The Bad Hair Day Blues

The Bad Hair Day Blues

Grab a microphone and sing along if you know what it’s like to have

the Bad Hair Day Blues!

Maybe your alarm didn’t sound,

or the humidity is 98% percent,

Your bangs refused to lay down

or your hair dryer was on the fritz,

Whatever the cause, whatever the reason,

Even if your outfit’s on point from your dress to your shoes,

None of that matters when

You’ve got the Bad Hair Day Blues.

At first you try to fix it with all your hairstyle powers,

but then you realize the only thing you could do

would be to stick your head back in the shower,

and at that point there’s no time for a hairdo re-do,

Because you can’t be late one more time, your boss said.

So you grit your teeth and slap on extra lipstick,

Cause no matter how much you try to re-arrange that mess on your head,

you’ll just have to accept that today’s bad hair ain’t gonna change a lick.

So you ignore the out-of-place curl.

You try not to think about the frizz on the side of your face,

And your day goes okay, despite a few funny looks from that mean girl,

But you smile at her cause someday she’ll need some grace,

And you discover that even though your hair looks affright

You’re still pretty cute, and you’re still alright.

So, come on you gals with the not-so-perfect hair,

Let’s kick those blues to the curb,

Focus on what matters and set your mood straight.

Today can be great, even if your hair ain’t!

 

A Mother’s Day Treat!

As a special Mother’s Day treat, I’d like to share the first chapter of my book, The Mother’s Day Letter, with you! I hope you enjoy it, and remember to . . . “take a leap, let someone help you, share your heart, and sing your song . . .”  

TMDL Front Cover

 

 

The Mother’s Day Letter

By Martha Fouts

Chapter One

 

Place cards? Yep, all tent-folded and precisely placed above the empty gold charger plates. Natalie touched the screen of her tablet computer with the stylus pen, checking place cards off the list.

Guest gifts? Check, right where they’re supposed to be, the pyramid of shimmering crystal jewelry boxes reflecting the light of the chandelier as planned on the cherry wood buffet against the back wall of the large banquet room.

Centerpieces on each round table? Check, Natalie should know she came in twenty minutes early just to water the clusters of white roses and hydrangeas perfectly arranged with Queen Anne’s lace and maidenhair fern in white ceramic French country pots.

Decorations on gift table? Yep, the spotless white wrinkle-free tablecloth (starched straight after forty-five minutes of Natalie steam-ironing it last night in her living room while she watched the evening news), huge centerpiece arrangement of more white roses and hydrangeas, and gold satin table runner were all perfectly in place. Check.

She checked the rest of her responsibilities off her list: gold organza chair shashes tied to every chair, pewter candleholders of various heights with white candles grouped in the center of the drinks table, the bride’s portrait prominently displayed on a wrought iron easel next to the French doors that separated this rented banquet room from the hotel lobby, and finally, the thorn in Natalie’s side of this whole bridal shower, a surprise gift to the bride from her future mother-in-law, the rich, connected oil-money wife who’s throwing this lavish shower, the blasted ice sculpture in the center of the room, a frosty likeness of the bride’s beloved Bichon Frise puppy, Lucy. Natalie rolled her eyes and touched the screen of her tablet with the pen. Dog ice sculpture. Check.

“Do you think she’ll bring the dog today?” Elizabeth wheeled in the appetizer cart overflowing with grapes, sliced melon, raw vegetables, humus, crackers, cranberry relish, and an assortment of cheeses.

“I hope not. That’s why I sent you that email, though. Did you get it?” Natalie asked with a raised eyebrow. Elizabeth is the best chef and caterer in Oklahoma City, and is an honest and pleasant business partner, but a few things about her drove Natalie crazy. One of those things is that she doesn’t check her email regularly. Natalie made it a rule to check her email at least four times a day.

“Not since last night. I’ve been so busy this morning with all of the last minute details.” Elizabeth explained as she sliced mushrooms at the omelet station. “What was your email about?”

Natalie swallowed the urge to tell her that she should always check her email the day of an event. She casually tucked a strand of her long brown hair behind her ear, hoping her irritation didn’t show.

“We have a Dog Emergency Plan.” Natalie found the plan she typed this morning on her tablet and handed it to Elizabeth.

Elizabeth giggled. “Aw, I was kind of looking forward to another doggie emergency. You’ve got to admit, Lucy made the photo shoot very exciting.”

Natalie shook her head as she recalled the day she and Elizabeth ran up and down the winding pathways of Myriad Botanical Gardens and the Crystal Bridge trying to keep Lucy from getting dirty, because the bride wanted her puppy in some of her bridal portraits, and Lucy had been groomed that very day for the pictures.

“Looks good.” Elizabeth handed Natalie’s tablet back to her and pulled a pack of disinfectant wipes out of her pocket and rubbed a towelette on her hands before she resumed filling the garnishings bowls on the omelet station. “The park across the street will be perfect if Lucy gets out of hand. Who’s Jackson though?”

Natalie nodded toward the concierge’s desk at the front of the hotel. “See the bellboy standing next to the concierge?”

Elizabeth’s clear blue eyes found the African-American teenager standing in the lobby in his clean and crisp hotel uniform.

“That’s Jackson. If we have any trouble, we get Jackson, and he’ll take Lucy to the park across the street. Of course, we’ll have to convince the doggie mama to let us take her furbaby away from her.”

Elizabeth laughed at Natalie’s nicknames for the bride and her dog. “I’ll let you do that. I think that responsibility falls squarely on the wedding planner’s shoulders.”

Ten minutes before the bride and her guests arrived for the bridal shower brunch, Natalie and Elizabeth stood at the French doors and admired their handiwork.

“I hope Mrs. Murphy likes it,” Elizabeth referred to the bride’s future mother-in-law, a social butterfly in all the right circles in Oklahoma City, who annually hosted some of the most coveted parties in the city. “Can you imagine if we got the opportunity to do her Jingle Bell Dinner?” Elizabeth grabbed Natalie’s hand and pumped it up and down. “That’s exciting, Natalie! Come on, you planning the most exclusive Christmas event of the season, and me catering it? Haven’t you thought about that?”

Natalie had done more than think about it. She had already started planning the Jingle Bell Dinner. She already had a portfolio full of sketches of room layouts, tablescapes, and color schemes ready for Mrs. Murphy to look at.

But Natalie didn’t say that to Elizabeth. All she would admit to was, “Let’s make this wedding shower brunch perfect, and then we can start thinking about future projects.”

After the omelets, speeches, and toasts, the gift table was laden with dozens of beautifully wrapped presents, and Mrs. Murphy approached Natalie. “Natalie dear, you did a beautiful job today. Everything was lovely.”

“Thank you Mrs. Murphy.” Natalie thought about Mrs. Murphy’s Jingle Bell dinner. The Jingle Bell Dinner would promote Natalie to an entirely new level of clientele – no more kids’ birthday parties with clowns in backyards.

“You certainly exceeded my expectations. When Shelby suggested I use you for the shower because you were planning her wedding, I was apprehensive. I have a party planner I’ve used for years who I wanted to use, but I thought I’d give you the chance.” The elderly woman patted Natalie’s hand, like she was a five-year-old. “I’m glad I did. You’re a sweet girl.”

Mrs. Murphy patted her hand one last time and returned to her seat next to her future daughter-in-law.

A sweet girl? Natalie fumed. A sweet girl? Planning an event like this had nothing to do with being sweet. It took hard work, attention to detail, organization, and –

“Lucy, no!”

Shelby’s sharp scolding interrupted Natalie’s thoughts, and Natalie looked to where it came from.

In the center of the room, next to her icy twin, Lucy stood, leg lifted, threatening to tinkle on her would-be rival.

Without hesitation, the always-prepared Natalie grabbed a tablecloth from her stock of extras folded and stacked underneath the gift table, swooped to the center of the room, enveloped the dog in it, looked to Elizabeth and said through clenched teeth, “Jackson.”

Elizabeth jumped from her position behind the omelet station, ran to the lobby and summoned the teenage bellboy.

In milliseconds, Natalie met them in the hallway, delivered the dog to Jackson’s arms, and the young man had the dog out the door and on the way to relieve herself in the park before anyone in the wedding shower even figured out what was happening.

Two hours later, the guests started to leave, and more than one person commented that they hated to go from such a perfect party. After most of the guests left, a few male members of the hotel staff loaded the gifts on a cart and wheeled them outside to the bride’s awaiting car, Elizabeth began clearing away food and dishes, and Natalie began the task of packing away the decorations. When she saw the bride pick up her doggie carrier, Natalie went to the lobby to look for Jackson and the naughty pooch. She found them standing on the sidewalk in front of the entrance to the swanky hotel.

“Jackson, thank you so much for taking care of Lucy.” Natalie was truly grateful to the young man for taking care of her doggie crisis.

“No problem.” Jackson transferred the leash to her hand. “It was kind of fun. I’ve never owned a dog before. I think she just wanted to play.” He reached down and rubbed behind Lucy’s ear, and the dog looked up at him and wagged her tail appreciatively.

“Well, thank you. Here’s a little something for your trouble today.” She handed him a few folded bills.

He took the bills and stuck them in his pocket. “Thanks ma’am. Do you need any help with anything else?”

“Sure, can you help us load some boxes into our cars?”

“Yes ma’am,” the teen said again.

“How old are you, Jackson?” The normally non-personal Natalie couldn’t help but ask. The gaunt boy looked young enough to be in high school.

He laughed. “I’m eighteen, senior in high school. Been working here for three years.”

“Really? You’ve worked here since you were fifteen?”

He nodded as they entered the lobby together. “Yes ma’am. Started helping my cousin with odd jobs around here, moved up to dish washer, now I’m a bellboy – moving on up in the world,” He said with a grin. “Gotta pay the bills.”

Natalie stopped at the French doors that led to the banquet room and looked at the boy. “Bills? Don’t you live with your parents?”

Jackson shrugged. “Nah, foster kid. Got out of the system a few months ago. Now I’ve gotta make it on my own, you know?”

Natalie did know. She knew exactly what, Gotta make it on your own meant.

“Natalie,” Mrs. Murphy called to her from the center of the room, where she stood admiring the ice sculpture she purchased for the occasion.

“Yes ma’am?” Natalie noticed that she sounded like Jackson.

“Come here, dear, let me talk to you.” Mrs. Murphy waved Natalie to her like a grand empress.

Natalie thanked Jackson again and crossed the room, leash in hand, to Mrs. Murphy. She kept an eye on the puppy, though, ready to stop another potential ice sculpture defacing threat.

Mrs. Murphy put her hand on Natalie’s shoulder. “I saw how you handled the incident with Lucy,” she said with an ornery smile playing on her lips. “That could’ve been disastrous, but you saved the day, didn’t you?”

Natalie tilted her head and said with her most professional-event-organizer-can-handle-anything-but-still-humble tone of voice, “Just part of the job, ma’am.”

“Well, I was quite impressed. It didn’t interrupt the shower at all.” Mrs. Murphy reached into her designer handbag, pulled out a pair of designer sunglasses and propped them on her nose. “Give me a call next week. Let’s discuss my Jingle Bell dinner. If you can handle Lucy, then you might be able to handle my banquet.”

“Yes ma’am,” Natalie said again. “I’d love the opportunity to work with you again.”

Mrs. Murphy gave Natalie a knowing look through her dark glasses, said goodbye to Shelby and exited the room with the flair of a movie star.

Let’s discuss my Jingle Bell dinner. Exactly what Natalie had hoped for. She closed her eyes and prayed a silent thank you to God.

When she opened her eyes she saw that Jackson the bellboy was helping Elizabeth load dishes into a plastic tub. She wondered if the hard-working young man would want another job to supplement his income. She suspected he would . . . she remembered exactly what it was like to be eighteen and fresh out of the system – no parents to rely on, working to exhaustion, scraping together every penny to make the rent and buy mac and cheese. The boy would be an excellent addition to their staff, and, if this Jingle Bell dinner played out the way she hoped it would, and she impressed all the right people, they would soon need additional staff to help with social events that were sure to fill their calendar.

“Hey Natalie,” Elizabeth caught her attention, “Shelby and her bridesmaids wanted to know if we can go with them to the nail salon for pedicures this afternoon. Let’s go. It’ll be fun!”

Natalie didn’t even bother to respond. She just smiled at her business partner and started folding tablecloths. Elizabeth knew better than to ask Natalie to socialize with a client. She knew Natalie had a rule about that.

*****

 

Give>Receive

Give-Receive

Every time my mom comes to visit she enters the door with brown paper grocery bags hanging from both arms, a 13×9 pan tucked into one arm, and she’s also got my dad loaded down with full sacks and random items. Inside the bags are things she’s seen at the store that she, “just knew one of us would love,” clothes she doesn’t want anymore that she thinks I might like, and miracle creams from the Estee Lauder counter that came free with her make up purchases. The pan in her arm is always filled with “Baked Fudge,” her special dessert that my husband and boys love.

 

I used to attend church with my mother-in-law, when we lived near them. She never entered the church house empty handed. She always had a homemade peach cobbler for someone who’d recently had a baby, or a pot of chicken and dumplings for an elderly person that had been sick, or a sack of groceries (You know, extra things from her pantry – wink, wink.) for a struggling family, or new coats that she just happened to find on sale for people she’d noticed needed them.

 

A very dear friend of mine opened her home to foster kids a few years ago. Now, her family of three suddenly has seven, with beautiful kids of all different skin tones calling each other brother and sister, being raised together in a home filled with lots of love and hilariously crazy adventures.

 

There are a lot of takers in this world, that’s for sure. Sometimes it’s easy to focus on that. We think about the co-worker who stole our idea, or the family member who doesn’t do their fair share, or the people who you do, and do, and do, and do for and they still don’t seem satisfied. But instead of focusing on all of the takers, let’s decide to focus on the givers . . . the servicemen and women who’ve given so much to our country, parents or grandparents who’ve poured love into our lives over the years, church pastors and leaders who’ve loved us and shown us the way, or maybe you’ve been blessed with friends or neighbors or co-workers who have proven themselves to be givers.

 

But instead of focusing on all of the takers, let’s decide to focus on the givers

 

And let’s also focus on the Lord, the ultimate giver. John 3:16 says that God loved us all so much that He gave His one and only son for us. God is certainly the supreme giver, and aren’t we supposed to be like Him?

 

We’ve all heard it said that it’s more blessed to give than to receive . . . the joyful feeling that accompanies giving, the rewards from the Lord when He sees our giving, the satisfaction of knowing we are imitating our God when we give . . . these are all evidence of that fact.

 

Perhaps the best way to help us to give cheerfully is to remember that everything we do we are really doing as unto the Lord. Once I heard Billy Graham’s wife, Ruth, talk about a sign that hung in her kitchen. The sign read, “Divine Service Conducted Here Daily.” Ruth explained that sign reminded her that every meal she cooked should be done as unto the Lord. Wow! What an awesome perspective! This perspective is an eternal one, and when we look at things through eternal eyes, we will understand that the life of a giver is truly blessed life.

I Can’t . . . My Kid Has Practice

Hey Guys! I’m guest blogging again today on the One Faith Boutique Blog. Today’s blog is for all of you tired moms out there – just a little encouragement to let you know that you’re not alone and to cherish these days filled with game schedules, practices, school projects, groceries, and laundry. I hope you take a minute to click on the link below and read today’s post!

Lots of Love,

Martha

I Can’t My Kid Has Practice . . . One Faith Boutique Blog

I Can't My Kids Has Practice!

Living in the Novel

I’m fairly new at this whole writing thing, but one thing I’ve learned is this – –

 

In order to write compelling fiction, I have to live in the novel.

 

I know that sounds crazy, perhaps even a bit existential, but I’m not nuts or going off the deep end philosophically. Simply put, I write better when I can immerse myself in a story, and that means spending hours a day with the characters, thinking of their motivations, possible plot outcomes, how they would react, etc. – basically living in the world of the novel for a few months.

 

I’ve tried to write without doing this, and the results have been dismal. I tried to have a scheduled writing time and only think about the story and the characters during those designated hours, but I’ve learned that, for me, I can’t just turn the writing faucet on and off like that and produce a story that anyone would care to read. I mean, if I can just turn it on and turn it off, then that means that a future reader will be able to snap the book shut without a second thought, and I want readers to be addicted to my books until the very last page.

 

Perhaps if writers want readers to be immersed in their book, then writers must first immerse themselves in the world of the book.

 

So, if you see me driving down the road carrying on a conversation and there’s no one else in the car, or if you see me standing in the middle of the aisle in the grocery store staring off into space, then you’ll know that I’m talking to my fictional friends or mentally composing a scene. So that’s my excuse. I’m not crazy, I promise!

Married Life . . . Keep Working At It!

We were so dumb when we got married. Anyone else? I did dumb stuff. Kevin did dumb stuff. I’ll never forget the week we came home from our honeymoon. I was taking a shower, and Kevin thought it would be really funny to dump a bucket of cold water over the shower curtain on me! I’ll also never forget how mad I got at him when we were driving home after our honeymoon. I told him to let me get out of the car, that I’d just walk and couldn’t stand to be in the same car with him. He didn’t let me out.

Kevin and Martha Wedding PictureWhew, we’ve come a long way, baby! I think one of the most important keys to our marriage becoming the fun, love-filled, and strong marriage that it is today is a dogged determination to keep working at it.

 

There will be disagreements. There will be frustrations. There will be stress. It won’t always be sunshine and lollipops, and both husband and wife have to know this and be determined to never quit on their marriage.

 

There are some things husbands and wives need to commit to no matter what:

  • Commit to pray for your spouse daily.
  • Commit to become a better spouse.
  • Commit to putting forth effort to make your spouse happy.
  • Commit to make your home a place of peace.
  • Commit to better communication between the two of you.

 

The list of things to commit to goes on and on . . . the point is that we should COMMIT to actively, purposely striving to make our marriage better. It is worth it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reader Reviews . . . A Surprise

Something that has surprised me about this whole writing thing is how I feel about reader reviews. I don’t know if every author feels this way or not – maybe it’s just me – but I LOVE reader reviews. There’s something so special about reading how other people have been impacted by my books. I recently received a reader review that absolutely touched my heart. I’m sharing an excerpt of it here. Thank you so much for your review, Justine!

Justine's Review of W&D

What Makes a Human?

Certainly not what we see, for skin, hair, and eyes have a variety of hues,

height has a vast range, and noses can be snubbed or ski sloped.

Our humanity is neither determined by what we hear,

for some speak with a twang, some with a lisp,

some gentle and soft, some loud and abrasive,

some sing about love, and some shout words of hate,

but all are humans.

So then what makes a human?

Not gender or any interpretation of it.

Not age, because some are unborn and some a very old.

Humanity is more than two eyes, one nose, one mouth, and two legs.

Humanity is something you cannot see or hear.

What makes a person?

A Soul.

You see, God sent His one and only son for SOULS, and everyone has one of those.

So the next time someone tries to tell you that a

soul is anything less because of this or that,

You stand up straight and tall and remind them that

God loved us all so much that He sent Jesus to die

for something we cannot see –

the soul on the inside, even theirs.

Whispers & Dreams Discussion Guide

Whispers & Dreams Discussion Guide

***Spoiler Alert – Do NOT read this if you haven’t read the novel!!!***

These ten questions can be answered and discussed after you read the novel. These are great for book club discussion or just conversation starters for friends who’ve read the novel. You can also read the questions and comment on my blog or respond to me through social media. I’ve answered the first five questions.

 

  • One of the characters is a metaphor for a Biblical person. Do you know which character that is and who the Biblical person is? What is some evidence of this?

Author answer: Dreamer is a metaphor for Joseph in the Old Testament. Joseph had a coat of many colors that was given to him by his father Jacob because he was the favored child. Dreamer has a baseball cap signed by Adam Wainwright that was given to him by his father Jacob because he was the favored child. When Joseph was kidnapped, his brothers said, “Look, here comes this dreamer.” (Genesis 37:19) In the book, Dreamer is also kidnapped, and recognized by his ball cap. Joseph leads his father, Jacob, and the rest of his family to safety in Egypt. Dreamer leads his father, Jacob, to the Lord. I wanted to add this metaphor in the book to show how special it is for a young person to change the destiny of their whole family. I’ve known many young people like Dreamer, young people who have families that don’t know God, and those young people have made the decision to follow the Lord and led the rest of their family to Him, thereby changing the course of their whole family.

  • Who is the hero of the novel? The hero I had in mind when I wrote the novel, might not be who readers might guess. This person is not a major character. This whole story was made possible because of this character.

Author answer: I wrote this story with the idea that Sierra is the hero. Sierra became so sick after she gave birth to Whisper that she became bedridden. When she was on her sickbed, Sierra started listening to radio preachers and started praying. She prayed that Jacob, Dreamer, and Whisper would come to know God one day. She also prayed that her house would be home to a loving family. Because Sierra prayed, God called Kirk and then Melissa to Diniyoli. If Sierra hadn’t prayed, this story wouldn’t have happened. At the end of the book, Melissa is looking at the clouds. The novel reads, “High above the others is a cloud that has a series of peaks, like a range of sierras watching over all the others.” This refers to Sierra being the hero of the novel, looking down from Heaven, seeing her prayers finally answered.

  • The last paragraph of the novel uses the images of clouds to remind the reader of things that happened earlier in the story. The cloud images also tell the reader something that happened that was not described in the story. What was that?

Author answer: The last line of the novel, “The biggest cloud in the middle of the sky is tall and thin with wispy pieces sticking up and out of the top, like a bride wearing a halo of flowers around her head as she walks through a field of flowers to meet the man of her dreams under the big Oklahoma sky.” describes Melissa and Kirk’s outdoor wedding.

  • Did you identify with any character in the book? Why did you identify with that character? Who is your favorite character in the book? Why do you like him or her?

Author answer: I identify most with Melissa. I’m an introvert who acts like an extrovert when necessary, and I recharge by being alone. Like Melissa, I keep a journal with random thoughts, prayers and poetry, and I would die if anyone ever read it. I don’t draw like Melissa does, but I wish I could. I like to have a plan and follow my plan to the letter, but God has been teaching me that I need to grow in my trust of Him and not always have to have a plan of my own.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’m also a little like Chelsea. I’m a girly-girl. I love make-up and fixing my hair and getting dressed up. I also have some air-headed tendencies sometimes, like Chelsea. I think Chelsea has some good qualities too, though, like being quick to love and quick to forgive.

Devin is one of my favorite characters. I am nothing like Devin at all. She is tough, strong, and unafraid. She kicks rear and takes names! I love how she is so fearless and wants to make a difference. I wish I were more like Devin.

Dreamer is my other favorite character. I am a mother of three boys, and I want my boys to be like Dreamer. He stands up for Whisper and takes a big brotherly interest in her before he even knows she’s his little sister. He protects kids who are weaker than he is. He is a leader, and he changes the course and destiny of his family. Wow. What a kid.

Kirk is modeled after my husband. He is a hard worker, the life of the party, always has a story to tell, has a passion to lead people to Christ, and is extremely messy. (My husband also always has stains on his clothes.) Kirk is not perfect, but I love him. Just for fun, I gave him a name that starts with K, like my husband Kevin, and I gave Melissa a name that starts with M, like my name.

  • What is The Whisper?

Author answer: The Whisper is the Holy Spirit guiding Melissa. The Bible says that (John 10:27) the Lord’s sheep with know His voice. Melissa is definitely one of His sheep, able to hear and distinguish His voice. Because she listens and obeys, her life is blessed, as are the lives of the people around her. Prayer is a conversation, not one-way talking, and Melissa realizes that over the course of the novel. I think we can all get to that place where the Lord whispers to us and we hear and recognize His voice. The more we obey, the louder and more distinguishable His voice becomes.

  • What did you think of the poetry included in the novel? Why do you think that is included in the book?
  • Do you think this book should have a sequel? What would a sequel be about?
  • What does this book have to say about the spiritual need in rural America?
  • What do you think of the racial issues in this book?
  • What does this book have to say about the impact of an active church upon a town?

 

I hope you enjoyed Whispers & Dreams.– My next book is a novella titled, The Mother’s Day Letter. It will be available in the next couple of days, and I’m so excited to share it with you. It’s the story of Natalie, a wedding planner who gets a letter in the mail on Mother’s Day from her deceased great-aunt. I love Natalie’s story, and I hope you love it too!W&D Discussion Guide

Thanks for reading, and God bless you,  

Martha