m always pleasantly surprised when someone blesses me when I sneeze.

I try to appreciate the fact that we all have different personalities. Could that have something to do with our expression of manners? I don’t buy that theory. My siblings and I are three of the most different people you would ever meet, yet each of us appreciates others with words. I am beginning to think that some parents don’t care about such things. Many of the children of today seem to take things for granted. They expect the adults to bend over backwards for them. They take—take—take.

One of my current pet peeves is when I spend time looking for perfect gifts for my grandchildren, and some of them do not thank me. Sometimes, they don’t even let me know they received the presents. Lately, I find myself thinking I am done. I am finished racking my brain and spending the time looking for that one-of-a-kind gift. However, that’s not who I am. I want to give the spot-on present to each person I love. It is important to me, so, I continue on my journey to find that incredible, JOY filled item that I believe will please my loved one.

As parents and grandparents, bending over backwards for our kids and grands is what we do best. There comes a time, however, when manners need to come to the surface. Isn’t it pure JOY when someone thanks and appreciates us with words, smiles, and hugs?

Which leads me to another thought—how long has it been since you’ve received a thank you note? Although I don’t send many, I have mailed a few in my day. Mailing cards is another way of expressing our appreciation for what another person has done for us.


Bottom line—if adults don’t remember their manners, how in the world will the youth of today manage to learn what Emily Post put out there as etiquette so long ago? Should teachers be the ones who show children the way to politeness? I’m sorry, but I believe it falls solely on the parents, with an occasional reminder from grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings, and maybe once in a while, the teachers.

What are your thoughts on politeness? Are you lackadaisical or a stickler? Do you believe in the views of Emily Post? I would love to hear your response to The Pure JOY of Manners. Please leave a reply.

May you always find the words to make others feel special, happy, and full of JOY.


pure joy