Choosing What to Read by Vicki Hinze

Choosing what to read, vicki hinze, christians read, books

Choosing What to Read by Vicki Hinze

 

I looked through a listing of books this morning and one snagged my attention. Migrations, Volume 1: Don’t Forget to Breathe by Ashim Shanker. I’m not sure what about it snagged my attention, really. The cover is black and gray, well, see for yourself:

Migrations, Volume 1: Don’t Forget to Breathe            Courtesy of Amazon.com

 

It isn’t the type of cover that would normally intrigue me into looking deeper. That’s not to say anything is wrong with it, only that it isn’t the type of cover on the types of books I usually seek. Maybe it is the arches, or all those doors… something about it intrigued me enough to focus on the title. Honestly, it isn’t a title that would snag my interest either, only it did, and so I clicked the link and viewed the book.

 

It’s classified as metaphysical. That’s not typically my cup of tea. But it’s also classified as “Free will and determination” and “philosophy.” I’m into philosophy, so that appealed. And I’m always trying to better understand free will. What Christian isn’t? It’s a gift to us from God, and we know the value of determination and there’s always more to be learned there. So I read on.

 

Oddly, I didn’t go to the book description but to the “About the Author.” Especially when we’re talking about things that impact thought and mind, well, I guard mine, so I like to know about the person I’m permitting to enter.

 

Here’s what I found on Amazon.com’s product page about the author:

 

“Ashim Shanker has never been, and probably isn’t yet, but certainly aspires to be. Surely, one day he MIGHT be, but there is no guarantee he WILL be. He was disappointed to find out yesterday upon waking that he still wasn’t, nor would he be for the rest of the day. But still, today has not yet passed. So we must wait and see. In the meantime,  we cannot rule out the possibility, however negligible, that he will have been at some point in the distant horizon. Yet, for the present, we are still faced with the bleak and disheartening probability that he never was, nor shall ever be. Whatever comes of such confusing matters, he nonetheless appreciates the interest of the reader and apologizes in advance for any time that is sure to be wasted in pointlessly deciphering the befuddling words of this trifling wannabe.”

 

Admittedly, I’m a practical idealist. There’s good versus evil, and good wins because it doesn’t quit and it chooses good over evil most often. Simple woman, simple outlook. But the writer in me was extremely intrigued by this paradoxical author’s self-view. Was this biography a deliberate attempt to manipulate? The sign of someone totally confused? Or someone trying to woo others with a mystical type of enchantment? Or was his purpose something else entirely?

 

I wasn’t sure. The Kindle edition happened to be free so I clicked it. That writer’s curiosity in me wanted to find out the rationale for that type of “About the Author” statement, and since there’s bits of the author in the books s/he writes, what better way to discover those answers than to read the work?

 

Only then did I go back to the page and read the book description and then the reviews. The description kind of made my eyes roll back in my head, but then I’m of the Twain persuasion—never use a nickel word when a penny one will do—and the reviews were mixed. Some accused the author of self-importance and useless bloviating, attempting to impress with his intellect. Others felt the work represented exactly what it said it would. One remarked that the author didn’t take himself too seriously and provoked thought. Humor was mentioned.

 

That’s a good balance, as reviews go. If everyone loves it or hates a book, okay. But it’s when there’s a mix of reviews on a book that I’m confident it touched people in some way, and being touched (versus indifferent) is success.

 

So I remained intrigued by this author and wanted to read his thoughts. As I said, I’d already downloaded the book.

 

And then I looked at the “also boughts.” You know, on the product page, down at the bottom where it says what other books customers who bought this one bought also.

 

Had I read it first—and just being honest here—I wouldn’t have downloaded the book. Foul language leaves me cold. But there was also a Jane Austen title. So again, a mixed bag.

 

Now, this discovery surprised me—about myself. The author didn’t write those other “also bought” books. Didn’t title them. They had nothing to do with this book. And yet I would have made a buying decision based on them.

 

That would have been unfair. So I guess that’s why this venture worked out as it did—to reveal that unfairness in me to me.

 

I shall read the first three pages of this book and then decide whether or not to read on.

 

Obviously, I can’t recommend the book since I’ve not yet read it. But I discovered, along with the admitted unfairness, I also do not choose what to read as a reader. I choose as a reader and writer. Maybe the two are inseparable. I’ll need to think more on that.

 

What’s fascinated me about this is I didn’t choose to get a book based on the book but because the author was interesting—characterization, I find fascinating. Is that common? I don’t know. Is it?

 

What makes you choose the books you choose?

 

That isn’t a rhetorical question. I really would like to know, so I hope you’ll share your thoughts with me in the comments.

 

Blessings,

 

Vicki

What We Read by Vicki Hinze

Christians Read, Vicki Hinze

Photo: canstockphoto.com (manipulted

My granddaughters love to read. They come from a long line of readers, so them reading is doing what comes naturally to them. But their love of books, and specific stories—that is their own.

Like their mother, gran, and great-gran, they love many types of books. And it’s amazing (and wonderful) how much they absorb from the books they read.

Not long ago, I asked two of them to tell me about the books they loved most and why they loved them. Now, they’re young. Six and ten at the time. Yet both articulated the story and their thoughts clearly and a lot more concisely than I have when asked similar questions.

That fascinated me—as their gran but as an author and a human being. Both cut to the core of the book in answering the questions, and what I heard was that it wasn’t the events that occurred in the books that snagged their focus. It was the character’s emotional reaction to those events and whether or not they, as readers, deemed the characters’ actions good, just, or “inappropriate.”

These books clearly helped shape the children’s thoughts and opinions. They processed what they read through their own eyes, and accepted or rejected the conduct, ethics, actions, and attitudes of the characters.

That was expected. It’s what, to some extent, we all do when reading a book. But then something happened that brought in the fascination factor because the totality of the impact of books on us became extremely clear.

I mentioned a book that had been embraced by many and asked if they’d read it. The eldest said, “I started it, but I didn’t finish it.” The other one said, “I read the first page.”

“Why didn’t you finish it?” I asked.

The eldest dipped her chin and said, “Gran, you have to be careful what you put in your head.”

I agreed but said nothing, wanting to see where she went with this.

The younger one didn’t hold back. “If trash goes into your head, trash comes out of your head.”

“Ah, I see.” I heard those words spoken in their mother’s voice. She was guarding their minds. “So your mom said you shouldn’t read it.”

“I didn’t want to read it,” the youngest one said.

“I prefer other books,” the eldest said, exercising the diplomacy of being older.

It was interesting to me that at these young ages, they were already guarding their minds. Yes, mom taught them, but at their ages, they rejected a popular book based on what they thought.

Okay, that’s not just the power of books but also of parenting. However, making judgments on right and wrong, good and bad, worth putting into your mind or not—all of those were personal judgment calls. It fascinated me that they’re made early and they were made on merit.

Now other children have loved that same book. And I’m not saying the book is good or bad, just that it takes on different connotations and is read, processed, and received by different people in different ways.

I have to tell you. I thought about this short little conversation for weeks. I think it stayed with me so long because I needed to broaden my thinking. Before the conversation, my perspective was that mom (or dad) checks out the books, buys the books or gets them from the library, and the kids read them because they’re what they have to read.

But I learned that part of that’s true, but it’s not the whole truth. The kids often choose the books they want to read and if the books don’t meet the kids’ standards, unless forced to read them, they won’t. Parents exercise parental authority, but then from that point, the kids exercise their judgment based on the criteria they set—and that criteria will differ from child to child. It might be that they are guarding their mind. That they do or don’t like the characters. That a story makes them sad or cuts close to the bone on something they’ve experienced, or they don’t know why they do or don’t like it, they just do or don’t like it.

By the same token, with both of the readers, the stories they loved were loved for their characters. Because those characters touched the kids emotionally in tender ways, in just ways, and (with both), in ways that made them laugh. One put laughter at the top of her list. The other likes suspense. Neither cares much for stories without their chosen favorite element.

That realization led me to deduce that kids are as mercurial as adults when it comes to reading. We all have favorites. Favorite books, favorite authors, favorite types of stories. And at times, what we consider favorites changes. Sometimes we need to laugh. Sometimes we need to get mushy, to feel tender. Sometimes we crave action and adventure and we want to solve a mystery or to be thrilled. Sometimes we want to escape our world and get lost in another. And we do. In our books.

Time passes yet this subject continues to ripple through my mind. I’ve discovered that I too play gatekeeper on what I put into my mind. I used to finish every book I started. I don’t anymore. If the story and its characters speak to me, I’m all in. But if it doesn’t, I look for a story that does, saving the other book for another time.

Fascinating subject. One that reveals a lot about the power of books, the power of story, the power of reading and processing what is read. But how we read and when we read what we read says an awful lot about us as people, too.

I looked back at the books I’ve read in the past six months. Fiction and nonfiction. An array of genres, an array of types of stories. The books I finished and most enjoyed had a couple things in common:

  • The good guys won.
  • The bad guys lost and suffered the consequences of their actions.
  • I admired the characters who won because they battled for more than just themselves. The moral issue was bigger, and they fought for it.
  • The characters learned something worth learning as a result of their story journey.

I can’t specifically comment on the nonfiction I’ve read during this time because a lot of it was done for research, and this is about pleasure reading.   I can say when it comes to nonfiction, I appreciate:

  • You might be an expert but this reader is not, and if I can’t get beyond your convincing me you’re the expert and to the meat of the matter, both our efforts are wasted.
  • I love inspiring and uplifting nonfiction. Even the darkest information has moments of grace. Nonfiction should, in my humble opinion, include them.
  • Cited sources. All facts are not created equal. If you cite a source as a basis for a judgment, then I want to know that source so I can make the call on whether or not I consider that source cite-worthy.
  • Nonfiction doesn’t have to be dull as dishwater and bone-dry reading. Many fantastic nonfiction books use the same storytelling techniques that are used in fiction to great purpose.

All this brings me to more questions. This time, of you. I hope you’ll share your answers.

What do you read? Why do you read it? Are you a mercurial reader, who opts for different types of stories based on what’s going on in your life? What are your favorite things about reading? What type of stories do you love best?

In looking harder at this, it became clear that what we read varies as much as why we read what we read. Interesting questions led me to interesting answers.

I hope the questions above intrigue you into answering them. Maybe even share your answers with the rest of us here.

When I answered them, I discovered something unexpected—and I suspect you will, too.

I discovered that books have had a huge hand in shaping my life. Professionally and personally.   Mmm, my granddaughter was right about what you put into your mind. Kudos to her (and her mom and dad) on that…

Another lesson learned from my grans.

Mysterious ways, right?

Personal Power by Vicki Hinze

At times we all get mired down by events in our lives, or by the events in the lives of those we love.  When we do, it impacts our judgement, our viewpoint, our perspective, and all of that makes it harder to remember who we are and whose we are.

A few years ago, I recognized this and sought a way to remind myself when I needed reminding.  As for all of us, that’s pretty often.  I spent a lot of time thinking about things, and then I started noting the important points to remember.

One thing that isn’t on the list but is etched in HUGE letters across my heart is to hit my knees first, not as a last resort.  We’re conditioned to try to fix everything, but we don’t see the whole “big picture.”  God has the view, not us.  So hitting the knees first, relying on his view and perspective and judgment can spare us a lot of misery and help us better cope with whatever we must endure.

The rest of my notes, I put in a little business card, then printed it out and I’ve carried it in my wallet ever since.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pulled it out to remind myself of things when I needed to be reminded–and sometimes when I didn’t.

So I’m including a copy here so that, if you’re inclined, you can print it out and carry it with you.

vicki hinze, personal power

I hope it helps you as much as it’s helped me.

Blessings,

Vicki

___________________________

vicki hinze, forget me not, crossroads crisis center series, Christian Fiction

Crossroads Crisis Center    Book #1

 

 

 

When we forget who we are, do we remember whose we are? 

That’s the question in Forget Me Not, and the one our characters answer in their search for truth and healing.

Read the first chapter HERE.

Progress? Or Regress?

I had a lovely post planned for today on choices we make.  Then I got a call from the angels–my granddaughters, who wanted a day with Gran.  You know, of course, which won.  In life, things come up and happen, and we have to choose.  I chose to make memories.  Not being prone to an overinflated sense of what kids deem adults worth, I realize that there will come a time when they are too busy with friends to call Gran for a Girl’s Day In or Out.  So I seized the moment.

Still, I couldn’t enjoy it if I left you empty handed, and so here’s the encapsulated upshot of my post.  Odd, it truly says it all… :)

 

TA--ProgressRegress

 

Have you had a day where your plans turned on a dime due to outside influences?  Share it in the comments section!

Blessings,

Vicki

Blue Ridge NC “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist Retreat by Yvonne Lehman

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 9.16.40 AM

 

NovelistRetreat_Flyer_2014

 

I want to make sure the readers of ChristiansRead know about the Novel Retreat scheduled annually in October. During this warm Summer weather is a good time to think about the Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist Retreat held at Ridgecrest NC October 19-22.

 

Reminder of a deadline: The $50 tuition discount is available through July 1, 2014

 

Sad news: You’ve likely heard that Ron Benrey, who was scheduled to be a faculty member along with his wife Janet, died a few weeks ago. He will be missed.

 

Good news: Alton Gansky, award-winning novelist and director of the Blue Ridge Writers Conference held annually in May is joining our faculty line-up. Great addition!

 

If you have a novel in progress or an idea for one, whether you’re a beginner or published, we have a great line-up of workshops, not only about every aspect of novel writing but also social media and the changing publishing industry.

 

Although our focus is on the craft of writing, our faculty includes an agent and two editors who are eager to talk with you about your work. We also offer critiques and contests, including our highest award: the Golden Leaf Award.

 

Faculty includes:

Yvonne Lehman, director, over 50 romance & women’s fiction, Lighthouse editor

Lynette Eason, best-selling suspense writer, over 20 books

Ann Tatlock, award-winning novelist, two-time Christy winner, Lighthouse editor

Diana Flegal, Harline Literary Agent, workshop leader

Edie Melson, novelist, social media expert

Alton Gansky, novelist, director of Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference

 

For additional information: http://ridgecrestconferencecenter.org/event/novelist or google Blue Ridge Novelist Retreat – You may contact Yvonne at: yvonnelehman3@gmail.com

 

Looking forward to seeing some of you in October!

 

Best wishes,

Yvonne

 

Posted on request by Vicki Hinze

1 Person Can Touch Millions by Vicki Hinze

 

vicki hinze, Christians Read, 1 can touch millions, canstockphoto.comHoly Week has come and Easter has passed. Like for many others, for me, it’s an emotional time. A time of deep reflection on spiritual priorities, on all things spiritual, really.

 

 

 

This year has been a difficult one for a lot of people. Our prayer lists attest to just how difficult. And yet during Lent especially, our troubles, no matter how huge, seem small because we’re viewing them through the prism of Christ and His challenges. Through God’s prism, and His challenges. Though Mary’s prism and her challenges, and when we see the scope and impact of that on all of humanity, it is overwhelming. It’s humbling. Gratitude and the magnitude of the gift fills us.

I received a link to a Godtube video just before Good Friday. Two women—one singing, one directing a choir of children—were in it. The singer, at the request of her pastor, had rewritten the words of Hallelujah into the Easter story. It touched over 4,000,000 people in four days.  This morning, it’s up to over 6,000,000.

The singer had rewritten the lyrics and wrote to the publisher of the original and asked permission to record her version of it. Two years and one day later, she got that permission.   She sang the song and in days, it created a firestorm.

Comments on her rendition were that it gave the listener chills. That it brought the listener to tears. What’s significant is the sheer volume of people touched and their reactions—they were moved by her lyrics.

I’m sure as certain that when writing the lyrics, the singer didn’t set out to have such an impact. Her pastor asked her to sing Hallelujah, and she agreed, then thought she should rewrite the lyrics for Easter.  So she did.  She had no idea what would happen.  But it did happen, and her effort serves to remind us that, when called to serve, we have no idea of the potential of our service.  We all could impact many others. One doesn’t always know just how far the ripples of an effort will extend.

This, too, is humbling. And it reminds us that in service we bear an enormous responsibility to give our best.  For many years, I’ve been asked regarding my books about sales.  I don’t worry about them.  I do what I can and trust that those who are supposed to read the books will.  Yet I hadn’t thought in terms of impact.  It encourages me to try harder to make sure the books are readily available.  That is part of my best effort.

The point is, regardless of what we do, we all have the potential to impact others, and we never know how many or how deeply.  That, to me, is worth remembering.

If you’d like to view the video, you can at: http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=0E02FMNU

Of all those people, how many, do you think, gained some new knowledge or insight of the Easter story?  Considering the number of times I saw it Tweeted and on Facebook, I’d say a lot.

We can’t measure that, of course, but I do love thinking about the potential.  I do love that so many had the opportunity to hear the Easter story–perhaps for the first time.

That too is humbling.

 

Have You Been Touched by a Book by Vicki Hinze

This past weekend, I read a book for an endorsement, written for the general market by Skye Taylor.  The book was about a couple falling in love.  Both had challenging past issues and complicated present lives.  Both suffered stunning disregard by people who purported loved them.  How quick others were to deem what was right and wrong and just and morally acceptable for these two.  While they had every reason to feel put upon and, well, like martyrs, they didn’t.   They rose to the challenges and made the effort to do what was right.  Not easy or convenient, and not right just for themselves, but for all.

I loved that.  I finished the book at nearly one this morning, then went off to bed, thoughtful and well pleased with the book.  It enabled me to forget I write for a time, and as any writer can tell you, it’s hard to read for pleasure and not think like a writer when reading.  So when it happens, it’s thrilling.  And because it happened, I could really get the messages in the book.  I loved that, too.

Fallen Rose

Fallen Rose

For the past two months, I’ve had a dear friend tapping at death’s door.  This morning, death answered and she has now gone home.  When I lose someone close, I always feel so divided, much like one of the character’s in Miss Taylor’s book.  There is the way I feel I’m supposed to react–the celebration because she isn’t at home here but is now truly at home.  The surety that all in Heaven were waiting with open arms to welcome her.  The relief that the suffering is over and the pain endured here is in the past.

And there’s the way I do react.  That very human part of me that struggles still  with letting go–for totally selfish reasons.  I will miss her.  Her humor.  Her caring ways.  Her penchant for making lemonade.  If there was an upside to be found, she would and did find it.  And no slacking because something was hard.  No, ma’am.  You deal with it.  Now.

As we grow older, the inner circle of those we know well, and those who know us well and find it in their hearts to love us in spite of our many flaws, dwindles.  It’s natural, normal, inherent to the circle of life and a reminder to us all that we’re here for a twinkling.

While we understand and accept our place in this world and the one to come, it doesn’t diminish the value we place on those here with us.  To mourn them isn’t an expression of a lack of trust or faith.  It’s acknowledgement that while here, the deceased made a difference in our lives.  The role played was significant to us.  We respect it, and we will miss them.

The pragmatic female lead in Ms. Taylor’s book drove that home to me this weekend.  And this morning I learned that my friend had slipped away during the night.

My point is a simple one.  The book touched me at a time I needed to be touched.  I needed the reminder about the normality of reality, and that acceptance and being accepted opens hearts to healing wounds.  All manner of wounds.

In the rush of daily  life, it’s easy to forget the potential for books to touch lives.  And for that reminder, I thank Ms. Taylor and my friend.  Like life, love and loss are often complicated and messy and maybe that’s what makes them such a blessing.

In the book, the characters loved well.  By its end, they were also loved well.  My friend loved well and was well loved.

There’s an innocent beauty in that.  A reassuring certainty about taking on the challenges warning us to close our hearts to prevent being hurt or experiencing pain and ignoring those warnings and opening our hearts anyway.  Loving anyway.  And doing it knowing the risks, knowing loss is possible.

Perhaps it does take courage to love and suffer loss–to truly experience either, I mean.

But it takes perhaps even more courage to willingly do either knowing pain is possible.  And maybe, just maybe, the wisdom shared in books like Ms. Taylor’s remind us at just the right moment of why we should continue to open our hearts.

I like to think that’s the case.  It’s like a divine hug, a blessing.  It’s reassurance of what we need being provided to us when we need it.  I feel that way today, and it is humbling and welcome.

Has a book appeared in your life and touched you when you most needed touching?  Helped you through a hard time?  Given you insight or guidance when you faced a challenge?

If so, I hope you’ll share it in the comments.

Blessings,

Vicki

The Power of 1

Power1

 

The Power of One

 

 

I am a Bridge-Walker.  I have one foot in the Christian world, and one foot in the Secular world.   I write in both and have for decades.  When you walk the bridge, you often feel alone.  You’re not fully accepted in the Christian world because you spend so much time with those who live outside it.  You not fully accepted in the Secular world because you spend so much time with those who live and walk in the Christian world.  It isn’t that anyone is unkind about it.  Well, occasionally it is, but more than that, you’re on the fringes in both worlds and not embraced fully in either.  Your ways breach the comfort zones of those in both.

 

I understand that and accepted it a long time ago.  Last year I started a Bridge-Walker group and found others who also walk the bridge.  These people have been a blessing in my life, helping me do what I do and to spread the word about my writing, which is how I do what I do.  We’re a small group, but these people have made an enormous difference in my life and I am so grateful for them.

 

The reason I am explaining this is because you need to know it to understand what I’m about to share with you.

 

Every year, I look back at the previous year and see where my time went, what was productive and what wasn’t.  I cull accordingly, and adjust where I spend my time.  I am trying very hard to avoid regret.  I want to do what I can in the best way I can to accomplish the things I believe I’m here to accomplish.  So I review and cull.

 

I do a lot of blogging:  My Kitchen Table, Thinking Aloud, On Writing, and My Faith Zone.  Then I do a weekly column for the Social-In Global Network, which is akin to yet another blog post per week.  The feedback from readers varies season-to-season.  Some posts are extensively retweeted and shared on Facebook and other social networks.  Some have incredible reach around the world.  That’s all good, but it’s not my purpose in writing them.

 

My purpose in writing the posts isn’t to reach but to touch lives.  To offer something to someone who is lost to help them find their way.  To get others to think and understand that their thoughts and actions have consequences—intended and unintended—and to be judicious in how they exercise their power of one.  Frankly, I have never been exactly sure how to measure that, but I know that is my purpose.

 

So I’ve been reviewing and pondering culling some of the blogs.  In the time spent doing them, I could write two additional books a year and that’s significant.  But which ones?

 

Yesterday, I decided.  Then I got this email from a reader who was in the kind of situation, experience the absence of hope—the exact type of person I try to touch in the blog writing.  The situation was heart-wrenching, critical and grave, and it could have ended badly.  But that person found what was needed in the post to go on.  I wept all the way through it.  I’m still weeping about it.

And that’s my point.  I received a note that proved the power of one.  One imperfect writer, flawed to the core, walking the bridge doing her best to fulfill her purpose and do what she’s supposed to do without regret.  In that life, on that day and at that time, what I wrote made a difference.

 

My point is that when you write with purpose, you never know how many lives you touch.  That’s where faith comes in.  If you’re doing what you believe is your purpose, and you’re looking outward to potential good it can do for others and not inward to what good it can do for you, you are exercising the power of one in a way that maybe can’t be measured, but to the person who needs it, the good it can do for them can’t be measured, either.  I can tell you this, when a person reads something you’ve written and writes to pour out the heart and tells you that you helped save their life, that’s potent stuff.

 

It’s not that you did it.  Purpose writing is infused with more than we as individual writers have to put into it.  It’s inspired writing, and this sort of thing (hearing from readers sharing their personal experiences) has happened often enough that I have to conclude what is written somehow finds its way to the right people at the right time—when they most need it.

 

I don’t claim to know how it works.  Only that it does.  To me, God puts in our path what we need when we need it in a way we can accept and understand it.  That’s enough for me.

 

But the lesson in this is that I was about to cull this specific blog.  This note is an affirmation to me that it is not to be culled.  That the two books per year I could write by culling might or might not be as effective in regard to purpose as continuing the blog.

 

Someone will ask, so to save you the question, I’ll just answer it now.  I’m paid to write books.  I am not paid to write blogs.  Shouldn’t I opt for the books to assure financial security?  My answer might surprise you, or not.   Maybe, but if I did opt for more books, I’d have to ignore the spiritual call and purpose in the blog.  And I’d have to ignore it knowing I’d put my physical comfort ahead of spiritual purpose.  That doesn’t sit well on my shoulders.   Particularly since I know from experience that when you choose spiritual, your physical needs will be met.  Maybe not in the way you choose, but they’ll be met.

 

This reader thanked me for helping, for exercising my power of one.

 

Now, I must thank that reader for exercising her power of one.  She helped me not to make a grave mistake that I would definitely regret.

 

Isn’t it interesting how that works?  We never know how many lives we touch.  But when we need to know, we discover what we need to know to keep us on our path.  For me, that’s clearly on the bridge.

 

So I close with this insight.  Each of us has the Power of One.  We can use it or not.  Use it for good or not.  Direct it inward or outward, and see or ignore the results—of our own power . . . and the power of others.

 

—–

A note to authors and readers.

If you are on Twitter, please follow @CleanReadBooks.  We’re trying to connect writers and readers who want books that do not contain foul language, excessive violence, and if there are bedroom doors in the books, they’re closed.  These books might or might not contain a faith element, but they are clean reads.  We have got to do what we can to guard our minds and shift to family friendly.

If you’ve written a clean read, tweet it and include @cleanreadbooks in your tweet.

If you’ve read a clean read and enjoyed it, tweet it and include @cleanreadbooks in your tweet.

Thanks so much!

Limping Through the Holidays

Vicki Hinze, Limping Through the Holidays

Limping Through the Holidays:  Where’s My Magic?

by

Vicki Hinze

Ah, it’s the holidays.  The season of more.  More work.  More chores.  More social events.  More shopping, cooking, decorating, and, well, more.  It’s also the season of “it’s harder to get things done.”  More people are unavailable, taking a personal day (to do their own limping), and naturally the very person with whom we need to speak to check an item off our to-do list is out for the day or week.  We’re hammered, stressed and certain we will never get everything done on time, and someone in our lives gives us a rash because we’re acting like a Grinch and are anything but cheery.

Our first reaction is to growl and bark, maybe even bite.  But we recognize we’re hammered and stressed so we tamp the urge.  But the resentment against this total lack of awareness at all we’re confronted with simmers and we stew.  Then we steam.  And unless we do something drastic, we’re going to build steam until we blow—at whatever victim happens to be in our path at this critical mass moment.  Poor thing.  Don’t you feel sorry for that person?  S/he is reaping that sown from all that’s come before and not been vented.  And odds are high that after we blow the lid off, we’re going to regret it.  Some things can’t be taken back or undone.  And we’ll have to live with that.  Or will we…?

Well, if we pop a cork, yeah, we will have to live with the fallout.  But here’s the thing.  Blowing is a choice.  Steaming is a choice.  Stewing and simmering is a choice.  So we can make other choices—before we pop the proverbial cork.  We need alternatives.

 

ALTERNATIVES TO POPPING YOUR CORK OR BLOWING YOUR LID

1.  RECOGNIZE.  We need to recognize that everyone is teetering on the edge of popping their cork or blowing their lid.  Everyone is under pressure.  Everyone is limping through the holidays with too much to do and too little time to do it.  Exhibit your recognition by being a little kinder, a little more patient, a little more understanding.  The compassion you show might just be returned.  It will be appreciated.  If not by the other person by you.  You won’t teeter at the eruption point.  There’s merit in that and benefits to yourself and to others.

2.  GRATITUDE.  When you’re about to lose it, pause.  Yes, pause.  Doesn’t matter how many items are on your to-do list, you don’t just want this pause, you need this pause.  Take it.  During this moment, think of three things for which you’re grateful.  Some examples to get you started:  That you’re upright and alive and not toes up in a morgue.  That you’re able to read your to-do list.  That you have a job or a car or a home.  That you have enough sense to know you’re limping and you need the pause to be grateful you have sense.  There’s always health, hope, ability.  No small things these!  But ones often taken for granted.

3.  PEACE.  The last thing you need is to be limping and at war with yourself because you can’t ace or juggle everything going on in your life and do it all with flair.  We all have limitations and while we strive to do better, we need to make peace with ourselves on what we do.  We’re not slacking or being lazy if, for example, we can’t get all we wanted to get done in time.  We shouldn’t condemn ourselves, feel inferior or lacking.  Sometimes we judge ourselves by how things look on paper—our list—and not reality.    Have you ever started to tackle a specific chore then something else cropped up?

Seems easy enough to do a specific chore, but when we start it, something else has to be done first.  So we do that first thing and then get to the chore.  Sometimes we have multiple things crop up that have to be done first.  These other things aren’t just distractions we pull out to avoid doing something we’d rather not, they are valid.  And all those other things zap our time from our specific chore.  Now we’re behind schedule and we’re out of time.  Happens to everyone, right?

Again, we have a choice to make.  We can pop a cork or make peace with the facts.  We can grumble about what we didn’t get done or be grateful for what we did.  One choice is going to have us tense and bitter.  The other, grateful for what we did get done.  You know which will depress your mood and which will elevate it.  Which do you choose?

HINT:  If you’re working from a prioritized to-do list, where the most important things are done first, you’ll do better at staying out of crisis mode. 

 

WHAT WE KNOW

 

1.  Everyone is limping.  We all have extra work (no matter how pleasant) and we’re tired.  Because we know it, we’re a little more gentle, a little more kind, and understanding.  We treat others well and hope they’ll return the kindness.

2.  Everyone is being confronted by challenges out of their control.   Nixing that fact is beyond us.  But we all can control our reactions to our challenges.

3.  Our mood, emotional balance, sense of selfis a direct result of the choices we make.  We’re all limping and confronted by more challenges.  We choose whether we pause and count our blessings, seek help or patience or pop a cork.  And we do it knowing we and our victims will deal with the fallout and consequences.  Will we look back with fond memories or regret?  It’s our call.

4.  Limping is what it is:  a season.  It’s not a permanent affliction or problem.  It too shall pass.  So accept that for a while, we’re going to limp.  Make peace with it.  Be grateful for it.  Having an attitude of gratitude works wonders for your mindset—and a positive, constructive mindset is key to fewer regrets and more serenity.

IN A NUTSHELL

Ah, the season of more.  That special time of year when everyone is limping.  Some simmer and stew and pop their proverbial corks.  Some arm themselves with patience and gratitude and show others kindness and come across so serene and peaceful . . .

Mmm, when you dig through the clutter, limping breaks down pretty simple, doesn’t it?

During the season of more, you’re going to limp.  The question is:  Are you going to limp frowning or smiling?

You choose.

And there’s your magic!

© 2013, Vicki Hinze

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vicki hinze, christmas heroes, kathy carmichael, peggy webb, rita herron, regan blackVicki Hinze is the award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest releases are: Duplicity (military romantic thriller,) Torn Loyalties (inspirational romantic suspense), Legend of the Mist (time-travel romantic suspense), One Way to Write a Novel (nonfiction). She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s online community: Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact. www.vickihinze.com.

WHEN YOU’VE LOST EVERYTHING by Vicki Hinze

vicki hinze

This year, more than most, I’m hearing from people who have lost everything.  They’re feeling hopeless and helpless.  Defeated in life, or by life.  Some have lost jobs and homes, some have lost their health, and some have lost loved ones.  Some just feel lost and overwhelmed and now it’s the holidays and they’re surrounded by cheerful people and are fit to be tied—or worse, despondent.  The holiday blues have set in and it’s sucking them into that downward death-spiral.  But they don’t have to be stuck.  You don’t have to be stuck.  Being stuck is a choice.  And we can all make other choices.

 

Look, all of these situations are hard.  There’s no sugarcoating it.  But when facing the “I’ve lost everything” demon (and it is a demon as you well know if you’ve been through it), you can’t let it drain all that is good out of you and give into despair.  Well, you can.  But if you do, you’re closing the door and window of opportunity.  Actually, doors and windows of opportunities, because losing everything offers multiple doors and multiple windows.  You just have to retain the clarity of mind and vision and the courage and heart to see them, recognize what you’re seeing, and then act on them.

 

That might seem difficult to believe.  When you’re down so far you can’t see up with a stepladder and binoculars, it’s pretty hard to believe that anything good still exists in anything.  But it does.  And that’s not a platitude talking, it’s experience.

 

I’ve lost everything except my life, and have come close to losing it more times than you want to hear about or I care to recall.  I’ve been left with nothing, left with nothing, and started over with nothing but the clothes on my back.  I walked away (okay, maybe crawled away) from a successful career and started over with nothing—no home, no family, no friends, no money.  When I say nothing, I mean nothing… almost.

 

I had me and I had faith.  And so do you, if you claim it.

 

I’m reminded of Joseph.  The Coat of Many Colors Joseph, who had been a favored son and whose jealous brothers sold him into slavery.  He was falsely accused by a woman and thrown into prison where he stayed many years.  He could have lost hope.  Instead, he remained faithful.  He knew God was with him.  And he understood that the situations he endured were preparing him for the future God had planned for him.  When God was ready, Joseph was summoned to interpret dreams and he ended up as to what would equate to being elevated to the Prime Minister of Egypt.  He clung to faith during the times it had to be next to impossible, and because he did, he was tempered by his trials and entrusted with the insight to save his people—including the brothers who had betrayed him.  God restored all he had lost and so much more.  Joseph made wise choices.  Regardless of circumstance, he remained strong in faith and believed with heart that God remained with him.

 

I was a teenager the first time I lost everything, and I didn’t possess Joseph’s wisdom.  I despaired.  I thought my life was over.  At that tender age, I believed the best was behind me and the future that stretched and yawned in front of me was bleak and dark and ominous.  I was not eager to face it, much less willing to embrace it.

 

Yet when you’re in this position, you discover who you really are.  You can run, but not hide.  Fact and circumstance follows you, and so long as you avoid responsibility, it haunts and torments you.  If you believe you’re defeated, you will be.  If you believe you’ve lost, you have.

 

One of the greatest secrets of life is that you become who you believe you are.  I don’t mean superficial things, like I want to be rich.  That’s an insult to life itself without becoming rich being for a purpose that holds value.  I mean the kind of things that give you the tools you need to progress and move forward and rebuild and create the life you envision for yourself.

 

You know, we don’t do much in the way of soul work on ourselves when things are going great.  But when we’ve lost everything, and we have to humble ourselves and make hard choices, and struggle and do without, we gain a lot of respect.  For others, for the kindnesses and compassion they embrace.  For things that we take for granted.  We develop a real sense of gratitude for basic necessities, stop resenting others’ their luxuries—unless they’ve stolen them.  We start respecting the effort required to build a life.  The effort required to keep building the life we want even when we suffer setbacks and challenges and obstacles.  We stay attuned, looking for those doors of opportunity, and we’re humble enough to knock on them.  And when we can’t find the doors, we look for the windows.

 

We seek and we find because we’re seeking.

 

If we’d truly lost everything, we wouldn’t possess the wisdom to do that.  Or the skills of recognition.  We’d cruise right past those doors and windows.

 

Often what happens is we seek so hard we fail to see.  We don’t see that if we weren’t in this position, then we wouldn’t be in the right place at the right time and within the reach of the right people to seize an opportunity to attain a desired goal we’d deemed out of reach.

 

We believe that what we’ve lost, and likely didn’t appreciate when we had it, is exactly what we must have to be happy or content and we have to get it back.  We focus so intently on getting it back, we blow right past doors and windows that would take us to a better place.  Often, a place we’ve longed to go but never saw a pathway to ever get there.

 

And way too often we fail to recognize that just when we’re about to make some sort of breakthrough.  One that will do us and perhaps a lot of others spiritual or physical good.  That’s when we get nailed.  Anytime we’re on a mission or have a goal that has benefits that extend beyond our personal selves, we should expect a body slam.  Sometimes we see them coming, sometimes we don’t.  But the fact is they come.  It’s spiritual warfare, pure and simple.  Can’t have you doing something good for yourself and others.  No way.  Need to keep you all down, despairing and oppressed, and miserable.

 

It’s not easy to walk away or lose everything.  It hurts.  It makes us feel as if we’ve failed.  It attacks us at core level; our sense of worth, of value, our self-esteem.  What we’ve got to remember is that sometimes we have to close a door to open another one.  That until we do, we’re stuck in an old room that we’ve outgrown or we’re pacing out in the hall unable to get to our best place because we can’t find the door.

 

I once had a t-shirt that read something like:  “I know that for every door that closes a window opens.  But, man, these hallways are the pits.”

 

Hallways are the pits.  And the longer you linger in them, the deeper and wider they become.  The more slick are the floors, the more slimy the walls.  Use those hallways before they do a number on you and in your head.  Maybe you see the doors lining that hallway.  But none of those doors look like the right door for you.  If so, from experience I say, if any doors are constructive and better your position, test them.  Try them anyway.  That door might not be THE door but it well might lead to THE door.  If you don’t walk through the first one, you’ll never reach the second.

 

Trying any door requires two things:  you and a leap of faith.

 

You don’t have to have all the answers, only the courage to take a step and try.  The moment you do, you haven’t lost everything anymore.  You’ve already started rebuilding from the inside out.  And that’s where it matters.

 

You respected yourself enough to try, and you added a leap of faith.  That took courage and wisdom and the insight to find dignity in what you’re trying to do.  That recognizes honor in making the effort. There’s appreciation for the struggles, for being fearful and acting in spite of it not because of it.  That’s bravery.  Lots to admire in all that.

 

And if it works out, you’ve added a lot more.

 

If it doesn’t, you still don’t return to “S/he who has lost everything.”  You retain all you’ve already rebuilt and add more wisdom.  You know which door wasn’t right for you, which is just as important as knowing which door is right for you.  And so you approach the next door or window wiser and smarter and with better insight and sharper judgment.  And then, if need be, you keep building with the gains from the next door, and the next.

 

Eventually, as a result of your own efforts and honing your own judgments, gathering your own wisdom, you find yourself in a life that you’ve rebuilt.

 

It might look very different than the one you had.  A few, those who miss the point, will mourn the loss of what they use to have.  They’ll recall fondly and with angst their former glory days.  And totally blow this new better day right in front of them.

 

One day, that path leads to regret.

 

But regret too can park your backside in a hallway full of doors.  Ones you can choose to open or not from your wiser-for-having-made-the-journey position.

 

Before you put yourself in regret-mode, pause and take a long look around at the life you’ve rebuilt.  Odds are good you’re going to find it much suited to you, and much more a content place that views value and worth far differently than the old life.

 

You might think you’ve lost it all.  I did.  But what I discovered was Joseph and the miracle of refinement.  It takes a lot of heat to temper steel.  It takes a lot of heat to temper people, too.  I discovered that some losses are inevitable and we must cope with them or be destroyed by them.  I’d lost some, but actually I’d misplaced some truly valuable things.  Mostly the kind that are inside—character, courage, self-respect, a true knowledge of my own worth.  The really valuable things in life.  In losing, I sought and found a far greater treasure: The me I’d forgotten . . . and not yet come to know.   God remained with me.

 

So too it will be with you.

 

Blessings,

 

Vicki

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vicki hinze, Christmas Countdown

Lost Inc. Series

Believe . . . Anyway

vicki hinze, believe, christians read,

Some people are born with innate faith.  They don’t seem to work at it; faith just is for them.  Others seep into faith—or it seeps into them—as they grow and experience and live life.  Still others, some who might be ardent disbelievers, get body-slammed and even as much as they’d like to deny belief, they can’t.

While all of these experiences are different and the experiences to the individual are highly unique to them, these folks all end up in the same place.  They believe.

But there are others.  Those who still seek, who want to believe, crave and yearn for belief, but struggle and doubt and can’t seem to find it.

Of all of us, though admittedly getting body-slammed isn’t fun, my heart aches for these struggling seekers most of all.  You see, even the most difficult search is easier when you’re not slogging through all that sludge alone.  When at core level you have an innate and quiet confidence that you’ll find what you need.  Struggling seekers have only the struggle for company.  The struggle, and doubt.  And that is a hard, lonely road to travel.

There hasn’t been a time when I didn’t know God existed.  There have been many times when I’ve wondered if he wasn’t taking long nap, or if he’d finally gotten fed up with all of us, tossed up his arms and turned his back.  (He doesn’t do that and I know it, yet I have wondered at times if maybe he’d changed his policy.)  I’ve wondered many things about God; some logical and reasoned, some whimsical and tinged with comforting images fraught with fantasy.  But I have never not known that He exists.

And I’ve only just discovered how very lucky that makes me.

Regardless of what happens, I know that God is aware, with me, holding me up when I’ve reached my limit, and that when I can’t, He can.  That fortifies me.

When the world beats me up, I take refuge in Him.  When I’m wounded, I heal in His protective hands.  He fortifies and sustains me, and I know that no matter what happens, He’s there, comforting and guiding me, loving me unconditionally, never forsaking me, and He reassures me of all this and more in subtle ways—and not-so subtle ways, depending on how attuned I am.  If I need a tap, I’ll get a tap.  If I need a sledgehammer, I’ll get that, too.  Do I have proof God exists?

Yes, proof sufficient to me.  A lifetime of experience with incident upon incident and awareness upon awareness evidence I cannot dispute.

But what about those who haven’t had a lifetime of experience?  Who haven’t sought or found that refuge and protection?  Who lack firsthand knowledge of God working in their lives—lack any relationship with Him?

The thought alone hurts my heart.  Let’s face it, life can be tough at times, and some times, it’s downright mean.  During those times, it tries the soul to face challenges with God.  I can’t imagine the additional challenges of facing them alone.

Think about it.  Confronting death and dying without knowing that this life is but a twinkle in time and eternity is much, much longer.  Without knowing God is there and this life isn’t all there is.  Imagine being told you’re terminal, and there’s a long struggle ahead, and having to face that without faith that when you can’t handle what’s to come, God will.

That’s a hard, lonely, frightening road.  And there are those who travel it.  Their agony in doing so is far too easy to imagine, and the absence of being assured of all the promises made to carry us, comfort us, provide for us the needed means.

There are times when we know what we need.  But there are also times when we’re so far down, so overwhelmed, so lost that we don’t know.  We feel beyond reach, beyond hope.  But we are not.  There is no place we can go, nothing that can happen to us that is beyond God.

That truth is one of many that I’ve read in the Bible over and again.  But it’s also one I didn’t fully grasp until exploring the issue in a novel.  The question arose:  Can a person get to a place that is beyond God?  Intellectually, I knew the answer, but I sorely needed to see a practical application.  One life where that specific question was called and answered.  I wrote my way through it in FORGET ME NOT.

vicki hinze, christian fiction, inspirational, forget me not, crossroads crisis center

Forget Me Not
Crossroads Crisis Center
Book 1

In it, a woman loses everything except her life.  Her identity, her memories, her sense of everything . . . except her faith.  She has nothing but faith.  And is tried mightily by enemies—all unknown.  And yet through her trials and challenges, she retains that certainty that nothing is too big for God.  He’s with her, and if she continues to walk in faith, she’ll find her way.

Much happens to her that was totally unexpected.  It seemed throughout the novel, I was just as surprised as readers, and I was supposedly creating this story.  But things changed, twisted, became more complicated.  Most of the time, I felt as if I were trudging along behind the character trying to stop stepping in mud puddles and squishing mud between my toes.  Still, this was an important question.  For me, but also for others, particularly those who were lost.  And so I trudged on, trusting that what was needed would be conveyed.

Some would call that taking a leap of faith.  But honestly it was a series of leaps and a determination to find the answer and a heartfelt certainty that because the question had been called, the book had its own purpose.  To fulfill it, it had to be finished.  And so it was.  And the answer was there.

Maybe, I thought, it’s natural for writers to write their way to answers to their questions.  But then I heard from readers, and they were seeking those answers, too.  Some had the intellectual answers, but like me, wanted to see a practical application.

Interestingly enough, some readers wrote who had doubts settled.  Some raised other questions that I’ve gone on to explore in other books.  Some who didn’t believe opened their mind to the possibility.  Some ardently refused to believe, but for some, it was that something extra they’d sought.

And I learned that purpose is multi-purpose, according to need.  And that was a significant lesson for me as a writer, a reader, and as a human being.  It showed me that sometimes we have proof.  Sometimes we choose to believe . . . anyway.  Either way, when we seek, we discover the truth.

Blessings,

Vicki Hinze

Christian Fiction v Clean Read: Are You Confused? by Vicki Hinze

CFCR

 

 

Christian Fiction v Clean Read:  Are You Confused?

 

 

In the past few months, I’ve often been asked what is the difference between books that are labeled Christian fiction and books labeled Clean Reads.  I thought I’d address in case you’re confused by this labeling of books.

 

Christian fiction is fiction that has a distinct and deliberate Christian element.  It can be told from a Christian perspective, or told by a non-Christian perspective, but the Christian element is in the novel.

 

Either the story is structured and unfolds based on Christian principles, or one (or more) of the characters are Christian and they face the obstacles and events in the stories from that perspective.  Perhaps the main character is not a Christian at the beginning of the story, but as a result of events encountered during the story, becomes a Christians at the end of the story.  The story can also be seated in a Christian theme.

 

Regardless of how the Christian element is injected into the story, it is significant to the story and plays a key role.  In other words, if that Christian element were removed, then the story would be a different story.

 

A Clean Read is a story created for the general market and not specifically for the Christian reading community.  It follows many of the dictates for Christian fiction, in that there is no premarital sex or foul language.  Obstacles and challenges are met and faced through a variety of means, but in Clean Reads, you won’t find explicit sexual conduct or bad language.

 

In either, because fiction emulates life, you will find bad situations, challenges that must be faced and overcome.  But in Clean Reads you can include a religious or faith element but one isn’t required.  In other words, a story might be seated on Biblical principles but the Bible not be mentioned.

 

Some Christian authors write both Christian fiction and Clean Reads.  I’m one of them.  Now I wrote for a long time before writing Christian fiction and I began writing Clean Reads after then.  So some of my older books (many of which are being republished by publishers) are general audience reads.  But once I began writing Christian fiction, I eliminated those aspects mentioned earlier from my work.  Still, I didn’t want to leave the readers without my books, so I began writing Clean Reads, too.

 

I firmly believe this is what I’m supposed to do.  Go to people where they are, as Christ did by example.  So I continue to write many types of stories in many genres, and for many different types of people.  Some are Christian fiction.  Mystery and Romantic Thrillers, mostly.  Some are Clean Reads.  Romantic suspense and mystery, mostly.

 

Over the past twenty-five years, I’ve written just about all kinds of novels with the exception of horror.  (I write healing books, and healing and horror haven’t meshed well for me.)  So all of my books have healing themes and I use suspense, mystery and romance in each of them.  In some, there’s more suspense.  In others, more romance.  But those things remain in my books whether they are Christian Fiction or Clean Reads.

 

Why is that?

 

Because every author has an author theme and writing healing books—books where the characters face tough battles but heal—is mine.

 

And because for me to love a book, it must have suspense, mystery and romance.  I like many other books or books without those three elements, but I don’t love them.  And I promised myself many years ago, I wouldn’t invest my time—that’s my life—in writing books I don’t love.

 

So I’ve always written healing books with elements of suspense, mystery and romance.  And for the past few years, those books are either Christian fiction or Clean Reads.

 

It’s worth mentioning that writers construct books based on their own perspective.  It comes through deliberately and unintentionally, in what we deem is important enough to get on the page.  In the way we see things.  Our perspective shapes the story.  So you will see Clean Reads that are seated in Biblical principles because it’s how believers think and the prism through which they see things.

 

Can an author write books outside that prism?  Yes.  But they rarely do because it isn’t natural to them.

 

So Christian fiction contains an overt Christian message (not to be confused with soapbox or preaching to readers).  The message is interwoven into the novel’s fabric.  Clean Reads are those suitable for most readers and doesn’t carry an overt Christian message.

 

Hope this clears any confusion.

 

Blessings,

 

Vicki

VICKI HINZE

 

 

 

 

 

Christians Read Fall Catalogue Released

(Click below to view the Christians Read Catalogue, 2013 Fall Edition, which includes Chapter Excerpts!

Happy Labor Day! (Um, What exactly is Labor Day?) by Vicki Hinze

Credit:  blingcheese.com

Credit: blingcheese.com

Today in America, we celebrate Labor Day.  Many consider it nothing more than a day off.  Those employed in retail, work today and use the holiday as an opportunity to advertise sales.  Few know or recall the origins of Labor Day.  Like so much else in America’s rich history, time and a lack of attention is dimming our knowledge of our heritage.  That bothers me and, if you’re American, it should bother you.  So let’s get reacquainted with ourselves and our holiday.

 

Over a hundred years ago, the first Labor Day was observed with a holiday for workers.  There’s some dispute on who first proposed it.  Some say it was a secretary for the American Federation of Labor, a man named Peter McGuire.  Others say the proposal came from a New Jersey machinist from New York.  The Central Labor Union did pass a proposal to hold a demonstration and a picnic in New York.

 

The government got involved in 1885 through municipal ordinances, but in short order—June 28, 1894, Congress declared the first Monday in September a legal holiday in DC and “the territories.”

 

Credit: Dismal World 1900 NY Labor Day Parade

Credit: Dismal World
1900 NY Labor Day Parade

 

Who first celebrated Labor Day?  The Central Labor Union in New York City on September 5, 1882.  There was a parade honoring the workers for their contributions to the strength and prosperity of the nation and a festival with speeches by prominent civic leaders.  The Sunday before Labor Day was, according to the Department of Labor, “adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.”

 

Today there are fewer parades, fewer festivals, and fewer civic-sponsored gatherings.  Americans seem to be losing their fierce defense of national identity and embracing more small gatherings with family and friends for picnics, ball games, and private celebrations.

 

What I hope will continue in any gathering or no gathering at all is a deep appreciation of the American Worker.  That celebration and his or her contributions to our nation’s well being, prosperity and growth, is what Labor Day is all about.

 

 

Credit: Dismal World 1900 NY Labor Day Parade

Credit: Dismal World
1900 NY Labor Day Parade

Labor Sunday has been obscured for many years—but it need not remain so.  The believers among us are well aware of the deep dies between faith and country, our freedoms are endowed by our Creator, and that includes our freedom to work.  We are also endowed with the ability to work, and that warrants remembrance of Labor Sunday.

 

At a time when forty-six percent of our work force is out of work, and staggering numbers of our work force are under-employed, let us remember to pray for our workers—for both their freedom and their ability to work.

 

Labor Day isn’t just about picnics and festivals and parades or ball games at family gatherings.  It’s a day to count our blessings for all those who toil and work hard every day and enrich the quality of life for all of us because they do.

 

Enjoy the sales at the local mall.  Enjoy the celebration.  But most of all remember that each day you enjoy the fruits of the American Worker’s labor.  Every time you flip a switch to turn on a light, remember the electrician who wired it.  The manufacturer who made the light, the bulb.  We are blessed with a lifestyle not enjoyed by many in the world.  And because we are, we tend to take it for granted.

 

Credit: Minnpost.com 1940 International Falls Labor Day Parade

Credit: Minnpost.com
1940 International Falls Labor Day Parade

 

We forget that no one owes us anything.  No one is obligated to provide us with anything other than the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  We forget that the people who work hard every day are the heart of America, and historically, they have been.

 

I hope you had a lovely Labor Sunday and that you enjoy a very blessed and…

 

Happy Labor Day!

 

 

 

Clarity in Confusion by Vicki Hinze

vicki hinze. clarity in confusion

 

A few years ago, I had a vision challenge that required a series of surgeries.  After one, my eyes were sown shut for three days.  I had pain meds, but took the first one and got hives.  So not only did I have to deal with the aftereffects of the surgery but also with the hives.  It was not a fun time.

 

When you’re sitting like that, and in pain and itching like crazy, you’d think you wouldn’t be able to focus on anything.  And that was partly true.  Noises bothered me because I couldn’t see what they were.  Trying to move was nauseating and by the end of the three days I also sported some shin, elbow and shoulder bruises because I’m hardheaded and thought I could make my way here and there alone.  (I did, just not without bouncing off a few walls and clipping a few sharp edges on furniture.)  But there were other times.  Deep in the night when all was silent.  And it’s those times I want to talk about today.

 

In the quiet, my mind drifted and homed in on the strangest things.  I’d see glimpses of strangers.  Snippets of events.  Bottom line, when I couldn’t see at all, I saw most clearly.  At the end of those three days, I had a new series of novels!

 

I find that stunning—and yet it proved to me that God uses all things to prepare us for His purposes, which I find reassuring.  We don’t always feel He’s paying close attention to the details of our lives and then something happens and we know He’s been paying more than close attention, He’s been putting building blocks in place in our lives.

 

Well, I gained evidence of that at a recent conference.  Due to travel restrictions, it was the first I’ve attended in a while and my “talk to other writers” and “see friends I haven’t seen in a while” low-level lights were definitely on and burning brightly.  So I did something I’ve never before done:  I attended this conference with the goal of doing those two things:  talking with writers and seeing friends.  Always before I had a zillion goals, all of which had to do with the business side of the publishing business.  I wanted to have fun and enjoy myself.  I needed to do those things and I knew it.  (All work and worry and no play makes for poor creativity!)

 

So I went.  (Photos are here if you would like to see them.)  And I did talk writing and see friends and have fun.  But other things happened, too.  Ones I couldn’t have expected and ones that resolved questions on what I should do next in my own writing.

 

I’d done six Christian Suspense novels—three for Random House Multnomah and three for Love Inspired Suspense—and I wasn’t sure I was supposed to do more.  Frankly, I didn’t know what I was supposed to do next and all my prayers on it hadn’t brought answers.  I didn’t expect those answers to come in this setting.  But they did.

 

On day one, two different readers approached me to say the books had touched them.  On the first night, three writers approached me to say that they’d been helped in their writing by articles in both my blogs and in my articles.

 

It wasn’t until later that night that the significance of this penetrated my brain.  Writers appreciate feedback and when we touch lives, it’s affirmation—that’s why we do what we do.  So I fell asleep certain that what I had been doing was what I was supposed to be doing at that time.  But the way ahead of me still carried confusion and clouds.

 

Then comes the next morning and a totally unexpected conversation with my agent.  A publisher I’ve long admired wants me to do some specific types of Christian fiction for them.  And then I had breakfast with one of my editors—who wants more of the books I’ve been doing.  Later that day, I had lunch with another of my editors who also wants more books.  These are not Christian fiction but are clean read mystery/thrillers.

 

After the third unexpected meeting, I found a quiet corner and just sat and let it all this soak in.  One of the oddities was that while I’d done similar books to the ones I’d been asked to do, I’ve not done them for the Christian market.  Could I do it?  I thought back to my second real job.  It was the training ground.  The third added to it.  The fourth, more additions.  Yes, I could do it.

 

That’s when it hit me just how involved God’s been in all this all along.  And how clear it was that I didn’t have to struggle and drive myself insane trying to figure it all out.  All I had to do was my part in preparing and walk through the doors He opened when He opened them.

 

So once again, while I was wool-gathering, so to speak, not focusing intently on resolutions, my solutions came to me.  His solutions, I should say.

 

Interestingly enough at this conference, the writers I had longed to talk to were also confused.  And sitting alone after that third meeting, the advice they’d requested and I’d given came back to me, echoing inside my mind.  It was advice for them but it applied to me, too.  That surprised me, though it shouldn’t have.  And I sat there and whispered a heartfelt, “Thank you.”

 

I didn’t know what I needed.  God did.  I felt a little lost and a lot confused.  God wasn’t.  And so a new lesson was learned.  When your eyes aren’t working, you often see most clearly.  When your ears are open, you hear.  And answers come to calm confusion in the most unexpected ways and when you least expect them.  So the big message in all this is if you’re confused, pay attention.  Like me, you’ll likely discover that the answers are right before you jumping up and down trying to get your attention, and when they do, you’ll see only clarity in confusion.

 

Blessings,

 

Vicki

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