Excerpt for Slaying Dragons by , available in its entirety at Smashwords










Slaying Dragons













Slaying Dragons

Quotes, Poetry, & a few Short Stories

for Every Day of the Year





Written by

Richelle E. Goodrich


















All Rights Reserved

Copyright © Richelle E. Goodrich

Published 2017


No part of this book may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, distributed, or used in any form or by any means, including photocopying and recording, whether electronic or mechanical, now or hereafter invented without permission in writing from the author.


All quotes, poems, stories, and illustrations included in this book were written and created by Richelle E. Goodrich.


















Dedicated to my son, Alexander

Be fearless in the pursuit of your dreams.



TABLE OF CONTENTS


January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

About the Author

Other Books by this Author













When it comes to fighting for your dreams,

be a dragon. Breathe fire.


-Richelle E. Goodrich


JANUARY

Bakunawa —

The dragon that swallows the moon whole.




January 1st


There are trials in life that feel as tremendous as a quest to slay dragons. These trials are daunting. They require hard work, determination, and courage. But when the dragon is finally slain, the relief is immense.



January 2nd


It is tempting to quit striving toward a goal when you have neither the time, the resources, the support, the means, nor perhaps the confidence in talent to reach the level of standing you wish to reach. But these are not reasons to quit. Move forward anyway. Try your best. Put what little you do have into accomplishing what you can, because along the way you may attain a portion of what you feel is lacking. And owning a portion of a dream is better than owning no dream at all. Never give up.



January 3rd


Bad habits are demons that often push us into isolation because they know that in our loneliness they stand little chance of being overcome.



January 4th


Habits grow like dragons if you feed them.



January 5th


Bad habits are spiraling slides that drag you round and round down the narrowing end of a cone that eventually ends up in a dark, tight, confining spot.


Good habits are hooked wings that steadily grow in girth and strength. At first, they grasp and climb until those beautiful wings can lift the bearer out of the darkness and above the clouds to heights few ever experience.



January 6th


I saw a man climb a mountain with no feet or hands and barely a stump for each arm and leg. At once I realized there was no excuse at all for me not to scale my own mountains.



January 7th


To reach a goal:

Give it your best.

Own your choices.

Ask for help.

Learn as you go.



January 8th


Chew off a little every day, because it’s hard to swallow a whole pie at once.



January 9th


Nothing remains idle and thrives. Life needs a moving force to prevent the devastating effects of stagnancy. That is why life employs change.



January 10th


Weakness drives us to set goals, to try harder, to put forth more effort, to dream and wish and hope, to reach out further and down deeper, to pray earnestly, to cry mightily, to understand and empathize with valid sincerity. In truth, weakness is a catalyst for greater strength.



January 11th


When you understand that faith is God’s muscle at your disposal, moving mountains doesn’t seem so extraordinary.



January 12th


There are tomorrows on their way worth the struggles of today. Never give up.



January 13th


Never be intimidated by what seems ominous, for BiG is only an accumulation of many smalls.



January 14th


I know you would like to blame the world, but the fact is that life is an “up to you” thing.



January 15th


Most are unaware of their tremendous worth and boundless potential, despite possessing both.



January 16th


You can do things.

Do you know this?

Do you believe it?

You should.

It’s true.

You can do great things.



January 17th


To believe in yourself is to light a spark with the potential to start a fire.



January 18th


Everything in the world that happens to you may be someone else's doing; I'll grant you that. But what you do with it, how you react to it, what you make of yourself in the midst of it all—that's totally you.



January 19th


It’s not a dream, it’s my destiny.



January 20th


Look down the road I’m traveling and you will see my goal; it’s there on the path. Probably closer than it appears. Life tends to roll that way.



January 21st


Nothing can squelch your fire except turning your back on the thing that fuels it.



January 22nd


Understand that great accomplishments require great effort. If a goal is achieved without effort, it is no accomplishment but a mere happening.



January 23rd


Take it one step at a time—inarguably wise advice. And yet we all take a running leap, hoping the wind will catch us on its wings and lift us clear to the top of the beanstalk. Those few Jacks who have reached new heights in this manner inevitably wish they had taken more time to prepare for the overbearing giant who greeted them.



January 24th


In my lifetime I have witnessed far too many miracles to believe in impossibilities, and so I am officially modifying the definition.

im·pos·si·ble [im-pos-uh-buhl]

Old definition: Unable to be done.

New definition: Unable to be ignored until done.



January 25th


When there is not enough time to do your best, do the best you can with the time you have.



January 26th


It isn’t always true that desperate means are justified by a critical end.


from The Tarishe Curse



January 27th


It turns out that the simplest choices have been far more important in the long run than I ever imagined.



January 28th


You never step backwards when you’re sure of where you’re going.



January 29th


Perfection may be an island out of reach, but setting your sails toward it makes for a magnificent voyage.



January 30th


The truth is, when you have little to do, you do very little. But when you have much to do, you do much. So it should make sense that by taking on more than you can handle, you accomplish more than you ever dreamed you could. And so it is.



January 31st


Don’t quit.

When your latest efforts fail, don’t quit. When your performance is scoffed and ridiculed, don’t quit. When you’re told you have no talent, don’t quit. When you come in dead last, don’t quit. When it seems an uphill fight to keep going, don’t quit. When you can’t see any possible way to achieve your goals, don’t quit. When your last supporter is you alone, don’t quit. When discouragement and depression seem your constant companion, don’t quit. When you feel like quitting, don’t quit.

Time and time again you will crave relief from the harsh fight of trying to succeed. You will falsely think that quitting will bring peace and reprieve, but alas, only regret and disappointment await the quitter. Victory means never ever quitting.

So don’t quit.

Do not quit.




FEBRUARY

Herensuge

The dragon with sweet, tempting breath.




February 1st


I slay dragons at night while you sleep.

I see by the way your face contorts how they exist in your dreams.

Willing a magic sword, I plunge into your deepest nightmares and swing at the beasts with all my might, dodging flames exhaled by monsters that would eat me alive to go on torturing the fair one I love. I see your face relax, eyes still drowsily closed, when the mighty dragon is slain.

It may be that my fingers rub soft circles on your forehead as I imagine my brave fight as a knight reclaiming your dreams. You smile under the spell of my touch, and I am rewarded. And so, my love, as I await the dawn, I stand ready to slay dragons while you sleep.



February 2nd


It seems my heart is made of tissue paper; I wish the world would handle it more delicately.



February 3rd


I love you for a great many reasons and despite a great many others.



February 4th


People search the world over looking for someone to love them, when they should be searching for someone to love.



February 5th


If you were to sacrifice even a portion of yourself for the relationship, you would naturally fall in love with him. I guarantee it.”


from Eena, The Return of a Queen



February 6th


Love is donating a chunk of your life to patch up holes in the life of another.



February 7th


The rarest, truest beauty is visible only to the heart.



February 8th


The real beauty of a woman is most clearly seen in the smiles of those who interact with her.



February 9th


If God were to make a million lovely flowers in your image and plant them in a garden with you among them, I would still know you by your scent and by the feel of your petals and by the crazy way you lean towards my light whenever I draw near.



February 10th


My knight may not wear a coat of shining armor, but his code of glowing honor will never fail to protect us both from evils far worse than any fire-breathing dragon.”


from Smile Anyway: Quotes, Verse, & Grumblings for Every Day of the Year



February 11th


I love you” sounds best spoken in quiet acts of kindness.



February 12th


Love in its essence is unconditional. When conditions, exceptions, and ultimatums are cast into the mix, its purity changes. It is no longer love and should be referred to by a less-desirable name.



February 13th


Amore is love

confessed to you in haiku.

Do you love me too?



February 14th


When I ask you to be my valentine, I’m not asking you to love me. I’m simply asking you to accept tokens of my love for you.



February 15th


When you love someone, you don’t care that she ate your sandwich. You only hope she found it delicious.



February 16th


Love is the ultimate no-calorie sweetener.



February 17th


Your face is engraved in my mind. I can’t erase it. I don’t want to. Because as much as I hate you, I love you. And I love you unforgettably.



February 18th


Unconditional love” is a redundant expression; if it’s not unconditional, then it’s not love.



February 19th


Please stop. If you keep chipping off little pieces of my heart, soon there will be no heart left with which to love you.



February 20th


Maybe love isn’t meant to be bliss never-ending.

Maybe love is unwavering support and befriending.



February 21st


If you never bother to say the words, why should anyone believe you ever felt them?



February 22nd


I hope you know I love you, not just because I tell you so at every opportunity, but because I show you so as often as the sun sets.



February 23rd


Love by the sweat of thy brow.

Not through whispered words of hollow sound or lofty dreams ne’er substance bound that more than oft do run aground. Nay, love with mighty, blistered hands that turn the soil and carve the land. A bearer of toil and golden band.

Be strong! A founder of the feast!

Protective knight who slays the beast!

For promises and vows aloud are naught but wispy veneer shroud like cobwebs, frail, the airy words and wooing fail. So work, my darling. Toil as proof. Thy loyal heart be drained of youth and yet beat on, incessant sound. Both feet take root within the ground, and service be thy kingly crown.

Love by the sweat of thy brow.



February 24th


When I first heard your voice, my heart leapt in my chest as if it recognized you as its owner from another lifetime.



February 25th


She laughed, and he fell in love.



February 26th


At the core of love is validation. It is what gives love power.

For when love is given away, validation seeps in and expands in the heart of the recipient, filling up every empty, dark corner. It is a wonderful, light, consuming feeling we long for, and once found, we hope—even expect—it will forever remain. But there are times when that most precious love is revoked, and a hard scab forms over the empty hole. Though this scab is both healing and protective, it is the reason why validation from future love may not seep in so easily, no matter how wanting the heart.



February 27th


There is love and then there is fluff. Nothing else.



February 28th


There was another longing I kept stashed in the deepest, darkest recess of my heart. It was my most compelling secret of all. Though, I suppose, it was more an empty vessel cradled by my soul wishing to someday be filled. It was my desire to belong, to be wanted, to be loved.


from Dandelions: The Disappearance of Annabelle Fancher



February 29th


Truth is, I’m generally happiest when it’s just me. It’s okay to be madly in love with yourself.




MARCH

Guivre —

The aggressive dragon that prowls the countryside.




March 1st


I wear my wrinkles like battle scars, having earned every last one slaying life’s dragons. They boast of my victories and some defeats while their beauty is a wealth of wisdom gained.



March 2nd


If you suffer lingering doubts; if the consolation you cling to is “it will probably be okay,” then run the other way because what you’re contemplating is not a good choice.



March 3rd


I sat in a box

With walls on each side.

Not too tall.

Not too wide.

To think.

To ponder.

To pray.

To hide.

I sat in a box and cried.



March 4th


Sadness is the heart withdrawing to seek shelter from the pain.



March 5th


Young Raccoon, for reasons real and personal, had sunk into a sorrowful mood. It wasn’t just a sullen slump or a sighing sort of sadness. No. Poor Raccoon had endured one of life’s harder trials and was consequently overcome with a wretched, grim, tearful type of sorrow. It wasn’t long before a close friend wandered by and noticed Raccoon’s dark, quiet burrow echoing a sound of sobbing. Curious and concerned, Brown Beaver invited himself in.

Oh my, such weeping! All is not well to be sure!” Beaver hurried over and placed a hand on the shoulder of his troubled friend. “Tell me please, whatever is the matter?”

But Racoon said nothing, unless the whimpers that accompany tears can be considered a response.

Oh dear, something must be done,” determined Beaver. So he arranged a stack of wood in the hearth and lit a cozy fire.

There now, here is a little light and comfort. Surely this will make you feel better.”

But Raccoon continued to cry, rubbing at black, swollen eyes as if the light were a harsh contributor to misery.

Oh no,” sighed Beaver. “This is not good, not at all. I must go find help.” With a promise to quickly return, he left Raccoon beside the fire.

Only minutes passed before Beaver stuck his head inside the warm burrow. Below him poked in a tinier head belonging to Squirrel.

Oh dear, oh dear, you're right! This is a miserable sight!”

Squirrel hurried into the room and proceeded to remove a handful of nuts stored in his cheeks. He then tossed them into a pan over the smoldering fire built by Beaver. Soon, the room was saturated with the rich, buttery smell of roasted nuts.

Here you are, Raccoon,” said Squirrel, shaking the nuts onto a plate. “Some comfort food will certainly make you feel better. Try one.”

Raccoon didn't even glance at the offered plate but continued to cry and sniffle as if the fragrant smell were an enhancer of sadness. Squirrel looked at Beaver. Both were clueless as to what to do.

We must go find someone who can help,” they decided.

As quick as a wink the pair left and returned with Black Cat who took a minute to size up the situation. She then confidently declared, “We must dry up these tears, for no one can eat and be happy when soaked in tears!”

With that thought, the three friends wiped at Raccoon’s wet fur, sopping handkerchiefs in the process. Black Cat even went so far as to purr a quiet, relaxing chord while licking at the glistening fur around Raccoon’s eyes, and yet the tears continued to spill, replacing those washed away.

Well, this most certainly is not working,” Cat finally admitted, lamentably swooshing her tail. Beaver and Squirrel readily agreed. “We must go find someone who can help!”

They hardly stepped outside when the slender form of Corn Snake appeared in the road and slithered over to them. Snake was informed as to Raccoon's sorry state and came up with a fine idea.

The poor dear simply needs some hugs and kisses. A bit of affection will dry up those unhappy tears.”

Agreeing it was worth a try, the four turned right around to enter the burrow and encircle Raccoon, administering snug hugs and tender kisses. Snake gave an especially tight hug, but it had no effect at all on Raccoon’s woeful weeping. Even a ticklish kiss from a forked tongue received no favorable response. The four friends were beginning to feel a bit glum themselves when Calandra Lark came flittering into the burrow.

Tweet, tweet, tweet! Whatever is the matter?”

Oh dear, Calandra, just look! Raccoon is extremely sad. Yet as hard as we have tried, our efforts have failed to stop the tears.”

Is that all?” Calandra Lark chirped, perching on the fireplace mantle. “’Tis nothing a happy song can’t remedy.”

Puffing out her feathery chest to convey a mountain of confidence, the little bird began to chirp a bright and lively tune. Calandra twittered and tweeted and even trilled many a string of notes, but the cheerier the tune, the more Raccoon appeared to cry. At long last, Miss Lark ceased singing.

Oh what is to be done?” she sighed. “There must be someone who can help!” No sooner had she said the words then a high-pitched squeal of laughter carried from outside. Swinging down from a tree into the warm, crowded burrow, Monkey addressed a group of surprised onlookers.

Did I hear that someone is in need of my help?”

Oh yes, indeed!” the five agreed simultaneously. “Look here! Raccoon is so sad, and yet nothing we have done has relieved the weeping!”

Monkey laughed aloud again, not meaning to be insensitive. “Eee, eee, eee! Do not worry, for I will cheer up our good friend in an instant!”

Monkey crossed the room on feet and hands to stand directly before the saddest of souls. He then delved into chipper chatter, telling jokes, answering his own riddles, and laughing at his own humorous stories. At last, he attempted only calm words of comfort because Raccoon continued to cry, making pitiable noises as if the jollity was anguish to bear. Needless to say, nothing worked to halt the tears.

Oh me, oh my! Poor, poor, poor Raccoon!” the company cried, succumbing to a measure of grief and sorrow themselves. “Please, tell us—whatever is the matter with you?” But Raccoon shrank into a tighter ball, withdrawing while giving them no answer.

Overwhelmed with concern, the six good friends stepped outside Raccoon’s burrow to discuss the problem, hoping to hit upon a solution. They were running short of ideas. Debating whether or not to render the weeper unconscious, a strong voice of objection cut them off. Every head turned to see Red Fox step out of the underbrush.

Oh, Fox, if not this, then what should we do? For Raccoon has been crying inconsolably for hours! We have tried light and warmth, tempting food, wiping away tears, hugs and affection, cheerful songs, and kind words of comfort. None of it has had any effect on Raccoon’s dreadful sadness!”

Red Fox walked up to the burrow entrance on quiet paws, but before ducking inside he turned and voiced an idea no one else had possessed the sense to think up. For it seemed to them rather senseless.

Sadness is like a cloud in the sky; it exists out of grasp. Therefore, the only option is to let sadness be sad until it is not.”

Curious as to what Red Fox intended to do, the others followed him inside. There, he took a seat beside Raccoon and waited. He did nothing but sit. Nothing at all.

Confused—yet lacking a better idea—Beaver, Squirrel, Black Cat, Corn Snake, Calandra Lark, and Monkey all settled inside Raccoon’s burrow and likewise did nothing. The house remained quiet for hours upon hours as weeping, sniveling, and the occasional sigh carried over the sound of a crackling fire kept alive by Beaver.

Time passed.

Some nodded off for a brief spell, but no one left the room or made any attempt to keep sadness from being sad—as Fox had wisely declared.

Eventually and at long last, the gloomy cloud dissipated. All eyes turned to Raccoon, realizing that what had seemed like inconsolable grief had somehow transformed. Raccoon sat up and looked around, exchanging a small smile with each and every sympathetic face.

Thank you, my friends.”

Thank you for what?” someone asked, though others certainly wondered. For while Raccoon had wept a river of tears, they had done nothing but sit as still and noiseless as tree stumps.

Squeezing paws with Red Fox, Raccoon softly said, “Thank you for giving me time.”

That’s when they understood. More often than not, the only thing that can lift the heavy fog of sorrow is time.



March 6th


Sadness is like sandpaper; it rubs at our sharper edges, softening and humbling us, making us ready for a coat of compassion.



March 7th


To be a rainbow in someone’s cloud is commendable, but I prefer to be the rain because it dampens cheeks and washes away tears.



March 8th


I think in the heart of every human being there burns an ember of hope that warmly entices us to believe everything will eventually come together into one perfect day, and that potentially the hours in this day will stretch on indefinitely. And so we live our lives in hopeful anticipation, dreaming and praying to reach this wondrous day, while in the process we miss out on the anxious affair that life truly is. Life is not perfection; it is everything else. We must taste and experience heartaches and trials in order to feel the genuine joy that comes from enduring them well. We then move on, wiser and more capable of charity—this being pure love and the reason for life’s trials altogether.



March 9th


God cries for us in the same way we cry for others. His tears most often spill over for the pain and suffering caused from the mortal misuse of a gift called agency. He will not revoke the gift. It was promised to us for the duration of our time on Earth. But He will hold each one of us accountable in the end for how we applied this power of agency.



March 10th


Every heart has a layer of sadness, whether deeply buried or covering the surface for all to see.



March 11th


How frustrating to think you can be lost to yourself. And yet how often it is that a stranger stares back at you from the mirror. Maybe in truth we never see ourselves as clearly as the thousands of eyes that daily take us in.



March 12th


Too often we let others stamp a price tag on us and we accept their appraisal of our worth, forgetting we are in fact priceless.



March 13th


If I expect nothing of you, it will be far easier to forgive your offenses than if I place my whole world in your hands.



March 14th


The wind is made of haunting souls

that moan and groan

in whistles and whispers.

This ghostly choir chills the breeze

and orchestrates a rise of goose bumps

on my skin.



March 15th


Every single voice—no matter how soft the peep—longs to be heard.



March 16th


It’s simply this:

the Irish kiss,

a snog o’ bliss,

be blessed luck

from any miss.



March 17th


Be sure to wear green

on March seventeen,

or else Irish leprechauns

pinch your bones clean!



March 18th


Smile wide to receive many smiles in return. But if you want a good laugh, smirk like a wicked imp and watch the range of expressions you're flashed.



March 19th


Sunshine warms us, as do smiles—which makes me think that smiles are sunbeams reflected off our teeth.



March 20th


Laugh and smile for no reason at all. Giggle grins are a magnet for happiness.



March 21st


Sometimes the craziest laugh in the world is the one that will save your sanity.



March 22nd


A smile is a light that sets your inner self aglow, letting others know you’re home.



March 23rd


My soul, I’ve found, has puppet strings

to make me droop or give me wings.

And music is the puppeteer

that turns my ear to hear.



March 24th


Music is happiness with a steady pulse.



March 25th


Life is music to which you choreograph your own dance.



March 26th


Sound.

Noise

the air employs.

Melodies sweet.

Tweet, tweet, tweet.

Soft. Loud.

A roaring crowd.

Cluck. Caw. Crow.

Tet, tet. Tis, tis.

Guttural growl.

Harrowing howl.

Drip, drip, drip.

Tap, tap, tap.

Moan and groan.

Endless drone.

Ding, dang, dong.

A church bell song.

Vibrations in my ear

to hear.

Sound.



March 27th


As sunlight is for flowers, and sustenance for the mortal shell, music is for the human soul.



March 28th


Happiness is never in a rush. If you move too fast, you leave it behind.



March 29th


Alas, impatience is but another form of unhappiness. It is true, it is true. I have never met a happy impatient person.



March 30th


Impatience is racing at misery full speed.



March 31st


How easy it is to slip.

How hard it is to climb.

How wise it is to keep in step

And never fall behind.




APRIL

Naga

The first dragon, divine and benevolent.




April 1st


Easter is the miracle of transformation as seen in the change of seasons, in the maturation of mortal persons, and in the resurrection of souls.



April 2nd


On Easter we wrap up pretty, little decorated eggs symbolizing life and renewal. We do this because of the intangibility of a promised gift, which is the eventual resurrection of the body, restored to its finest forever state. Easter celebrates life and the idea of its eternal value, most notably the life of the gift-giver who demands nothing in return. He is your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.



April 3rd


With the best of intentions, you toss me a lifeline. Failing to see how a piece of rope will do me any good, I ignore it and drown.



April 4th


In the darkest night the sun may seem like an extinguished match or an ember drowned by rain.


A light forever lost.


The cold world grows steadily colder and shrinks like the abused, closing in on all sides. Laughter, smiles, the glimmer of dancing eyes, and all else indicative of human brightness is gone. Colors leeched from everything leave shadows and emotion dull-gray in their absence.

Time is a void. A moment feels eternal.

Hope does not blossom in the darkness but withers fast, starving for what only the sun can offer. As its petals turn to dust, fear blows in and sweeps the remnants away. The soul succumbs by degrees to nightmares emboldened by the dead of night.


All is lost! All is lost! The wretched sun, repulsed by our nothingness, has abandoned the lives in its care!


And then the eyes open wide, seeing mountains take shape on the horizon.



April 5th


Sympathy is imagining the pain. Empathy is having suffered through it first.



April 6th


We all suffer ills at the hands of others; however, reactions to these injustices differ like night and day. Many seek to punish the world for their suffering, while some work hard to save the world from experiencing similar grief.



April 7th


Empathy is a hand thick with scars offering you a bandage.



April 8th


I scared a little porcupine

and caught a quill in my behind.

It hurt so badly in my tail,

but tugging on it made me yell.


The porcupine was still around,

so I complained. He simply frowned

and said, "Stop whining! Look and see

how many quills are stuck on me!”



April 9th


It's easy to offer advice on trials that have caused you to stumble. It's harder to talk about those that have knocked you flat.



April 10th


Giving advice is like seeing an elephant in someone’s path and suggesting they remove it. Heeding advice requires forcing the elephant to budge. Huge difference.



April 11th


Raindrops fall from clouds of gray.

The fragile flowers grow.

Teardrops seem all I can say.

They speak of endless woe.

Your fingers wipe my grief away.

A seed of love you sow.

A hardened heart reverts to clay.

You mold my love just so.



April 12th


The soft heart is not a thing to harden but a treasure to protect. For soft hearts extend mercy, compassion, refuge, and God’s redemption to the world.



April 13th


People think kindness is a soft, weak, submissive influence when in reality it is the most potent, persuasive force in existence.



April 14th


Forgiveness is kindness regardless.



April 15th


Numerous times throughout history, a single person has made a tremendous impact on the world. I don’t know why anyone would think that can’t still happen.



April 16th


Kindness is going out of your way to perform favors regarded as wonderful by the recipient.



April 17th


If kindness is beauty, patience is disarming elegance.



April 18th


Beauty is a behavior. As is ugliness.



April 19th


Even if the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, keep to your own side; it's where you belong. There you can plant your own grass and tend to it.



April 20th


Time passes…..and a billion lives are affected in ways we’ll never know.


from Dandelions: The Disappearance of Annabelle Fancher



April 21st


One day a week I seek to rest

from earthly toil and sorrow.

Revitalized, I find the strength

to battle new tomorrows.



April 22nd


Observe the Lord’s Day as he would have you, and perhaps He will observe your days as you would have Him.



April 23rd


Man is dust.

Rue is rain.

Life is mud.



April 24th


Forgiving yourself can prove as difficult as licking a scab off your elbow.



April 25th


Have you honestly pondered your individual worth? Consider every lower life form in the world—the animals, plants, fouls and fishes. Consider the land forms and numerous earthly wonders. Consider the countless worlds beyond this planet as well as their stars and galaxies. And then consider yourself. Of all God’s creations, you were formed in His image, resembling the likeness of a God. That’s something to think about.



April 26th


If I were to sit on the ocean floor and look toward the sky,

I might see a whale or electric eel or octopus pass by.


And if I decided to jump straight up and reach with open arms,

I might feel the pleasure of ocean flight propel me ’mid their swarms.


But if I were seated upon the shore and looking toward the stars,

I might see a comet or falling star near Mercury or Mars.


Then if I decided to jump straight up and reach with open hands,

I might feel despair when my feet refused to leave the shoreline sand.


And so I return to the ocean depths where swimming creatures fly,

For there I can soar with the whales and fish that daily touch the sky.



April 27th


I cast my eyes out to the sea

And gaze at all eternity.

until forever turns to night.

My eyes then lift to catch starlight.



April 28th


Sometimes a problem isn’t really a problem but the solution in disguise.



April 29th


It is a great mystery to me how the problems of others seem like simple arithmetic while my own appear as complicated as a calculus equation.



April 30th


“Such a nasty bruise,” he says, staring straight into my eyes. I am stunned he can see it. Delicate to the touch and tender on every side, the bruise is deeper than days. My hand automatically moves to my chest.

Science taught me with valid assurance that my heart was fixed in my rib cage, but life has since shown me otherwise. My heart in fact dangles from a tangle of strings. The ends are grasped tight by numerous people who yank and release, having caused many painful bruises over time. I cry because they are invisible to most.

“Such a nasty bruise,” he repeats, tugging on my poor heart.

His kind eyes fall away from mine as I feel a squeeze on my arm. He twists it enough to show me a small, round patch of purple surrounded by a sickly yellowish corona.

“Oh. My elbow.” I let the air exhale from my lungs. Another bruise forms where my heart has hit the floor. It is jerked up again.

“Can I do anything for you?” I see in his eyes the mirror image of a finger—his finger—wrapped in one of the dangling strings. He tugs and I feel it.

“No,” I reply to his question. But it is a lie. There is something he could do, along with all who grasp a portion of the web entangling my heart. I wish they would mercifully let go.




MAY

Rồng

The dragon that changes the weather.




May 1st


If I could have one friend,

just one in all the world,

I know that I would not seek out

a boy or pretty girl.


The friend I’d dare to choose

to stand by me each day

would be a dragon fierce enough

to scare the world away.



May 2nd


If you often feel alone, ignored, or forgotten, think about this: closing the door and locking yourself in won't change anything—literally and figuratively.



May 3rd


Friends are the real superheroes. They battle our worst enemies—loneliness, grief, anxiety, depression, fear, and doubt—every time they come around.



May 4th


Friends are the artists who paint happy lips on your face.



May 5th


Rather than critique people, try admiring God’s creative handiwork.



May 6th


Hatred is prevalent on this earth because it requires no real effort, unlike the investment it takes to genuinely understand a person.



May 7th


We live that we might have experience; that through it we might gain wisdom, compassion, faith, and inner strength.



May 8th


Heaven's currency is friendship.



May 9th


I never realized how much you meant to me until someone spoke your name and an irrepressible, goofy grin stretched my lips.



May 10th


On a grim and dismal day that shattered my last ounce of confidence, I broke down and whimpered, “I’m awful and hideous and incompetent and boring and utterly useless.” And then you grinned at me and said, “That’s okay.”



May 11th


“I love you” means I want you to be happy.



May 12th


Mothers

Offer

Their

Hearts as an

Eternal

Resting

Spot



May 13th


I never knew what Mother knowed,

Like how a thread and needle sewed,

And how a kiss healed boo-boos fast.

Why family knots were made to last.


I never knew how Mother saw

A caring man in angry pa,

A smile beneath the teary gloom,

A game inside a messy room.


I never knowed what Mother knew,

Like how to smile when days were blue,

And how to laugh for laughter’s sake,

While giving up her slice of cake.


I never saw what Mother see’d

Like honor pulling garden weeds,

Or deep confessions in a look,

And hope alive in storybooks.


I never knew how Mother knowed

To hand out carrots when it snowed,

And why hot cocoa liked the rain,

While naptime kept a person sane.


For mother knowed and see’d it all.

A winner in a strike-out ball.

A “yes, please” in a shoulder shrug.

A “love you mostest” in a hug.


Perhaps, someday, I’ll come to know

What Mother saw and knowed as so.

Like how “I’m right” can be all wrong,

And why the night requires a song.


But of the things I learned and knew

I never doubted one thing true.

My mother made it crystal clear,

she knowed and loved me ever dear.



May 14th


You breathe.

You feel.

You see,

and hear,

and smell,

and taste,

and think,

and move,

and laugh,

and weep,

and heal,

and dance,

and sing,

and love.

Thank your mother.



May 15th


One of the strongest loves I’ve ever witnessed is the love a mother has for her child.


from Eena, The Return of a Queen



May 16th


My mother does not own my hands, though she works hard to train them.

My mother does not own my eyes, though she frequently directs their focus.

My mother does not own my mind, though she yields great influence upon it.

My heart, however, she owns completely, for it was hers the day I was born.



May 17th


Things that remind me of Mother are these:

the truth ‘mid deception, a warm summer breeze,

the calm within chaos, a stitch in a rip,

a comforting blanket, the smile on her lip,

an ocean of love in a heart big as whales,

the morals in everyday stories she tells,

a wink amid laughter, the wisdom in books,

the peace in humility, beauty in looks,

the light and the life in a ray of the sun,

the hard work accomplished disguised as pure fun,

concern in a handclasp, encouragement too,

the hope in a clear morning sky azure blue,

the power in prayers uttered soft and sincere,

the faith in a promise, and joy in a tear.

These things all attest to the wonder and grace

of my precious mother, none else could replace.



May 18th


In one way or another,

you owe your life to Mother.



May 19th


Patience isn’t simply waiting, it is caring enough about the situation and those involved to remain calm and courteous throughout the wait.



May 20th


Extraordinary power exists in a trial of patience. Few endure their trials well enough to discover this.



May 21st


Patience is real self-mastery.



May 22nd


Progressing at a snail’s pace is still progress, and slow progress is better than no progress. Never be stagnant, and never give up.



May 23rd


Patience is seeing each step as a journey rather than seeing a journey as a thousand steps.



May 24th


Despair is not for the living but for those unable to rise and continue; they are the only souls with a right to it. It is an end where breath and strength and will have vanished, leaving no way to persevere. To sink into the abyss that is despair is to suffer an existence far worse than death; therefore, cling to its enemy, our ally—hope. For life goes on, and we must not live in despair. We must not.”


from Eena, The Two Sisters



May 25th


Pray as if you are fully aware that the intricate timing and rotation of every celestial entity in the universe—including the coming and going of innumerable, precious life forms—does not rest in your tiny, mortal hands.



May 26th


A word of consolation

may sweetly touch the ear.

Now and then a quiet song

will clear the mind of fear.


A simple act of kindness

can ease a load of care.

Stories told in memory

diminish all despair.


A whispered prayer of comfort

draws angel arms around.

Counting blessings, great and small,

helps gratitude abound.


These acts, all sympathetic,

will kindly play their part.

But seldom do they dry the tears

shed mutely in the heart.



May 27th


It is important that we remember.

It is vital we do more than just remember.



May 28th


On this day, take time to remember those who have fallen. But on every day after, do more; put the freedoms they died for to greater and nobler uses.



May 29th


Remembering our loved ones is breathing life into their fading images, that we might once more see their faces and pass along a tearful “I miss you.”



May 30th


When we all part from this life and gather on the other side, the only thing each of us will have to share is his own story.



May 31st


Death lurks in the shadows, just out of view.

Now and then I see his reaching hand, uncertain of the blurry image that passes before my eyes, but conscious of the crippling influence of his touch.

Some say Death rears an ugly head, so hideous a view the beholder can scarcely gasp their last breath. Others call him beautiful, a sweet relief to look upon. But these are rumors babbled by the unknowing. For Death is like the gorgon, Medusa, who when perceived, turns the body to stone.

Those who know Death take the knowledge of his shadowed face with them to wherever it is he leads our dearly departed by the hand. All who are left behind must wait their turn to glance into the eyes of the one who will close our mouths forever.




JUNE

Evren

The dragon that shoots flames from its tail.




June 1st


It may seem like the dragons tormenting you are bigger and fiercer than those lurking in your neighbor’s yard, but this is an illusion. We all face mighty dragons at home in some form.



June 2nd


Problems are never as difficult as when they are your own.



June 3rd


It isn’t so much life’s problems that challenge us but the emotional turbulence stirred up while trying to deal with them. People possessing the gift of emotional detachment are lucky in that their personal problems seem far less problematic.



June 4th


If life is a stage and you are your own agent, then don’t hesitate to play the character you wish to play.



June 5th


Life is a fierce duel with emotions and a slow war with psychology.



June 6th


A box sits empty,

wanting to hold and protect.

Hollow tears it cries.



June 7th


Mind what you say, but mind more closely what you do. For though children close their ears to you, their eyes remain wide open.



June 8th


Children rarely follow parental advice unless it is acted out repeatedly. It’s called being an example.



June 9th


Effective parenting requires being the grown up version of what you want your children to be. Why? Because example is the most compelling superpower.



June 10th


I am but the reflection in your eyes, the effect of your expressions, and the sum of your praise and criticism.



June 11th


Validate my existence with your words and I will speak to you all the day long.



June 12th


To encourage me is to believe in me,

which gives me the power to defeat dragons.”


from Smile Anyway: Quotes, Verse, & Grumblings for Every Day of the Year



June 13th


There should ne’er be a time

When a duty or dime

Doth outshine

The importance of family.



June 14th


I always envisioned myself as traveling the ocean of life in a rowboat where my mother was one oar and my father, the other. Having two good, solid oars made rowing much easier.



June 15th


The best fathers have the softest, sweetest hearts. In other words, great dads are real marshmallows.



June 16th


Father always said that money doesn’t grow on trees. Well, time doesn’t grow on trees either.



June 17th


Fathers

Are

The

Humble

Everyday

Real

Servicemen



June 18th


A great father is one whose children look up to him rather than away from him.



June 19th


Children harbor a great many doubts and sorrows that could be eased by a loving hug from a parent.



June 20th


I may deserve your disappointment as well as a lecture and strict discipline, but what I need is your understanding, your guidance, and your unconditional love.



June 21st


A hero is a person who, without a second thought, simply does the right thing because his conscience cannot live with any other choice.



June 22nd


Heroes don’t have the need to be known as heroes, they just do what heroes do because it is right and it must be done.



June 23rd


Meanness is a monster that usurps your self-control because you cowardly allow it to conquer you.



June 24th


Barking at people earns their respect about as effectively as staring into the sun improves your vision.



June 25th


Learn to brush off criticism as easily as you brush aside hollow compliments.



June 26th


You are mistaken; he is not a gentleman but a sir. Just a sir. For a gentleman is grander and a rare acquaintance.



June 27th


A gentleman will

Never allow a lady

To feel less than grand.



June 28th


Integrity is more than truth and honesty; integrity is an unshackled mind, a happy heart, and a light spirit. Integrity is inner peace with a clear, clean conscience. Integrity is self-respect, honor, and credibility. Integrity is healthy and unfettering, and it is worth defending.



June 29th


When gossip starts, be deaf.



June 30th


Little Gracie Gubler was eight. She was a striking sight with her lava-red hair that hung as curly as a piglet’s tail and the sprinkling of cinnamon freckles on her nose and cheeks and fingers and toes. When she stood in place, it was with both feet apart, hands on her hips, shoulders square, chin high, lips grinning as if she were the most remarkable child in a school where nearly every other student towered over her. The truth is, Gracie’s confidence and pluck overflowed more than most. And it happened that these qualities—made manifest in her demeanor and countenance—were hard not to stare at.

Now, this freckle-faced, sprightly child had been born with a small frame and small ears that were somehow well-tuned to surrounding chit-chat. And Gracie Gubler had no qualms about joining in on a transpiring conversation if the topic proved of interest to her. In fact, she did so quite often. On one tulip-blooming spring day she happened to overhear Jeffrey Turner and Dylan Ewing gossiping about Mr. Quilter’s bald head—a head that had been covered with blond fuzz just a week ago. It was the last time they had seen their math teacher until he walked into school that morning without his hair. Jeffrey and Dylan were discussing Mr. Quilter as if they were piecing together a puzzle that would reveal the whole story; never mind if there existed any amount of truth to it.

I heard that he was away on family business.”

“That’s what adults call it when it’s serious.”

“Yeah, like when someone dies.”

Or when they’re going to die….like from a disease.”

Like cancer.”

Yeah. You know, they shave your head bald if you get cancer.”

No they don’t; your hair falls out on its own. That’s what cancer does. That’s how they know you have it.”

Well, it amounts to the same thing.”

“Not really.”

Yeah, really. And either way your head ends out bald, just like Mr. Quilter.”

Poor guy’s probably real sick. No wonder he needed a week off.”

Yeah. I bet he doesn’t even know that when your hair falls out it’s the worst kind of cancer. He’ll probably be dead in another week.”

Or sooner.” The boys sighed a dismal sigh in concert. About that time, Gracie Gubler joined in their conversation.

Do you two know what you’re talking about?” she asked. “Did Mr. Quilter tell you he was sick?”

Dylan and Jeffrey exchanged a guarded glance before answering. “Well, no, not exactly, but he didn’t have to say anything. He missed a week of school and came back with no hair…”

And he’s acting really tired. It’s obvious he’s seriously sick.”

“Yeah, and only cancer takes all your hair that fast.”

Gracie pursed her lips together and placed both hands on her hips before swiveling about and marching directly to the school’s math room. There she found Mr. Quilter sitting at his desk, his bald head lowered into his hands. He did look tired. The classroom was empty; all the kids were outside on the playground.

Gracie interrupted the math teacher by clearing her voice. When he looked up, she asked him a simple question.

Mr. Quilter, why is your head bald?”

After flashing a humored smile, he proceeded to explain how he had flown home to attend the funeral of his grandfather the prior week, and during that time he had been invited to play on his brother’s basketball team. Mr. Quilter had eagerly agreed, being tall and athletic and quite fond of the game. He had been less eager to agree to shaving his head in order to look like the other team players who took great pride in reflecting through appearances their team name—the Bald Eagles. However, a little guilt-ridden convincing by his brother had done the trick. Mr. Quilter flashed a wry smile as he rubbed his head and told Gracie, “It does make for faster showers in the morning.”

Little Gracie told her math teacher that she thought he looked fine with a bald head. Then she marched outside to report the truth to Jeffrey and Dylan who had already convinced a dozen surrounding children that they would soon be getting a new math teacher. Gracie stated that it was not so.

Later that day, outside the local grocery store where a troop of girl scouts was selling mint crèmes and coconut clusters and chunky chocolate cookies, Gracie was exiting the store behind her mother who stopped to purchase three boxes of mint crèmes, supporting the troop that her friend, Karin Summers, happened to direct as a parent volunteer. Both adults watched a neighbor lady, Miss Tyra Darling, walk out of the store carrying a case of beer in either hand. They began to talk in loud whispers, easily overheard by curious, young ears.

That’s four cases this week. I saw Tyra purchase two cases a couple days ago.”

Really? I say, that’s an awful lot of beer for a single woman who lives alone.”

She’s got an obvious drinking problem. Beverly, who lives right next door to Tyra, told me no one ever comes over to that lonely house. Tyra never throws any parties or anything. Not that Beverly wants any loud, drunken partiers carrying on next door.”

No, no, I’m sure she doesn’t want that. She would have to call the cops on something like that.”

The woman is just a serious alcoholic. No doubt she’ll die from a bad liver—young and miserably alone.”

What a tragedy. I don’t understand why people do stuff like that to themselves.”

During this conversation, every girl scout from Hannah Pepper to Hallie Nogues had their ears perked, listening. Gracie Gubler, alone, spun about and marched toward the silver sedan in which Tyra Darling had deposited her two cases of beer. The woman was just opening the driver’s seat door when a chipper “excuse me” stopped her. Gracie went to stand directly under Tyra’s nose and looked up to ask a simple question.

Miss Darling, are you going to drink all of those beers yourself?”

The shocked recipient of the question put a hand to her heart, and her cheeks flushed red. She laughed at the thought. “Oh dear, dear, no, no!” She then leaned forward and explained to little Gracie that her hobby and passion was gardening. Every spring and summer she tended to a half an acre of garden behind her house which included rare flowers mixed with all sorts of herbs, fruits, and vegetables. The beer was used as bait in homemade bowl-traps that effectively lured and killed slugs, snails, and earwigs. She also sprayed the trees and bushes with beer because it attracted the most beautiful butterflies to her garden. Tyra laughed again and skewed her eyebrows. “I don’t even like the taste of beer,” she said. “But I will admit, I do mix up a pretty good beer batter when I’m in the mood for a fish fry.”

After accepting Miss Darling’s invitation to drop by at a later date and visit the beer-fertilized garden, Little Gracie Gubler marched back to report the truth to her mother and Karin (as well as the eavesdropping girl scouts.) The adults stared silently at Gracie for a few stunned moments.

“Huh, that’s good to know.”

Yeah. I wonder if I could get her beer batter recipe.”

The next day at school, freckle-faced Gracie was in the library checking out a fairytale storybook about Dimearians—people born with moth-type wings on their backs. She cocked an ear when she overheard Russ Montgomery whispering (partly because he was in a library and partly because he was gossiping) about LeiAnn Jones, a new girl from Wisconsin who had joined their class two weeks prior. She had proven to be a quiet sort and had checked out five thick books after receiving special permission from the librarian.

She’s a snot, I tell you. Thinks she’s smarter and better than the rest of us. I bet she doesn’t even read those books. Just showing off, hoping the rest of us will think Wisconsin grows brainiacs like it grows cheese.”

I’m pretty sure they don’t grow cheese…” someone started to say.

You know what I mean. That LeiAnn girl is so big-headed, she won’t even say ‘how d’ya do’ to anyone. Has she talked to you? ‘Cause she hasn’t said one word to me.”

“Nuh-uh.”

“Nope.”

“Not one word.”

“And have you said one word to her?”

The question took the other kids by surprise, in part because it was voiced louder than appropriate for a library setting, but mostly because the speaker had not been included in the conversation. Gracie Gubler ran her probing eyes over every kid huddled about the reading table. Then she turned and headed to a corner of the library where LeiAnn Jones was sitting by herself with a pile of books on her lap. She had one cracked open hiding her face. It took LeiAnn a moment to lower the book when she heard someone address her by name. As soon as Gracie could see the blue of LeiAnn’s eyes, she asked a simple question.

“Why don’t you join the rest of the class at the reading table?”

LeiAnn glanced in the direction of the other kids who were staring with tight eyes at Gracie’s back. The new girl swallowed hard, and then timidly explained that she felt uncomfortable. No one had invited her to sit with them, and she didn’t want to assume they would welcome her. Shrugging it off, she told the inquisitive red-head that she was fine—“I have my books.” LeiAnn then confessed, “I’m not very good at making new friends.”

After chatting with LeiAnn Jones, finding that they had a common love for fantasy books, Gracie marched back to the reading table to report the truth to Russ Montgomery and the other children, after which a few of them decided to go introduce themselves to the new girl.

And so it was with Gracie. Whenever she heard someone speak a word of assuming gossip, she was quick to learn and share the truth. Thus, Bobby Black learned that he had not been callously dumped by Darin Caraway as a best friend; the birthday invitation had been mailed by his mother to the wrong address. Elizabeth Bifano learned that Kimmy Jackson did in fact adore her daisy-yellow dress, even though Kimmy’s least favorite color in the world was yellow. Madelyn Jenks learned that their school teacher did not own a jar where he kept the names of bad students he meant to feed to the alligators at the end of the school year. And Mindi Bergeson learned that Scarlet Elliott’s unfortunate case of acne was not the result of kissing frogs in the pond on the Elliot’s farm. Therefore, when anyone saw the little freckle-faced redhead marching near, they would check their conversation—because if their comments weren’t the verified truth, it was foolish business to gossip in front of Gracie Gubler.



JULY

Lotan

The fugitive serpent with seven heads.




July 1st


Courage isn’t being a dragon. Neither is it behaving like a dragon. Nor is it taking up arms to fight and defeat dragons. Courage is being a lamb standing with poise among dragons.



July 2nd


Courage doesn’t defeat fear or erase fear or adjust to fear. Courage acts, plain and simple, in the midst of fear.



July 3rd


Do you feel that? It is a calm shift in the wind.

Do you hear that? It is a soft whisper of hope.

Do you see that? It is the divine hand of guidance, mercifully extended to aid our good fight.



July 4th


"Ma'am," he said, reaching for the door. He held it open, his posture as erect and sturdy as a pole.

I eyed the man's uniform, the pins and badges that signified his military rank and position. At that moment I felt opposing forces wash over me, clashing internally like a cold and warm front meeting in the air.

At first I was hit by a burning sense of respect and gratitude. How privileged a person I was to have this soldier unbar the way for me, maintaining a clear path that I might advance unhindered. The symbolism marked by his actions did strike me with remarkable intensity. How many virtual doors would be shut in my face if not for dutiful soldiers like him?

As I went to step forward, my feet nearly faltered as if they felt unworthy. It was I who ought to be holding open the door for this gentleman—this representative of great heroes present and past who did fight and sacrifice and continue to do so to keep doors open, paths free and clear for all of humanity.

I moved through the entrance and thanked him.

"Yes, ma'am," he said.

How strange that I should feel such pride while passing through his open door.



July 5th


Mad fearlessness is not courage. The only requirement for courage is a good heart.



July 6th


If you think the most courageous and difficult thing you can do is stubbornly stand your ground, try graciously giving in.



July 7th


You tell me that yes, I can do it. I know.

And I may do it, if I so choose.

You tell me that no, I cannot. I say, Oh?

I shall do it, since you refuse!



July 8th


Stubbornness is surely just taut-jawed, clenched-fisted madness.



July 9th


Stubbornness is a weapon.

People tend to draw it out when a sensitive part of their identity is threatened—be it dignity, honor, pride, desires, etc. If loaded with righteous resolve, stubbornness can assist in overcoming obstacles and achieving great feats; however, more often than not it is loaded with anger, used as a means of destruction for both the possessor and those whom he turns his weapon upon. It is best utilized by wise individuals who are able to dispassionately perceive if their stubbornness will accomplish good, or if it should be put away and replaced by a humble substitute to spare the lives of everyone affected.


Continue reading this ebook at Smashwords.
Download this book for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-69 show above.)