Getting in the Spirit of Believing

Do you believe in Angels? Santa Claus? Elves?

I do.

No, I’m not particularly religious.  They wouldn’t recognize me even as a bad Samaritan, much less a good one at any of the churches around town.  I’m not in the habit of reciting the Lord’s Prayer (keep getting it mixed up with “Now I lay me down to sleep”).  But I do believe:

I believe in angels

Picture of Tootsie Pop Angels

Our holiday theme this year is “angels.” I made these out of Tootsie Pops and tissue paper.

In Faith on the Rocks I voiced that Fr. John believes people can be temporary angels.  Angels are, after all, simply messengers of good. Haven’t you ever had the urge to do something nice or good you wouldn’t normally do?  Perhaps, in that one moment of time, you acted on your better self and became an angel.

My friend, Trish, was such a being.  One time, she was riding her bike around Dallas.  This in itself was unusual, as she most often drove the proverbial mommy-mobile, a minivan complete with no less than six kids in the back at any given time. Talk about constant noise!

Trish just happened to have found a precious hour to herself on a beautiful afternoon in Dallas, so she went for a bike ride.  Along the way she saw a young woman coming out of a veterinary practice. “Her face was just filled with that something’s wrong look,” said Trish, so she stopped and asked what happened.

“I have to put my cat to sleep.” The young woman burst into tears.

Now, you need to know that Trish was more the army-sargeant kind of mom, than the soft, cuddly kind.  She wasn’t one to comfort anyone over the loss of a pet, but for some unknown reason, Trish found herself laying down her bike and running over to hold the young woman.  They must have sat together in a hug for maybe five or more minutes of Trish’s precious alone time.  The two women talked about the cat, about life and the afterlife, and how things would be okay in the end.

“Thank you so much for stopping,” said the young woman. “I don’t know what would have happened if I had to face this alone.”  The two parted, never even capturing each others’ names.  But Trish knew this was a special moment–an angel moment. You see, Trish had been thinking her life was pretty useless until the angel of need literally fell in her lap.

I believe in Santa Claus

Picture of "Santa's Wreath"

Every time I see this wreath, my holidays are filled with joy.

Santa is like an angel, only he tends to be the message of giving.  It is so wonderful for me to be able to share this little Santa story.

Most of you know that at one time I had a special needs daughter, Sara. For privacy sake, I don’t talk much about Sara’s big sister, but I am equally in love with her.

One time, “Lovie” as we’ll call her, decided to take the Christmas fun to new heights.  It was one of those years (weren’t they all) when Sara was having a hard time getting to sleep at night.  She’d stay awake with me constantly saying “Hush, sleep now,” until I would doze off instead of my little girl.

Christmas Eve came around and I really needed to get to the Christmas wrapping (a story in and of itself for another time).  Lovie said, “I have an idea.” She grabbed a wreath we had that was made out of little brass bells.

Around 10:00 that night, Lovie climbed onto the roof of our house and started shaking that wreath. The jingles resonated with joy. For good measure, Lovie added Santa stomping on the roof, and even a “ho, ho, ho!”

Sara screamed and dove under the covers. I tried to tell her it was okay, but she said, “Go ‘way, Mom. Santa’s here! Go a bed!”

I believe in you

You don’t comment every week, and sometimes not at all.  But then you say something that shows you’ve read this blog, or you let me know about a friend of yours whose read and commented on one of my books, and you make my day.  I can’t see you all the time, but I know you are there.

And because I believe in you, in your writing talents and your reading interests; I believe in your acts of kindness and your dreams of good things happening; I believe that the world is a good place. After all, someone I believe in is a part of my world.

Wishing you a great week-before-Christmas, bustling, shopping, visitor-prepping time. Until then, write well.


How to Set Up a Crime Scene

Please note: Mac issues this morning.  Sorry for the lack of photos.  They won’t load. Grr!!!

Friday night at Colorado DanceSport, we Halloween partied the night away.  Costumes and snacks, pizza and performances were all to be found in great quantities.  In short, we had a ton of fun.

One of the entertainments was a crime scene I set up and had people demonstrate their powers of observation and deductive reasoning as they wandered through a full scale scene of murder.  Even as adults, I think there is a need for play in our lives, and acting on our instincts to be good detectives is a great game.

If you’d like to set up a crime scene, here are some things I learned as I built this project:

  1. START WITH A STORY – In order to be able to plant clues and create victims and suspects, it’s important to have a fully-fleshed out story.  It can be as wild as you want, but needs to follow a level of logic that makes your mystery solvable.  We started by murdering poor Len Goodman (he’s left Dancing With the Stars, you know), and making three of his real-time friends the suspects.  Here’s a tip: make each suspect’s story plausible, then remove either the weapon they would choose, or some other piece of evidence that would definitely make them the killer.  ONLY the killer’s clues remain in tact.
  2. KEEP AN INVENTORY LIST – This is crucial if you want all the clues in the right place for your amateur sleuths to find and follow.
  3. DO USE CRIME SCENE TAPE – I was able to find this Online at a reasonable price.  This both helps to set the mood, and keeps people from touching clues, so that everyone has a fair chance of solving the crime.
  4. MAKE A CLUE PACKET AND ANSWER SHEET – This will be part of your friends’ “detective kit.”  In our packet we put in a preliminary medical report, witness statements from four witnesses (the 3 suspects and a red herring), a crime scene inventory sheet, and my own “You the Sleuth” investigative sheet.  The last item had approximately 10 questions, some with multiple answers for a total of 24 points possible.
  5. BUILD THE SCENE – I used 4 X 8 insulation boards and some heavy stands to create the walls, and from there begged, borrowed, and small shopped to create a scene that had an office, gift shop, weight room, and ballroom dance floor within the dance studio’s smaller ballroom.  Check out Colorado DanceSport’s Halloween photo album on Facebook, in order to see the results.
  6. REMEMBER WIIFM RADIO — That’s the station that asks, “What’s in it for me?”  I put together this scene for the fun (check), the challenge (double check), and the opportunity to let more people know I write mysteries and would like to add them to my mailing list (check, check & check).

If you’d like help with planning your own murder mystery scene, please contact me.

And remember, Halloween doesn’t always have to be scary. It is a great time to play with being someone besides yourself.  Dress up and play games to keep the ghouls away.

Wishing you a fun, and creative week.