Wolves in the Storm – A Sneak Peek

She brushed her dripping white locks away from her face as she slid through the door and bolted it behind her, hands trembling the whole time.

“Ah, we’ve found him, we have,” she whispered. “At long last we’ll have our revenge.” A smile that didn’t reach her eyes rearranged the geography of her face, adding depth to her abundant wrinkles.

Her hands still shook as she removed her rain jacket and tried, twice, to hang it on the coat rack. There was no light, so she was the only one who knew, but the awareness of her fear only served to fuel the anger within her.

She strode down the hall to the kitchen and pulled a lighter from a drawer, lighting candles on the counter before turning to the stove.

Her hands were steadier as she lifted the teapot and brought it to the sink to fill it. She used a dish towel to dry herself some more and then sat at the counter and began to write on a notepad. Her eyes flicked up often, looking for a hint of steam rising from the teapot.

The lady rose and moved to the stove when she judged the time was right, lifting the pot from the heat in time to keep it from whistling and waking anyone else in the house. She prepared her tea and returned to the counter, making more notes.

A scratch came from the back door.

“Ah, kitty, they left you outside while I was gone, did they?” She stepped across the kitchen and dropped the chain, then unbolted the deadlock and the latch.

The door exploded inward, and a howl echoed through the room and the empty yard behind.

We’ve been found; it’s too late,” she thought, her eyes locked on the glowing orbs of her towering attacker. She never saw the claws that ripped out her throat.

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Fun, fun, fun: Don’t let anyone take the T-bird away

The last few days I have been part of a program set up by Jon Acuff. It’s called #30DaysofHustle. Jon’s been sharing ideas with us on how to make ourselves more productive at what we’re doing in the new year. I’ve been sharing, as part of that, how those ideas are impacting my decisions and thought processs.

Change should be fun. People don’t like change, so they drag their feet, become argumentative, and generally are just really sour when change happens. Around January 1st, though, everyone (it seems) wants to change.

Around February 1st, though, most of those folks are back to where they were on December 1st.

I’m pretty sure there are two things that make a world of difference between those who change their life and those who don’t. First is a strong why. We’ve talked about that. The second is fun. If you’re not having fun when you’re changing, you’re probably not going to keep up with it.

As you may know, I’m working this month on keeping up with my writing. I’d set a goal of 1000 words a day. My other goal has been to get 30 minutes of exercise in daily. It turns out that both of these are difficult. Life gets in the way, things trigger other behaviors that keep me from doing what I know I need to do. When that happens it is very easy to beat yourself up and suck the fun right out of what you’re doing.

What’s that mean? Keep the goal fun.

Writing isn’t fun for everyone, so I might have to explain how to do that. Writing, for me, is a creative process. Creating is fun. When I write a poem it lets me express difficult emotions. When I’m writing a story I create characters and the world they live in. It’s an awesome feeling.

Working out. That’s tough, especially when you have body parts that don’t always cooperate when you want to do stuff. I put on some music and talk to the dog, who watches me like I’ve lost my mind. Also, my family has committed to doing an activity together at least once a week that allows us to exercise together. The Peace River opens into Charlotte Harbor just a couple of miles from here and a bridge runs over this. It’s more than a mile long and has a pedestrian lane that is walled off for people to run or walk on. We plan to do this from time to time, but other options include visiting some of the local parks to hike, and in some cases the trails aren’t just walks, but fitness trails with workout stations. I’m looking forward to our first trip out in a few days.

If you have a goal this year and you’re struggling with it, look for a way to make it fun. If you can’t think of a way to make it fun, let me know in the comments. Don’t keep it to yourself. Let me, or another reader, help you with your goal. We are, after all, made for community, and there is no shame in asking for help.

How Now, Mr. Cow?

My primary goal this month is being a more consistent writer. I’ve set a bar that determines my day’s progress: 1000+ words. Writing that much can be tricky, but I’ve figured out a few things that help me get it done.

 1. Write at the right time. I tend to write better — and more — if I write around mid-morning.

 2. Write in the right place. I sit at the dining room table with my laptop when I write. It means I’m out in the open, accessible, while I work. The alternative is sitting on the bed with the laptop, in my room, alone. Which of the two do I think is safest and most likely to be blessed by God? The dining room has worked well so far.

 3. Write. I can sit there for an hour and scratch my head looking for something to write about. It would get me nowhere. So I just write. Maybe I open up a file with a story I’m already working on, or maybe I start a new one to work on a line of thought. The important thing is that I write during the time I’m able to.

 Next on my list is building a healthier me. That’s tricky. I have years of bad eating habits to overcome, plus the double-whammy of bad knees and a shoulder that doesn’t support me well during push-ups or planks. The final kicker is that I can’t afford a gym membership right now, especially not anyplace with a pool.

So what am I going to do?

I’m glad you asked. I turned to Google. Several results came up for people with bad knees. If you’re in the same boat I am, you want to focus on results that have lots of pictures or videos, so you can see the exercises being done. You don’t want to try exercises you don’t know on injured body parts based on one photo. That’s just a bad idea.

Several sites suggested I ride a bike for cardio. Cycling definitely doesn’t have the impact issues, but having raced for a few years, I know you can stress your knees riding. It’s important to place your feet properly on the pedals, adjust the seat height and position yourself properly above the pedals. Correct body position on the bike will help alleviate any potential pain.

I swam in high school and played water polo and swam for Kutztown University before I joined the Marines. I love swimming. Sadly, my shoulders are yet another part of my body that got wrecked while I was serving, and you need them for swimming. Not so much for aqua aerobics, though. It’s not something I can do right now, but I’ll be looking into them if we reach a point when we can join the local Y. Low impact exercise aimed at raising your heart rate and maybe pushing your heart and lungs to work harder is a good thing.

None of this is easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is. It requires discipline and it requires accountability. You need a friend or family member who will keep you on task.

Today has been a strong case-in-point for my writing how. I know what time of day works best for me. I didn’t use it. I let it drift away, making even 500 words a difficult chore. Looking back, though, my distraction led me to write a lot more than I realized on a topic I had not planned. So, sometimes God will make the most of our failures. In this case, I wrote a personal piece to two high school seniors who plan to make a 13-week visit to Parris Island, S.C., after high school, encouraging them for their future endeavors and providing some suggestions for how to make the most of the time they have before boot camp.

I hope that my sharing about the things I am doing in 2014 helps you make a change and stick with it. What are you doing differently this year? You’ve read about my what, why, and how. Tell us about yours.