Sue Walls' Blog

April 2, 2014

What makes God laugh?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Suzanne L. Walls @ 11:17 am

One of my favorite quotes is “What makes God laugh…men making plans.”  But, to my total frustration, I cannot, for the life of me, find out who said it or even remember where I saw it. But I did, and it has helped me immensely both in my work and in my life. Oh, I did find somewhat similar quotes from people like Woody Allen and a few others. But their quotes seem to be asking how I might be able to make God laugh…you know, entertain him. I don’t really want to try to make God laugh. I’m far from a comedian. How would I start? “Hey, did you hear the one about the little boy who brought his sister to school dressed like an elephant? Somehow, I expect he probably already heard it.

No, I think the reason I like the “What makes God laugh…” version is that it implies that God sees me making plans in this life, which is the only one I know right now. He understands why I must make plans, but He knows when and why I will have to rethink them…they just aren’t going to work long term. I’m a planner by nature. God built me that way. He knows how I think and how I react. That’s how I built my life. He knew when I thought I had all the right answers…had it all figured out. That had to make God chuckle, if only a little. My arrogance was showing. I just couldn’t imagine why so many folks weren’t smart enough to do it, too. Those poor souls; how can they still smile. But they did and they still do. Many of them I meet in church. They seem to know things in their heart that I didn’t. I finally realized that if I don’t focus on the really important things in life, I can never build my own big plan. And I really can’t author that plan…only God can. Did they learn that sooner than me! Maybe I wasn’t so smart.

I don’t remember being in my mothers womb. I was and that existence was very real and well documented. God knew I was there and certainly Mom and Dad and a host of family and friends knew it. But to me, it is a time that just didn’t exist. I don’t remember it at all. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. It did. I must accept that I don’t and won’t know everything, but God does and will. I was always in His plan. Other times in the past and probably yet to come, all will be folded into a bigger picture that only God knows. My attempts to control the future are futile and of no consequence in His world. His vision and world are bigger than the universe and don’t focus on trivialities of life here on earth. It is bigger than I can ever understand…an existence that is beyond my ability to see. It demands using senses (mental, physical and moral) I have yet to acquire.

So, why does that quote and the realization that I am not in control make me happy? One would think it would overpower me with the fruitlessness of trying to plan at all and be ready for anything. Actually, it helps to remind me that what is important one day can quickly change. And it’s ok. The plans I make have to change, too. But, without a doubt, a comprehensive, truly long-range plan exists…Gods plan. The things I feel obligated to plan for today may wind up in the shredder tomorrow. I just don’t have the data and couldn’t interpret it if I did.

How my life unfolds is out of my hands…it’s not my job, it’s Gods. And what a relief! I can rework plans, but only when one minute piece of God’s bigger picture is revealed to me, typically without explanation. Sometimes it comes in the form of success…sometimes sorrow and trouble. Then I have to rethink what I’m going to do next. It keeps life interesting and challenging. Making money and career advancement is wonderful…a gift. Success came upon me in ways I never imagined, and with each success I had to change my plans accordingly. But, somehow, buying that new BMC wasn’t a realistic or worthy goal when the price of gas soared. Maybe building that beautiful mansion-like home in the country wasnt’t such a good idea after when the mortgage crisis hit and values dove. These are just things, momentary pleasures. Worrying about buying a smaller car or selling the farm is unimportant when I’m sitting helpless next to a sick grandchild or trying to understand when and how to help a struggling family who just lost their home.

That budding retirement fund was the money tree of my plan that would assure comfort for the rest of my life, at least until the investments at its roots were reduced to mulch, the .com bubble burst and the government’s economic challenges proved to be only bubblegum patches. Or when I lost my dear husband, who just drifted into death at 67 without any warning at all. What about that retirement plan now or my shock at loosing my best friend and retirement buddy. The life we thought we were prepared to live needs to be reworked once again. I can only imagine how hard it must be for others who get warning…too much warning…as helplessly they watch as their loved one struggles with agonizing sickness and slow, seemingly unending death. These are the things that also send plans to the shredder.

“I Am Who I Am” is a song from “La Cage aux Folles” and “Birdcage” that describes a state of mind worth my striving for now. I must accept my pluses and minuses and value them all. As good a planner as I thought I was, if my plan doesn’t include all aspects of who I am…the real me…how can it ever work. It’s certainly not God-quality.

And the loved ones around me, my family and friends today plus those I have yet to meet, must be there in my big plans, too. I must accept that even these elements will change as Gods plans evolve. One thing is sure. I must believe I am there in His plans and accept that I will not and cannot know the details. In my planIp, I must fully trust God to love me and who I am. After all, he built me. He will be there to protect me when His plans must move forward, even though they may affect mine gravely. God owns the plan, I am not in control. Once I understand that, really accept it in my heart and in my mind, the rest is up to “Time and Love”. I must believe!

May 29, 2013

A Visit to Cedar Lane Elementary School

Filed under: Uncategorized — Suzanne L. Walls @ 5:19 pm

Yesterday, I gave a series of three presentations to the first- and second-graders at Cedar Lane Elementary School in Ashburn, VA. What a wonderful experience! To begin my day, I was directed to the school’s library where the staff welcomed me and outlined the day’s events. They had a special area set aside for me to work and explained the day’s activities. Although I never got to meet Andria Donnelly, the Library Media Specialist, I was well taken care of by Assistant Librarian, Michelle and another substitute Librarian. Both were  so helpful and encouraging, looking for every opportunity to make this a successful event for the children. 

Right on time, the children filed in and situated themselves on the floor. I was amazed how well behaved they were. As each group came in (2-3 groups of 20 per session), they had their best manners on. Then, I was introduced and began my presentation. To the delight of the children, I brought 2’x3′ foam-core mounted photographs of several of the birds in the book. As I pulled each photo out of the large plastic bag where they were hidden, the children gasped in delight and the excitement grew. Their interest and great discipline showed just how diligent their teachers were in preparing them.

It became immediately apparent that they were totally familiar with the book, quoting some of the more amusing lines as they saw each photo. They particularly enjoyed the “Bad Hair Day” on the last page. 

At the end of each session, the children were encouraged to ask questions. Some of the more surprising ones included:

  • What inspired you to write?
  • How did your brother (the photographer) get so close to the birds and take their pictures without them flying away?
  • How do you think up ideas for your books?
  • Are you going to do any more? (I especially liked that one!)
  • How many books have you written?
  • How old were you when you started writing?
  • Which book is your favorite?

I could go on and on about how wonderful this experience was for me. My only regret is that my brother, D. W. Maiden, wasn’t there to enjoy all the enthusiastic response to his photography. It was truly heart-warming!

 

May 24, 2013

Memorial Days and Hometown Heroes Remembered

Filed under: Uncategorized — Suzanne L. Walls @ 5:00 pm

I just ran outside to put some things in my car and was shocked by the stiff breeze and 50 degree temperature. Everyone is anxious for winter to be over, but I guess I forgot how changeable the weather is in spring. The weatherman promises (so to speak) that things will definitely improve for Memorial Day weekend. We’ll see.

Regardless of how the weather turns out, Memorial Day is always a special holiday — a time to remember the price others have paid so that we can freely march in parades, let our flags wave and demonstrate our pride in our country. I remember in the 1950s going to picnics at Drum Point Park. We dined on hot dogs and butter-smeared corn on the cob without worrying about calories and cholesterol. Events included sack races, baseball games and watermelon seed spitting contests. I never won any of these, but the winning was in the doing. What happy times!

Today’s world is quite different now. But the sentiment is the same. We aren’t as free to do the things we want without fear, but we are still free. That is something to celebrate and cherish. Whatever you choose to do this weekend, enjoy! In my heart, I still believe the best is yet to come.

Image

May 9, 2013

Spring Visit to Cedar Lane Elementary School

I can hardly wait to do a very special school visit to Cedar Lane Elementary School in Ashburn, Virginia. The date has been set and I’m ready to go! On May 28, I get to speak to three different groups of first and second graders about Backyard Birds of the Piedmont. To make things more interesting, I’ll be bringing some newly produced and mounted photographs of several of the birds that appear in my book.  After doing a very successfully and personally rewarding book “reading” at the Cascades Library in Ashburn this past weekend, I can see the beauty of being able to show large-scale photographs of birds to stimulate interaction. As the children saw each bird, they delighted in sharing their personal experiences and ask questions.

Backyard Birds of the Piedmont

That’s one of the best things about writing children’s books. When they see your work, they provide immediate feedback. With Backyard Birds of the Piedmont, they seem very impressed. Now all I have to do is publish and print the next book in the series, Insects and Spiders. Full of the great photography of D. W. Maiden and Dennis Govoni, it can’t help but be another success. Keep your eyes open … I’ll be “bragging” about its availability within the next two months or so.

Cover for Upload

December 14, 2012

Looking at 2012 and beyond

Filed under: Uncategorized — Suzanne L. Walls @ 7:32 pm

I can’t believe it has been almost a year since my last blog. A lot has happened since then. Most exciting, “Backyard Birds of the Piedmont” was released in April and sales are strong. A second book in this wildlife series, “Insects and Spiders” is approaching mass availability. I can’t wait.

But I have to admit, the whole publishing/distribution process is a challenge. So many of my writer friends have helped me by sharing their experiences and giving me good counsel. Is anyone else struggling against such a changing market? Writing … and ultimately publishing … continues to be a moving target for me.

One of the best parts of being a writer is that I love meeting readers and gifters alike. It really warms my heart to hear that a youngster has developed a greater kinship with birds, identifying them and lecturing family and friends on the birds’ unique habits. Further, another market has opened up with seniors. Evidently the large print and vivid photographs are appreciated by those birders whose eyesight isn’t quite where it was in the past. Now all I have to do is figure out how to reach out to both these communities more effectively.

If you have a strategy that is working for you and are willing to share it, please let me know. In the meantime, have a wonderful holiday season. 2013 is filled with promise!

Sue

 

January 12, 2012

Backyard Birds Advance Copies Available!

Backyard Birds of the Piedmont

Front Cover of Backyard Birds of the Piedmont

 

Tomorrow morning FedEx will finally deliver 50 advance copies of my book “Backyard Birds of the Piedmont.” I can hardly wait! It seems like forever since I started this project with my brother D. W. Maiden www.virginiabird.com . My original intent was to create a child’s book using my brother’s high-resolution, high-quality photographs of birds that live in the Piedmont area of the United States. From our early beginnings publishing them locally via color copiers and saddle-stitched until today has actually taken more than a year.

These beautiful wildlife books are available for ordering in the US from www.bookmasters.com or in Europe from www.mariposapress.com. While the books are written at a beginning-reader level, the stunning photography will attract bird lovers of all ages. Educators, from pre-school through elementary levels, can use these books in their classrooms to enhance children’s awareness of the wildlife all around them. These are also great for librarians and naturalists. Check out my website www.a-childs-book.com for more details.

April 7, 2011

Is It Spring Yet?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Suzanne L. Walls @ 5:54 pm
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As I look out the front window, brilliant sunshine is a welcome site. The gray of winter seems to be gone, hopefully. I’m really looking forward to having some consistently nice weather as we move further into April. One thing I can always count on is that you never know what Washington DC weather is going to be. There’s always an unexpected snow flurry or small twister to surprise us.

But, overall, this is a beautiful time of year. Pleasant temperatures and blue skies pull me out of my winter slump and make me feel like doing something outside, if only to walk around and search for iris buds popping out in the garden. The only “something” I don’t really look forward to is cutting the grass. But, I see that it already needs a haircut.

     Yes, spring is here; but I’m not complaining !

November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving

Filed under: Uncategorized — Suzanne L. Walls @ 7:06 pm

Abraham Lincoln demonstrated in yet another way his profound ability to understand what is truly important in life by establishing a national day in which the American people focus on giving thanks for everything good in their lives. Despite the difficulties they faced at that time and throughout subsequent years. Today, the tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving continues … and we all seem to need it more than ever.

I have to admit, Thanksgiving is one of the happiest days of the year for me. That’s when I can play my traditional role as mother, grandmother, sister and aunt one more time. Everyone gathers at my house for a feast of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, pumpkin pie and all the other things we feel guilty about eating almost any other time of the year. When we gather at the table, we all bow our heads in prayer, thanking God and asking him for his continued blessings.

My heart goes out to those who may not be as fortunate as I am. This year, more than most, I find myself frequently pausing to think about how much all these people mean to me. I wish I could invite all my friends and family to join me at this wonderful celebration of thanks. To them, I offer my continued love and appreciation for them being the foundation of my life. I am so fortunate.

If you are reading this, you are one of those very special people. I hope this message finds you happy, healthy and celebrating Thanksgiving with those you hold dearest.

With love, Sue

November 11, 2010

Today’s Real Estate Wheeling & Dealing!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Suzanne L. Walls @ 5:12 pm
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Seller (and buyer) beware!  Selecting an agent is no trivial matter. The key is to find someone who will represent you as though you were right there beside them. They think the way you think and negotiate the way you do, too. Their ethics, honesty and professionalism matches yours. I am fortunate to have found such an agent. I trust her implicitly! She represents everything I expect in a real estate agent.

On another note, this is no time to sell a home if you don’t need to. Many buyers and their agents seem to think everyone who is selling a home is under financial duress — willing to take any offer, regardless of its merit. The asking price is a starting point for negotiations, not to be ignored. Presenting offers hundreds of thousands under asking price is irresponsible and insulting. It would seem that some agents are encourageing their buyers to write in stipulations on their offer that defy logic, including demands for pieces of furniture, etc. These are personal items that should not be mentioned in your first offer. They are items that can be discussed later, once the deal is truly under consideration by both parties.

I believe that, in several instances buyers are being misguided by their agents, who are hungry to make a sale. They somehow persuade their clients to disregard standard business ethics and respect. They show homes to their clients that would normally be out of their price range, hoping to “catch a deal” from a poor, desparate seller.

The bottom line — make sure your agents understand that every buyer and seller needs to be treated with respect. They may be desperate themselves to make a sale — certainly, this market is not kind to agents. But, encourage them not to bend their ethics on the hope of making a sale to the detriment of one or both parties. Some deals just aren’t worth making if it costs an agent his/her reputation and unwary buyers and sellers an opportunity for future happiness!

October 21, 2010

Fall is here!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Suzanne L. Walls @ 9:06 pm

Seems like I was just hoping all that snow would melt and my dog could finally find her own green/brown spot outside without me having to go outside and shovel. But that was way back in February.

By June, I was wondering when we would get a break from the heat. Too quickly, spring green turned to parched brown and my carefully planted annuals turned into wilted, faded, crunchy shafts.

It wasn’t until October that the longest stretch of 90+ degree weather left the Waterford area; but fall is finally here. Looking outside the window of my shop, all the trees are dressed in oranges, greens, browns and yellows. Breezes tickle them into action as they cling to branches and then break free and drift to the ground. It’s truly the most beautiful time of the year for me. Now I can finally wear all my favorite knit sweaters, comfy blue jeans and low-heeled boots. I don’t have to try to adjust from steaming hot to icy cold when going inside and out and then inside again. Often, the temperature is the same, or nearly so.

Yes, fall is definitely my time of year; and I hope everyone else around here is enjoying it as much as I am. Remember, it won’t be long before the threat of impending snow and ice storms will be on the lips of every weather personality. Enjoy this beautiful weather while we can.

Well, better go now. I have to get my flu shot!

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