Saturday, September 1, 2018

The Importance of Story

If you'd like to laugh at the writing profession, check out this blog by Mitch Teemly.
https://mitchteemley.com/2016/08/20/7-views-on-writing/

Meanwhile, I've been pondering the importance of story.

Story is what causes grown adults to close themselves up with the TV and binge watch a season of This is Us or iZombie. It's why we spend an exorbitant amount on movie tickets, DVR the series so we don't miss an episode of Dr. Who, and curl up with a book on a rainy afternoon. Story compels us to come away from our ordinary lives to a world of someone else, like jumping into the chalk drawings in Mary Poppins.

We share anecdotes with one another about the time our children did something extraordinary or about time spent in the DMV (groan!). We share the story of our lives with others using those anecdotes.

Diaries from the Civil War tell the stories of those who lived in a different time with different social norms and ideas. What did they wear, how did they speak, who did they love. what did they believe?

Writers struggle with the meaning of story everyday they write. If the story isn't compelling, how can we make it so? What does each character bring to the story? How does the setting contribute to the story?

In February 2018, I published the first book in a historical series, Colonial Dream: A Time to Fight.. The series is the story of a family whose dream is to emigrate to the American colonies and the struggles they experience throughout the American experiment. In Book 1, Colin Browning, a blacksmith, and his  sweetheart Amanda and her twin Ben aspire to be colonists in America. When Colin is forced into the British Army, he gets to come to America on the eve of the American Revolution.

In Book 2, A Time to Heal, Colin and Amanda's son Michael Browning struggles with the hardship of raising his siblings and opening himself up to his own love story. Just as he lets Susannah into his heart, he is faced with the uncertainties of a second war with Britain. Almost done with this one!

In Book 3, A Time to Choose, Colin's great grandson Andrew is the body guard in the White House for Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. As a Virginian, he is asked to choose where his loyalties lie. Abolitionist and journalist Maggie reports on the happenings in the White House as she waits for her chance to present a petition to the President. Andrew and Maggie fall in love while the country struggles for important freedoms.

The final book in this series (so far) is Book 4, A Time to Create. Lincoln Browning, Andrew's son, sees blacksmithing as a dying profession and breaks from the family to pursue a career as an inventor.

Join me as I tell a story about a family who loves and fights for what they believe in.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Beneath the Blackberry Moon: The Red Feather by April W. Gardner


Check out this new book from my author friend April Gardner!

Beneath the Blackberry Moon: the Red Feather by April W Gardner
Book 1 of the Creek Country Saga


 On a moonless night in 1813, Adela McGirth encounters a set of wolves and the steely eyed warrior who slays them, searing himself on her heart. When he returns, it's with a brand of a different sort--the flaming arrow that destroys her life. 

In the copper-haired captive, Totka Lawe finds the other half of his spirit. He vows he would die ten deaths to protect her, and he would kill any who tried to steal her away. With bluecoat soldiers pursuing him, a jealous cousin pursuing her, and the woman herself pursuing home, that vow stands a serious chance of being called into action.

 Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Beneath-Blackberry-Moon-Part-Feather-ebook/dp/B01AU3C3L0/

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Angels at the birth of Christ

           My pastor was expounding the truths of the birth of Christ Sunday; and in the middle of his sermon, he said, “We keep tripping over angels in this story.” He went on with his point. My mind went off with the angels!

Image result for angel clipart free downloadMany angels surrounded the events of the birth of Christ. First, the angel Gabriel announced to Zachariah that he would have a son (Luke 1:11-20). Elizabeth became pregnant with John the Baptist at an unnatural age (Luke 1:23) She accepted a visit from her relative Mary (Luke 1:39-45). Mary has an incredible story to tell. The angel Gabriel had also visited her and announced that she would be pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth’s child acknowledges Him from within the womb. Have you ever thought about that? These two in utero infants recognize one another! (An interesting view into when life begins if ever there was one!) If Mary wasn’t quite sure about the angel and the visitation, she must have been once Elizabeth confirmed that the child was holy by another supernatural child.

Meanwhile, Joseph was struggling with the fact that his fiancĂ©e was pregnant, and he knew he could not be the father. Another angel came to him in a dream to reassure him that Mary’s pregnancy was truly a special event like none other (Matthew 1:11-18). Maybe he remembered the scripture Isaiah 7:14: a virgin would be with child, called Immanuel. A fantastical claim in the Old Testament had come to fruition in the New Testament.

Then the birth takes place in Bethlehem at the height of tax season and no room at the inns. Motel 6 would have had the light on for them, y’know. Mary and Joseph must have wondered why it seemed God had abandoned them when the time for his son to be born arrived. However, more angels appear out in the fields to tired, restless shepherds, the unclean, underclass ones (Luke 2:8-15).  Not just one, a multitude of the heavenly host filling the night sky! Can you even imagine this? They find Mary, Joseph, and Jesus and tell their story. Luke says Mary treasured all these things in her heart. God hadn’t abandoned them; after all, the child was His Son (Luke 2:15-20).

Skip ahead maybe two years. Magi from the East arrive (read strange looking men arrive at the door), telling the story about a new star in the sky that appeared on Jesus’ birth (Matthew 2:1-18). They give them treasures of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, costly, valuable gifts fit for a king. Unfortunately, they had the same explanation for Herod. Warned in a dream (probably another angel), the magi did not to go back to Herod (Matthew 2:12). Another angel warned Joseph to flee to escape Herod’s wrath (Matthew 2:1-13-17). Did the valuable gifts provide for Joseph’s family while they were in Egypt awaiting Herod’s death (Isaiah 60:6-7)? How did Joseph find out about Herod’s death?  Another angel came to help Joseph know when it was time to return home (Matthew 2:19-23). God took care of everything, except for maybe that hotel room in Bethlehem.

Angels. Created beings. Heavenly servants. Warriors for God (I think of the Elven army in The Lord of the Rings!). Messengers for Almighty Yahweh. These events are not the only ones where angels show up to tell, protect, encourage God’s people. Each time they confront people as messengers, they have the same words: do not be afraid! I don’t know because it’s never happened to me, but the sight of a heavenly being in my bedroom would certainly feel like a good time to be afraid.

Not too many people report a glorious, winged creature appearing to them these days. BUT people do report incidents when they were saved from disaster by someone who just disappears when the police, EMT, or firetruck arrives. Or they merge into traffic and barely miss being run over by a semi. People then talk about guardian angels. I’m skeptical that God has assigned an angel to take care of each of us. It’s a Wonderful Life probably perpetuated that notion.


What I do know is that the Holy Spirit resides inside me. He helps me make decisions and sometimes gives me a glimpse of how He connects us all. After all, He’s not the Spirit cut into pieces, doled out in chunks at our salvation! The Holy Spirit is spirit. He recognizes Himself when I meet other Christians. He prompts me to pray when I don’t even know why, but find out that He had awakened me to pray at a critical moment in another Christian’s life. He guides me to change my plans to help someone else.

Christians are charged to be messengers and on-the-spot ministers to the world. We should take the baby Jesus to the world and share with others the gift He gave to us on the cross.

Perhaps that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Mission Mesquite is available!

My latest novel!
While Kate Lawrence 's parents served in Cote d'Ivoire as career missionaries. Kate's education came in a French boarding school and American University in Paris and Georgetown.  Now a Foreign Service Officer for the US State Department, she wants nothing to do with the missionary lifestyle. When she finally agrees to visit their new mission post Mission Mesquite, the rodeo church at the Mesquite Arena in Dallas, Kate meets Tyler Hawkins, attractive All American Cowboy who has since been crippled by a bull trampling. They have an instant connection, but Kate doesn't know that Tyler has just completed seminary and mission training and is poised to take over Mission Mesquite once her parents retire. How can Kate resolve the conflict between her and God and her heart? Will Tyler's past as a free-wheeling cowboy cut short his ministry? Mission Mesquite is a contemporary Christian romance.

Get your copy of my new novel from me, Amazon, or CreateSpace! And because you read to the end of the blog, here's a $5 discount code when purchasing your copy on createspace: 7R3THBJT

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Back Surgery 'Metaphors in the Christian Life" Part 3


After coming home from the hospital after surgery, I felt good. I did things I never thought I’d be able to do after major surgery. When the stitches were removed, I felt great! However, the next morning I woke in a bloody pool of ooze from the wound, which had not healed. This emanation put me back in the hospital and diagnosed with a MRSA infection. A PICC line was inserted to get IV antibiotics while the wound continued to weep for six more weeks. Plus I had excruciating pain in my right leg!

Complications. My picture should be in the dictionary next to this word. Everyone who has any surgical procedure has signed the page that lists all the possible complications that may arise as a result of surgery, including death. Dwelling on all the complications is ridiculous at this point because you still need the surgery, otherwise you wouldn’t be there! Weeping wound and PICC line followed by over-sewing the wound were the highlights of this trip to the hospital.

I was sent home with IV antibiotics to be administered at home – the strongest available on the planet. Another MRI was required to see if the wound needed to be re-opened to cauterize something in the surgical area.

My third hospitalization took place over the 4th of July weekend. Diagnosis: Acute kidney failure. This trip included an EEG to see if I’d had a brain emergency. I went home barely able to stand, get out of bed, walk, take care of basic functions. Not what I signed up for.

Then there was the day we called 911 twice: once because I was in and out of consciousness, later because my blood pressure was 220/110. The ambulance ride to the ER was a new experience!

So it’s two plus months from surgery. The problems I had prior to surgery appear to have been resolved. The wound has finally healed. I can be left alone during the day, so Ken can go to work. Tyler, our Jack Russell terrier, works hard at guarding me and inspecting the home health care workers and my friends who come to help. We even survived the appliance repairman’s visit and the plumber’s arrival last week.

So what biblical truth can apply to all this mayhem? Ken feels like Job, but we have good friends who have brought food, took me to doctor’s appointments, sat with me, and encouraged us. All have prayed for us, including online friends as well.

God knows where this journey will lead. First, I canceled my registration for ACFW conference. No way I could do the walking required in August. Second, I released my three classes I was to teach this fall for the community college of which I am an adjunct professor. Both these are of high importance, but practically I was not going to be physically able to do them, and that grieves me. However, my fall calendar has opened up. I wonder what God might have in store.

So I’ll claim Jeremiah:29:11,  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” [NIV]

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Back Surgery Metaphors for the Christian Life, Part 2


My neurosurgeon, Dr Seyed. Emadian, is one of the best in the nation, but he practices medicine in my small rural town. He also prays with his patients. My Holy Physician is also dependable and reliable and can guide my surgeon’s hands and mind.


This surgery, 2 PLIFs to fuse the L3/4 and the L4/5, is pretty gruesome, but after seeing the MRI results (Yea!), it was obvious something needed to happen. It looked like the L-4 had been bombed. leaving an inky blot behind. The vertebrae were shifting on top of the extruding disc into the spinal cord area, creating the look of a bone spur,


Wait is a 4-letter word. Wait, wait, wait! I had 2 surgery dates: May 25 or May 31. Once again I was waiting for insurance approval. That approval came in time to do surgery on May 25. Praise the Lord.


However, time slowed as the pain marked the minutes. Yet as the time grew near to surgery, part of my brain began to scream NO! Three months in a back brace?  Rescheduling all the summer appointments? No trip to Maryland to care for two grandsons? Summer disappeared into a black hole. Everything done to diagnose the problem … led to three months reconnecting the fibers, nerves, muscles, and bones. Only God could heal my back.


On the morning of surgery, fear invaded. What if something went wrong? I trusted God and Dr. Emadian implicitly. What if the pain after surgery was worse than before? My spine could not stay the way it was. So I walked to the registration desk (all that pre-surgery testing done yesterday) and said, “I’m here to volunteer for back surgery.” The nurse looked at me as though I’d lost my mind and said, “Good. We don’t get enough volunteers for that.”

Did I mention I live in Tennessee? I truly volunteered because it was time to surrender all my fears and pain to the miraculous work only He could do.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Back Surgery Metaphors of the Christian Life


My journey toward reconstructive back surgery began years before 2016. Cortisone shots in my lower back reduced the pain and inflammation, but they were temporary measures, never fixing the big picture. After air travel alone in January and again in February, after slinging computer bags into the overhead bins and pulling bags from the baggage carousel, it was clear that something was wrong.

http://www.teachpe.com/anatomy/the_spine.php
As a fibromyalgia sufferer, it’s sometimes hard to know if pain is more than just a spike in ‘regular’ pain.  For a while I dismissed the pain in my hips, lower back, buttocks. My right quad would go numb when standing for too long. Tingles would cascade down my legs. When I woke on March 9 with a massive muscle spasm from my lower back to behind my knee, my husband said, “Now will you go to the doctor?”

So I did, finally. After yet another cortisone shot in my left lower back and an x-ray showing a ‘bone spur’ on the L4 vertebra in the lumbar region, the physician’s assistant requested an MRI from the insurance company. If you follow me on Blasting News, you’ve read that story.

How is all of this a metaphor for the Christian Life?

First, you can’t go about changing a problem until you realize you have a problem. As non-Christians, we all must come to the conclusion that something is wrong in our lives. All the Tylenol Extra Strength doses would never fix the cause of my pain. Once I knew that the pain had a specific cause, I knew I had to fix it. Sin in our lives, yes even Christians sin, can never be repaired without the Holy Physician’s help. Only He can remove our sin as far as the east is from the west. Until He excises my sin problem, my constant missteps without Him, I continue to stumble and fail to live a life focused on Him instead of dwelling on myself.