Log in to http://hope101.net/ and hear my interview with Lori as we discuss Rediscovering Your Happily Ever After; Moving from Hopeless to Hopeful for the Newly Divorced Mom.

What is an optimist? An accordion player with a beeper.

June is national accordion month. No kidding. Affectionately called the squeezebox, the accordion is the official instrument of San Francisco and a good natured subject of jokes.

The largest manufacturer and exporter of accordions is China. Famous accordion players include Charles Dickens, Mahatma Ghandi, Billy Joel, John Lennon, Lucy Liu, Richard Nixon, and Lemony Snicket. Currently, the Ragin’ Cajun, Jo-el Sonnier has put the accordion back on center stage along with Alfred Matthew “Weird Al” Yankovic, satirist, and accordionist who had listeners holding their sides with Another One Rides the Bus, his parody of Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust. Weird Al sold 12 million albums since receiving his first accordion lesson a day before his seventh birthday.

“I’m a lapsed player myself,” admitted Gloria Gaither, who took lessons as a youngster. “I threw up in the bellows of my teacher’s accordion. That’s how much I loved it.”

“The hazard of being an accordion player,” cautioned Buddy Greene, “is if you leave your car door unlocked, when you return to your vehicle people have put additional accordions in your car.”

Get accordion players in a joke exchange and you’ll hear these classics:
• What’s perfect pitch? Tossing an accordion into a dumpster without hitting the sides.
• What’s an accordion at the bottom of a river? A good start.
• What’s the difference between an accordion and an onion? Nobody cried when you cut up an accordion.
• If you took all the accordions in the world and laid them end to end, you should just leave them there.

A musical instrument of the handheld bellows-driven free reed aerophone family, the basic form was invented in Berlin in 1822. The first patent for an accordion was issued in 1829 in Vienna.

“I love to talk about accordions,” said Jeff Taylor. “They have been very good to me. Because of them, I’ve gotten to play with Buddy Greene, Vince Gill, George Strait, Ricky Skaggs, the Chieftains, Martina McBride, Amy Grant, Grammy nominees The Time Jumpers, and Michael Card.” Witty sidekick when sharing the stage with Buddy Greene and featured with his accordion on two Gaither hymn videos, Taylor continued, “It was my first instrument at age five, and in my youth, I never liked it. I actually quit it at 18, thinking I would attract more girls with a guitar. At 33, I took it up again, and for the first time really connected with the instrument. It’s not just a polka machine. It’s a wind instrument, not unlike a sax or clarinet, and capable of great musical expression. So, onward I go, converting folks over to the previously much maligned musical malady called the accordion.”

Want to add accordion player to your resume? Minnesota store, Accordion Heaven’s motto is “Welcome to Heaven. Here’s your accordion.”

With the divorce rate staggeringly high, providing security for children can be challenging. It can also be done. The balance comes in providing opportunities for children to have a healthy relationship with their father in an environment where they are respected and permitted to respectfully voice their feelings and opinions.

In high school, my best friend was Marti. Her parents, like mine, had divorced when it wasn’t particularly fashionable. Her father, Will, remains the best example of fathering while not in the home that I’ve ever seen.

Though Will lived an hour away, he treated Marti’s mother with kindness and respect. He offered to help and fill in with the children wherever she needed support. He didn’t push, demand, or bully. It was never about his rights and was always about nurturing, providing for, and loving his children.

Marti’s mom moved to an apartment near our school and she returned to work. After school each day, Marti’s dad called, asked about school, and coached Marti on her homework. When she wanted to buy a car, Will arranged and paid for a safety inspection, new tires, and regular maintenance. Every other weekend he invited Marti and her boyfriend, now husband, to his home where they enjoyed time together. When Marti married, her dad was a second pair of experienced eyes as they considered which home to purchase. Looking to their future, he began and oversaw their investment portfolio and paid for the couple and their children to come on yearly vacations.

He gently parented Marti without being spiteful to her mother. Never demanding, he proved himself trustworthy as a father and created a lifelong relationship with his daughter, her husband, and his grandchildren. Will behaved like a mature, caring adult. He took responsibility to develop and maintain a benevolent parent relationship with his daughter. He gave love, guidance, finances, and time without attaching strings of obligation. Marti knew she could count on him.

Will purposefully sustained a healthy relationship with his daughter. The ripple effect was that I observed a caring father and reaped the benefits in my peaceful and secure friendship with Marti.

Look Back
What is it like to live with you?
What habits and characteristics benefit you? What habits and characteristics don’t benefit you?

Move Ahead
This week, refuse to blame anyone, including yourself. Each time you are tempted to criticize, condemn, or complain, instead give thanks to God.

One friend gave up the three C’s from her vocabulary by paying a dollar each time she criticized, condemned, or complained. She put the money toward a charity. It was a win for her and the group she supported.

One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words;
it is expressed in the choices one makes.
In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves.
The process never ends until we die.
And, the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Fear is the greatest hinderance to living life full blast, full out. Conquer fear through the courageous book, What to Do When You’re Scared to Death. http://amzn.to/ghWMbh

Old Dan, Duffer Dog, Dan Dog on Dan Dog Adventures – for a dozen years our faithful answer-to-prayer dog loved each of us unconditionally and full out. Our home and hearts are emptier without him and we miss our Dan. Do you have a pet who is really a family member?

I was midway through my eighth pregnancy when 9-year-old Josiah’s prayer life changed
Every night the family gathered to pray before bed. On this particular night, Josiah began his request. “Lord, could I please have a black lab puppy?”
The last item on my prayer list was a black Labrador puppy. Over the next four months, I inched toward my due date and my only son faithfully prayed every night for a puppy.
In March, ten-and-a-half pound Lilyanna Faith was welcomed into the family. Over the next weeks I felt like life was galloping way out in front of me. On Saturday the older children went out to run errands while the baby and I took a nap.
Twenty minutes after the happy band hit the road, the phone rang. It was Josiah. “Mama, can I keep this black lab puppy I’m holding? I promise to eat all my vegetables, clean my room, and do my chores.”
Driving past a farm, the children spotted a sign that read “Free Lab Puppies.” It was the answer to Josiah’s prayer.
“I don’t need another project, Josiah. If you bring home this pup, you must train and care for it.”
“I will,” Josiah promised.
“And clean up the flops?”
“I’ll clean up after the dog,” Josiah assured.
“Okay son. I can’t wait to see him.”
Josiah named the pup Old Dan after the puppy in the book, Where the Red Fern Grows. Under Josiah’s training, Old Dan became the 4-H grand champion in obedience. I grew fond of the free answer to prayer. Old Dan played with the children, minded his manners, barked when someone came to the house, and talked. It’s nice to have a male around the house that talks. Dan had a sing-song way of whining.
Recently, Josiah came home on leave from the military. I saw the man in uniform but Old Dan recognized his boy.

I received a Bible catalog in the mail. Can you remember when we had two Bibles – KJV and one other version for the not-as-spiritual? This catalog is 68 pages of Bibles in every color for all kinds of people – women, women of color, horse lovers, addicts, ultraslim (me or the Bible?), and charismatic – again, me or the Bible? What does a charismatic Bible do? Reminds me of the Broadway Christian Church I once attended. Though the church was named for the street it was on – Broadway – each week I was distracted by the name that brought to mind images of lights and dancing in a Joseph and the Technicolor Coat fashion.

Recorded Bibles are on MP3 or CD. You can order dramatic as opposed to someone droning on and on and on. That would be a big seller.

Other options include a journaling Bible (who journals? me or the Bible?), many study versions, parallel versions, and scripture in the language of your choice. There is an Abundant Life Bible – who doesn’t want that one? I didn’t see a scarcity Bible though I know people who live in scarcity as if it is a religion.

According to the catalog, the HCSB Bible keeps me and God on the same page. Don’t know how they do that, but I will pay big money for someone to get me on the same page with God. King James comes in a Handy-size which sounds handy, but the LARGE PRINT is more my current style. Who wants just a standard size? There is the ESV Reformation Second Edition – second reformation or the book? What happened to the first? Will the third edition be out soon?

In the catalog are church hymnals with 600 hymns and 56 carols. Did you know there are 56 Christmas carols? I remember when hymnals were by threes in every church pew and every pianist had a couple floating around the house. Now we sing contemporary choruses with an occasional hymn from an overhead and you buy hymnals for keepsakes. Who knew?! There is even four pages in the catalog dedicated to pew Bibles. I wonder if there is much call for those anymore.

My kingdom for a hymnal but Bibles are now in polka dots and sized to fit any size believer. For the traditional King James Version only crowd, the 400th anniversary edition is available.

While some countries have a scarcity of Bibles, my hat is off to those who’s business it is to create a Bible that appeals to the many interests of Americans that golf, follow Maxwell, Stanley, or MacArthur, enjoy adventure, discovery, have children, or give gifts. If I don’t have a Bible I am regularly into, it is not for lack of available styles and types. With this variety to choose from, if I am not reading the Word, it’s time to get real and admit it is because I don’t want to.

Rediscovering Your Happily Ever After

By Deborah Dee Harper
January 11, 2011

When PeggySue Wells’s husband left their marriage (and their seven children) behind, she was understandably lost—set adrift as a single parent in a world that sometimes fears and ostracizes divorced women. Wells’s latest book, Rediscovering Your Happily Ever After, candidly describes the pain of losing her dreams of happily ever after while at the same time providing a Christ-centered, and loving home for her children, despite drastic changes in her lifestyle.

Wells, who has authored or coauthored a dozen books and numerous articles, pulls no punches as she explores the pitfalls and fears of life after marriage. She asks the hard questions and encourages readers to take a hard look at themselves. On page 36, Wells asks the reader to write down 50 things they love about themselves before reading any further. I learned more about myself in the next hour (yes, it took an hour) than I have in the past 10 years. But at the end of that time, I had a list of attributes I could smile about.

Wells writes eloquently of learning to live abundantly despite the hardships of singleness, of finally realizing our true worth in the eyes of our Heavenly Father, and of eventually rediscovering our happily ever after.

Where was this insightful, thought-provoking book 35 years ago when I was newly divorced and mother to three children under the age of five? Just as this extraordinary book would have had a profound effect on my life long ago, so will it also provide guidance, Scriptural references, gentle humor, sound biblical counsel, and much-needed hope for women in today’s world who are going through a divorce and struggling with single parenthood.

Anyone who’s experiencing a painful chapter in their marriage (or anyone who knows someone who has) will benefit from this candid, heartfelt book.

Deborah Dee Harper is a graduate of the Apprentice, Journeyman, and Craftsman courses. Her manuscript, Misstep, was a finalist in the 2009 Operation First Novel competition. She writes from Anchorage, Alaska.

Book Information

Rediscovering Your Happily Ever After:
Moving from Hopeless to Hopeful as a Newly Divorced Mother

by PeggySue Wells, Craftsman
Kregel Publications, 2010

Reviewed by Deborah Dee Harper

Dorwan Stoddard’s final act at age 76 was to give his life to save his wife.

According to an msnbc news story, Dorwan Stoddard dove to the ground to cover his wife when the tragic shooting began.

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friend” John 15:12-13.

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