Monday, May 30, 2016

Remembering the Fallen

Take a moment to reflect on what the lives of fallen soldiers have done for you. Take a break from the negative rhetoric about today's current status and issues -and stay reverent to those who died on the fields to allow you to live in a free country.

We all appreciate those that are currently serving - but today is about the fallen. They get their own day today. Take a few minutes between your grilling and cold ones to say thank you in your heart.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Jim's Legacy

In life, we run across many people.  Some greet us and move on.  Some spend some time with us through a bit of thick and thin.  Then, there are others who truly take the time to not only see what and why we tick but to offer a bit of wisdom.  And by doing this, they help shape us.  These are the ones who are the most impactful.  These are the mentors, the educators, and the heartfelt friends who leave a lasting impression upon our past, present, and future.

Professor Jim Wilcox was someone who fits this description completely.  He made everyone feel as if they were worth the time he invested in them.  Always patient, he took his time to not only communicate but to listen.  His students never felt like a bother or an afterthought.  They always felt like family.  For this, he will always have a special place in all of our hearts.

Prof. Wilcox's funeral was today.  And, as I sat in on the hard pews, I felt his spirit encompass through the room, as a few students got up to share some memories.  His twin also had the opportunity to speak, which gave most of us a sense of Deja Vu as he slipped on one of Jim's hats to begin his tale of what it was like to grow up with Jim.

A large photo, which sat at the front of the room on a stand, kept wobbling on the stand like it was waving in greeting.  It was slight.  You had to be watching for it, but I could almost picture Jim standing behind it and poking it just a bit to let us know he was there.  I know he would have gotten a laugh if it had fallen in the middle of a tear jerker moment.  It would have been a classic Prof. Wilcox moment to interrupt with a bait and switch - to exchange our tears for laughter.
Through the many stories shared by his students and family, one could easily see the picture that painted of a vibrant, colorful man who was spirit-filled for humankind by the grace of God's teachings.  I felt his spirit so strongly that there were times when I looked around expecting to see Jim's grin as he looked down at all of us.

On a personal note, only a few professors made an impact on me to the degree of giving me a reason to change the world.  Jim was one of them.  In some of my most harrowing and dark moments, he taught me to laugh again.   He used humor to get our attention on a daily basis, and when we least expected it, he'd do something so outrageous like jump on the tables in class to shake things up.
He gave a young girl in college a reason to get up from her bed and make it to class.  He gave her a reason to do well because his opinion mattered.  He gave her a reason to appreciate life again.  And in essence, he gave me what I needed to find my joy again so that I may share it with those around me.

Thank you, Prof. Wilcox.  You are a compass to which many followed and there couldn't be a better example of Christ's love.    Thank you for giving me something to hold on to.  Thank you for bringing joy and light into my world when all I felt was darkness and pain.  Thank you for allowing God to use you so that I saw Jesus at work in my life.

You are a stellar example of what one person can do to change the world - to be the light in the world. And if you did it for me, I can only imagine how many hundreds more you impacted to the point to where they were able to pay it forward.

This week, heaven gained a comedian, a mentor, and a soulful spirit, which can do great things from up there just like he did down here.  Only, those guardian angels better watch out.  I can only image what kind of mischief they have in store for them.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Elevator Omen

I've been contemplating writing about Prince for a few days, but it's hard to put in words how much one person affected so many without making it sound like you're idolizing that person.  As a Christian, this is dangerous territory.  Especially as I see so many traumatized fans around the world filled with grief, who never really knew the artist formerly known as Prince.

However, people like Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Prince live in our homes, ride with us in our cars, might be on our first date, or may be encouraging that first middle school dance with the boy or girl whom you've crushed on from afar.  We, fans, feel close to those who can sing about our innermost thoughts or who can sing something that takes us instantly back to a moment in time.  Music, and the artists, almost transport us to a happier place.  I get why some get so attached.

Especially since the songs of our youth are what shape us as individuals as we grow into ourselves - physically, emotionally, and mentally.  This is why it's so important that artists walk a fine line of expression while still understanding that what they say, sing, or do are being watched and listened to by impressionable minds and spirits.  That's a blog for another time, though.

The reason I'm writing today is that one of my most favorite songs, 'Lets Go Crazy', came on the radio and initially filled my heart with smile.  I have fond memories of bouncing on my friend's bed and running around her room singing that particular at the top of my lungs.  She and I went crazy playing it over and over - to which we finally drove her mother crazy and she shut us down.  It was such a sweet memory - for us (maybe not for her mom).

After reminiscing for a few moments, these haunting lyrics broke through:

Cause in this life
Things are much harder than in the after world
In this life
You're on your own
And if the elevator tries to bring you down
My happy memory quickly turned into a sad moment in time.  Prince was a great artist - one to be respected for his hard work, trend-setting, and revolutionary ideas about individuals.  He didn't believe that labels or that labels should define or own you.  He fought for artistic freedoms.  He crossed so many boundaries in the music and film industry that paved the way for others.  

It's still sad to think that the elevator finally broke him down.  He doesn't just reference the elevator in the opening of the song.  This lyric is woven into the theme or message of the entire body of work...  but now in this instance, it's more of an omen versus an artistic message.

R.I.P. PRINCE - you are missed.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

For Those Who Have Asked ...

Lately, I've been asked about the order of which my books should be read, so I thought I'd do a quick post here on my blog.

Although I do have four books in a series, it was an accidental series.  When writing Finding Kylie, I honestly had no intentions of continuing the journey for the other characters in the book.  I thought I'd release Finding Kylie and see what else came my way as far as storylines.

You see - Finding Kylie was my 'what if' in life.  It's been said - 'write what you know' - so I did, only I fictionalized my "what if'. After concluding Finding Kylie with a somewhat open but definite ending, I couldn't fathom putting myself in a position to write a story I wasn't  emotionally or spiritually prepared for.  To continue Chastity's story with her father meant stepping into some shoes I wasn't prepared.

That was until I continued to receive emails from readers who were wondering 'what was in John's letter' and 'if Chastity and Timothy lived happily ever after.'  I knew then that I owed it to my readers to write more about these endearing characters with Facing Redemption - even if it meant doing some soul searching of my own to have the capacity to write about John Mikale, one of the main characters in the second book.

By the end of Facing Redemption, I was hooked, and unable to say goodbye to a fun lovable support character, named Anne, who, I felt, deserved her story in a separate book, Coming Home.  I originally wrote her and her sister's story as one novel.  However, by the time I finished, it was way too long.  So, I decided to give each sister their own book.  Hence, the birth of Coming Home & Saving Grace.

So while the first four books are considered part of a series, they could be read independently of each other as well.  For the best reading experience, I would suggest reading them in order.  There is some overlap in Coming Home and Saving Grace (for a couple chapters), however these scenes or chapters are told from each of the sister's own perspectives.

The order in which they should be read is this:

Book #1: Finding Kylie 
Book #2: Facing Redemption 
Book #3: Coming Home 
Book #4: Saving Grace

My fifth book, Second Chances (which released in Jan 2016), brings a whole new set of characters to life.  Paige and her journey concluded in one book, so no others to follow with these characters in mind.

Currently, I'm writing Endless Possibilities, which brings a new realm to my writing.  Think afterlife meets the living with a bit of matchmaking from beyond.

If you'd like to read any of the synopsis for my books, you can visit my official author page or my Amazon page.

I'd love to hear from you!  If you've read any of my books, please leave me a comment or better yet a review on Amazon or Goodreads.  Thank you in advance!!!

Friday, March 11, 2016

13 and counting

As a mom, we never know who our kids are going to grow into. We know who we hope they grow into - responsible, caring human beings who contribute well to the world around them.

Most moms I know (myself included) pray they're parenting well enough to teach their kids to make wise choices... to change things for the better so that they leave the world a better place than how they found it.

Since there is not manual for motherhood that gives us step by step instructions for each stage - we do the best we can.  Thankfully, there are a lot of resources out there that give us some insight.

My own mother, for example, has been key in how I parent.  I find myself quoting her phrases without even knowing where they came from.  These gems of wisdom have been stored in the back of my mind for future use without my knowledge until they pop from my mouth, and I lovingly shake my head - thankful for my mother's influence.  Her gentle spirit was paired with knowledge, discipline, and unconditional love.  She is who I look to for what to be when it comes to mothering.

Asking for wisdom and guidance through prayer is another tool that has given me much direction.  There have been times that God has granted me exactly what I need at the right time through gentle suggestion.  Like when my temper threatens to flare up and get the best of me during one of my pre-teen's mood swings. Or, when I've been tempted to do my own thing (needing a mental break from a busy day) and my son asks me to watch him play a video game that I could care less about.  Well, guess what??? He cares about it!

So, when I'm tempted to be selfish, God often taps me on the heart to remind me that time with him is short and to make the most of the moments I have with him.

Bottom line is - as parents, we just hope we're doing it right.  Offering a mixture of tough love and a nurturing heart has been my gift to him.  Without coddling him, I am gentle yet when needed in moments of typical teenaged moments - I teach about respect with a stern but loving nature.  My child knows how much he's loved and in return loves the world with that same spirit.  My husband is also the most gentle yet firm father, who spends time and energy investing in his child.

Today is lil' T's thirteenth birthday.  And as I was looking for posts about his younger years, I found this one.  There are so many things I reflect on, like this story, that show me that he has always been who he was meant to be at his core.  God blessed him with an incredible spirit, intellect, and heart - and I'm just the person that gets to show him about life and direct his passions and dreams.  I get to teach him about consequences (yeah, he cleaned his toilet with a toothbrush last night - that's a story for another time).   I get the honor of watching him take my and his father's direction and apply it to the world around him.  

SO HAPPY BIRTHDAY Lil' Man.  You're gonna grow up and change the world.  I can't wait to see how.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Instead of the Bird

It happens to us all.

We sit in traffic, unable to move because other cars are keeping us from edging in any direction to break free from being blocked in.

If you're like most of us, you're frustrated.  You're most likely running late.  And to top it off, you've got a monumental jerk behind you, who is a huge fan of his horn and proves it by laying on it nice and long for your benefit.  Because he is sure - you're at fault that he's not going anywhere anyway!

Now, it doesn't matter than you can feel his pain.  He is just mad and is going to show you how much by showing you the international sign for 'STEP OFF!' or whatever else comes to mind.  Let's just say he's a fan of birds - the kind that likes to shoot up in greeting.

So what is your reaction?  Most would respond in kind, and to be honest, no one could blame you.  It's like a chain reaction, right?  Dominoes knock other dominoes down, just like anger begets anger.

So, I offer you a challenge.  When in this situation, I've found a simple gesture in return is an excellent alternative.  Just look at the photo below to see what else you can offer.

It does two things.  It gives you much more peace than offering an angry gesture in return, and it most likely would make someone else look twice.  How they look is up to them.  It could be that it irritates them even more - which might be fine for some of you.  Or it might be that it makes them snap out of their foul mood and consider slowing their roll.  I'm hoping for the latter.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Family Moments

My grandmother always bragged on her family, in that she 'had the best family'.  We used to always smiling knowingly when she'd tear up and start in on the endearing qualities of 'her family.'  The heart she had for us was evident any time you'd get her started on the subject.

My grandmother passed at midnight the night before Easter this last year.  And now that she's gone, I kind of miss hearing her sweet glowing reviews of our family ties. However, her words still ring true in my heart anytime I see someone from our family or get something like this photo (shown above) in the mail.

Both these girls are my cousins (from my grandmother's side) and although I don't get to see them very often - they are very close to my heart.  My youngest cousin (to the far left) was kind enough to send my family a Valentine in the mail, which I received yesterday.  When I opened this up and saw our picture, my heart melted.  And what do you think rang through my mind?  Yup!  Grandmother's words sang through my heart to the point to where I could almost hear her sing-song timbre as I thought, I have the most wonderful family in the world.

Happy Valentines to you all and may you all tell your family how much you love them.  You only get one family so make them the most wonderful part of your life.