Reading and Writing and Faith by Vicki Hinze

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Reading and Writing and Faith: A Journey and Exercise

© 2015 Vicki Hinze

 

More than a few authors, who are also huge readers, were discussing feeling murky about the blend of their faith and their writing. More than a few felt mired, murky, uncertain what to write or even if they should write. Could their time be better spent—the exercise of their faith be better spent—doing something else?

That applied to them as writers, but also as readers. Should we read? What should we read? Could our time be better spent doing something else?

Those questions in that discussion sent me on a journey to discover the role of faith-filled authors. What information was available to share with them? What would offer guidance? Direction? Counsel worth having? Were there specific guideposts, guidelines that would be helpful? Specific signs to watch for or to avoid? Was there anything I could give or add to the discussion to help other writers and myself?

Although I’ve been writing steadily for well over twenty years, I am not the ultimate authority on anything including writing and know that only too well. So I went to what is the ultimate authority on everything—the Bible. What does it say about authors, writers, storytellers and scribes? I thought that would reveal useful insights on both writing and reading and, frankly, was stunned that I hadn’t thought to specifically search that before now. Ah, God’s timing. Again. A lesson often repeated during my career and life. Not my time, His time. Often the two are poles apart—or seem as if they are. But experience has taught me that His timing is always perfect. Mine’s anything but. So now, apparently, is the exact right time to take a look at this. Hence, this article, which well might spur a book.

I have to tell you, I did not expect the avalanche of guidance, direction, responsibility, goals and aspirations, and dictates that I found. Nor did I expect the affirmation that writing is an enormous, trusted gift bestowed on writers. But that’s precisely what I discovered. That, and so much more!

I found dozens of verses that revealed copious insights and applied to writing and/or authors and reading. This, I thought, is significant, because honestly it can be applied to any occupation. I could expound and but then this would be the book that began as a single article that’s already grown into a series of articles. More importantly, full disclosure of my discoveries could color other writers and readers’ own discoveries, and that would deprive them the joy I experienced.

That was such a gift. I hope everyone, writers and readers, regardless of what they do, will search the Bible for their vocation. It’s a breathtaking experience—and it alters your perspective forever. In a sense, I feel I got a glimpse of being seen through God’s eyes. Just a glimpse, but the impact was profound. Everyone should feel that special and honored at least once.

What follows is the first of the verses that spoke intimately to me. After the verse, my thoughts. And beyond that, an exercise on that verse you can apply to your specific situation.

Now when you run your search, some or all of these verses might speak to you or other verses will speak to you. Some will speak more loudly to you than others. I do believe that is deliberate and our spirits are, if you will, plugging into the Divine will. What speaks most directly and clearly to us, I believe is tied to our individual purposes and to God’s specific plan for us. We recognize it at soul level, just as Christ said we would in hearing His voice.

 

Here’s a place trust and faith are called into action. Have faith that you will receive what you need when you need it, that you will recognize it, and that you will know exactly what to do with it. Your steps are guided by His will. They might be different than you planned (and often are) but they’re perfect for you (even when it seems otherwise). Know too that there is a reason for each step. Whether it’s to gain knowledge, wisdom or experience, you have the opportunity to gain something from each step. So step boldly in faith and trust that walking in His will you will get what you need to take the next step and fulfill His purpose for you. As a dear friend once told me, “Of course, it’ll work out fine. It’s a God thing.”

A God thing. Trust and faith, and us doing our part so He doesn’t violate free will (which He will not do) and He can step in to do His part. It’s amazing how comforting knowing that can be in times of uncertainty when there’s an absence of clarity.

 

The Verse:

 

And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision,

and make it plain.” ~Habakkuk 2:2

 

 

So many authors, myself included, struggle with what to write. The choices are infinite and the decisions made impact lives and careers and paths for the duration. Choices are infinite and significant to readers and to the author’s life and career as an author.

Writers choose to write to the market, to editorial preferences, to agent recommendations, to personal preferences—and all of that is fine provided those suggestions are in harmony with the author’s vision of the work. If suggestions or preferences are not in harmony with the author’s vision, then the author can’t fulfill the obligations required of him/her.

This is where author theme fits in and from whence the necessity of an author loving the work s/he elects to invest in resides. Why is that important?

If you don’t love the work, you can’t address it honestly with insight and understanding and compassion or with the dogged discipline required to give the work your best. If what you’re writing is outside your author theme (stories you feel are important, essential, compel you to write them), then you lack the determination to give the work all you have to give. Every work, to achieve its full potential, requires your all. To write lacking your all violates the trust given to you that comes with the storytelling gift. Remember: The storytelling gift is the one part of writing that can’t be taught. You have the gift or you don’t. So, as with all gifts, comes great responsibility.

Write the vision, the verse says. The vision as you see it. Not because “x” told you to write it. Not because you think it will perform well in the market. Because it is the vision. The one given to you in the form of inspiration, ideas, a deep-seated need to write this specific work at this specific time in this specific way.

I always “see” in my mind’s eye, the fingertip of God touching the crown of my head. “Write this,” that still, small voice inside me says.

Since nothing exists that He hasn’t first created, He is the root source of inspiration and ideas. From Him all blessings flow, right? So when that inspired idea resonates with you, isn’t it possible that the reason it resonates is because it’s divinely inspired? Isn’t it possible that you’re feeling inspired to write this or that now because that’s what He’s touching to your crown, infusing with His desire that the vision be written?

When you write to the vision, you can be assured that those intended to read it will. Those for whom the vision was crafted will find it. That’s the faith aspect. The author’s job is to write the vision.

It’s proven true in my life again and again that no heartfelt desire persists without the skills (or the ability to acquire them) also being present. The two run hand in hand—and affirm that we’re never given more than we can handle. If you have a deep and abiding passion for a project, you have or can acquire the skills and ability to manifest it.

Make it plain. There’s essential craft guidance for the author. It doesn’t matter how wonderful a work might be if the meaning in it isn’t clear. If a reader can’t follow the path, can’t grasp what is being shared, can’t wrap his or her head or heart around it, the purpose of the work can’t be fulfilled. Clarity is vital. Critical to all.

Put on your reader hat for a moment. Look at the work from that perspective. Now you get the full scope of the importance of clarity!

If you still doubt clarity is essential, imagine this: You’re having a conversation with another person, only that person is speaking in a different language. One you don’t understand and s/he can’t understand your language. If you can’t understand or be understood, then how can the purpose of the conversation be transmitted or comprehended? Neither of you have a clue what the other person is saying, what it means, or why it’s important. Both of you gain as much as you would talking to a brick.

Now let’s say there’s an important message God wants to pass between character and reader. He requires a vehicle to do it—a book. He needs a messenger, a translator—an author—to write the book carrying the message. He inspires an author who understands the character’s language and the reader’s language and can depict clearly the message. (The translator-author is trustworthy, willing and able to accurately translate without adlibbing [not writing the vision])—and writes the book. The reader reads and receives the divine touch and gets the message intended for him or her. The author’s purpose is fulfilled. The book’s purpose is fulfilled and the reader got what s/he needed from the book.

That’s why authors must strive to convey the vision and to make it plain. So that its purpose might be grasped and understood and fulfilled.

The purpose might be to offer a reader entertainment. Or to give a weary soul a sorely needed, short reprieve during a hard time, perhaps a deathwatch. To prove constructive solutions to challenges being faced exist. To offer hope or joy or clarity—or any of a thousand purposes in between. Whatever His purpose, it will be fulfilled.

He chose the author, inspired him or her, fired love for the project so it got the author’s best, then led the reader to it. Of course, the purpose for which He went to all this planning and directing is fulfilled. Free will played its role, but the opportunity was presented and delivered.

So can a writer’s time be better spent doing something else? No, not if writing is that individual’s purpose.

 

Can a reader’s time be better spent doing something else? No, not if reading is the means through which a message of something needed is being delivered—and again, entertainment and respite is a valid purpose being fulfilled in life.

 

So write the vision and make it pain. And read what you feel drawn to read.

 

An Exercise

 

Read the verse (above) and record how it resonates with you. What comes to your mind? Why does it matter? How does it echo in your career, your content, your craft choices? How does it impact your choices of what to write?

If you are a reader, read the verse above and record how it resonates with you. What comes to your mind? Why does it matter? How does it impact you as a reader but also in your life, your career, your home and choices? How does the infusion of purpose impact your view of what you read or do?

See what I mean about the insights and thinking on this providing guidance and gifts? See why I wanted you to experience it firsthand?

As a dear friend of mine often says, “It’s like a hug from Jesus.”

It was for me, and I hope it is for you, too.*

 

 

Maureen Lang’s The Cranbury Papermaker by Vicki Hinze

Christians Read congratulations CR author, Maureen Lang on the release of her new novel:

Maureen Lang

Maureen Lang

 

Will he steal her inheritance . . . or save it?Arianne Casterton is devastated when her father and his new wife are killed in a train accident. Despite her faith in God, Arianne’s grief soon turns to despair when she discovers one-third of everything her father owned has been transferred automatically to his wife’s son and heir, Jonas Prestwich—someone Arianne never knew existed.Jonas’s mother married a backwoods papermaker much too soon after becoming a widow, embarrassing Jonas who lives among Philadelphia’s elite. Though he’s distressed by his mother’s death within a year after losing his father, receiving a portion of the papermaker’s inheritance feels like justice.God has blessed Arianne with the passion and talent for papermaking in her family’s tradition, but the demands of keeping the business going are nearly overwhelming. When Jonas offers to expand her efforts into something more modern and profitable, Arianne is suspicious, reluctant to give up the art of handmade papermaking. But she realizes without his unwanted help she might lose everything anyway.The Cranbury Papermaker is the 2015 release from award winning writer Maureen Lang, author of thirteen previous Christian romance novels and novellas.

Review: (Courtesy of Amazon.com)
5.0 out of 5 starsAn Old-Fashioned Romance Wrapped in Hand-Made Paper April 17, 2015
Once again Maureen Lang has illumined a slice of life in a bygone period of American history in such a way that the reader can picture what life was life in those days. Before reading this book, I took paper for granted, thinking of hand-made paper as an artsy thing that you see in special greeting cards or fancy invitations. It never occurred to me that at one time all paper was made by hand. So that part of the book was fascinating in and of itself, as well as the advent of machine-made paper which was just at that time coming on the scene.But that is just icing on the cake because the real joy of reading this book in the story itself. I really enjoyed it. We get a glimpse into small-town life in the late 1800’s with a romance that has all the essential elements: a beautiful heroine, a handsome and appealing man of questionable motives, rising tension and a satisfying conclusion. This is a typical Maureen Lang book with her usual use of vivid details, bringing the setting and characters to life in such a way that we can really picture them as we become engrossed in the story. She gives us lots of interesting characters to watch as we go along.Yes, this is entertaining, educational, and inspiring. It’s a delightful read.

Everyday Heroes by Vicki Hinze

 

We all have our visions of what a hero looks like. We’re all right and probably wrong because, with our preconceived notions, we often overlook the Hero Next Door, the everyday hero, and that hero is often the very one who makes a lifelong impact on specific lives, and on the public who eventually discovers him or her.

 

The hero I want to talk about today is one we can respect, admire, and one who displayed the courage, and bravery that we can but hope we, in that situation, would emulate.

 

Heroes are important. More so in the chaotic society in which we find ourselves. Heroes lead, guide, and exhibit in their actions and words the kind of people we aspire to be. Values like integrity, selflessness, and human dignity are inherent. The character traits we see in others and admire and respect.

 

Too often, we see challenges but are either overwhelmed by them or we think the challenge is too big for us. We’re one person. What can one person do?

 

The answer is that one person can do a lot—when s/he chooses to act and does it. Let’s get specific and talk about one such hero.

 

It turns out, this hero wasn’t a big, important, powerful person. It turns out Joe is not the only plumber to achieve fame. This hero, too, became a plumber . . . for a noble purpose.

 

In World War II, she got a job as a plumber and sewer specialist in the Warsaw ghetto, and she used that as an opportunity to smuggle Jewish infants out in her toolbox so they wouldn’t be killed. Her heroic dog barked when she would come and go through the guard checkpoints at work—trained to do so, to hide any sounds the children might make. This hero saved 2500 children and infants. She kept a record of their names and hid the names in a jar she buried under a tree in her own yard. She helped these children get placed in foster homes and to reunite them with surviving family members after the war. Unfortunately, many of those parents had died in the gas chambers.

 

The guards eventually caught this woman smuggling children out. Her arms and legs were broken and she was severely beaten. But she survived.

 

Fast-forward over sixty years.  She was up for a Nobel prize, but she didn’t win. (Gore did for a video on global warming.) She should have won, in my humble opinion. But she did what she did not for glory. She did it and took on those formidable risks, to spare the children. And that makes her, in my eyes, a hero.

 

Here’s are two photos of this hero, Irena Sendler, then and just before her death in 2008.  (Credit is given to the unknown photographers.)

 

Irena Sendler Nobel Prize Nominee 2007

Irena Sendler
Nobel Prize Nominee

  

My point is that heroes are all around us. Most go unnoticed. But the people to whom the hero made a difference don’t forget.  They forever recall the hero’s service and sacrifice, and it’s never a small thing. That’s worth remembering.

 

The face of a hero well might not be famous, it might be everyday average. But admired and respected? Yes, when known, very much admired and respected.

 

Some would look at Irena Sendler and see just an average woman. Her’s the face of a hero?  But she looks so ordinary, some would say (or think if not bold enough to actually say it). That too is worth remembering.

The face of a hero is often an everyday face. An ordinary face. A stranger’s face. And acts of heroism range from a smile to smuggling children out of a war-torn country. Heroic kind of depends on how badly what is offered is needed.  A kind word can be heroic if it comes at a sorely needed time…

 

Some celebrate celebrity and those who aren’t admirable or the type of people we want to be. Rarely is that the case in the stories we read. In the books we read, we read about the kind of people we hope we would be in similar situations. The everyday heroes among us. That seems like a worthy ambition for us in real life, too. 

I AM WHAT I SAY by Vicki Hinze

I am what I say by Vicki Hinze, Christians Read

I AM WHAT I SAY: The Power of Self-Talk

 

What is the power of words? Our words? What we think and what we say?

I’ve been listening to people talking about everything and nothing, and what I’ve heard has captured my attention and is troubling. It’s what’s being said by people about themselves, about others, and about challenges, and even about their successes.

We know from the Bible that our words have power. Speaking them carries power and creates the reality. We’re warned:

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs: 18:21 (NIV)

 

Mark 11:24 tells us: “whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Over and again, we read throughout the Bible that the spoken word has come to pass, and we’re encouraged to guard our minds and our mouths because what we say will direct the course of our future.

 

Maybe because I’ve been thinking about this, I’ve noticed more what we’re saying and how we’re saying it. Maybe we’ve always spoken negatively about ourselves and others because, well, it’s human. But whatever the reason, we would, in my humble opinion, be wise to pause and consider the consequences of our words on us and on others.

Let me share a specific example:

A writer friend and I were conversing and I shared something with her. Later it was mentioned, and she didn’t recall our conversation. “I am losing it. I keep forgetting things.”

Weeks later, she repeated that—“I can’t remember anything anymore.”

Now, she’s saying that same thing far more often—and it appears to be true. She does seem to have a lot more trouble remembering.

That benign example got my attention, and what’s happened memory-wise got me to thinking. We’ve all heard, “I am that I am.” And we know what it meant. What we might not have recognized—at least, I didn’t at the time—is that we are what we are, too.

If we believe we have a poor memory, we’re accepting that as real and valid and a part of our nature. It’s part and parcel of our personal, I am. And believing it—when we speak it, we voice our belief for better or worse—we grant it authority. We’re saying it our thought that our memory is poor carries our conviction that our memory is poor. Therefore, our memory is or becomes poor because that’s what we’ve deemed it. We have exercised our free will choice on the matter.

We’re all going to have negative thoughts from time to time. They’re human, as natural to us as breathing. They are attempts to influence our spiritual selves. But thoughts are fleeting. And if we don’t act on them, they flee, fade and fall away.

If we don’t voice them (with our focus or our spoken words), then we deny those negative things authority. They’re powerless without the authority of our free-will choice.

My point is we should exercise care what we say we are because, if we believe it and grant it authority, we will become it. This makes the way we see ourselves and how we talk with and about ourselves extremely important.

The Proverbs verse tells us the tongue has the power of life and death, and if we love it, we’ll eat its fruit. It doesn’t say we’ll eat the good fruit and not the bad fruit. Or we’ll eat the positive fruit and not eat the negative fruit. It says we’ll eat the fruit. All of it.

To me, that’s good and bad, which means how we talk about ourselves is directly relative and it impacts our future.

I’ve long said we need to guard our minds. You can’t fill your mind with trash and pull out treasures. (You reap what you sow, right?) I think we should extend that to our mouths.

What comes out of our mouths about ourselves and others should be constructive, positive, honoring us and respecting God. Good fruit bears good fruit.

Will we always do it? No, we’re human. But we should try. Hard. Our futures, I am convinced, rely on it.

Blessings,

Vicki

________________________

VICKI hinze, reader group news online community

Vicki Hinze is a USA Today Bestselling Author. She has written over 30 novels, 4 nonfiction books and hundreds of articles in as many as 63 countries. She is also a columnist for Social N Global network and a former radio talk show host.

 

 

 

A Spark Serves by Vicki Hinze

vickihinze, a spark serves

 

 

A Spark Serves: Soul Food and the Heart-Weary Christian

 

 

It’s almost Easter. A revered time for people of faith. The most revered time for Christians. Today, I need to chat. That’s right, to chat. I need to talk with like-minded people—people who believe. My soul needs food.

 

Most Christians go through times of sheer weariness. We tire of the faith struggles in our own lives and in our society. Our freedom of religion is being interpreted by some as freedom from religion, and we’re frustrated by it and weary of it.

 

How can we not be? We look around and see children exploited, young girls being programmed that sexy is better than virtuous (look at the magazine covers targeting teens). We see a barrage of attacks against even Christmas trees with governors wanting to call them holiday trees, and Christmas break being tagged winter holiday. We see our leader insist that Christian statues be covered during a speech at a Catholic college and yet he speaks beneath a banner that includes a photo of the father of terrorism. We know important things seem, well, upside down, and now comes a push to rename an Easter Egg Hunt a Spring Egg Hunt.

 

What? We have Christians being crucified for their faith (literally and figuratively) and we (as taxpaying citizens) are giving them billions of dollars. Why?

 

All this is just the tip of the heap, as you well know, but it’s sufficient to relay the reason for the weariness.

 

We trust God, we celebrate Easter. We do not waiver on it being the holiest of holidays in Christendom. The Resurrection… It’s awe-inspiring and humbling. And even those who are not Christians should respect that.

 

If they did, I doubt we’d be living in a culture of deep corruption. In a society where half—yes, half—of the children born are born to unwed mothers. Our values have eroded and our ethics along with them. We’ve buried our moral compass. Allowing it to happen, doing nothing to prevent it, condones it. And what we condone, we own.

 

I’m not an idealist or standing on a soapbox or suggesting we become raging zealots, but I am suggesting that I’m weary and I know other believers are, too. For me, I’m battling it, determined to follow our beliefs and to refuse not to support them. In other words, the PC police can forget it. They have their vision of PC and I have mine, and this weary soul is opting for faith.

 

The weariness is not to the bone. Close, but not to the bone. In part, I thank Roma Downey and Mark Burnett for that. Yes, the star of Touched by an Angel and the reality show guru. They did the five-part series The Bible that aired on the History channel.

 

Okay, so there’s been a lot of controversy on the show itself. Of course, there has. But considering how many don’t and never have read the Bible, and considering that this series is the only exposure they’ll get to the Bible, can’t we see the good in it? The series is like a missionary to the U.S. And if you’ve seen the religious decline (which has been actively sought by factions within and outside this country), you know we need a revival of spiritual matters and food for our spirits. Give us that and the other problems decline. We know it. Our country was built on the premise of putting God first. Through diligent effort, particularly in the past forty years, we’ve had our identity muddied and now we’re muddled. For that reason, while some might find fault with The Bibles production, I’m celebrating it.

 

It’s said to have been #1—most watched. The Examiner had an article on it that said Hollywood didn’t understand why the series was so popular. It confounded them. We, of course, know exactly why it’s popular and why other films or series like it will be popular, too. People are three-dimensional—physical, emotional and spiritual—and our spiritual selves are starving!

 

Simple. So very simple. We need soul food! We don’t just want it, we need it.

 

So I watch the fourth part of the five-part series, and I notice the commercials. Christianbooks.com had one. Walmart had one. Advertising the Bible. I’m sure there were others, but these were on when the advertisers caught my attention and snagged my thoughts. And I sat there feeling extremely emotional. An ad for the Bible. The BOOK. The Word of God. I’m choking up again now.

 

This is good. Even if you disagree with exactly the way this or that is done in the series, you’ve got to see that this series and these kinds of commercials (which are wholly suitable for viewing by all ages [and that certainly can’t be said for many, many ads or shows]) are good.

 

I hope that this series continues to spur an avalanche of films with spiritual themes that get people to thinking and talking and exploring and searching. I hope it spurs a mountain of ads that are constructive and respectful. But most of all, I hope it touches hearts. The weariness and emptiness and longing that crushes so many in our society can be filled by faith. We know it can, and I pray soon those who didn’t know that discover it, too.

 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to watch an early evening program with your family and not have to change the channel because of inappropriate content? To have shows with content that is constructive and inspiring to viewers?

 

I boldly dare to dream that this starts a trend. One that renews faith, depletes weariness in believers, and offers all who want it a path out of the darkness and into the light. Wouldn’t it be terrific to see a swell of enthusiasm that leads to truth and contentment replace the current destructive behaviors that assure the absence of both? Who knows? Maybe, just maybe, that spark will ignite a flame and those who choose to walk and live outside the light will at least respect the rights of those who choose to walk in it. That would be refreshing, and constructive.

 

What I know is this. I write books to help the broken heal. I read books that inspire and enlighten. I view films for the same reasons. And I know that this morning my heart is less weary. A series and some commercials and because of constructive, faith-filled content, my soul is less weary.

 

And I know that without a spark, there is no flame. A spark serves. And if you think about it, doesn’t it kind of remind you of the mustard seed…

 

I’ll Come Back When You’re Over It by Vicki Hinze

Vicki Hinze, over it, Christians Read

 

A few years ago, I went through an experience that resulted in me re-evaluating my life and what I was doing with it. It wasn’t a fun process, but it was a worthy one.

 

I culled things and, frankly, some people from my life. Those who sought to build themselves up by tearing me down. Those who looked me in the face and lied to me. Those who deceived me and betrayed me and felt no remorse for doing so—even felt justified in doing so.

 

It wasn’t easy. It was difficult, but it was necessary. With the gift of hindsight, I see how much joy and balance these people were draining from my life. It wasn’t their fault, by the way. They didn’t take a thing that I didn’t give them. I recognized it and stopped giving, and I am a better person for it.

 

One of the most difficult things I changed was what I was writing. I’ve always had a writing rule not to write a book I didn’t love. I’ve always written books with suspense, romance and mystery in them—in just about every genre except horror. I love thrillers. I love suspense, mystery and romance. And if I put all those elements in a book, then I’m a really happy writer.

 

The other thing I did that many didn’t realize was include a spiritual element in my books. I’ve always been a spiritual person, and after this experience, I wanted to bring that element out of the background—the motivating factors for characters’ actions—and into the foreground. And so I did in the Crossroads Crisis Center series.

 

It was a scary move. I had a strong career going in the general market and frankly I wasn’t sure how I’d be received in the inspirational market. I did the Crossroads three books and then three more in the Lost-Inc. series. They all did okay. Reviewers and Readers were for the most part positive. But there were some who were not happy with reading more about the spiritual element.

 

I received one note that sticks with me. In it, the reader had a bit to say about this “change” and that she loved my writing and when I got over this phase, she’d be back.

 

That letter sort of encapsulated the whole of the responses. Some liked it, some didn’t, some saw very little difference from what I’d been writing, and some absolutely, positively hated it.

 

This created challenges but also blessings. I had to evaluate my reaction and my resolve. It was, simply put, a test. What I discovered during the process was that I am—and really always have been—a bridge walker.

Most haven’t heard that term and there’s a reason for that. I kind of created it to describe what kind of writer and person I choose to be.

 

At one end of the bridge is the secular or general market. At the other end is the inspirational market. In the middle is where I am. Not fully accepted on either end, but doing what I’m called to do, walking the bridge.

 

At first, this troubled me. I felt alone. But in the years since that experience, I’ve discovered that most of us are on that bridge. We have faith, we believe, and we do our best to walk in faith. But we live in a secular world, and many in that secular world are lost and wounded and seeking something. They gravitate to us because we’re not “over the top” or so far removed from them in their lives that they feel getting to a spiritual place is impossible for them. They fear they’re so far removed from the spiritual that they’ll be judged and found lacking.

 

Some believe that people of faith are all about being judgmental and harsh and their own experiences have left them feeling they’ll never measure up or being accepted much less find their place. With very few exceptions, that’s not been my experience, but many have experienced it.

 

I see now, these folks too are on the bridge. They seek more, want more, need more from and in their spiritual lives than they have now, but they can’t seem to find a place where they belong and feel valued.

 

That’s proven the case in my life and in my writing. And it’s why I’m writing series like the Shadow Watchers. Those characters were born in Crossroads Crisis Center and continue in their own. THE MARKED BRIDE is the first book in Shadow Watchers. It’s a Bridge-Walker book and hasn’t been out long enough to gauge whether or not it’ll be accepted by readers. So far, feedback has been good from inspirational and secular readers. One secular reviewer commented she hadn’t realized it was inspirational until it came up that the protagonist prays on everything important in his life. That’s been about the only remark on this end, and it kind of surprised me. Until I read that comment, I honestly thought all spiritual people prayed on things important to them. So I learned something important to know there.

 

Anyway, my point is that a life-altering experience isn’t something you get over. One day, I hope my writing will enjoy the secure footing it once did. I can’t believe that I was brought to this kind of writing and I won’t be brought through it.

 

Either way, the spiritual demands that we do what we believe we’re called to do. I am on solid ground on that front, and the rest will work out as it’s intended. Your prayers on this would be greatly appreciated.

For these reasons, notice is hereby given that, until directed otherwise, I’ll remain on the bridge, doing what I can to help others heal, and hoping it’s enough.

 

Vicki Hinze’s Thoughts on Character Makes a Difference by Mike Huckabee

thoughts on Character Makes a Difference, Mike Huckabee, Vicki HinzeI’ve been reading a book. Mick Huckabee’s book, Character Makes a Difference. 

Let me disclose that I’ve been a political junkie my entire life, but these days, I’m pretty much maxed out on the absence of character evident in politics. Spin is the operative word and I have been wondering lately if most of the people supposedly leading us would recognize the right thing or the truth if it hit them in the head.

 

In other words, I’m weary of the games, the posturing, the diversions, the manipulations. I’ve had it with lies and misstatements put forth to us as inadvertent when they are in fact by design and those speaking them are counting on us, the people they’re supposed to represent, to remain unconscious, disconnected and so sick of it all, we just tune them out and permit them to go on their merry way without comment or interference. In a huge way, that’s what they’ve gotten for years sans periods of brief discourse in reaction to things like the president’s comments last week at the National Prayer Breakfast.

 

My point is that I wasn’t in the most receptive frame of mind to read a book about character written by a politician. But the American in me, the woman in me, needed to read on the topic. I’ve been wallowing in Proverbs, hungry for character and to see it living and breathing and active in lives. I hoped but didn’t count on seeing it living and breathing and active in a life being lived today.

 

So it was at this point that I saw and picked up a copy of this book, Character Makes a Difference, and I warned myself not to expect too much. Politics is a dirty business. It doesn’t have to be, but when the people don’t demand otherwise, that’s where moral decay and the absence of character being required lead us, and that’s what we get.

 

I read, and wasn’t surprised at the events the author faced as Lt. Governor of Arkansas, but I was surprised by his reactions to those events. He didn’t leave God or morals or common sense at the door. No, he brought them with him into office and better yet he kept them front and center while in office.

 

I won’t spoil the book for others, but I will say we have at least one man politically connected who doesn’t attempt to foist rose-colored glasses onto us, to distract us so he can push a hidden agenda. Who speaks plainly about what is and isn’t right, and why, and what he can and cannot or will not do. His moral compass appears intact.

 

Perhaps it’s that he’s a former pastor. Perhaps it was the way he was raised. Perhaps it’s that he’s made past mistakes and suffered the consequences of them and decided he doesn’t want to go there again. I suspect it’s all of that and more that makes him face his job and life morally grounded.

How refreshing it was to read commentary by a man who doesn’t think responsibility is a coat you can put on or take off when it’s convenient.  That it’s a coat we all must wear all the time.

 

There are some welcome quotes in this book. At least, welcome to me, as a reader. Here are a few I highlighted:

 

“Loving others is not the same as performing according to the demands of others.”

 

“True love must draw the line and say ‘no.’”

 

“Without able and honorable competition, victory in any endeavor is meaningless.”

 

“Loving our enemies does not mean giving in to their demands or compromising our values.”

 

As I look through the book, I’ve highlighted a lot. And I hope you will, too.

 

There’s a lot worth reading here. A lot worth being reminded of about the type of conduct we should expect in those we elect to represent us. And a lot to remind us of what we’re missing because we aren’t.

 

Perfect? Absolutely not. Like the rest of us, flawed to the core. But this book is about character, and that is one thing in short supply in too many and the one thing we most sorely need for a civil, constructive and productive society.

 

Character isn’t seated in relativism, this book says. It makes a strong argument, and that makes it worth reading.

 

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Vicki Hinze, My Imperfect Valentine, New Adult novels, Valentine's romance novels© 2014, Vicki Hinze. 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 release is My Imperfect Valentine. 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.   Subscribe to Vicki’s Newsletter.

Congratulations to our own Julie Arduini

Julie Arduini is a faithful contributor to this blog and has been since its inception a number of years ago. Not too long ago, we collectively congratulated Julie on the publication of her book and celebrated with her.

Now we have two new books to celebrate with Julie!

Julie Arduini, Christians Read Author, A Walk in the Valley

A Walk in the Valley is from Chalfont House and is available for pre order, release date April 28. This is an infertility devotional and perfect for anyone experiencing infertility and/or miscarriage.
 
Julie Arduini, Christians Read, The Love Boat Bachelor

Julie Arduini, CR Author

 

The Love Boat Bachelor features Write Integrity Press authors where readers choose the ending. Chapters are being released now through http://writeintegrity.com and once the voting finishes, the book will be available for free on Kindle for four days, starting on Valentine’s.
Please join us in celebrating with Julie! We’re so pleased to see her doing so well!
Blessings,
Vicki Hinze
Christians Read Administrator

BIG LESSONS FROM A LITTLE NEWS CLIP by Vicki Hinze

vicki hinze, Lessons from the Pope, lessons from a news clip

Courtesy Catholic News Agency

Messages from God and lessons to us are all around. We simply must slow down long enough to see and comprehend them. I’m as guilty as the next of sometimes breezing right past them, but yesterday, I saw a news clip of the Pope in the Philippines that stopped me in my tracks and held me there.

The weather there was awful; rainy and gloomy. In spite of it, six million people gathered and stood in the rain to hear the Pope’s message to them.

In the news clip, a priest in New York said this was the largest gathering of people in recorded history for a single individual. He also said some are calling the Pope a rock star. He disagreed; that many had never gathered for any rock star. All of this caught my ear and had me paying close attention.

Enough attention that I realized the Pope-mobile had ditched its bullet-proof glass walls; they were open. The Pope kissed babies, touched people physically as well as spiritually. And when a little girl who lived on the streets before being taken in by the church asked why such bad things happened to children, he admitted that answer was beyond him, and he hugged the child. She moved closer to him and hugged the Pope so hard, as one would her daddy she’d gone to for comfort. It touched me. Deeply.

The message he delivered was one of helping the poor, of working against poverty and corruption. I didn’t hear it all—just that recited in the clip—but it was a strong message. Yet I believe his strength is in his accessibility. He’s open and genuine, and people react to that and hear his message to them through that perspective.

While I attended Catholic schools early-on, I am not Catholic. Yet I learned a great deal from the Pope in this news clip and I expect as I think about it, and study on my own, I’ll learn much more. So I wanted to share those observations with you. Maybe you too will find something of value in them.

Lesson 1: The Pope is sincere and genuine in his desire to interact with people. He doesn’t come across as a man on a soap-box speaking at them. He talks with them and listens to them.

Lesson 2: He removed the walls from the Pope-mobile. This endangers his life. It makes him vulnerable to the crazies who would kill him. Yet he values his life less than he values the desire to be accessible to people. Those suffering and struggling, those seeking, see this, know it, and respect it. Sometimes the momentary touch of a hand offers reassurance where there has been none. Reminds people that God is, has been, and remains in control in a world gone wild. We are not alone.

Lesson 3: When the little girl asked the question, a lump raised in my throat. How do you explain man’s inhumanity to man to a child? To adults? How do you explain a child living on the streets? Hungry? Alone? It brings to mind a quote: If you condone it, you own it. I don’t recall but give credit to whoever said it first, but I agree with it. If collectively we decided to nurture, care for, feed and protect children, they would be nurtured, cared for, fed, and protected. We’ve haven’t . . . yet. But hope springs eternal.

The Pope could have offered the child a platitude. He didn’t. I respect that. And by her reaction, moving in for that fatherly hug, the child did, too. And that carried not one but two lessons:

  1. Kids can cope with honesty. They sense when someone is being honest, and they react openly to it. There’s no shame in not having the answer. There is shame in being dishonest.
  2. Sometimes all we can offer is a hug. It translates in ways we know and ones we can’t imagine, depending on just how badly someone needs that hug. Kids need their moms and dads. They play different roles in their lives, but both are crucial roles essential to their children.

And, for me, the most significant BIG LESSON from this little news clip was:

 

It’s not the messenger, it’s the message.

 

People are inundated with negative news, with hardships and tough times. They thirst and hunger for hope, for assurance that God is here, there, everywhere, and, while we might not understand all that is happening, He understands perfectly.

We want that assurance. We need that assurance. Because we are not just physical and emotional beings, we are spiritual beings, and for many, we see so much that is anti-spirit, we hear and feel the impact of so much that is an affront to our spirits, we find ourselves sinking deeper and deeper into despair even as we live out our day-to-day lives and appear normal.

That message is what drew six million people to stand in the rain to hear the Pope speak. It wasn’t the Pope. He is not a rock star. It was the message.

It was their thirsty spirits stepping out in faith, eager to hear a message of hope.

And delivering such a message, doesn’t require one to be a Pope, only to have a willing heart…✚

 

© 2015, Vicki Hinze

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MYIMPERFECTVALENTINE final2015_edited-2

 

 

Vicki’s new book is a sweet romance, My Imperfect Valentine.

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The History of Thanksgiving

canstockphoto1288772

All words have power, but words that ignite truths, like the true meaning of Thanksgiving, are infused with an ability to change lives, to open closed minds and hearts, and to offer different perspectives. True meaning can be just what’s needed to see things more clearly or to set the proverbial light bulb in our minds aglow.

 

That alone is worthy of our gratitude, but in finding the true meaning of Thanksgiving, we also gain an awareness of how imperative it is to understand people. In those insights, we grasp and shape identity—that of others, and our own—and with that collective wisdom, we define, comprehend, and eventually come to appreciate the treasures found in tradition.

 

Why is tradition important?

 

What we learn from those who came before us gives us a firm hold on who we were, who we are, and who we choose to become.  That knowledge solves a lot of conflicts, potential crises, and strengthens our sense of self—as individuals and as a nation. 

 

So what can we learn about Thanksgiving?  What in it is significant to us today?

 

To answer those questions, we must ask: What does Thanksgiving really mean?

 

Time typically confuses things, and right now we’ve an abundance of confusion.  Many say we’re neck-deep in a national identity crisis.  So rather than discuss the confusion, let’s call on the wisdom of truth.  Reacquaint ourselves with it—unfiltered—by returning to the man who officially established our nation’s Thanksgiving holiday.

 

In 1789, on Thanksgiving Day, George Washington issued the following Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, beginning a tradition in the United States of America that is celebrated still today.

 

featured, george washington, thanksgiving day proclamation, the true meaning of Thanksgiving

George Washington
Credit: canstockphoto.com

Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving Day Proclamation

 

“Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor – and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

 

“Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be – That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks – for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation – for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war –for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed – for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

 

“And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions – to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually – to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed – to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord – To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us – and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

 

“Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

 

“G.O. WASHINGTON.”

 

By his own words, we see the true meaning of Thanksgiving.  We gain insight. We find its truth. We rediscover the value in tradition.  The wisdom of knowing our history.  In all this, we see the mark of character, and individually we choose to shun or embrace it, deciding who we are, and who we will become.

 

May the traditional spirit of Thanksgiving be a blessing to you and yours.  And in times that try souls and make us weary, may we remember to hold fast to our traditions—our identity—and embrace them with attitudes of gratitude.  Because, for all our flaws and challenges,  ours is an exceptional nation of exceptional people.  We might lose our way at times and we forget who we are.  Others might encourage that.  But we have the treasures of our traditions and their true meanings to remind us.

 

This Thanksgiving, may we recall who we are, whose we are, why we are who we are, and the value of knowing who we wish to become.*

 

Vicki Hinze, ©2014

Subscribe to Vicki’s Newsletter.

 

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Limited Time Only Sale Ultimate Christian Living Bundle

I’m often asked to endorse novels and/or nonfiction books, workshops, seminars and products.  I’ve been extremely selective in doing so for all the usual reasons.  Recently however the Ultimate Christian Living bundle folks approached me with their collection.  And since so many have been in touch about challenges in their careers, families, and lives as Christians, I decided that this offering could be helpful and I would let you know it exists in case you’re interested.

It includes works on these very subjects by Gary Chapman, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Tony Evans and Ray Comfort, by D.L. Moody, Jonathon Edwards, John Wesley or Spurgeon, Calvin, Finney and Tozer.  Here’s a bit of what the sponsors have to say:

“… we approached dozens of authors and multiple publishers and asked them if we could bundle together all these resources—nearly $1,000 worth!—in one place for one stunningly low price of just $34.95 (PDF version) and $39.95 (eReader version), FOR 5 DAYS ONLY.

We asked for big concessions and they gave them…savings in excess of 96%! But it’s just for five days. And then it’s gone.

And just to pack in even more value, we’ve persuaded 5 of our bonus partners like Dayspring to provide FREE bonus gifts to every one who buys a bundle. With a combined value of over $160, these bonuses are over 4 times the value of the bundle alone!

That’s right, you get over $1,140 worth of some of the greatest thinking and experience from Christian leaders on topics ranging from marriage and parenting to finance, fitness and business. From relationships and faith, to daily devotionals and children’s books and music.”

 

As you well know, we’re in troubling times and it seems that this collection of diverse and relevant resources could be beneficial.

If you’re interested in reading more on this or in ordering a bundle, here’s a link:  Ultimate Christian Living Bundle

As you read above, this is a limited time sale, so if you want it, don’t linger.  I think there are two more days for it to be available.

Blessings,

Vicki

 

 

 

Everything We Read Impacts Us by Vicki Hinze

vickihinze, vicki hinze, everything we read

 

vicki hinze, everything we read, canstockphoto licensedEverything we read impacts us. Labels of ingredients determine what we buy. Newspaper articles lead us to form opinions. Opinion pieces encourage us to agree or disagree, forming our own opinions. Media, from articles to circulars offer us information, ideas, input for us to process and include in our thinking and in our actions (or inactions). It all impacts us.

I’d planned to share with you today why I’m writing what I’m writing where I’m writing it. My new novel is based on a spiritual concept—God sees the big picture and we don’t, so our trust, even when things seem out of kilter, needs to rest in Him. Many who read the story won’t see that, but it’s there and I hope they’ll feel it. We often recognize things at soul level while not consciously aware of them. It’s published in a collection of secular novels. To reach others, we must go where they are, right?

So that was my plan. But then my husband mentioned an article he was reading and the disturbing comments on it left by others, and my plan changed. The more he read aloud to me, the sadder, more upset, and more disheartened I became. Let me explain . . .

The article was about Jep Robertson, a Duck Dynasty family member. While hunting, Jep had a seizure and nearly died. He’s in the hospital recovering, and glad to be alive.

What was disturbing in the comments? There were two kinds. Those written by people wishing him a speedy recovery, wishing him well. And those attacking him, his family, his faith, and wishing him and his family dead.

Yes, you read that right. Wishing him dead.

I cannot tell you how mean-spirited and vile some of these comments were, or how troubling it was to read them. I hope Jep and his family do not. Truly, I fear if they did, they wouldn’t read anything in them that they haven’t seen and read countless times before—and isn’t that just the saddest commentary of all? Not against that family, but against us as a people.

We all know that there’s been a masscanstockphoto5592663ive movement to divide and conquer, to pit one segment of us against another segment of us on any and all fronts. Those who are our purported leaders and our enemies have worked equally hard at that, and many among us not tagged as either have worked just as hard for their own purposes. Attacks against our traditions and values, morals and standards, have pushed the things we know to be good further away and drawn closer concepts like win at any costs, lie until the lies are perceived as truths. Evil over good.

This didn’t just start. It’s been going on since the beginning of time. The difference has been that in the last couple of decades, we’ve collectively shunned bad and remained silent and that allowed ill to blossom and grow unchecked. Ignorance replaces knowledge in that void, and what we condone, we own. And that’s sad.

Losing our collective identity is disheartening. It’s a tragic loss. And that there are those who think it’s perfectly okay to leave comments wishing others dead, glad that they’re having health problems and hoping they’re worse tells you the fabric of us as a people isn’t just torn, it’s frayed and falling apart.

I came to understand that, and other individuals who are a part of the collective we have, too. When we reach that point of recognition, we have to make a decision: to be part of the solution or part of the problem.

The solution entails seeking first to understand. Why would people wish others dead? Wish them ill? Spew hatred in ways like this? There could be any or many of a hundred reasons, but one thing became clear: In the absence of civility and traditions and values, we lose our humanity.

These comments, an isis cage filled with Christian women being sold as slaves, proves it. There is evidence all around us that this is the case on all fronts. Collectively, we’re in deep trouble. Which means in ways we can, which are different for us all, we must do what we can, when we can, where we can, to be examples others can observe and follow. It means we must not forget our humanity and not relegate what binds us together to a position deemed insignificant.

If we seek first to understand, and if we hold fast to what we believe, and we practice it, then our humanity remains intact. So how exactly do we do that?

We lean not to our own understanding. Our view is restricted. But we know there is a bigger, broader view, and it remains steadfast and true. We reach it—Him—through prayer.

So we first seek to understand and then we pray. For Jep and his family, for those who commented wishing him and his family well, and for those who left the hate-filled comments. We don’t know why they’re so angry and hurtful or what burdens are on their hearts. We don’t know what’s twisted their minds so that they’ve lost civility and their humanity, but we do know who is capable of healing those breaches. There is no stronger shield or weapon.

In books, we read and write about people who restore and heal and build bridges in broken people and places and things. We call them heroes. In life, we call them friends, family, and neighbors.

To experience civility and humanity, we must live it and be examples of it. We seek to understand and we pray, then conduct ourselves with civility and our humanity intact and on display from the heart out. That nurtures it in society, mends our fabric.

I hope that we will, because we do own what we condone.

I love books or I wouldn’t read or write books, but it’s so very clear that all we read impacts us. Whether it’s a positive or negative impact is our choice. I understand that, and I pray we make wise choices.

Humanity is counting on us…

 

 

Choosing What to Read by Vicki Hinze

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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?

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