In a nutshell, I am thankful nothing stays the same. There have been some moments over the years that I wished would freeze forever, and others that could not pass quickly enough, but the assurance that they will all change eventually is priceless.
For example, I have had the privilege to share my life with some incredible and wonderful animals over the years. They have enriched my life, soothed my soul, and loved me with an honesty only animals can do. And it seems all too soon they must pass on, leaving me with a broken heart, While the 10, 15 or nearly 20 years we get to share together is always remarkable and treasured, the time is never long enough. Never. Yet their leaving makes me grateful for two reasons.
One, after a decade or so, they are starting to feel their age and some have come to need to depend on daily medication or regular treatments for comfort. It will always reach a point when the efforts are no longer helping like before and they are ready to say good bye. Though it hurts me in ways that words can never adequately convey, I take them to that final visit and say goody bye. I am thankful I have the means to grant their last—and usually only—wish and I am grateful we’ve had so many years’ rich with love and laughter to share. And it is never too long before another animal ends up moving into my life and heart, filling the gap with their own unique paw prints. Thus the cycle is complete.
Family and friends rank high on my grateful meter. They keep me sane and provide emotional support I can’t find elsewhere. And I am grateful this is changed. The family I grew up with is gone, lost over the years scattered behind me. Yes, I miss them, but over the years I have met some good people who have stepped into the role of family and I am ever so grateful for them.
Also, a new change this year, I have connected with a family I never knew I had. With several hundred miles between us, we use technology to build and maintain our relationships. I look forward to seeing how it will evolve over time. So I am grateful both for the family of my youth, and for the people—related or not—who consider me family now and I am glad something as basic as a group of people who love and value you can continue to change over time.
The curse in my life is a series of thorns in my side that do not seem likely to ever go away. Any day I don’t notice them much is a great day. It is challenging to find anything to be grateful for this, but with effort I can dig up a coupe tiny crumbs. I’m grateful for the good days and I’m grateful that when the bad days come, they don’t stay. I tend to wax and wane, like the tide, and can only ride out whatever current moment I’m in with breath held for the next shift to happen. While I wish they would leave me, I doubt they will, and I remain thankful nothing bad stays.
Nature is the polar opposite blessing, one that keeps me grounded and connected. I am grateful to live where I do, though at first it was more like a wild-dash escape. The area is graced by year-round beauty and offers me multiple places to go and recharge. I frequently go to a favorite river that winds through a patch of forest. I love to sit by the water’s edge, listening to the gurgling rapids, and thank God for bringing me here.
I thank Him for providing all the things I call blessings. For creating this scared place, and giving me the means to come and enjoy it. I muse God must have been in a splendid mood when He created my patch of the world, because He spared no details. Sometimes it is just breath-taking with the array of diverse life and beauty that surrounds me.
And I would be remiss if I did not give a mention to the fulfillment of a particular dream. Starting around 2007, I began having articles published in various devotionals, magazines and trade journals. Work submitted to contests was getting noticed. Rejections were getting softer, and more encouraging. Today I am a regular contributing writer for one area magazine and an occasional contributing writer for another. I am grateful for the outlet all these printed places give me and the strength to keep writing.
Then, in 2012 I sold my first novel and since then have released a total of eight books, with two more slated for 2017. Grateful is not a big enough word to describe how I feel about being a published author. Like many of the periods of my life, I enjoy this ride, savoring the new releases, reviews and personal growth as it all unfolds.
Yet, like everything in life, nothing stays the same. So I remain grateful for what full and beautiful blessings I do have and wait to see what is in store in the twists and bends ahead.
Genre: Christian Romance Fiction
McKayla thought she had it all--successful career, boyfriend and promotion--until she met Clay. Then she found out what was really missing.
Top Journalist and corporate climber, McKayla Buchanan, is sent to a remote California mountain camp for inner-city, at-risk teens. Accustomed to political corruption and high-society drama assignments, she is suddenly a fish out of water. At Camp In As Much, she meets eight hostile and distrustful teens, assorted volunteers and rescued horses—and Clay.
Clay Michaels is the man who founded Camp In As Much and made it the success it is now. His hope for the highly recommended journalist is to come and write a feature to send seeds out to form other camps like his nationwide. He never considered the reporter would turn out to be a lovely woman, or for him to have such an attraction to her.
Between McKayla’s worldly experience and Clay’s strong faith, they form a partnership to help with the endless challenges of the kids. While McKayla’s assignment is supposed to be temporary, it isn’t long before she and Clay are each wishing it could last longer. A serious situation will force McKayla to decide if she can give up her worldly ways and place her faith in the same higher source that earthy and godly Clay does.
Clay stood on the front step, watching, a hard lump caught in his throat. Okay, maybe he should not have warned McKayla last night, but it seemed like the thing to do at the time. Or maybe reading the boy’s reports had unnerved him enough, he just wanted to be near her. Whatever his motivation, now she was a bundle of nerves standing next to him, watching the same car approach. Instinctively, he wrapped his arm around her, bringing her close. She looked up at him, startled, then flushing, taking her gaze back to Mason’s car as he braked to a stop. He tamped down the same heat from last night as he watched the car door swing open, his breath suddenly uneven.
Will Cargus unfolded from the front seat, sliding an indifferent, yet still defiant, look around the porch and its curious group of occupants.
He was tall, Clay acknowledged. Even taller than his own five foot, eleven inches. If he ever had a future beyond his current lifestyle, basketball would be a good place to start. Just turned seventeen last month, Will looked so much older with his cold blue eyes and a body rimmed with scars and tattoos. Clay was half-surprised Mason didn’t still have the kid in handcuffs and shackles. Well, there were no more shackles in this kid’s future if he had anything to do with it. From now on, it was only forward going he thought resolutely. Releasing his grip on McKayla, he swallowed that lump, stepped off the porch, and greeted his guests.
“Welcome to Camp In As Much, Will. We are glad you’re here,” he said, taking the boy’s hand and meeting his icy blue stare.
There was the briefest flicker of surprise in Will’s eyes before he shrugged and looked at the group clustered on the porch. “Yeah, whatever,” he said, his voice more of a snarl.
Following Will’s stare, Clay fought off the pinpricks of cold dread curling around him. It had taken only seconds for Will’s focus to set on Jesse. This would no doubt prove to be a combustible combination. Meeting Mason’s sorrowful look over the top of the car, Clay pushed off the doubts and pasted on a smile. Positive, he reminded himself, he had to stay positive. Vibrations poured off Will and sparked off of Jesse. It felt like fireworks in the air.
“Will, come on in. We’ll get you settled and introduced to everyone.”
Mason pulled the boy’s small bag of belongings from the backseat and tossed it to Will, who caught it deftly with one fluid motion of his long arm, reinforcing Clay’s thought of basketball as a good outlet. “Will, I’ll be leaving now,” Mason said.
“Whatever,” Will muttered, closing the car door and following Clay up to the porch.
McKayla quickly stepped out front of Jesse, blocking him. “It’s nice to meet you, Will. I hope your stay here will be pleasant,” she said, offering her hand and tilting her head way back to meet his eyes.
Clay grinned. There was easily a foot between the two of them, but he praised her bravery for stepping up first. It was impossible she’d missed the mutual interest sparking between the two hotheads. He could see she was unnerved by his tattoos and battle scars as she tried not to stare at them.
Will regarded her with an impassive look, and dismissing her handshake, brushed by her. Jesse moved forward, a sneer on his face. Watching the two size each other up like two stallions ready to do battle, Clay knew it was only a matter of time before they ended up going to blows. Dynamite would be nicer to have around.
“Excuse me, young man,” McKayla intruded, pushing herself between Will and Jesse. “Where I come from, that would be considered very rude behavior.” Once more, she extended her hand to him. “Now, I would like to think it is nice to meet you.” Finished, she waited, her breath visibly hard. Pulling his gaze off Jesse’s smirking face, Will studied McKayla’s stern, flushed expression. Time stood still and all the others watched, waiting, surprised, interested. Like a pack of hounds with all their ears pricked forward. Silence dropped as darkness.
Finally, almost reluctantly, the barest hint of an amused grin split his face, and he slowly held out his hand to swallow hers. “Pleasure,” he grunted, releasing her hand quickly.
Bursting with pride and surprise, Clay knew he had just seen a whole new layer in the personality of McKayla Buchanan. The lady had guts. Even Jesse was suitably impressed. That was courage and grace combined, and he was glad to be so close to see it. And feel it. From a few feet away, he could hear her uneven breathing and appreciated her efforts all the more for it. This kid scared the darlings out of her.
Amazon buy link:
Ryan Jo Summers writes romance across the genres. Her books contain love stories blended with any combination of mystery, paranormal, time travel, shape shifting, Christian and humor elements. She comes from a family of wordsmiths. Her dad is a songwriter and his aunt wrote poetry. Ryan Jo dabbles in poetry, short stories and non-fiction articles.
In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and baking, reading, spending time with friends, growing plants, playing chess, mah jongg, and wiggly word find puzzles and exploring the great outdoors. She lives in the heart of Appalachia in Western North Carolina in a charming old cottage with a menagerie of rescue pets.