The Red Ribbon

My guest blogger this week is Staci Stallings.

The Red Ribbon

Everyone wants a blue ribbon.  Blue.  First place.  The best.  Even kindergarteners want that blue ribbon.  In sports, I was never a blue-ribbon person.  In a race I was always last.  In baseball I was as likely to get hit on the head as to drop the ball.  In basketball I was fine as long as there weren’t nine other players on the court with me.  Where I got my horrible sports ability, I don’t know, but I got it.  And I got it early.

During the spring of my kindergarten year, our class had a field trip to a park in a town about 20 miles away.  Making that drive now is no big deal, but when you’re six and you’ve lived in a town of 300 all your life, going to a town of a couple thousand is a very big deal.  Nonetheless, looking back now, I don’t remember much of that day.  I’m sure we ate our little sack lunches, played on the swings, slid down the slide—typical six-year-old stuff.  Then it was time for the races.

However, these were no ordinary races.  Some parent had come up with the idea to have the picnic kind of races, like pass the potato under your neck and hold an egg on a spoon while you run to the other side. I don’t remember too much about these, but there was one race that will forever be lodged in my memory—the three-legged race.

The parents decided not to use potato sacks for this particular race. Instead, they tied our feet together.  One lucky little boy got me for a partner.  Now what you have to know about this little boy is that he was the second most athletic boy in our class.  I’m sure he knew he was in trouble the second they laced his foot to mine.  As for me, I was mortified.  This guy was a winner.  He almost always won, and I knew that, with me, he didn’t have a chance.

However, apparently he didn’t realize that as deeply as I did at the time.  He laced his arm with mine, the gun sounded, and we were off to the other side.  Couples were falling and stumbling all around us, but we stayed on our feet and made it to the other side.  Unbelievably when we turned around and headed back for home, we were in the lead!  Only one other couple even had a chance, and they were a good several yards behind us. 

Then only feet from the finish line, disaster struck.  I tripped and fell.  We were close enough that my partner could have easily dragged me across the finish line and won.  He could have, but he didn’t.  Instead, he stopped, reached down, and helped me up—just as the other couple crossed the finish line.

I still remember that moment, and I still have that little red ribbon.  When we graduated 13 years later, I stood on that stage and gave the Valedictory address to that same group of students, none of whom even remembered that moment anymore.  So, I told them about that little boy who had made a split-second decision that helping a friend up was more important than winning a blue ribbon.  In my speech I told them that I wouldn’t tell which of the guys sitting there on that stage was the little boy although he was up there with me.  I wouldn’t tell because in truth at one time or another all of them had been that little boy—helping me up when I fell, taking time out from their pursuit of their own goals to help a fellow person in need.

And I told them why I’ve kept that ribbon.  You see to me, that ribbon is a reminder that you don’t have to be a winner in the eyes of the world to be a winner to those closest to you.  The world may judge you a failure or a success, but those closest to you will know the truth.  That’s important to remember as we travel through this life.

You may not have a red ribbon to prove it, but I sincerely hope you have at least a few friends who remember you for taking time out from your pursuit of that blue ribbon to help them.  I’m thinking those will be the ones that really count—I know it’s the one that counted the most to me.

Copyright Staci Stallings 2003  

I want to thank Staci for taking the time to bail me out of the Vacation/wedding/editing madness I find myself in lately.

With more than 30 published books, Staci always seems to find the time to help out the rest of us. If you are looking for a great network of authors, look no further than the Grace and Faith Author Connection Face book page. Just another side project in Staci's day!

Houston firefighter, Jeff Taylor is a fireman's fireman. No situation is too dangerous to keep him sidelined if lives are on the line. However, when control freak Lisa Matheson falls for him, she quickly realizes she can't control Jeff or the death wish he seems to have...

To Protect & Serve
The Courage Series, Book 1

To save other's lives, they will risk their own

Buy it on Barnes & Noble Nook:

"To Protect and Serve will hold you prisoner to its pages until the final one is turned. Prepare to cry, laugh, wish, love and maybe even cry again as you become enveloped in the hopes and feelings of Lisa and Jeff."
-Cindy Reiger

***I hope you enjoyed your visit. Please take a few minutes to check out the page tabs to the right. Terri has a new book and author interview on her page. Stop by for a visit with Lacy Williams. Leave a comment on any page for a chance to win her new book, The Homesteader's Sweetheart. Callie has a new devotion, and Karla has an upcoming release from Sherri Wilson Johnson featured on her page. Check it all out!***
Staci Stallings, the author of this article, is a Contemporary Christian author and the founder of Grace & Faith Author Connection. Check out Staci's brand new release...
It's here...It's here!! VACATION!
I told the Women when I gave into their request for the blog that vacation time was MY time. I'm out of town for the next two weekends, then my Grandson, Derrick, is getting married at the end of June. Add to that the deadline I'm working with Terri's story and my life is not my own for the next several weeks. Story entries for the main page will be sparse during this time, but there is still much to share.

Tonight I share Hawaii

I took Derrick to Hawaii in 2005. The picture above is on of the first views we had of the island. Beautiful huh?

This is Derrick after 11 hours in airports and planes. He's looking a little worn. Isn't it amazing that the thing you want the most can leave you less than thrilled. Sort of like writing deadlines! (BIG SMILE)

It didn't take him long to find something to perk him right up. His idea of perfect Hawiaan scenery was pretty girls and the mall.

My idea of perfection leaned more toward sunsets, beaches and lush green valleys.
But we managed to find lots to agree on and lots to do together.

And some things I chose to watch from a safe distance.
And in the end...
Derrick ended our week much like he started it.

***I hope you enjoyed our Island tour. Please check out the page tabs to the right. Karla has a new book for you to check out. Pam added a new recipe, and be sure to visit Terri's page. There is still a week left to register to win Journey's Edge By Dora Hiers. A comment on any page will get you registered. If you enjoyed your visit, I hope you'll come back. I hope you'll consider joining the blog.***

Motherhood from somewhere in the Middle

Meet my mom, she’s been in Heaven for 15 years and I still think about her every day. As Mother's day approaches, I want to share and amusing story about this  amazing woman.

Amazing yes, but she had a hobby that bloomed out of control, right into obsession. She picked up aluminum cans. She didn’t do this to be “green”, she didn’t have a specific problem with litter. She did it so she could make her husband turn them in for the few pennies a bag that they were worth.
Both of my daughters and I have been the victim of a spur of the minute swerve to the shoulder of the road and a command, daylight or dark, sunny or rainy, cold or hot, to “Hop out and pick up that can.” 
Do you remember the scene in “Independence Day” where Jeff Goldblum’s character is fishing cans out of the office trash and muttering. Multiply that by ten and you have my mom. Throwing cans away was a capital offense, one that she would remind you of over many future visits. “Be sure to put that can in the bag by the back door. I found three in the trash after you left last time.
Summer 1990. Mom and I took my two daughters to Six Flags Over Texas. We drove Mom’s van and drank plenty of sodas along the way. Mom had a brown paper bag in the van and her command, as always was, “Put your empty can in that bag.”
Our plan was to visit the park for two days. This would require two nights stay at a local motel. Mom’s cans were locked safely away in the van, but the girls managed to toss back a few sodas before they went to bed each night. As ordered those cans were dutifully crushed and placed in to a used fast food bag.
The second morning, as we were preparing to leave, Mom began to look for this bag. Couldn’t find it. We were mobilized to look under beds, behind furniture, Heaven forbid—in all the room’s trash cans. No sack. Mom’s conclusion—The cleaning staff had “stolen” her cans. Remember. A number of squished cans in a crumpled brown bag. If you were a part of the cleaning staff, what would you think?
No amount of logic could convince my mother of anything short of theft. Forget that there was undisturbed luggage in the room with much more valuable contents than a few empty cans. She was determined to have justice. She intended to report the theft to the manager.  My daughters were mortified. They begged, they pleaded, they offered to run across to the convenience store, purchase a six pack of soda and drink them on the spot to replace the missing cans. Nothing was good enough for my mom. I’ll never forget the experience of hiding in the van with my daughters as she marched to the manager’s office to submit her complaint. I’ll never forget her anger at being told there was nothing the staff could do to replace her “loss”.
Oh, I miss those days and I miss my Mom.
I want you to meet two other mothers. These are my daughters. Amber (in the brown), Tammi (in the red) between them they have 13 children, yes, that's THIRTEEN. If I thought I had it tough raising them, all I have to do is look at that number to be reminded that when it comes to motherhood, I'm still a rookie when compared to them.

They too, are amazing women. They work, they handle emergencies, they maintain their homes, and love their kids and husbands.

And they make me laugh. I could tell you a lot of funny stories about these two, but I'll let this picture speak it's own thousand words.

So, Here I stand, right in the middle of motherhood with a loving example behind me and amaze-me-on-a-daily-basis examples in front of me and I wonder what I did to earn such blessings.

I think of my mother every day and wish I could tell her, one more time how much I love her. I look at my daughters and hope they always know that I love them more every day.

Sometimes being in the middle isn't such a bad thing.

Do you have a Mother's day story to share? Feel free to leave it in the comments below.

***Thanks for visiting, but don't leave just yet. There are lots more things to see on the side bar. Terri has an interview with Dora Hiers and a chance to win her new book, Journey's Edge. You’ll also find the details of the Take Flight Bloggers blog hop. This month we are featuring lots of books and authors for you to explore. Pam has a list of recipies, Callie posted a new devotion, and stop by Karla's page to meet authors Nikki Arana and Mary Urban and preview their upcoming releases. A comment on any page will register you to win Dora's book. If you're new to the site, I invite you to become a follower. The women, and I, would love to have you.***


The Take Flight bloggers are doing a blog hop featuring book reviews and interviews, and maybe even some contests. Be sure to click over to Terri's page in the side bar and read about my selection, Dora Hiers, JOURNEY"S EDGE.
Then follow the directions to visit the other pages. HAVE FUN!!!

May 5th

The last fingers of twilight reached their glowing red fire toward the gathering darkness. Callie stood on the balcony of the rented beach cabana and savored the sunset. They were scheduled to fly home tomorrow morning. She needed to pack, but couldn’t seem to find the motivation. This week in Cozumel with Benton had been as close to perfect as a vacation could be.
They had snorkeled reefs, prowled through stalls in the market places, ridden horses through the surf on the beach, explored ancient ruins, and enjoyed more Mexican food in a week than they normally had in two years time.
Callie leaned her elbows on the porch rail, and stared at the surf, determined to stay right here till darkness leached all of the blue out of the water. The sliding door behind her opened. She didn’t turn, knowing it could be only one person.
Benton stepped to her side and mirrored her pose. “Am I going to have to hogtie you to get you on the plane in the morning?”
She took in a deep breath of the ocean air and leaned against him. “Possibly.”
He slipped an arm around her and dropped a kiss on her head. “Thanks.”
Callie tilted her head just enough to look into her husband’s eyes. “For…?”
“For keeping after me till I took this trip with you. It’s been an amazing week.”
“I’d tell you I told you so, but I don’t want to ruin our last night.”
He laughed, straightened, and took her hand. “Take a walk with me. I’ll help you pack when we get back.”
Callie stepped out of her sandals and allowed her husband to draw her down the five steps to the sand. Yep, just about perfect.

***Thanks for visiting, but don't leave just yet. There are lots more things to see on the side bar. Terri has a new interview with Dora Hiers and a chance to win her new book, Journey's Edge. Pam has a new recipe, Callie posted a new devotion, and stop by Karla's page to meet authors Carol Cox and Anne Miller and preview their upcoming releases. A comment on any page will register you to win Dora's book. If you're new to the site, I invite you to become a follower. The women, and I, would love to have you.***