Friday, January 23, 2015

The Power Of The Right Turn

with guest Elizabeth Van Tassel.

When life throws you a major hurdle, how do you survive, not give up, and create a memorable moment in the midst of difficulties?
Time for a break, or way past time?

After we lost our home in a wildfire, survived a season of joblessness, and walked through my son’s and husband’s significant medical emergencies, our family got pretty good at recognizing when we needed a break. Sometimes we waited too long and it felt like we had zoomed through stop signs in our path, which left us drained and exhausted. This season of great loss, punctuated with deaths and other challenges, spurred us to look within a one-to-two hour driving radius for simple outings, such as visiting museums, seeing wildflowers in the spring, trying different beaches to find our favorite one, and driving a bit to enjoy cultural opportunities.

What is a right turn?
During very stressful times, taking a right turn by creating an intentional moment is so important. It can include something small like a walk on the beach or visiting a pretty place to change the topic for a while. Eventually, we developed this saying: “We need a right turn. Let’s try…”

How can right turns help?
 When you’re surrounded by bills from a lengthy hospital stay, or mounds of paperwork, coping with the loss of a family member, or confronted yet again with a difficult situation, it’s very easy to let the problem creep into your sense of self. Like ink bleeding into fabric, the stress weeds its way into every area of your life, exerting itself, until it threatens to choke out gratitude, simplicity, joy, and fruitfulness.

It’s important is to make room for other things so you realize you’re not defined by the crisis; rather, you are walking through it. Together. Planning something to lift your spirits renews your commitment to remain a team and not be divided in how you handle the pressure.

Right turns sometimes come unexpectedly.
For several days in a row I’ve had priority interrupts (like the car dying) and found myself out of the office at unexpected times. Before our years of upheaval I’d get frustrated. Now I take a breath, and ask, “Is there anything positive in this situation?” (For example, at least it didn’t die on the freeway or hurt anyone.)

Taking time-outs for refreshment can help your family remain close in the midst of a great change. It can be a hike, baking something tempting, or seeking out someplace to let your mind rest from the trial at hand.

Time for a break, or way past time?

Right turns refill your creativity.
The right turn can also work for stagnant writing by bringing new freshness to your characters and perspective. Sometimes I need a change of pace. Connecting with a friend over coffee; planning a party; doing something thoughtful for someone; walking alone on the beach; researching some gemstones (since I’m a gemologist and gems feature in my writing and speaking); taking a sketch pad or photo and starting a painting. Doing something wildly creative in a different venue can reinvigorate my writing.

I write tween fiction and feature a talking dragonfly in my upcoming fantasy story. To better connect with gestures he might make, I studied pictures and painted them before writing his character profile.
Need to understand your character? Paint, draw, or create them anew.

These paintings won’t make it to the Met, but it was a helpful exercise to loosen the gears.

When my mother faced breast cancer, and I couldn’t be with her for the whole journey, I painted a huge flower arrangement. With each brush stroke, I prayed through my grief for what she was facing. With each shadow or line, I let God heal the rift in my heart from her struggles. Then I presented it to her, so she had a tangible hug from me whenever she needed it. Another example: when my in-laws recently sold their home, I painted a picture of it. I prayed for the changes ahead for them with each brush stroke. I asked God to bless their new neighbors and bring them hidden joy with this big transition. It was a nice painting to give them, but it also represented my heart on a deeper level of connection to their change.

Right turns can bring God into the rough times.
When you become a parent, nothing can quite prepare you for the great shift in priorities that such a little person makes. Coping with a loss or huge change is similar to early moments of parenting, because time slows down as you address their immediate needs. The laundry can pile, the bills might stack up, but seeing to their needs is most important for a season of life. This constant demand can be very exhausting and draining.

When my youngest son had three years of chronic ear infections, causing him much pain and costing us a lot of sleep, I learned to be much more flexible with the daily schedule. If I’d been up all night, other things had to slip so we could cope. This was happening as we moved repetitively after the fires into rental homes, six times in two-and-a-half years, due to a string of bad luck with people from whom we rented going belly-up financially. I think the Lord wanted us to learn the importance of solvency before we replaced our own belongings. I also know those four years of difficulty brought us so close as a family.
Moving six times in two years? I wouldn’t recommend it!
But the challenges brought us closer.

What could have divided us, instead made us stronger and brought God’s word out of the Bible and into our everyday lives with our deepened dependence on Jesus. Like taking someone’s pulse, I learned to listen more intently to the subtle heart-whispers of the Lord and react in the moment. Whether it was addressing medical needs, or adapting to change, I strove to find a point of joy in the day when things were bleak. When joy was elusive, we piled in the car, prayed, and picked a direction for an outing. We were not evading the problem, but once addressed, we did not let the problem invade our sense of self or family.

Some of our favorite right turns:

Soon after the fires we found this great Star Trek exhibit at a museum.

We love to visit the butterflies each spring. It brings simple joy and wonder.
Years have passed, kids have grown, but we still love a right turn.
This Christmas we surprised our kids with a trip to Hawaii.

What are some ways you handle difficult times? What have been some of your favorite right turns? How do you find encouragement to press on when life throws you a curve ball? I’d love to hear from you.

Elizabeth Van Tassel has faced life’s challenges with humor and grace while maintaining her faith. Having lost her family’s home to a wildfire, as well as experiencing a myriad of health and other life-altering trials, she teaches real-life lessons and helps tweens, teens, and their parents build a treasure box of tools to face the hardest trials of life. Her background with gems and love for history brings a special flair to her speaking, classes, coaching, and fiction and nonfiction writing. You can find her at where she blogs about leading a resilient life and her upcoming tween fantasy work. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or by signing up for her updates here.

Today I am offering a special giveaway to three commenters. I’m giving away two 20-minute coaching sessions for two people who need ideas for being more resilient with outlook or priorities (per my website). You can use it for yourself, or perhaps gift it to a friend. You can also use the time for me to research ideas for right turns in your area.

I’m also offering a $25 gift certificate for some pampering at Bath and Bodyworks, so you can take a break when you need it most! Please indicate which items you’d like to be entered for and the winners will be announced in the Weekend Edition.

Don't forget to mention you want your name entered for these giveaways!


  1. Thank you, Elizabeth. This post reinforces what I have learned this last year. For me a right turn can mean a nap, a walk or quiet time. I'd love the Bath and Body giveaway

  2. Thanks Marianne. You are right, a moment to yourself can help recharge you to face the challenges ahead. I'm a big fan of cherishing a quiet moment.

  3. Hello, Elizabeth. It was fun to see you here and learn more about your personal story. My favorite right turn is literally off the main street in our town, down the road to the Mississippi River dam. It's the most powerful place to relax and rejuvenate. I lived in a house on the banks of the Mississippi growing up, and going to the dam always brought back those peaceful, carefree memories. Four years ago, when I was up to my eyeballs in diapers, nighttime feedings, and crying babies (twins!), God blessed my husband and I with an affordable house on the banks of the Mississippi! Now all I need to do is look out my window, walk down to the river, and soak up the joy the water brings to me. Thank you for the reminder that we need to take right turns in our daily lives. :) (I'd love the Bath & Body gift card.)

  4. Hi Gabrielle, Great to meet you at ACFW and I love seeing the photos from your area online. It helps me reconnect with the South, since I lived in Texas for a combined 14 years and left part of my heart there too. But we love the beach here and walks in the Spring, too.

    I grew up in a house on the water in Northern California, on a lagoon. I think that's where I'd create my first stories about the ducks, egrets and whimsy out the window, so much better than on TV.

  5. Great post! Glad you not only over came your struggles but you soared above them! We all have times like these and it's so good to remember we're not alone and nothing lasts forever

  6. Elizabeth, what wonderful insight you've shown here! Thank you!

    You've made turning lemons into lemonade a feasible concept and I love the idea of right turns! Mine are more often work-related...

    I'll spend time in a garden, because flowers can't talk back and birds love me.

    I'll take grandkids to the zoo and talk to animals.

    Or, I'll stop what I'm doing, and pull apart a room and paint/scrub/re-arrange, whatever it needs right then... Because having it done brings me peace and allows my brain down time.

    With kids, though, we did day trips often. Once they were all in sports or other activities, we were constantly on the run, living in the car, but that was the most fun ever!

    Great idea sharing here!

  7. I might go move in with Gabrielle.

    I am sorely tempted.

  8. Thank you for the wonderful post Elizabeth. I sometimes feel I have walked into a corner and not know which way to turn. In those times, I turn to Him in prayer. In the last house I lived in, we had a deep garden tub in the Master bath and that was my 'thinking' place. When I had issues I needed to resolve, I always took a bubble bath and talked with God.

    I would love to be entered for the Bath & Body Works giveaway. Thank you for your generosity.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  9. Elizabeth, welcome to Seekerville.

    Such a blessing to meet you in the airport and sit with you on the plane.

    You put the V in vivacious and Van Tassell!

    You are a blessing.

  10. I've read this post no less than four times now and I am struck by your grace under pressure.

    A little like Eleanor Roosevelt. "A woman is like a tea bag - you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water."

  11. I believe the power in the right turn is when you are at that "Help me, Lord," point and you realize you must stop whining or you cannot hear His still small voice which will of course lift you from the fire.

  12. Dear Eva Marie,
    It is a great blessing not to be alone in adversity, you are right! The right turn is so helpful when it feels like it will last forever. Feelings are intense in a time of challenge. I love the book "Faith is Not a Feeling" by Ney Bailey. I read it in college and it's shaped my desire to focus on God in both good and bad times.

  13. Good morning, Ruth! I loved to garden until my back protested. Now I often visit gardens and love to enjoy the beauty, quiet, and surprise of each flower or tree in bloom.We love the Huntington Library and Estate in Pasadena here but try to take our kids some place like this if we travel, too. Where do you like to go in your town or area?

  14. The zoo is a favorite, too. We are blessed to have super zoos in our area and beautiful landscaping at them as well. When you see the diversity of the animals, it helps you remember God cares about the details in life, too!

  15. Dear Cindy,
    I love your tub idea, and so you understand why I chose the bath gifts for this wonderful group of people! It's an instant retreat, if only for a moment, in the midst of life's challenges. I think a cup of tea is, too. You can't drink it fast and must drink in the moment.

  16. Dear Tina,
    I am so thankful we met on the airplane! You are a delight and what a blessing to connect and share then and through this time, too. Thank you for your kind comments here. Maybe I love tea so much because I've been in lots of hot water! But I like iced tea too so the good times are lovely, also.

  17. I would love the Bath & Body certificate! Thank you for the giveaways.

    I love this Right Turn's very positive. I could have used some right turns in the past! LOL

    Life definitely throws out curveballs. Thanks for the encouraging post!

  18. Jessica,
    Thanks for your thoughts and the baseball analogy! My son loves baseball, too. Golf works, too, with the curve balls and not giving up.

  19. Between last October and November, my aunt was diagnosed with a type of ALS, my husband lost his job, he broke his leg, and my aunt died.

    We took our right turn by camping at the beach. One month of stress, turmoil and grief was dissolved with one step on the sand. The waves just washed it all away.

    Thanks for reminding me to focus on that right turn, Elizabeth!

  20. Dear Angie,
    My heart goes out to you. But I also understand. My husband had a stroke, I got so tired from care-taking I fell and tore both knees a couple of years ago. I'm so sorry about your Aunt, also. Sometimes life puts you in the vice grip. I'm so glad you found the sand and the ocean. My husband had a miraculous recovery, I've done lots of PT (learning to walk again) and swimming and the ocean are something we've all come to enjoy. I even belong to a group of moms that boogie-boards together, which is pretty miraculous considering I couldn't really walk after my injury very well for a long season of life.

    I pray you will find restorative moments and hold close to one another, emerging stronger and feeling deeply loved by the Lord.

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

  21. Thanks, Elizabeth. I've often thought I needed to get away for a bit, but we rarely take a short trip like you suggest.

    The best we may do is to watch a football or basketball game, but then I'm usually multi-tasking. I'm going to keep your suggestions in mind.

    I'd love to be entered for the B&B gift. Thanks.

  22. Hi Jackie,
    Short trips are great - no packing or lots of planning required. We try to keep it in a two hour radius. For example, it's pretty weather here this weekend so we might go see the blossoming trees at a Japanese garden with another family. Or dig holes at the beach and take a walk. Now I keep rolled up towels in my trunk so we can just plunk in what we need and go.

  23. Oh, look at how sweet our Elizabeth is... she asked where I like to go.


    I'm laughing because I still work full time and write full time and have 6 grown children and 13 grandchildren, so my Martha personality keeps me either working/working/or playing with babies!

    Or cooking.

    BUT... I do love meeting up with other writers in quiet venues where I can avoid the hoopla, I'm not a big conference-type fan, so small groups, retreats, etc. But what I love most is visiting my children in NYC and Raleigh, NC because that's where my heart is.

    So I think this varies depending on what stage of life we're at.

    I can't imagine the strength it took... and it shows so beautifully here!!!.. of dealing with a wildfire/home loss, and the moving and health problems... Your grace under pressure is to be hugged!!!

    Hey Dave brought filled donuts (doughnuts) home, with custard or buttercream filling and I need to share these bad boys!

    With fresh coffee, of course!!!

  24. Elizabeth, we love the zoos and museums and playgrounds!

    We try to get to the zoo monthly this year, to see and learn about the animals in all seasons. What their habits are, which they prefer...

    And when my son was in law school in D.C. one of our favorite places was the National Zoo, just down the road from his apartment.

    He'd go there to study, to think, or just to study the animals and see how they think/react.

    Now he's in Manhattan and our next big city zoo trip will be the Bronx Zoo.

    That's after we walk the hi-line and study that animal life of Manhattan, LOL!

  25. Ruth, I'll be right over. Wouldn't that be fun. I'm sipping my Kauai Coffee I shipped back from our Christmas surprise trip. Maybe I'll do the hula later.

    We have a wonderful wild animal park that I'm told is akin to how it is in Africa. I've met people from France and other countries that come just to see it all. My favorite visit was when all the Rhinos had babies (who knew Rhino babies are so cute) and the baby giraffes. Maybe I'll make a pintrest board, I have great photos and memories there, too. My fearless son feeding the giraffes who have very long tongues. He was only three years old then. Now he's taller than me.

  26. Elizabeth, thank you for an uplifting post!

    A right turn can be very small turn that make a huge difference in attitude and the way we handle our days.

    Looking for the good in everything is a great plan to follow.

    I clean house or do yard work when I need to 'redirect' and burn energy at the same time.

  27. Morning Elizabeth, What a great post and very inspiring. We all do have those circumstances in our lives and it is good advice to look for those right turns.

    Thanks for sharing and enjoy your day here in Seekerville.

    Thanks too for your generous gifts. What a blessing for those winners.

    Happy writing.

  28. Elizabeth, I so admire your courage and grace during such difficult times. And I love your idea of taking a right turn. It's something I hope to implement in my own life - especially right now with some work and family challenges that continue to be ongoing. Thank you!

  29. I stepped away to make fresh biscuits with butter and honey for breakfast here, with fruit smoothies. Come on over!

  30. Thanks for your thoughts Mary. An orderly house can help, too. Sometimes I pray while I do my least favorite task: laundry. I pray for when we wear the clothes and am grateful we even have them in the first place!

    Thanks Sandra. I wanted to share a happy moment with you all too. Good luck!

    How do right turns bless your writing process, too?

  31. Elizabeth, I like the idea of "right turns" and also the phrase, "Points of joy." There is so much to be thankful for and so many unexpected, precious moments.
    My husband and I like to get away and explore small towns and odd corners in New England, our home region.
    My best recharge is going to Boston, visiting a museum or just walking around, there is something about the city that refreshes me and makes me want to be creative.
    You are also right about hard times bringing a family together. If they do it right.
    Kathy bailey

  32. What an inspiring post, Elizabeth. I love how you've taken the tough times in your life and turned them into lessons on how to live more intentionally. Your positive outlook is contagious.

    I live in California's Gold Country where opportunities for taking "right turns" abound. Gwynly and I enjoy exploring this area with its rich history. We've unearthed many gems during our explorations.

    Of all the "right turns" you've taken, are there one or two that stand out, and if so, why?

  33. Dear Christina,

    I'm not sure I felt courageous when it was happening. Life slowed down and we just agreed to put one foot in front of one another when it was hardest. I would get up very early and pray hard about the most challenging parts, especially with sick ones or after the fires. Prayer enabled me to leave it with the Lord and determine to move forward, or just hug my loved ones. Bless you with your right turns!

  34. What a beautiful post, Elizabeth! A great reminder at the perfect time :)

  35. Kaybee,
    Your idea about gratitude is the key to most every challenge, big or small. I remember reading a favorite author, Robin Jones Gunn. I'd get her Sisterchick books out every time we had to move since I could take a virtual trip with the characters to pretty places in the world. One day I read her character saying that gratitude could slay any dragon of defeat (paraphrasing) and I've held onto that truth many times. I teach my kids to have a GA (gracious or grateful attitude).

    I love small towns and you are blessed to have so many near by! I'd love to explore that part of the country some day. We went to Williamsburg a few years ago and it was such a treat both with the rich history brought to life and the idea of a more simple life in ye-olde times.

  36. Hi Elizabeth,

    Such an uplifting post. A reminder that we all face troubles, and it comes when everything is going right. My oldest grandson may have lymphoma. He's worked so hard to graduate with honors and get a full scholarship. I can see God working with him. It'll all turn out for the good, and my grandson will make that right turn. The last specialist said he didn't think it was lymphoma and needs more testing. So we keep the wagons circled in prayer.

    If I win the drawing, I'd like the Bath & Body gift card and I'll give it to my daughter who needs a quiet moment to gird herself before the next hurtle.

  37. Kelli,

    Besides wonderful museums and outdoor gardens at historic homes, our favorite and easy times have been outdoors. One time we bought inexpensive kites and flew them at the beach. Lots of kids gathered to share in the fun. Another time, we were at the beach the day that the Monarch butterflies started to return. We were trying to read books and they kept flying right into us in a strong wind. It was amazing to stumble into their migration path!

    Another fun day was when we went to the mountains after a snowfall a few hours away so that our kids could see snow for the first time. They loved making snowballs, stopping for apple pie at a local favorite place. Then my husband thought we could catch sunset back by the beach. We did it and it was thrilling just to see the extremes all in one outing. It brought much refreshment and laughter to us all, too at a time when we were moving a lot.

    We are also big fans of the arts and have discovered an alcove of glass blowers about one hour away. Four times per year they host days when the kids can come watch and there are little shops with gifts for friends. We go for an hour, have lunch, stop and play on the way home and that's a fun day.

  38. Thank you, Sheri. I hope it brought you a smile!

  39. Elaine,

    I'm so sorry to hear about your grandson. There is nothing worse than having a sick child. Some of our darkest moments were losing a child to miscarriage years ago, and then having a son in and out of the hospital with various serious problems that first year of life. He was such a miracle, even living that first week in NICU. I will pray for him that he's recovered and that God is so close, closer than your next breath, throughout this difficult time. Every day, every breath is such a gift. Thanks for reminding me of that treasure. Believe me, it's better than any gem (as much as I love gems and am a gemologist). Trauma makes you realize time is so precious too. I hope she wins and would be available to help their family with ideas to make it through if they need it (see my website

  40. Elizabeth, you've provided such inspiration today. What a heartwarming, vibrant and necessary post. I'm sorry for all the left turns in your life, but so glad that God--as He often does--turned darkness into light.

    Loved your mention of praying as you paint for those special people. What a precious gift of art and prayer!

    As a military family, we've moved often, although not as frequently as you! I loved how our family grew closer when we left friends behind and headed off to a new destination. The children only had each other until new friends could be made. We remain a close-knit family, which brings joy to my heart.

    Our right turns? Frequent walks in nature. Spending time with the Lord in prayer. Weekends away to Charleston. Summer trips to the beach.

    So glad you could be with us today to share your wonderful message of refreshment and renewal.

  41. I should add..

    We're blessed to have Callaway Gardens about an hour's drive from our home. They have a butterfly house that is amazing. So many butterflies from all over the world live in a tropical environment that's so inviting.

    A special right turn.

    It's cold and rainy in Georgia. A trip to Callaway this weekend would be a great get-away. If only I wasn't under a deadline. :)

  42. Elizabeth, love this! After a night of tossing and turning and strange dreams, a RIGHT turn sounds wonderful.

    While I get the opportunity to travel a good bit, my Cowboy and I have gotten lax about just taking off for a day or two, just the two of us. Before haying season, I'm determined to get us out of the house and on a short trip so that we can just relax.

    Also, my mother and I were booked for a cruise at the end of November, but we cancelled due to a family emergency. We felt at peace about the cancellation as we knew we'd be miserable away from family at such a traumatic time. We're looking at our schedules to try to rebook that some time in the near future. Even at the risk of having withdrawals, I'm determined to leave my computer at home. :)

  43. Lovely and inspiring post, Elizabeth! Thank you so much for being our guest today!

    When those "right turns" become necessary, the most important thing for me is to nix the guilt over what is NOT getting done. I need to consciously give myself permission to release schedules and commitments and just BE for however long it takes to refresh and regenerate.

  44. These days of writing, managing the farm's books, and working for ACFW leave little time for relaxation, but as someone else mentioned, a couple of easy things that only take an hour or so of my time are...

    I treat myself to a movie while strolling (slowly!) on the treadmill. A good movie makes me forget about the bit of exercise I'm getting. :)

    Really stop and savor a good book. I was recently stranded in the airport for a whole day and instead of fretting and letting the experience worry me, I settled in and took the time to enjoy the book I had with me.

  45. Dear Debby,

    Thank you for your thoughts. I love the butterflies. Next time you see a monarch chrysalis, notice the golden stripe on the side. Heaven's gold. So amazing.

    When I was a MOPS leader, I mentored the military wives. It was an interesting time since my husband began traveling for weeks at a time overseas to Asia and Europe for work. He was gone 6-7 months of the year for 3.5/4 years. It was such a struggle and as God often does, He'd already helped me before I even knew I needed creative ways to deal with the travel. I learned so much from those wonderful military wives about coping with a husband frequently gone and parenting young children.

    Thank you for your family's service!

  46. Debby,

    I've always wanted to go to Charleston. Is it as wonderful as I picture, with the old buildings and character (and antiques)?

  47. Dear Pam,
    Sorry to hear about the family trauma. You will be glad to be there, I'm sure, and a blessing to those who need you. I'll pray for times of refreshment and unexpected joy.

    The trip away sounds like a great idea. My husband and I turned off our phones and electronics for two weeks (it had been three years since he'd done that!) in Hawaii. If you can do it, it's a tremendous gift. We really slowed down, savored the days, let the Aloha sink in. Snorkeling with the fish helped a lot, too.

    Beauty has such a way of melting away the worries, doesn't it? I think that's why I also write fiction for tweens. I want them to be able to envision the subtleties of beauty so when the hard times come they have a connection with beauty and the Lord that won't let them down.

  48. Welcome to Seekerville, Elizabeth. Thank you for your wonderful inspiring post. You are such a fabulous example of handling the tough times in practical positive ways. You are making a difference in peoples lives.

    Loved your paintings! Creative activities are healing and energizing for me, too.


  49. Dear Myra,
    Thanks for having me here today. Perhaps you've heard the analogy of putting on your mask first if a plane looses altitude, then helping others around you. So glad you're letting go of the guilt. I, too, have struggled with this but try to think of it like when my computer needs to reboot because it's become confused or frozen up somehow. (My husband would laugh, I'm no tech expert). Here's the point: sometimes we all need to reboot, or recharge, or what we're giving won't be in line with God's vision for us or bring us joy. Cheers for killing the guilt dragon!

  50. Dear Janet,
    What do you like to do to be creative? Thanks for your encouraging words here. I love your posts and writing, too!

  51. Beautiful and encouraging, Elizabeth! Well, of course it is, coming from you. :)

  52. Dear Sally,
    Great to see you here today! Thanks for the compliment. Your books have shored me up through many storms, too, Sally and I so appreciate your friendship and encouragement. And admire you tremendously!

  53. After all the zoo ideas, I hopped over to my Facebook account and found the most adorable video about pandas I just put on the author and personal sites. Here's the link if you want to see it!

  54. God’s given me the opportunity to specialize in tough times, and He has Always been Faithful! He has Always been Kind & Good! He has Always used every single moment of suffering & every tiny millimeter of hurt for HIS GLORY & HIS VICTORY! Always!

    Here's a few things from my survival list:
    Reading light hearted, “bubble gum for the brain” books
    Swing on the tree swing like I was 6 years old again!
    Eating chocolate from my secret stash in the freezer
    Encouraging others (even if all I can do is send a facebook message to someone- that counts!)
    Making myself worship God (singing, reading the bible, praying, online Christian music videos, etc., etc.)
    Watch the sunset & talk to the cows
    Spend the weekend at the lake cabin at our church retreat center
    Hike down to our lake & just sit there
    Throwing a tennis ball against a brick wall (for fun- not in anger! :) )

    *Thanks, Sweet Elizabeth! Please enter me in the B &BWks drawing!

  55. My latest, greatest Right Turn…
    On one of the worst days of last year, I ran away to Whataburger in town. (WoHoo! I know- I’m a real rebel!) :) I met two fabulous, Christian college girls who were working at a local Christian summer camp. I had the honor of praying for them all summer long! God turned my worst day into a Grand Summer Adventure! And when I get to heaven, I’ll get to see the Answers to those prayers! How Cool will that be?!?!?

  56. Jana,

    I love your list. I totally agree about chocolate! Music makes such a difference, too. If my kids are grumpy, I'll put on hymns music in the background and the atmosphere lifts immediately. We've really enjoyed the Narnia soundtracks, too. Very motivating to tackle a new challenge.

    I love your comment about the sunset and the cows. I can picture it right now. Most of all I love your point about God using it all. I try not to be trite speaking with someone in pain or hurting, but share that even though I don't understand the difficult moments, somehow, someway He can use them all if we give them to Jesus. Nothing goes wasted.

  57. Jana,

    Thanks for the Whataburger thought, too! I remember those places. In and Out is bigger here on the West coast.
    Sounds like you really connected with those girls. I'll bet they will always remember you.

    I love those unusual moments when someone in need collides with your own agenda. Sometimes it's for a moment, a few months, or a season of life. I remember going to get my watch batteries changed in a large town near our home. As I crossed the street, an elderly lady was almost hit by a car in front of me. She fell to the ground and was disoriented. I walked with her, took her to tea, and helped her calm. She just talked for an hour about her husband just passing away and how she had no one. My kids and I adopted her for a couple of months while she got organized to sell her home and move to a nursing home. We called, wrote notes, brought over jam. Once she was in the nursing home things picked up and some relatives surfaced to help her more. But I hope while we were needed, it made a small difference.

    I'm sure you made that difference too!

  58. Elizabeth, you really know how to have fun. Thanks for sharing some of your favorite "right turn" experiences. :-)

  59. Thank you Keli! I enjoy your writing and posts, too. What are some of your stories from the Gold Country?

    I helped chaperone 40 fourth graders to Sacramento two years ago, with my knee ripped up, in a wheelchair. The accident happened right before the trip and I didn't want my son to miss out. It was so fun watching my diligent son pan for gold and soak in the history of the region. It takes a lot of patience to come up with the gold. I'm excellent at pyrite, unfortunately!

    It was a sunny day and we parked at the base of some pretty hills and a large field dotted with cows. I found a historical marker for an old jail site with just the metal jail cell left, the wooden building gone in the winds of time. While the others hiked, I ate lunch staring at the lone jail cell and coming up with short story ideas. I felt like a time traveler there. Pretty country. So green. Need to write some of those up!

  60. Elizabeth
    thanks for your reminder about the importance of right turns. at one time, before we had our son, my husband and I recharged by going scuba diving. After son, I haven't been able to get back into the water, but my husband did for a bit before the recession hit hard. He wasn't needed to work on the dive boat any longer so he lost his "freebie" diving activity. It's been hard for him, losing that right turn therapy and I hope to be able to send him on a local trip to get his gills wet (I swear he's amphibious with how much he loves the water. He was adopted at birth and we both joke he must've been a "love-child" of Jacques Cousteau...)

    This past year though, we've been visiting a friend in Henderson, NC who has 12 acres of woods/home. We help him create trails for his four-wheeled atvs and ride on the ones that are finished. It's a perfect weekend get-away. Hubby gets his male-bonding time with his friend, our little guy gets play-time with a couple neighbor boys who are always excited to see him, and I get reading/down time away from the busy-ness of home.

    again - thanks for the reminder. there's a time for everything, like Ecclesiates 3 says.

    I wouldn't know the first thing to ask with counsel-wise (must check your website), but since our only bathtub has serious leakage issues (like water dripping through lighting fixture one floor below), I'll take a pass on the bath and bodyworks and get some counsel if I should be so blessed.

    thanks again for sharing!!!

  61. Elizabeth, I love the way you said that you didn't feel all that brave at the time... but just put one foot in front of the other.

    Kris Kringle did the same thing in "Santa Claus is Coming to Town", and he's famous now!!!! (sings chorus of "Put one foot in front of the other! And soon you'll be walking 'cross the flo-o-or!)

    We don't often see our heroism at the moment... it shines later, when there's time to breathe!

  62. Time to bring in food reinforcements! Bread soup bowls from Panera's!

  63. Oh, Angie, adding you to my prayer list!!

  64. Dear DebH,

    My husband and I used to scuba a bit before we had kids also. We're not sure he can again since his stroke. We're just so blessed he's recovered we try not to focus on it. Snorkeling was nice but is a very rare treat. He was good at it, and loved reading all the Dirk Pit novels. I have some great resources for anyone who loves scuba and real life underwater mysteries and will make sure you get them. Just send Tina your contact information in a separate email please.

    The ATV trails sound amazing! Talk about creating your own adventures. I imagine it's really pretty there too.

    Hope you get picked for some help, but either way I look forward to connecting with you.

  65. How old are your boys now, Elizabeth? Your wittness will be something that will be an anchor for them when faced with trials! You're a good momma!

  66. Ruth,
    Thank you for the Santa analogy. That's exactly how it feels in the moment. Sometimes just making it through the next few hours is enough. I hope to convey how important it is in the crisis itself to be real with the Lord about your feelings. People often don't know quite what to say and can make it worse with "Don't worry, it can't last forever," or other trite comments. In the intense times, it's so important to lean into the Lord, even with the good and bad feelings. Then He can clear the way for insights. Sometimes they come right away, sometimes it's months or years later. Now I just try to trust that they will come and stay close to Him.

  67. Tina,

    You are so dear. Thank you.

    My boys are 12 (and taller than me now) and 8 years old. They are great editors for my upcoming novels and also well-schooled in helping us remember to have more fun and not be too serious all the time.

  68. Elizabeth, what a treat to see you here today! And your expression through painting? Positively beautiful. You're so right that we sometimes, need a right turn to shift our perspective about a situation or a life event. I loved what you said, "y(Y)ou’re not defined by the crisis; rather, you are walking through it. What an important truth to remember!

    I loved the picture of the butterfly on your boy's hand. It was huge! :)

    Thanks for sharing a bit about you and how you're family has thrived through the trials you faced.

    Sending you a hug, friend!

  69. Jeanne,

    Great to hear from you today. I agree with your point—it's good to remember your core values and identity but when you're tired from a big challenge, it can overshadow everything else, at least for a season. One way we keep our focus here is to ask one another, "How do you want to live?" It tends to boil down whatever is being debated and help us pick a priority. I loved meeting you at ACFW and following your writing. I appreciate your graciousness and friendship over the miles!


    YOU SAID: "Now I take a breath, and ask, “Is there anything positive in this situation?” (For example, at least it didn’t die on the freeway or hurt anyone.)"

    Mmmm ... I've made a habit of praising God in all things, good and bad, but stepping back to glean good from it at the moment is a new -- and AMAZING -- approach to take, so THANK YOU!! I definitely need to implement that "right turn."

    And a talking dragonfly??? I LOVE IT!!!

    Also, your "prayer painting" is absolutely a jaw-dropping idea -- you are one creative lady, my friend -- apparently a master at "right turns," so I best listen to you!!

    You asked: "What have been some of your favorite right turns?

    My favorite "right turn" is an 8-month sabbatical I took last year. I told my editor I wasn't planning on pitching another book or series for a while because I wanted to focus more on God, family, and writing for the sheer joy of writing without a contract or deadline. Turned out to be the best decision of my life, although I am pretty behind in the book-release action, but it was definitely worth it.


  71. Dear Julie,

    Thank you for your lovely comments. I'm falling out of my chair. A bit. :)

    What did you do with your sabbatical time? Or was the point not to plan anything for a while? I'd love to know.

    After John's stroke, I was sorely tempted to give up writing. I'd just entered the Craftsman course with the Christian Writer's Guild, a high commitment. In the hospital John asked me to keep writing, not give it up, but I had to for a season since I was head caretaker. I asked God to help me. I ended up getting up very early mornings to keep writing and complete my homework in between hospital runs. The little characters from my stories wouldn't leave me alone, in a good way. I'm glad now and have poured some of the emotion from that raw time into my evil characters, too.

    I applaud your season of pushing "stop." I love how God exists outside of time, unhindered by it, and can be with us anytime, anyplace. Thank you for nurturing us with your writing and posts here too!

  72. I'm not sure of any right turns, but I love the idea and will be more aware of it now. I also love how you paint to share your love. I makes me think of the prayer shawls some people make. I would love to win the Bath and Body Works gift.

  73. Hi Becky,
    Yes my mother-in-law is so talented and makes those loving shawls with her sewing group. They are lovingly prayed over and given to people in need. Hope you find a fun right turn soon.

  74. Elizabeth, it's great to have you with us today! I love all your suggestions and will definitely try them.

    Your paintings are beautiful!

  75. Well they are handsome young men!!!

    I used to pay my dtr a dime a page to edit my work when she was in high school.

  76. Nah, that can't be right. Must have been a quarter. Or I'm a cheapskate.

  77. I love the reminder to get away. We get in a rut and forget to take a day trip now and again.

    I'd love to be entered for the gift card.

  78. Sorry I'm late chiming in, but wanted to say I enjoyed your post, Elizabeth. Great suggestions from someone who's been through a lot---wow.
    I enjoyed your photos too---your sons are precious!
    Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo

  79. Wow Elizabeth what a testimony you have! You have come through the fire, in more ways than one!Awesome what God has done in your life and weigh such a great attitude. I love right turns too. My "One Word" for the years is gratitude and your post is a reminder to thank God daily for all my blessings.

    I might be too late but would love to be included in the bath and body giveaway.

  80. Phew! I finally made it.

    I have been looking forward to your post all week, Elizabeth. And now I have new expression for what I call 'sanity saver' ... a right turn. I like that!

    Thank you especially for these words: It’s important is to make room for other things so you realize you’re not defined by the crisis; rather, you are walking through it.

    Wonderful post!

    Nancy C

  81. Elizabeth,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences and your right turns. My family has been through so much in the last few years and we continue to face challenges with my husband's health issues, I would like to have one of those coaching sessions!

  82. How wonderful it would be to have a painted memento .. I paint a little, I love this idea.. thank you :) please enter me in the bed & bath drawing..

  83. Tina,

    You could never be a cheap! You are so giving. Love that idea.

  84. Missy and Deanna,

    Glad that you liked the paint your prayers ideas. Sounds like this struck a chord with people here. Hope it brings others happiness. I love getting messy and having something pretty emerge from it all. (Can you tell I'm a pantster writer?)

    Please join my Facebook sites and perhaps we could share whatever you paint! Would love to keep in touch.

  85. Donna,

    I hope you plan something delightful this upcoming week. Enjoy!

  86. Patti Jo,

    Thanks for the nice thoughts about the photos. I enjoy taking them and capturing a moment that passes all too fast.

  87. Tracey,

    Gratitude is a super word for the year. Can you already see a difference? I do every time I choose to remain grateful in the moment. Glad you enjoyed the post here. I need to be more grateful, too. It helps me to slow down and enjoy the moment and family time even more.

  88. Nancy C,

    I love the "sanity saver" thought! Don't we all need those. How do you make room in your life for points of joy to enter in? Today I'm hoping to get lots of practical things done, then surprise one of my sons with something fun as a reward.

  89. Edwina,

    I'm so sorry to hear about your husband's health issues. Let's see how the drawing goes here, but please contact me through my web site and hope I can help either way.

    Bless you and may you have a restorative moment today.

  90. Elizabeth I loved your post! After my divorce, the Lord allowed me to live in Colorado Springs for a year. He provided lots of KINGDOM CONNECTIONS. For the past year, He has placed me in a loving Spirit-filled church.

    Please enter me for the Bath & Body Works giveaway. :)


  91. Elizabeth, your blog post was absolutely perfect for me today! I've been struggling with managing priorities, balancing life, simply not feeling overwhelmed each day and staying on the same page with my husband in our new family situation. So, today I took your advice and joined my husband to make a "right turn." We took the metro into D.C. and visited one of the Smithsonian Museums that we'd never seen--the Art Museum. It was a very different kind of day for us and helped us feel closer than we have in a while. So,thank you so much for a new perspective! I'd love to be entered in the drawing for the 20 minute session with you. I'd truly value your ideas and perspective!

  92. Dear Cathy (and anyone else wanting the 20 min sessions) I'm thrilled your getaway was so refreshing! I love the museums in DC! Did you see any Impressionist paintings? I'd love to visit vicariously with you!

    To everyone who might be interested in some coaching, go to my web site and you'll see an offer under the coaching tab for a free 20 minute session. Send me an email through the web site please and we can catch up and visit.

    Bless you all!