Sunday, January 4, 2015

Win a Free Copy of 20 Short Ones

Register to win a FREE copy of my book, 20 Short Ones, at Goodreads.com
The give-away runs through January 14, 2015.

In other "publishing" news, I had two book-signings in Kalamazoo recently, one in mid-October at Family Christian Stores on S. Westnedge (many thanks to Diane White, Store Manager and her crew who helped me free right at home). This was a book-signing that included #RoxanneFawley and #JosephPadhal. In mid-November I was part of another multi-author book-signing that included #JaneKnuth (author of Thrift Store Saints, Thrift Store Graces and with her daughter Love Will Steer Me True).  Kudos to Margo Tramel of #BarnesandNoble on South Westnedge who made six authors feel right at home in her store.

Finally, I'd like to thank the over 700 folks who have put 20 Short Ones "on the shelf" to read! It's exciting to see support for the book grow!

Happy New Year everyone!


Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Matter of Faith

This past week I was reading a column by Anne Lamott in AARP Magazine, who quoted the theologian Paul Tillch: "The opposite of faith isn't doubt, but certainty."

My first response was, under normal circumstances, I'm prone to view doubt exactly that way (as the opposite of faith). I don't see any real benefit from doubting - other than to fuel a healthy stream of cynicism.

Webster's defines doubt as "to be uncertain about, to lack confidence in, distrust."

If doubt can be defined as being uncertain, then why does Tillch say that certainty is the opposite of faith (being defined by Wesbter as "loyalty, fidelity to one's promises, belief and trust in and loyalty to God.")

It would seem that faith implies trust and trust is usually based on at least implied assurance.And all of these things are built on some form of certainty, aren't they?

Spiritually speaking, the apostle Paul defined faith as "the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen" (Hebrews 11:1 NLT). Another translation of that same passage (NKJ) puts it this way: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen."

So it seems like hope or confidence is the key to spiritual faith. Webster's says hope is "to desire with expectation of fulfillment." And that confidence is "faith and trust, a consciousness of feeling sure.." And Webster's goes on to further define confidence as "a relation of trust, or intimacy."

This whole business of faith is wrapped up in relationship. It's also interesting to note that intimacy can be defined as "marked by very close association, or familiarity; marked by a warm friendship developing through long association."

Putting all of the ingredients of faith together, Tillch's quote starts to make sense. Faith depends upon an ever-growing relationship. One that is deep and long-standing. Such relationships undergo times of testing and testing of faith always includes times of uncertainty. Uncertainty as in not knowing the outcome ahead of time. Uncertainty that moves us ahead despite our feelings or evidence at the time. Uncertainty that clouds our ability to discern at times. Uncertainty that can test our very confidence in whatever or whomever we choose to give our faith. When you think about it, true faith can't really grow and deepen without times of uncertainty.

Maybe Tillch's point is that faith is built on relationships, and life being what it is, loyalty and fidelity in relationships will be tested. So faith is going to rely on hope and trust in the "things we cannot see...," yet.

That takes courage on a level that can't exist without uncertainty.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Eulogy for Walt

Last Saturday I attended a memorial service for Walt, my oldest sister's brother-in-law. It was held in a small mid-Michigan town. A town I hadn't visited in over 35 years. In fact, the last time I set foot in the town was when my sister and her soon-to-be-husband were engaged. It was one of those classic families getting to meet each other type of gathering.

At that time, I remember Walt was unfailingly polite, at-ease and had a ready yet shy smile. He had a great sense of humor and seemed to put everyone around him at ease.

Throughout the years I saw Walt very infrequently at other family gatherings. He was always the same and didn't seem to age much. He continued to wear his easy-going demeanor well.

Until the past year or so, when I noticed, mostly from family photos and reports, that he had gotten a full head of white hair and slowed down a bit.

On the way up to the memorial service, I kept thinking, "I really didn't know Walt all that well."
But at the very end of the service, his youngest brother, Dale (my sister's husband) had a chance to bless us with some of his remembrances.

There was at least 20 years age difference between the two brothers, and Dale began by noting that he, as well as many others in the church audience, had entered Walt's life (of 92 years) at various points along the way.

Dale then told some stories to illustrate that his brother was an adventurer (jumping into Lake Michigan from a dock, holding a stone heavy enough to bring him down to the bottom, daring others to see how long they could hold their breath underwater), a traveler (WWII, and trips to France and Germany afterwards), and a businessman (let's just say he knew how to get pretty cheap tickets to Notre Dame football games).

At the end of Dale's talk, I felt like I had known Walt all my life. And isn't that the way it goes some times? We all know people, even family members, from a distance. Sometimes it takes a memorial service to make it clear exactly who they were, and what they meant to others who were invited into their lives.

I left the service feeling a lot closer to Walt, and to his family (siblings, in-laws and friends) who had the privilege of knowing him a lot deeper that I had. As Dale summed up: "Today we're burying a good man."

Rest in peace Walt. I know you're already in heaven smiling down on us.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Poised to Retire

After 27 years at the Food Bank of South Central Michigan, I'm poised to retire soon. The Battle Creek Enquirer was kind enough to send out a reporter to interview co-worker Cheryl Proctor and myself earlier this week. What's interesting is that Cheryl and I were born within a day of each other, as the article points out.
http://www.battlecreekenquirer.com/story/news/local/2014/10/24/retiring-food-bank-duo-ready-new-challenges/17854323/

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Book Signing Coming Up Oct. 18

Just a note to say that I'll be at the Family Christian Stores on S. Westnedge in Kalamazoo, on Oct. 18, from 1 to 3 p.m., with two other authors (Roxanne Fawley and Joseph Padghal). I'm excited about a mutual book-signing. It should be a lot of fun. If you are in the Kalamazoo/Portage/Battle Creek area, please plan to stop by!

Click here for link to Kalamazoo Gazette article

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Faith Like a Monarch Butterfly


Yesterday was a classically beautiful autumn day in Michigan. I went to Lake Michigan, and at one point, was looking out from a deck next to a small sand dune above the water. Soon, from off to the side of the dune, as if by magic, a series of Monarch butterflies began to fly by. One right after another, sometimes 3-4 or more at a time. Amazed, I started to count them and when it reached past 20, I began to laugh at the wonder of it.
After a few minutes an older couple who had been biking came up on the deck and sat down to eat lunch on a bench behind me. I turned around to look at them, but they had no idea what was happening. They weren’t paying attention to the lake or the butterflies. So for them, the butterflies didn’t exist. The beauty, the fun, the wonder were lost on them. Their reality wasn’t big enough to include more than 50 monarch butterflies gracefully gliding along the lake, on their way south.
If had the ability to run into that same couple today, if I could find them, knock on their door and tell them about the butterflies, they would have a choice. First of all, they could choose to simply not listen. Then they could choose to not believe. In order for them to accept what I saw, they would have to have faith. Without it, the experience and the wonder of what had happened would be lost to them.
That’s how faith works.

Friday, September 19, 2014

A Bit of Business... and a Lot of Fun!

You can get in the running to win a copy of 20 Short Ones (my book), by going to goodreads and registering. 10 copies will be given away on September 28. The giveaway ends on that date.

If you live in Kalamazoo, I'll be at a book-signing with two other authors (Roxanne Fawley and Joseph Padgal two fine writers and even finer human beings), at Family Christian Stores on South Westnedge, on Oct. 18, from 1 to 3 p.m.  It's going to be fun, so please come and say hello!

To all of the folks who registered to win a copy of the book through two previous goodreads' giveaways, thanks, so very much, for taking an interest! Outside of book giveaways, 20 Short Ones is available through: Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Family Christian Stores and WestBow Press websites.

It's been a lot of fun learning about the publishing industry. Mostly by trial and error, with a lot of help from WestBow Press. One of the main things I've learned is: If you have a dream, go for it! When I was very young (maybe first grade) I began to write. As a teen I wrote for the local newspaper for their Youth Today Page. As an adult I worked as a freelance journalist writing human interest stories. But writing an actual book is unlike any of these experiences. It truly is a dream come true!