Saturday, December 25, 2021

How We Look at It by Liz Flaherty


It's not our house. We don't have a fireplace or built-in bookshelves or a pillow with a truck on it. There are gifts under our tree, including some pretty buffalo plaid gift bags. The resemblance ends there, but it's a pretty picture, isn't it? And the verse is from Luke, in the story of why Christians celebrate this day.

This has been a different holiday season. There have been losses and will be more. Grief is heavy and hearts are broken and I don't know what to say to anyone to make them hurt less. Then again, grief is an organic part of love. The knowledge that we will lose someone, or be lost to them, doesn't make the love any less precious, any less splendid. We would not give it up. Not a single day of it.

I hold onto memories, don't you? Of my kids sitting on the stairs making noise so we'll wake up. (I say my kids, but the boys have always blamed Kari, and since she still does it, who am I to say they're wrong?) I remember when Jock saw Santa and when we saw deer crossing the road in the snow as we were on our way home on Christmas Eve. I remember yellow bicycles, ping-pong-ball guns, and a Holly Hobby dress. A mandolin that was never played and enough Craftsman tools to have opened our own Sears. A Linde Star ring and year after year, gift certificates to JoAnn's and Walden Books. I remember robbing Peter to pay Paul to get through December and not really having as much money as month until March or so. 

I suppose there have been unhappy Christmases, too. We had one in the midst of remodeling when we didn't have a Christmas tree, one that...well, I don't really recall any that were really unhappy--even the one without a Christmas tree. Sometimes a poor memory is helpful. (It's also one time when I'm actually able to let something go, rather than worry it to death. But I've written that column before.)

It was unarguably more fun when the house was full of kids and then later when grandkids filled the random spaces that weren't already stuffed with torn wrapping paper and wishes fulfilled. I suppose a part of me will always miss that, but mostly I'm grateful to have had it. Grateful for what we have now. That we laugh a lot. That we make mistakes and forgive and are forgiven. 

I'm thankful for friends and family and sunrises and sunsets and the 30 days of November when I'm reminded of gratitude every day. I'm grateful for the Light of the world and that we celebrate both His birth and His life.

This column is like the gifts under the tree this morning. Little and big, good parts and parts that failed, shiny bow parts and no bows at all. It's raining this morning, and unseasonably warm, but I've done my 15 minutes of housework this morning, fed the cats, came to the office in my beloved orange raincoat I bought in Maine, and am sitting here with my coffee. I'm warm, blessed, and happy. 

One of my less attractive writer-traits is my dedication to comparatives, but I can't help his one. Happiness is like a shiny, polished pine board, isn't it? It's beautiful and lasting, yet has all these knots in it that can either enrich it or deface it--it's all in how you look at it. 

Wishing you happiness, knots and all, and gratitude. Have a great week. Be nice to somebody.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

About What Fascinates You...


No Window Over the Sink today (I'm calling in tired), but hope you'll stop by here and share the things that fascinate you. 

See you next Saturday, the day we celebrate the birth of our Lord. Wishing you happy days and celebrations.

Have a great week. Be nice to somebody.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Second Saturday by Liz Flaherty

I am sort-of taking the week off, but let me leave you with a few things...

The community concern that was addressed in the Window last week has been resolved satisfactorily. I am happy for the North Miami community, the Grant family, and especially for the kids who are reassured that their needs and their thoughts are important. 

Today is Second Saturday in Peru. Although the wagon rides have been canceled due to the high winds, I think other things are going on. Including shopping, music, and--always--good things to eat.

There is also music at the Miami County Artisan Gallery and I'm sure other places I have not seen. If you know of activities today in in the next days, please put them in the comments section. The week ahead is full of opportunities to listen, sing along, and offer support to people and businesses in the community. 

Speaking of music, there will be some in Logansport tonight, too, at Black Dog, Peoples Winery, and U Know Pizza, and I'm sure in other areas as well. 

Prayers go out to everyone all over the Midwest who were affected by the storm system that went through last night. The loss and damage are horrifying.

For myself, I am only a week behind with Christmas cards, don't have my tree up in my office, and am already started on my holiday weight gain. For those of you who are joining me in that last endeavor, see you on the Trails after Christmas.

I also signed a three-book contract with a new publisher this week, which made me embarrassingly happy, and below is the cover for my next book, Life Is Too Short for White Walls, which will be out sometime in the New Year. If you'd like an advance PDF reading copy in exchange for a review, get with me.

Thanks for stopping by. We'd love to hear any news you have to share. Stay safe and have a great week. Be nice to somebody. 

Monday, December 6, 2021

About Joe Grant by Nick Stuber

Second in the series about Coach Joe Grant. Today's post is from Nick Stuber, who knows whereof he speaks. Thanks to everyone for reading, responding, and caring. Be nice to somebody. - Liz

Photo stolen from Skyler Wilson

I believe there is power in what we say. There are a lot of narratives, statements, and words that get thrown around because people like to hear their own voice. We think speaking all the time is more powerful than saying the right thing at the right time. I'm writing this because right now is a very important time to say some really important stuff.
Joe Grant has been my friend and teammate our whole lives. More importantly he is like a brother to me. We grew up playing sports together and often times competed for playing time in the same positions. He could have hoped for me to fail, spoken bad about me, or tried to undermine my growth. Joe did none of those things. In 2006 we were both competing for the starting catching spot on a pretty good baseball team. Joe invited me to work out on Sunday at a local batting cage. He was quite literally one of the best teammates I've had. He’s quite literally a leader who often times cares more about the people he leads than himself.

Maybe there should be more wins. Maybe there could be more points scored. If you are solely looking for the success of a coach or a program by looking at the scoreboard you will ALWAYS miss the REAL PURPOSE of sports. It's a game. There are winners and losers. If coached properly you can lose on the scoreboard and still win in life. This epitomizes Joe Grant. Joe invests in all the kids in that school, not just the ones he coaches. He cares not only about these kids as athletes, but as people. He could settle by only focusing on making them successful athletes, and he would have done his job, BUT he focuses on building comprehensive men. Ones that not only give their all on the field, but in the classroom, in the community, and in their homes. I can’t think of one thing that this school and community needs more. His impact is beyond measure of a scoreboard and a tally of wins and losses.

He’s impacted me as a person, but also my home. Recently my family moved and we stumbled up a box of old high school keepsakes. While looking through the yearbooks, newspaper clippings, and team photos, there was one question my second-grade son kept asking: “Where ‘s Coach Grant?” Not where’s Mom, not where’s Dad, but “Where’s Coach Grant?” In three short years in my son's life he has made a huge impact on him. He loves football because of him. He writes stories about Coach Grant for writing assignments in class. He and his friends play recess football, all of this because of a man who doesn’t even work in their building but works in their lives.

He might have lost some games, maybe even some supporters, but if this school lets Joe Grant go because of a small group of unhappy people, WE will have lost way more than could even be described. Joe and Britney’s family will lose so much, his players and students will lose, and even young second graders will lose out on the opportunity to be impacted by Joe.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

About Joe Grant... by Jeff Grant

I love the school up the road. I've loved it since I first went there in the seventh grade. Loving doesn't mean I never get frustrated or disappointed or worried about the way things go there. Two of my kids teach there--I worry and pray about their safety on a daily basis, as well as the safety of the kids they teach and love and support. I worry about those kids being prepared when they leave school. I don't worry about them being, to use one of my grandson Skyler's favorite words, "stellar" athletes, but am thrilled to death when they graduate as stellar people. 

Coach Joe Grant does a lot toward that "stellar people" thing. I'm going to be posting some things about him this week, written by others who know both him and the situation much better than I. 

Today's entry was written by Joe's brother Jeff. While his idea of "short and clear" may differ from mine, what he has to say is important and I'm grateful to him for sharing it. Thanks for reading. Be nice to somebody. - Liz

Ima keep this short and clear.

On Wednesday, Joe was scheduled to have his evaluation for the fall football season with the athletic director. When it came time for the meeting both the AD and principal were present.

After a brief conversation between the principal and Joe, the principal then stated that they would not be renewing his coaching contract for next season and they would like him to resign so they could take it to the December board meeting.

Let me start by saying if the AD thinks that there needs to be a change within the athletics in any sport, he has every right to address it. In fact, that is his job. He’s the head coach of the entire athletic department. That’s what NM hired him to do. Knowing a little bit about the coaching world, every coach is given an evaluation at the end of each season, where the AD evaluates the coaches. Where they can list concerns, things to work on, expectations and so on. So if he has concerns there are opportunities to express them. And if he would like to not renew the contract, well I’m cool with that and in the grand scheme of things we should accept it because he was hired to be the head coach of the all the coaches and athletes.

Joe is the NM football coach and will be until or if the school board votes him out. Normally it would work something like this: AD would make the recommendation to not renew or fire the coach to the superintendent, who then would make a decision to take the recommendation to the school board or dismiss it.

So again Joe Grant is the NM football coach until or if the elected officials on the school board vote him out.

I love this part! Why are we here? Was there a school board meeting? No, we are here because someone jumped the gun. Do all the school board members know about this? I know a few of them found out via Facebook just like some of you. Does everyone in the administration agree with it? I don't know, nor is that a concern to me. Because again this isn’t my job--I’m not an administrator at NM.
No, we are here because for the first time in my adult life, the NM community has halfway stood up for themselves. And the student body, “the kids,” have united and done a very respectful job of expressing their concerns, wants and needs. And I’m pretty sure the group of kids going through school at this time worldwide are facing way more obstacles and concerns than any of us have ever seen. I’m super proud of the way they have carried themselves. Shows a lot about who they have been coached and mentored by.

Joe Grant has never received a negative mark on his evaluations. For either coaching or teaching. This includes the evaluation for this past football season.
The school board has never had any (official) discussion about removing Joe from the position.

There has never been any discussion with Joe on his program or concerns that any administrator might have had.

Joe Grant coaches three varsity sports.

Runs weights programs.

Joe Grant started a non profit that raises money for NM football players. This in turn has made playing football at NM basically free for 7th -12th grades.

Joe will have his master's (I don't know what for--something in EDUCATION) before the start of next school year.

I think what I think doesn’t really matter! But as an administrator at the school, if you have concerns with someone’s program, you should address the issue. Through evaluations and/or personal meetings with the coach and or staff, especially if you are former coach yourself. So again, if you are gonna fire someone--on what grounds? what do his evaluations say?--have you, as the leaders of the school, the coach of the athletics, done what is necessary to make this decision?
As a school board, you are elected officials voted on and representing the community members. This is your opportunity to ask questions, get answers and find out what really is the agenda. Is the community being well represented? Is someone going to be held responsible for this chaos? Why is North Miami the topic for the entire surrounding areas?

Why is Joe Grant having to go through this publicly?

Is this a personal attack?
In the community, I’ve heard a lot of “it’s happening again.” Well, what are you doing to help the situation?
Still opinion:
Here’s my challenge to you:

Be transparent, vocalize your opinion, and stand behind it. I don’t care what your opinion is--just stand by it and publicly let it be known. Be mindful of people. We can have a conversation and not bash people.
Here’s mine. I don’t think they will fire Joe nor do I think they should, for so many reasons. But if they do, I’ll be happy because I know he’s meant for more than being a football coach. I know that the next place will take advantage of the man and leader they have. I know that he’s done it right from day one and he will continue to do it right. I know that he’s transparent and has what’s best for the community on his mind. I know he loves his players and students. I know the man he is.
It’s funny the night I found out and we finally were alone, I gave him a hug (yeah, I know, right) and his first words were, “Well, you didn’t say I told you so.”

Friday, December 3, 2021

If you like my cover... by Liz Flaherty

Sneaking this in here. I so love this cover and this book. A reminder that you can order it, signed, from me here

They say not to judge a book by its cover but I need you to do just that. If you liked the cover of my book, Window Over the Desk, please vote for it for the Cover of the Month contest on!

I’m getting closer to clinch the "Cover of the Month" contest on AllAuthor! I’d need as much support from you guys. Please take a short moment to vote for my book cover here: Click to Vote!