No Greater Joy

Hello, Thursday Morning readers. Welcome.

I have officially renamed this post three times. Hah! And I am fully coffee’d up, so I can’t use that as an excuse. Speaking of coffee, I wish we could meet for a cup one day. I’d love to talk to you. Hey, we can, if you live nearby.

I’ve got a book signing at Barnes & Noble next week, and they have a cafe!

What is your greatest joy-producer? We have lots of things in this world that can bring us happiness (or take it away). But, joy runs deep and tends to last throughout the driest season.

We happen to be in a dry season right now. Everything’s looking pretty wilted and the temps are soaring past the 100-degree mark. Hot! The sun bakes the soil and cracks form along the surface, but down deep, water flows. You know it’s there, because the trees, whose roots run deep, are still green and healthy.

Are you deeply-rooted in a joy-producing life?

I hope so. But, if you’re experiencing a dry season, here are a few helpful suggestions:

  • Immerse yourself in the Word of God. Since joy is a fruit of the Spirit, it needs to be cultivated.
  • Singing praise and worship always lifts my heart. Find good music on YouTube or your favorite Christian stations or apps.
  • Pray and spend quiet time with the Lord. Find a quiet place to sit in His presence.

Joy is a choice you make. Doing any one of these things will help you. Making a regular habit of doing all of them will provide the growth you need to send your roots down deep.

Let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear from you.

Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
    sing the glory of his name;
    give to him glorious praise!
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
    So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.
All the earth worships you
    and sings praises to you;
    they sing praises to your name.” Selah [Psalm 66:1-4 ESV]

Click-to-Tweet: Are you deeply-rooted in a joy-producing life? No Greater Joy via @batowens #Joy #ThursdayInspiration

Throwback Thursday

It’s Throwback Thursday on Facebook, so I thought it would be a great time to repeat one of my favorite posts. This one is a showcase of Kentucky. A quick trip around the state and I don’t even mention some of the best places, like cave country and Lake Cumberland, among so many others. Sweet little places like Glendale, Kentucky and the Whistlestop Cafe. I could go on all day, but I won’t. So, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the ride:

Oh, Kentucky! I love my beautiful home state. Yes, it can be steamy-hot in the summer, but most of the time, it shines like an emerald. Some years, the grass stays green all winter. Last year, the neighbors were still mowing their lawns in December.

They call it bluegrass, but it’s really green. And honestly, bluegrass is not all that hardy. Many Louisvillians replaced it in their lawns, after an especially dry summer killed their bluegrass.

I love this picture! ❤

When most people hear the name Kentucky, they think of “My Old Kentucky Home,” horse racing, and a few famous drinks. But Kentucky is a lot more. We have plenty of lakes and mountains (small mountains) and rivers, and in between, lay peaceful rolling pastures lined with black fences. Follow the narrow roads–the scenic byways–and you’ll catch sight of some gorgeous animals, along with their equally beautiful abodes. These thoroughbreds live quite well.

Over the mountains and through the woods, you’ll find one of nature’s more incredible phenomenons–the natural bridges, along with some awe-inspiring scenery, as you approach our border with West Virginia.

Ever seen a moonbow? Certain times of year, you can witness one over Cumberland Falls (picture from many moons ago, and not at night, when the moonbow appears).

And a really big ark park. Encounter a replica of Noah’s Ark, in Williamstown, Kentucky, near Lexington and within easy distance of Cincinnati, Ohio. I’ve never been, but we’re planning a trip soon. I’ll write an entire post, complete with pictures! 🙂

Photo by Karen Jurgens

We have a little cave–OK, a Mammoth Cave–situated near I-65, on the Green River. Hike through the underground caverns, then take a relaxing cruise on the river. No matter how warm it is outside, take a jacket or sweater, it’s cold underground.

Bardstown, Kentucky is a beautiful small town, one you won’t want to miss. My Old Kentucky Home is located there, along with some wonderful home-cooking restaurants. The countryside in all directions is scenic, sometimes breathtaking. Watch for deer, though. Especially early morning and early evening.

I’ve saved Louisville till last. Churchill Downs is open year round, though a lot more exciting in spring and summer. This resident has never attended a Derby, but I have been to the races on less hectic days. They also have a wonderful museum.

Visit the Louisville Slugger in downtown Louisville, if you’re into baseball, or just interested in seeing the big baseball bat (photo-op!). Located nearby, the beautiful Muhammad Ali Center, the Ohio River,  and its locks and riverboats.

Some of the top cuisine in America is located in Louisville. And we have a miles-long riverside park with a ped-bridge over the Ohio. Down River Road a ways, toward the beautiful new East End bridge, is a place called Captain’s Quarters, a restaurant best known for its scenic views and ambience. One of my favorite spots.

And there’s so much more.

I know, this sounds a bit like a travelogue. Can you tell I’m proud of my home state? (And I didn’t even mention basketball).  Yes, we’re land-locked. We don’t have ocean access, but if your vacation needs don’t require hot, sandy beaches, you might like it here. Especially if you love beautiful horses, lakes, and rivers.

By the way, this post is by no means an exhaustive list of the many places to visit in Kentucky. You’ll find that here: Kentucky Tourism.

Have you visited Kentucky? What’s your favorite attraction?

Click to Tweet: #Kentucky – a beautiful place to visit, and a nice place to live. #travel #ontheroad

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The 21-Year-Old Spinster

I had given up. All of my closest friends, even my closest cousin, had married. I was all alone in the world, without a beau in sight. What a loser. I was bound for spinsterhood, and honestly, I was not surprised. But I was disappointed.

It’s okay, you can laugh. I’m shaking my head, too. Looking back, I see my twenty-one-year-old self for what I was. A child wearing adult-sized clothing. I had no idea what life held for me.

Hello, Thursday Morning! I’m waxing nostalgic again but this time, for good reason. Forty-five years ago this week, I met a young man named Bob, who would change all that. Before the year ended, we’d be married and settled into a friend’s garage apartment. We’d be considered “cool” by all our youth group friends, instead of dumb kids with very little change in our pockets.

We met on a blind date. It was a double-date, and I was with the other guy. The other guy was Bob’s best friend, Rick. I’d known Rick in high school, where we sat at the same table in Physical Science. I liked Rick because he laughed at everything.

So, we were Bob and Carol and Rick and Betty for a few hours. I guess I should backtrack just a little to tell you why I was on a blind date in the first place. I had moved to Tennessee with my parents when my insurance-sales manager dad was transferred to the Nashville office. I visited Louisville (our former home) often, since I had a lot of friends there. On this particular Labor Day Weekend, I brought my Tennessee friend, Carol Ann, with me.

We were scheduled to spend the holidays with one of my best friends, but her boyfriend came to town unexpectedly, so she quickly made plans for Bob and Rick to escort me and Carol so we wouldn’t be on our own. The venue was an outdoor concert at Iroquois Park. Bob stopped by my friend’s home during the afternoon to meet his “date,” Carol. [Side note: When he’d been offered a choice between a blonde and a brunette, he’d chosen the blonde. Of course, everyone knew blondes had more fun.]

valentine, valentine's dayHowever, when we met at the front door that afternoon, we both experienced something we would only recognize much later (years down the road) as a “sign.” Yes, Grasshopper, this is the one. Bob describes it as a bell ringing. I felt as though a light came on inside (kind of like an old-fashioned flashbulb popping). Cute, spooky, weird, you can say what you want about it, but we both swear it happened.

When the two friends arrived to pick us up for the date, there seemed to be an ongoing discussion between them that had started on their trip over and finally ended when Rick said, “I think we should leave it as is.”

We enjoyed the concert but throughout the evening, Bob kept leaning forward to talk to me. He seemed totally interested in everything I had to say. I suspected that the previous discussion between the two guys may have had something to do with the fact that Bob seemed more interested in the brunette than the blonde.

We met again on Sunday, since he and Rick attended the same church as my friend. Back at my friend’s home, she asked to speak to me in private. “Bob likes you and wants to know if you feel the same way.”

Well, honestly, I didn’t. I was flattered, but he didn’t seem to be my type. He had long hair, sideburns and a moustache. I couldn’t really see his face. He wore the shortest cutoff jeans I’d ever seen, and sneakers that could almost be called sandals for all the holes in them. And he was younger than me. But he did have a great personality and you know, there’s a lot to be said for that, and the fact that he was interested in me. That was hard to walk away from. Well, that and his broad shoulders.

I didn’t walk away, I drove away but I left him with my address, because he wanted to write to me. That’s the old school pre-texting way to communicate with someone who lived in another state. It was so far back, the phone calls were expensive, because you had to pay extra for long distance.

When that envelope arrived in my mailbox, the little thrill I felt in my heart confirmed what I already suspected: I liked him. I enjoyed his letters and the candid glimpse into his heart.

A month later, I made another trip to Louisville. While there, I interviewed for a job. I got the job, so I moved a couple weeks later.

In November, he proposed. We married on December 21. Yeah, it was quick. We were two dumb kids with very little money. He was still in college. But it stuck. Forty-five years later, I can’t imagine any other life or greater joy.

See you next week. Thanks so much for stopping by.

So Late So Soon

“How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”–Dr. Seuss

Well, if you think my blog post is late, you’re right. The time for coffee is well past, unless I’m having decaf. I think not. The truth is, I forgot it’s Thursday. Yep. The week went by so fast! I’m riding a wave and trying to stay balanced, when suddenly, there’s the beach.

Of course it’s Thursday. Good thing I went to work this morning. 🙂

But it’s Thursday afternoon!

So, in lieu of a long post, I’m sharing another wonderful quote from Dr. Seuss (author of the first real book I ever read). And I’ll leave you with my most recent meme. Yes, I’m still marketing the latest book.

If you’ve already read Annabelle’s Joy, please consider leaving a review at Amazon and Goodreads. Even a short review helps. It’s one of the most thoughtful things you can give a writer. And thanks so much for visiting my blog. I’ll try to be on time next week!

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After the Launch

Taking it Easy Now

After the book launch, one may think it’s time to relax. Wrong. Now, the real work begins. The launch of a new book loosely compares to the birth of a new baby. Now that it’s out, it needs constant attention for a while. Serious stuff.

I would never leave a newborn infant alone. It would die without my care and nurturing. That beautiful little bundle of deliciousness needs loving care. Same with a new book. I have to feed it by sharing it with others. I talk about it, take it out to show it off. I schedule book signings and events and parties.

If nothing else, I advertise it, market it, blog about it. Whatever I can do to help it grow. But don’t crowd friends and family, lest they run when they see you coming. 🙂 Look farther out!

But that’s enough about business. It’s a gorgeous day as summer meanders toward fall. The corn is tall, the moon is full, and they say we’ve one more night to see those three beautiful planets lined up in a row.

If you have a new baby, be it a real infant or a brand new book, I pray your journey is blessed beyond measure. As with a child, it’s more important to spend the time and enjoy the moments than to bask in the limelight. Enjoy the season and take time to see the sights.