Embracing the Chaos…

This is not a time for writing. That’s hard for me because writing is my happy place.  I’m keeping a toe in the water by helping a screenplay writer turn her screenplay into a book.  But otherwise, it’s not a time for creating.  The other day, I heard this on “America’s Got Talent” — the singer, Michael Ketterer, had adopted several kids out of the foster system because he said, “When you’re always surviving, you can’t dream.”

That’s how I feel right now about writing.  Creativity must go away because I’m in survival mode, but I don’t want to miss the moment. When God has you in a spot, you have to stop and ask why.  What can I learn from this experience?  I don’t want to miss the joy in it! And there has to be some joy.  Right?

My daughter is graduating high school this week.  She’s my baby and she had a lot of learning disabilities growing up.  She came home with all her work since kindergarten in a thick brown folder.  In it there were all the letters I’d written to teachers, administrators, doctors etc., to force an IEP (individualized education plan) for her.  Without that IEP and the help she’s gotten, my daughter wouldn’t be graduating.

As she read through some of the letters out loud, I said, “Don’t read anymore.  I don’t want to go back there.” During that time, I was just surviving.  I had four young children and a daughter who required a lot of energy.  Some of the paperwork said things like, “She finally turned her homework folder in, but none of the homework was in it.”

That’s because I was at home choosing my battles.  Getting Elle to school was the priority.  It took everything in her to make it though a school day and she came home most days and just exploded from holding it together all day.  Fast-forward 12 years and many amazing teachers later and my daughter is a star!

She has a job that she loves at Petco working with animals (socializing the chameleons to make them great pets was her favorite part of the job.) She’s moving to another state to attend a hair academy and be in her beloved nature. And she has a lovely boyfriend for going on four years. And she is a HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE!!!

60589639_10156952638736251_404739554558345216_oSo it hasn’t been my time to write.  Currently, I’m living in 600 square feet with 2 adult children and a dog (who is wearing the cone of shame for a leg injury.) One child is moving in for the summer so he can lifeguard while home from college.  The other is moving out for her next phase of life and my place is a disaster and full of boxes and chaos!

Yet, I don’t want to miss any of it.  This is what it’s all about.  As a family, we survived some really tough times and we thrived.  That stuffed folder from Elle’s school proves it.  We made it! Of course, my goal is to get back to the keyboard and finish my current book (The Wentworth Heiresses) but until then, I’m going to embrace the chaos.

Saint Paul took 11 years to study before God sent him out to preach the Gospel.  If God can hold up Paul, I think I can deal with my own life pause.  So this is my reminder to embrace the chaos.  It won’t disrupt God’s plans for your life either!

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Living in a Post-Truth Age

by Jim Denney, adapted from
ANSWERS TO SATISFY THE SOUL:
Clear, Straight Answers to 20 of Life’s Most Perplexing Questions

Labyrinth28-ToniPecoraro2007-2

“Labyrinth 28,” etching engraved by Toni Pecoraro 2007, with colors altered from the original, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Syndicated columnist Harvey Mackay tells the story of a Duke University chemistry professor named Professor Bonk (his course was widely known as “Bonkistry”). One semester, as finals week approached, two of Professor Bonk’s male students were so confident of their straight-A averages that they decided to drive up to the University of Virginia to party with friends.

They partied hard over the weekend. Sunday morning found them nursing the worst hangovers of their lives. They were so sick, they didn’t start back for the Duke campus until early Monday morning, the day of the test. They arrived at Professor Bonk’s room a few minutes before class and gave him a story that was part truth—and  part “deconstructed truth.”

“Professor,” they said, “we were planning to be back from Virginia in time to study, but on the way we got a flat tire. We didn’t have a spare, and it took hours to fix, so we didn’t get back to the dorm until late last night. By then it was too late to study.”

Professor Bonk considered their story—then agreed to let them make up the test the following day. The two young men breathed a sigh of relief, then went back to the dorm to study.

The next morning, Professor Bonk put the two students in separate rooms across the hall from each other, each with a copy of the test booklet. From the hall, he checked his watch and said, “Begin.” Then he closed the doors of the two rooms.

In seclusion, each student opened his test booklet. On the first page was a simple chemistry problem involving molarity and solutions. The problem was worth five points. “Cool!” each young man said to himself. “This’ll be a cinch!”

It only took a couple minutes to answer the problem, and turn the page, then—

Gulp! The next page had just one question—the only other question on the exam:

Which tire? (95 points)

That day, two college students learned an expensive lesson in the importance of truth.

We live in a post-truth age, surrounded by lies, spin, hyperbole, bias, and fraud. That doesn’t mean that truth is any less important now than it was in the past. The truth, being such a rare commodity, is more important now than ever. Truth is not a relative thing. Truth is absolute. There is no pluralism of truths, no “your truth,” no “my truth.” Truth is reality itself.

I challenge you to swim against the cultural current of this post-truth age.

Challenge lies. Embrace the truth. Speak the truth. Live the truth.

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” —Jesus of Nazareth, John 8:31-32

_____________________________

Answers-SoulANSWERS TO
SATISFY THE SOUL:
Clear, Straight Answers to 20 of Life’s Most Perplexing Questions
by Jim Denney 

(Kindle Edition)

“Read this book and save yourself a lifetime of searching and wondering. The answers you seek are all right here!”
Jack Canfield, author of Dare to Win and the Chicken Soup for the Soul series

“Grab an arm-load of Answers to Satisfy the Soul! Buy one for yourself, one to lend out, and a dozen to give as gifts. You’ve got a lot of friends who need this book!”
Pat Williams, author of Character Carved in Stone

“If you are on a quest for success, happiness, love, meaning, or God, this book is for you. Whatever you seek in life, Answers to Satisfy the Soul will speed you on your journey.”
John C. Maxwell, author of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

Posted in Jim Denney, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Power of Prayer

Pray without ceasing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Have you ever thought about what a privilege it is for us to be able to speak to the King of Kings anytime we want to? And He is always there. He will never tell us He is busy. He will never ignore us. He will never say to come back another time. His door is always open. He is just waiting for us to come to Him.

I believe it’s important to pray for help, direction, and wisdom in our lives. We also have the opportunity to do the same for our loved ones. In our prayers we tend to ask for things, which is fine. But I believe thanking God and praising God is also a wonderful thing to do in our prayers. Some people like keeping a prayer journal. This helps to keep prayers focused. It also helps to look back and see all the prayers that God has answered.

Prayer is so very powerful. A couple of years ago I spoke to a loved one on the phone who was in the hospital. She was scared, depressed, anxious, lonely, and confused. It hurt my heart that I could not go to her since she was in another state. So I posted on Facebook an unspoken prayer request.

The next morning I called this person again and she sounded like a different person. She was upbeat, positive, and optimistic. Prayer transformed this situation. I almost couldn’t believe it myself, seeing this miracle occur. But I know how awesome God is!

There are times when we might not even know what words we should express in our prayers. Perhaps we are in too much pain or too confused about what we are facing. Or as in the story I shared above, many of my friends who prayed did not know exactly what they were praying for because I did not share the details. But the good news is that God knows it all! He knows exactly what we need. He knows better than we do how we are feeling and what we are facing. And the Bible says: “But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.” (Romans 8:26-27) How astounding is that!

Whatever you might be going through today, remember how amazing God is and hand it over to Him!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Heart of a King (review by Hannah Alexander

Smith_HeartOfKing_3D.png

I recently received a copy of The Heart of a King, written by a friend of mine, Jill Eileen Smith. #TheHeartofaKing

I’ve followed Jill’s writing career since it began, and have always enjoyed her highly readable writing style, which does not call attention to itself, but draws all of my attention to the subjects of her novels. Her special insights into her characters have helped bring so many of the Bible stories alive for me.

This most recent novel addresses Solomon’s true love for God and his struggle to manage the generous gift of wisdom he was given, and the kingdom he was tasked to manage, the peace he was charged to keep. What an overwhelming charge that must have been, especially when he chose to carry the responsibility on his own shoulders in a desire to remain pleasing to God.

With in-depth research, Jill fleshes out several possibilities about some of Solomon’s wives. She includes a story about the queen of Sheba and a connection they might have shared when she visited his lands.

Jill creates a world that helps us imagine what life in the days of King Solomon might have been like, and with her, we can experience a taste of such a life. I’m sure glad to be a woman today and not in the days of King Solomon, when daughters were traded away to foreign lands to keep the peace.

Check out this fascinating book for yourself, and see if Jill Eileen Smith might become one of your new favorite authors.

Posted in Hannah Alexander, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Memorial Day 2019 by Tara Randel

God Bless the USA

Popping in from a much needed time off to wish you a happy Memorial Day. This is such a wonderful day to remember those in service who risked or gave their lives to the country we Americans have the privilege of calling home. I hope none of us ever takes their sacrifice for granted. You probably have relatives or friends who have served in the military. Let them know what they mean to you.

First, to the veterans, Thank You. You certainly deserve a day dedicated to honoring you.

To our readers, take this day to reflect the blessings in your life. Your family, health, job, church. We are fortunate to live in a place where we have many freedoms, including the ability to worship without fear of imprisonment or death. From east to west, we have a beautiful country to visit, from mountains to plains, deserts and the beach, large cities and small towns. We’re all connected by one thing; living in this great nation.

So if you’re cooking out, staying home to put your feet up or visiting with friends, enjoy the day.

And never forget.

9781335510563(1) (405x640)

Tara Randel is an award-winning, USA Today bestselling author. Family values, a bit of mystery and of course, love and romance, are her favorite themes, because she believes love is the greatest gift of all. Look for her next Harlequin Heartwarming romance, Trusting Her Heart, available August 2019. Visit Tara at www.tararandel.com. Like her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TaraRandelBooks. Sign up for Tara’s Newsletter and receive a link to download a free digital book.

Posted in Tara Randel | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Would Walt Disney think of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge?

by Jim Denney

A change of pace today. Instead of a blog post, I’m going to link you to two blog posts I’ve written this week on other sites, both related to Disneyland and Star Wars.

SWGE_Millennium_Falcon-2.jpg

Walt Disney died in December 1966, more than a decade before the first Star Wars movie was released. What would he think of Galaxy’s Edge, Disneyland’s new 14-acre “Star Wars”-themed land? The answer might surprise you. In an op-ed piece I wrote for the Fox News website, I explored Walt’s own words about the future of Disneyland — and the future of human society.  Read more at the Fox News opinion site: “Would Walt Disney Approve of ‘Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge?”

0SleepingBeautyCastle-2019-0520-XXXCU

And here’s a piece I wrote for my Walt’s Disneyland blogsite. Disneyland is getting a makeover in preparation for the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge this Friday. That makeover includes a bold new color scheme for Sleeping Beauty Castle. Read more at “Disneyland is Getting Neat and Pretty for the Opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.”

_______________________________________________

ABOUT JIM DENNEY AND WALT’S DISNEYLAND: Jim Denney has more than 120 books to his credit, and has co-written books with sports stars and Hollywood celebrities. His previous book on Walt Disney, How To Be Like Walt (co-written with Orlando Magic founder Pat Williams) has remained in print for a dozen years, and has garnered 4.8 out of 5 stars in 185 customer reviews on Amazon.com. Walt’s Disneyland: It’s Still There If You Know Where to Look by Jim Denney (Anaheim, CA: Writing in Overdrive Books, May 2017) is available at Amazon.com; Paperback $15.99; Ebook $5.99.

 

Button-Paperbk    Button-Ebk

 

 

Posted in Jim Denney, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quiet Time With God

This year my focus has been on seeking the Lord. Of course I want to make this a lifelong practice. However, I have found that during different seasons of life, we might become negligent, and therefore we have to be more intentional about seeking God.

Why is seeking God so important? Here are just a few reasons:

  • If we don’t seek God, other things will creep into our life to replace Him.
  • If we don’t seek God, we will wind up doing our own thing and not His will.
  • If we don’t seek God, we won’t have the peace that surpasses understanding in our lives.
  • If we don’t seek God, we won’t be able to properly handle trials that come our way.
  • If we don’t seek God, we won’t have true contentment in life.
  • If we don’t seek God, we might become stuck in negative patterns.
  • If we don’t seek God, big decisions could cripple us.
  • If we don’t seek God, we won’t learn and grow in our walk.

When it comes to seeking God, reading our Bibles and prayer are important. But there is something else that I have been trying to incorporate more and more – Being quiet and listening to God. This can be very difficult to do. We are constantly bombarded with people who need our attention, alerts on our phones, radio, television, email, social media, etc. And when we get alone and turn all those things off, we are still blasted with our own thoughts. So I thought I would share some things that I do in an attempt to hear from the Lord.

In my home, there is a place that I often go to when I want to read my Bible, pray, or just listen for His voice – my closet. My husband, and even my dogs, know that when they haven’t seen me in awhile, they can probably find me in my closet. I even do a lot of writing in there because it frees me from distractions. I am hypersensitive to various noises such as talking, typing, television, radio, etc. So when I need peace and quiet, my closet is my favorite place to go.

Another place where I go almost daily is my car. I actually can’t avoid my car, since I have to drive one hundred miles round trip Monday through Friday. But there is one particular practice that I started doing recently which I have found to be helpful in hearing from God. When I am on my lunch break at work, sometimes I will just sit in my car for ten to twenty minutes and ask God if there is anything He would like to tell me. And I often hear from Him when I do this! Also, when I am driving, sometimes I will ride with the radio turned off and try to quiet my mind.

And a third place I like to go to seek God is outdoors. I might go for a stroll around my yard, or just sit quietly in a chair. I always feel closer to God when I am out in nature, with no walls between me and the sky above.

The particular places where I go to seek God might not work for you. But the important thing is to get creative and try to carve out quiet time with God.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Endgames and Worldviews

Endgame 2

 

Everyone has seen it. Well, that is just promotional hype. But the truth is that a lot of people have seen it, in North America and around the world. I have seen it.

“It” is The Avengers: Endgame, the latest Hollywood blockbuster, the climactic conclusion of an astonishing twenty-one movies in “the Marvel universe.” That is quite an achievement for a comic book collection. It is a fun and entertaining story, with interesting characters, flashes of humor, lots of action, and a relatively coherent plot.

That is fine as far as it goes. But perhaps this is a good time to reflect that, like all stories, Endgame (and the movies that preceded it) has a worldview. A worldview is a set of assumptions about the nature of the universe that is evident in everything that is done but that may never be clearly stated. It is likely that most viewers of these movies will simply accept this worldview (through the willing suspension of disbelief) and never examine or question it.

This is unfortunate because in many ways it is an unsatisfying, unappealing, and deeply flawed worldview. Consider some of the underlying assumptions of this worldview.

  1. Being an ordinary human being is not enough. The underlying assumption of these movies is that human beings are not capable of solving problems and not interesting or valuable enough to tell stories about—you have to be superhuman to really make a difference and to really matter. This is not just a feature of movies in the Marvel universe but of many other currently popular television shows and movies. Few modern heroes/heroines are ordinary human beings. The leading characters are superheroes, extra-terrestrial beings, mythical creatures, werewolves, vampires, angels—or human beings given extraordinary powers by radiation, spider bites, or technology.
  2. Flaws are excusable in heroes. Many of these superheroes have serious character flaws—anger management issues, ego issues, addictions. We human beings are all flawed. The problem is not that these types of movies portray these flaws but that, like many other stories currently on television and in the movies, they often excuse them. The idea is that the lead characters can be excused for their flaws because of their superhuman powers and their importance in saving the universe. This attitude has overflowed into other areas of modern life. If someone is a great singer or actor, it is considered alright that he is a sexual predator. If someone is a great athlete, it is okay for him to act like a jerk. If someone is a great political leader, it doesn’t matter that he is corrupt and dishonest. We are all flawed, but flaws should never be excused.
  3. The world’s problems are solved by violence. The massive violence in these movies is considered acceptable because it is the only way to save the world or the universe. The devastation of entire cities is merely the backdrop for the action. The destruction and suffering of the thousands and millions of innocent bystanders is never portrayed. They are just collateral damage. All that matters is who won in the end.
  4. There is no clear meaning to life and no ultimate resolution for the problems of the world. Strangely, Endgame does not portray a contest between good and evil. There are no ultimate standards, and there is no guiding force or purpose to the universe. No one is ultimately in charge. Instead, what we are presented with is competing visions of how to solve humanity’s problems. Thanos, the villain, wants to solve the problems of the universe by wiping out half of life. His approach has overtones of those who want to curb surplus human population by abortion and assisted suicide. Or terrorists who want to eliminate infidels. Or communists who want to eradicate the capitalist classes. On the other side are The Avengers, the good guys, who want to save the world by engaging in a massive war to annihilate Thanos and his forces. And if they succeed, they admit that the war will leave behind a flawed human society for which the superheroes have no answers.

In the end, the twenty-one movies culminating in Endgame leave us with an unsatisfying worldview—a flawed human society that can only be preserved (but not changed or improved) by violence perpetrated by superheroes who cannot exist in real life.

Compare this to the Christian worldview:

  1. Human beings are made in the image of God and are loved by God as His precious creation
  2. Sin is never excused. It can be forgiven, but only at great cost—the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.
  3. Life’s problems can best be tackled through love, honesty, truth, righteousness, work, repentance, forgiveness, redemption, and sacrifice, and ultimately they will be resolved by a loving and just God.
  4. There is a clear meaning to life and a clear purpose for the universe revealed in the Bible.
  5. There will be a final victory by Christ over all evil and death, and an unending future of perfect peace and blessing, a future where there will be no more tears or suffering and where death is swallowed up in life.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

OUTBREAK (by Hannah Alexander)

I chose the title of this article from something a friend, Karen Ball, said today because there truly has been an outbreak of tornadoes in the Midwest, where Mel and I lived for fifty years. I would show you some scary pictures of the tornadoes I’ve seen from friends back in SW Missouri, but right now those pictures remind me that I truly do have a lot of friends and loved ones in the path of these tornadoes and this flooding, and it breaks my heart.

This would upset me even if Mel hadn’t been in that bull’s-eye all weekend. His trip to visit his mother turned into a nightmare, with sirens going off, airlines claiming mechanical issues more than once, and now a snowstorm in Denver, keeping him from making his final leg of the journey back home. This is Tuesday, and he’s been trying to make it home since Saturday. He’s not here yet!

I’ve been so focused on the weather because of my husband’s predicament that I have seen several close calls for friends and family, even today, where flooding has filled the streets of our former hometown, and more than one tornado has touched down far too close for comfort by my cousins in Oklahoma. Another friend in Missouri had a basement flood because of the tornado that touched down south of Pittsburg KS and knocked out the power in a huge area. No power, no sump pump, which should have been keeping the basement dry. The rain is so heavy that this friend can’t get out to see if there’s been more damage from wind.

These storms are evident to many, touted on the news constantly with their scare tactics, but I find it interesting that no one in the Midwest knew anything about the snowstorms here in the Rockies because the weather people don’t consider that they would care right now. I don’t suppose it occurred to them that we are a world connected, and that someone from a flooded area might be flying to a place with a snowstorm.

Actually, though, if we don’t live in a vacuum, we know that there are always storms taking place every day somewhere with people we love. Some friends are struggling financially due to job issues, others are struggling with life-threatening health issues, others with children issues or family discord. If, like me, you keep in touch with many of your friends and family on social media, it can become a deluge, overwhelming in the significance and trauma of constant catastrophes or near catastrophes of people you love.

This is when I need the reminder that they are not alone and neither am I.  Mel and I have a dear friend whose family has been called in, as his illness will overtake him soon. I’ve been to see him, and promised to return in a few days.

“I might not be here when you get back,” he said.

“I know. But I’ll see you in heaven.”

He was there when I returned, but I know someday he won’t be. And yet we have that promise of heaven. When viewed through the lens of eternity, these horrific catastrophes will show up for what they really are–shapers of our lives, tests that have formed us into the people He wants us to be. I have often heard friends say, “How I wish I would learn whatever it is I need to learn so this will stop!” And how I agree.

Today, though, the most honest thing I can say to God is, “Your will be done. Please keep them safe physically, but in the end, Your will be done.”

After all, it truly is in His hands.

Posted in Hannah Alexander | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Taking the Dis Out of Discourage By Nancy J. Farrier

We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair…”    II Cor. 4:8a

I’ve often felt like Paul, hard-pressed on every side or perplexed due to the many areas of discouragement I’ve faced. Unlike Paul, I’ve often felt crushed and in despair. Yet, when I pray about staying strong, God always gives me a way to battle discouragement. He showed me three areas where I often come under attack. Once recognized, I’ve found them easier to combat.

D—Distant. These are people I don’t know well, but who have contact with me. For me as a writer, this can include readers, critics, sometimes industry professionals. I don’t believe any of these people intend to say, or do things to discourage me, but critical comments often cut deep. Even when most of me reader letters are very positive, notes like the following are more memorable.

I bought one of your books to give her granddaughter, started to read it first and realized you must never have opened a Bible in your life.

I can’t tell you how much that letter hurt. I love God’s word, and I love sharing scripture, so that attack was more painful than most. She didn’t say why she came to that conclusion. She didn’t even give her name or contact information. Perhaps, she was being honest from her perspective, but her words wounded me and made me doubt my abilities.

Intimate—These are people I come in contact with on a regular basis, people I know pretty well—family, friends, co-workers, and church people. Once again, they don’t mean to dishearten, but often do. Early in my fiction writing career, someone close to me asked, “So, when are you going to write real books?” This person meant non-fiction books, because they didn’t believe in reading fiction. They thought my fiction writing was meaningless. Everyone is entitled to their opinion on reading preferences, but that question belittled my work. God called me to this work of writing. This person’s comment discounted my ministry as if my calling wasn’t important.

Self—The hardest battle of all is to quiet my critical inner self. I am my own worst enemy at times. When I see others more successful, or in a place where I want to be, I tend to put on my figurative hair shirt and question what is wrong with me. The answer of course, is that as long as I’m doing my best, and working hard, I’m right where I should be. I’m not the one in charge, God is.

I love looking at the story of the Israelites when they were led to the promised land. I can relate to those men who saw the giants and were afraid. When I look at the ‘giants’ I mentioned previously, sometimes I’m tempted to run away. I don’t want to face the hurtful criticisms or complaints, but in Deut. 1:28, the Israelites excuse of “our brethren have discouraged our hearts,” was considered rebellion.

Therefore, I find I need to remember Joshua’s words to the Israelites as they prepared to enter the promised land: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God iswith you wherever you go.” Josh. 1:9 

My writing success doesn’t depend on others, or on myself, but on God. He will go before me. He will heal me when I’m wounded or hurt. He will be alongside me no matter what.

When I understand God is right there with me, I can take the DIS out of Discourage, leaving me with the COURAGEto face anything.

Posted in Nancy J. Farrier | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Five Years Later

By Jim Denney

0-Jan2006

My dad, Leland J. Denney, in 2006

It’s Friday night, and I’m remembering my dad. He died five years ago, early on the morning of May 17, 2014.

Less than a month earlier, we had held a big birthday party for my mother. That was the last time I saw my dad.

His death came unexpectedly in the early hours of the morning. I had just spoken with Mom and Dad the night before, and everything seemed fine. We had a good talk and ended the call, as we always did, saying, “I love you.”

To this day, when I hear a story my dad would enjoy, I think, “I need to call Dad and tell him—” And then I remember . . .

But I also remember so many good times, and so many things he taught me.

0-1930-LelandAge2

Dad at age two. Ride ’em, cowboy!

I remember being five years old when he convinced me I was ready to ride a bike. I had my doubts, but I climbed onto that red Schwinn bike and made him promise he’d hold on. He said he’d hold on for as long as I needed.

I felt him steadying the bike as I peddled. Then, from a distance behind me, I heard his voice — “You’re doing it, son! You’re riding the bike!”

I looked behind me and saw him standing a good twenty feet behind me. I panicked. The bike wobbled and veered off the sidewalk toward a tree. I fell off onto the grass — and was amazed I wasn’t hurt.

I look up and saw Dad grinning at me. “You did it, son! Good job!”

“You said you’d hold on as long as I needed you.”

“And you were riding by yourself. You didn’t need my help anymore.”

I picked up my bike, climbed aboard, and took off, solo. My dad was right.

1953

Mom, Dad, and me in 1953.

Some of my earliest memories are of him teaching me to memorize Scripture. There was John 3:16, of course, and Ephesians 2:8-9, Proverbs 3:5-6, and all of the 23rd Psalm.

I later learned that he had read the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation — not once, but at least forty times during his life.

He was the most Christlike man I’ve ever personally known. He worked for one employer, a bank, for his entire career. In the 1960s, his branch manager embezzled tens of thousands of dollars, and was in the process of framing my dad for the crime when the auditors caught him. My dad forgave him.

As Dad approached retirement, the higher-ups in the bank tried to force him out. They transferred him multiple times, and tried to make him miserable. Their plan was to get him to quit early and forfeit his pension. He continued doing his job well and refused to let anything get to him. And he forgave them.

1993 Guadalupe 2

Mom and Dad visiting missionary friends in Guadalupe, 1993

There are very few people of whom you can say, “He had no enemies, not one.” But I can honestly say that about my dad.

In 2014, Dad was looking forward to meeting his first great-grandchild, Benjamin, who was in the process of being adopted. Mom and Dad prayed for Benjamin every day. Benjamin arrived in July, and Dad missed meeting him by about two months. But Benjamin knows that his Great Grandpa Denney was praying for him.

At Dad’s funeral, my daughter described his passing this way: “He went to bed that night, and he woke up the next morning in heaven.” Five years later, I still miss him every day, and I still find comfort in that thought.

Posted in Jim Denney, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nora’s Review of THE MEMORY HOUSE by Rachel Hauck

Nora St. Laurent, Reviews

 

 

 

The Memory House

By Rachel Hauck

Release Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN# 978-0785216643

384 Pages

 

#Suspense, #drama, #time-slip, #women’s issues

 

BOOK COVER: Embracing the future means remembering the past . . .

When Beck Holiday lost her father in the North Tower on 9/11, she also lost her memories of him. Eighteen years later, she’s a tough New York City cop burdened with a damaging secret, suspended for misconduct, and struggling to get her life in order. Meanwhile a mysterious letter arrives informing her she’s inherited a house along Florida’s northern coast, and what she discovers there will change her life forever. Matters of the heart only become more complicated when she runs into handsome Bruno Endicott, a driven sports agent who fondly recalls the connection they shared as teenagers. But Beck doesn’t remember that either.

Decades earlier, widow Everleigh Applegate lives a steady, uneventful life with her widowed mother after a tornado ripped through Waco, Texas, and destroyed her new, young married life. When she runs into old high school friend Don Callahan, she begins to yearn for change. Yet no matter how much she longs to love again, she is hindered by a secret she can never share.

Fifty years separate the women but through the power of love and miracle of faith, they each find healing in a beautiful Victorian known affectionately as The Memory House.

“Accomplished Hauck demonstrates genre finesse as she blends inspirational romance with a cinematic style of storytelling, bringing empathic characters to life as they cope with grief in marriage and faithfulness, parenthood and adoption, death and tragedy. Challenging decisions, the blessing of finding love again, and the solace of a beautiful Victorian home all come together in this spellbinding, lovely novel.” —Booklist

REVIEW: This time slip story hooked me from the first as current timeline character police officer Beck Holiday bursts on the scene, “She was never afraid of the dark. But the light! Now that terrified her. So when the perp ran down shadowed, dark Avenue D, she followed without hesitation…”NYPD. Stop!”

I felt as if I were running down the avenue with Beck and her partner Hogan. I felt compassion for Beck, her situation and sensed her hard exterior helped her deal with life. I enjoyed this author well-timed humor in the middle of it all.

Everleigh’s heartbreaking story takes place in a peaceful quieter time in Waco, Texas, May 1958. Readers experience life and love through Everleigh’s newlywed eyes, filled with wonderful plans for the future. Her faith is tested, through horrific circumstances. At times she was weak, but ends up doing what she does best by keeping her head up and doing what needed to be done. In the end it ends up being her enduring legacy.

Everleigh and Beck, hit their bottom and can no longer go on living life as usual. It’s through the power of forgiveness and faith their lives are changed. They get a sense of hope from the prayers and encouragement of others. Bruno’s life also illustrates this when he reaches out to a young man in need of a hand up in the sports arena.

Bruno Endicott (Beck’s love interest) carved a niche for himself in the sports world despite the fact he felt people saw him as nothing. His faith journey was strengthened when he helped a downtrodden man be the best he could be. Don Callahan (Everleigh’s love interest) struggled with pleasing his parents or following his heart. He didn’t want to let anyone down but couldn’t live a lie either. I admired his determination to win Everleigh’s heart and love her unconditionally as she went through the grieving process. It was refreshing to read as the author put it, “Funny thing about love, real love – it filled every soul with courage.”

The story is mainly told through Beck and Everleigh’s eyes, but the author also has readers see things through Bruno Edinott and Dan Callagan’s eyes too. There were times I couldn’t read the book fast enough because of suspenseful moments in both time lines. I enjoyed the natural spiritual growth in the main characters. The theme of forgiveness and unconditional love were naturally woven in. Loved that. I liked Gaynor’s testimony, her display of grace and forgiveness. Her willingness to face the tough situations in her marriage and the things God calls her to walk through. Its mind boggling what forgiveness can allow you to do.

This book was a great read and one that would work well for book club with its rich characters, I enjoyed hanging out with and their fun story.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Publisher.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St. Laurent

TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! http://www.bookfun.org

The Book Club Network blog http://www.psalm516.blogspot.com

THE MEMORY HOUSE AT AMAZON

 

Posted in Nora St. Laurent, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Gratitude Debate

I believe gratitude should play an important role in our lives. I think it’s essential to thank God for all the blessings in our lives. Each day we have so much in front of us that we often take for granted – a new day on the earth, a roof over our heads, food to eat, and even the air that we breathe. There are many people in the world who did not wake up this morning, who do not have a home to call their own, who cannot afford to buy groceries, or who cannot even breathe on their own.

It’s also vital to say “thank you” to the people around us. We should thank our spouse for making coffee in the morning, thank our child for helping clean up the house, thank the coworker who helped with a project, and thank the stranger who held the door when entering a building. Those two words can express so much. They can tell someone that they matter. They can brighten someone’s day. And they ultimately can send a bit a God’s love out into a hurting world.

Another key aspect of gratitude is keeping a gratitude journal. Every night I write down at least five things that I am thankful for. After a hectic day, I find this to be a very peaceful process. Looking back on my day, no matter what happened, even if I had a bad day, I can always find things that went right. I can always find things to be thankful for. If I wasn’t intentional about gratitude, I would miss many blessings in my life.

Obviously gratitude is very meaningful to me. In fact, I even wrote a book on it! (Every Day is a Gift.)

However, I recently discovered that not everyone has this same opinion. I suppose I can understand someone being neutral to gratitude, if they never attempted to practice it before. But I recently heard someone say something against gratitude which shocked me. The person said that when we say “thank you” too much, we appear to be insincere! This statement was not directed towards me specifically. She said it in general to a room full of people. Yet even though it was not meant for me, in a way, it still hurt.

I disagree with what this person said. I truly believe we should thank the people around us for the kind gestures they do, no matter how small. And we should thank God for all the things He does for us, each and every day.

I’m curious, what is your opinion? Do you agree with the lady who said that saying “thank you” too much makes us seem insincere? Or do you believe expressing gratitude to God and our loved ones is important?

(Photo by Dominik Gwarek.)

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

The Ugly Parenting Fail by Julie Arduini

I don’t know about you, but I tend to take holidays as a moment to reflect. Mother’s Day was no exception. There are so many amazing memories from our wedding prayer that included my husband’s children, to playing Rock Band with the youngest two. Over twenty years of recollections.

Like it or not, there’s also a look back at the mistakes. Meals no one would eat, frustrating times where I yelled. And recently, the realization I handed our daughter an ugly habit.

She called me out for shying away from the camera because I lamented I wasn’t attractive enough to be captured for memory.

Ouch.

Apparently I’ve been so vain about it over the years that when our church set up a Mother’s Day photo booth it wasn’t me that complained, it was her. She was against her picture, repeating the same words I didn’t realize I’d projected on her.

I hate that I’ve done this. After all, the two of us are writing a series for tweens, teens, and women of all ages about surrendering negative thoughts. Our first message was about believing we’re ugly and letting go of that lie. Yet anytime a camera comes around, I tend to disappear, believing every Arduini is photogenic but me. I look at an image and I find the flaws—the extra pounds, pale skin, glasses, bags under my eyes, bad hair day. Yet if anyone says that about themselves, I hurt because I see the truth. I find the kind smile and bright eyes. The hair I wish I could pull off. The cute clothes. Ugh. Why do we do this to ourselves?

I didn’t realize how deep my issue was until a friend called me out on it even before my daughter did. I started paying attention to my self-talk and couldn’t believe where I’ve found myself. My husband and I were videotaped as part of a testimony to accompany the “Breakthrough” series our pastor is leading at church. On the day they scheduled the taping, the only day that would work, I drove 300 miles from my mom’s straight to church. As a “CurlyGirl,” I had been co-washing, but was due for a shampoo. Turns out there was none in the bathroom I was using, and I had not packed any. All through taping I said I needed a disclaimer. I was obsessed with how I would appear on camera.

The reality? The story we shared was emotional and full of God’s glory. The last thing people were paying attention to was my hair. But I spent so much time worrying and apologizing for it.

I mentor girls and my message is the last thing I want to pass on to them. They are God’s crowning achievement. Beautiful. Beloved. He crafted freckles. The gray I’m letting come in to see how it looks is precious in His sight.

One of my mentors told me years ago that looking like Barbie might have advantages, but there are disadvantages as well. When they speak, few take them seriously. I’ve seen it. I’ve done it. I even shared the same message that a perky, blonde with blue eyes shared, and the audience reaction differed. The audience didn’t trust her, they didn’t find her relatable because of her looks. The audience received my message, the same one, because I looked more like them. They trusted me.

I knew as soon as I heard about that photo booth that I needed to get in line. When our daughter protested, I spent time sharing all the traits she has inside and out that set her apart. How captivating I find her. How God created her and when we complain about our looks, we’re telling Him He makes junk.

So if you struggle with your outer beauty, if you hide when a camera comes out, I hope my learning experience helps you. I need to embrace the truth about who I truly am and stop letting fear of rejection keep me from capturing beautiful moments.

We all need to.

***

If you know a female of any age, Hannah and I hope you’ll join our movement to surrender the “stinkin’ thinkin’.” We are beautiful, amazing, and brilliant. Please consider You’re Beautiful and You’re Amazing for your reading pleasure.

Posted in Julie Arduini | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Life as a Writer — A Look Back…

Today I got a request from a total stranger to help him out with a surprise for the love of his life and one of my loyal readers.  I can’t tell you what an honor it is to meet up with book people.  I didn’t even have to be published for this to occur.  The best part of writing is the people you’ll meet.

I met some of my best friends when I was learning to write — when — gasp — the internet was barely a thing. Now most of them are bestselling authors, but we went through all the rejections together and that forges a bond that is so strong.  Only another writer can understand the sheer joy of getting a manuscript accepted and the utter despair when working on something for years only to hear, “No.”  And often, not a very nice “no.”  Some of them really stung.  But we always had each other and we felt each others’ pain.

We’ve had huge highs like Denise Hunter having three Hallmark movies made. We’ve had really horrible times like the loss of many we loved.  One of them like a sister to us.  (Diann Hunt) To this day, I write with our group picture on my desk.  It reminds me of our bond and of all we went through together — and that it’s not over.  We will reunite in heaven.  My point is, there is no better way to go through life than with your people.  The people who understand who you are — with all your talents — and your faults. It’s what makes anything you do matter.  0

Diann Hunt, Kristin Billerbeck, Colleen Coble, Denise Hunter — eventually we added Hannah Alexander to our group too!

Every time I want to give up writing because there’s too much going on and I have nothing left to give the page, something happens that defies explanation.  Someone will call me out of the blue and want me to ghostwrite a book.  Or someone will write me a letter out of the blue telling me how one of my books changed their lives.  That is so incredibly humbling and I know without a doubt, it is 100% God and He gives me a little nudge when I get whiny.

A few years ago, I had readers meet up here in San Francisco.  Two of them were all the way from Australia and then, there was a family from Wisconsin.  They had all met and befriended each other on my personal blog.  This week, one of them is returning to San Francisco and I’ll get to hang out with her and catch up on life in Oz. Before I met her, she met up with another reader in Australia and they held my picture between them and sent it to me.

The thing is, I’m really honored to have been a writer.  It’s the best job in the world.  There are ups and there are downs, but one thing is constant — book lovers — whether writers or readers — share a bond that connects us in the most magical way.

billerbeck-theory

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
%d bloggers like this: