Memorial Day: What’s to Celebrate?

Every year I think I should write something new for Memorial Day, but this still says everything I want to say. Sorry to those who have already read it, but some things just shouldn’t change…

How do You Celebrate Memorial Day?

That was a trick question.

Across the country, folks are firing up those backyard barbecue grills, stocking the beer coolers, brewing sweet tea, and hunting through the garage for the horseshoes and lawn chairs. Company’s a-comin’ and it’s sure to be a day of fellowship and relaxation.

Partiers and politicians alike will make mention in their toasts and speeches of “those who died in defense of this nation” as if it’s a public service announcement. Something to check off  on their “to-do” lists for the day.

But there are also people across the land who are hurting today, for whom this day intensifies the memories of loved ones who didn’t come home. A folded flag presentation. A stone marker in Arlington or any one of the nation’s 131 veteran’s cemeteries. An empty seat at the picnic table.

It’s a little different for me. The…

View original post 710 more words

Coming Soon to a Bookstore Near You

In order to tell you about this book, I’d like to introduce you to two very important people.

flag_bear_thmbThe first is Cathy Schrader, who makes teddy bears. Not just any teddy bears, but bears that bring comfort to hurting people. Sick children, orphans, victims of abuse, recovering addicts, people who have lost loved ones . . . essentially, her bears are for anyone who needs a hug and a reminder that none of us is expected to make it in this world alone, and that, regardless of how shattered we feel by an event or a series of events, every remnant can be gathered and put back together and can become something lovely.

How does she know this? Because her own life has been shattered. Again and again and again. There are no words to describe the heart-wrenching sorrow of closing the lid on a tiny white coffin, or the anger one can feel toward God when it happens a second time, or the fear of standing before a figurative tidal wave that’s bearing down on your family and you realize the only optional direction is forward.  Just how does a woman move forward when the God in whom she’s supposed to place her trust and faith keeps disappointing? And yet, when this happened to Cathy, she did move forward. And from the shattered remnants came something lovely. It’s been a long journey and, yes, she still feels sadness when she looks back, but her life is filled with joy.

If you asked her how, after all she’s been through, she’s not curled up in a ball afraid to raise her head for fear of intercepting another missile of darkness, she’ll tell you two things.

First, that she didn’t get through it on her own, but instead had to relinquish any thought that she controlled ANY part of her life. If there’s another missile headed her way, she will get through it, with help. Second, in order to learn this lesson, she had to do some mighty odd tasks for the one who did save her from the darkness.

Offer the town drunk a ride on a rainy day.

Use her last dollar to buy something for someone else.

Make teddy bears. From remnants.

That’s right, it wasn’t her idea. In fact, it never would have occurred to her, because she had never sewn a stitch in her life when the topic came up. But those bears became the catalyst for an unusual story of light and hope.

If you want to know more about Cathy’s story, I’m pleased to tell you it’s all contained in a book called “From the Remnants,” which should be hitting the shelves just in time for your summer vacation.

Now, before I forget, let me introduce you to someone else: Brad Harding, a man about whom I know very little. Yet.

I suspect he has a great sense of humor. He must have, because we’ve now worked together for a few months and he hasn’t fled. We haven’t even met face-to-face, so I can’t give you a proper introduction at all. But I can say one thing about him:

Brad is a fantastic artist with an eye for detail and an uncanny ability to read my mind through email. Because of that, I can announce with pride and excitement, the cover for “From the Remnants” is complete and ready for its official unveiling.

Ain’t she a beauty?

front_cover



 

And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.” — Joel 2:25

Great News for Caged Sparrow

Sparrow in prison book cover

Get your copy now!

Okay, so it’s not a Pullitzer, and it’s not even a super big deal, but it’s a ray of hope, so I’m going with it.

Caged Sparrow has been named a finalist in the 2016 Selah Awards for the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference. Not too shabby!

We’ll have to wait until May 25 to learn how the book fares overall, and while I haven’t read the competing books, this is a group of writers I admire and respect very much for their professionalism and dedication to Christian writing. As such, Joe and I are far from expecting to win. However, just being a finalist gives the book a greater chance of getting picked up by book stores, so I’m more than thrilled.

Those of you who have read Caged Sparrow have surely noticed its potential to lift the spirits of those imprisoned, whether by real iron bars or bars of their own making. If you’re the praying type, please pray with me that, win or lose, this event will catapault Joe’s story onto a new level of readership, and into the hands of those whose hearts would be filled with hope if they read it.

To those of you who have yet to read it, what are you waiting for?