· Live in a house surrounded by magnolia trees and holly bushes. The first is a favorite, the second is somewhat prophetic.
· Have five (yes, 5) bathrooms! After being raised (during elementary school and high school) in a home with one bathroom and seven inhabitants, I can now choose where I go—literally—and do so when necessary, rather than waiting in line!
· Move to Lexington, KY, after marrying Jeff. I love it here and think it is a beautiful city, and that Kentucky is a beautiful state.
· Visit Asheville, North Carolina, the Biltmore (divine), the Grove Park Inn (magnificent), and Thomas Wolfe’s house (inspiring). If I had to choose, we would move to Asheville in a heartbeat.
· Quit smoking. I am still making use of e-cigarettes, but very soon, those will be history also. I now no longer smell like an ashtray. Thank God, Dad, Mom, and Jeff for all your help.
· Have a large and well-appointed office in which to edit and write.
· Have a large comfortable chair in my office so my husband, and Bella, can come visit me.
· Have new entertaining passions: Grimm (Dad and I were always so excited when a new episode came out); Downton Abbey (a passion I share with Mom, Janet Chadwick, and most of the known world); and Sherlock; the complete novels of Fannie Burney, Elizabeth Gaskell, and every year, Jane Austen.
· Discover that my husband enjoys the Hamish MacBeth series of books by M. C. Beaton as much as I do.
· Love and be loved by my husband, family, and friends.
I leave off this humble list with this, a story my dad shared when we contemplated the various tests and trials, triumphs and tragedies of life:
A farmer's donkey fell into a deep abandoned well. It cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the donkey was old and not worth trying to retrieve and the abandoned well needed to be covered up anyway. Since the well was deep, he gathered his farmhands, and they began to shovel dirt into the well. When the dirt first hit the donkey, and began to pile up on him, he cried pitifully. Then after a while, he became quiet, and the farmer wondered if he was already buried under the dirt. So while his farmhands kept shoveling, he got a flashlight and peered down into the well. What he saw amazed him. Every time dirt piled up on the donkey's back, he would shake it off so it fell to his feet, and then he would step up on it. He kept doing this, and with each step up, he got closer to the top of the well. When he reached the edge, he stepped over it and trotted happily off.
Has life been throwing dirt on you? Sooner or later it will. Sometimes it seems like that's all it does. But don't let it knock you down—shake it off and step up on it. Maybe that's why Jesus said, "Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44). He knew that if you did, every time they threw dirt on you it would end up under your feet and enable you to step up a little higher.
Remember, "All things work together for good to those who love God. (Romans 8:28)
"The tests of life are to make, not break us. Trouble may demolish a person's business but build up their character. The blow at the outward person may be the greatest blessing to the inner person. If God, then, puts or permits anything hard in our lives, be sure that the real peril, the real trouble, is that we shall lose if we flinch or rebel." (M. D. Babcock)