WEDDING GIFTS

WEDDING GIFTS

A week and a half ago, our daughter Bethany married the love of her life, Billy. They found a historic church for their day and my husband Mike performed a beautiful and moving ceremony.

The one challenge for the day was the weather. The wedding was scheduled for mid-morning. Bethy and Billy were having a simple reception at the church for friends and a private cookout at a state park for family in the afternoon. We live in Middle Tennessee and Bethany wanted moderate temperatures. Whenever anyone reminded her that she was getting married in late July, she would announce, “I’m praying that God will give me 75 degrees on my wedding day.”

As the big day drew nearer, everyone involved with the wedding kept an eye on the forecast. The National Weather Service was not being cooperative; they predicted temperatures ranging in the upper 90s to low 100s. What was worse, there was a good chance for rain. “That’s all we need,” I told Mike. “Sticky, humid heat!” I stepped up my prayers for no rain, believing that – in God’s natural order – there was a better chance for that than mid 70s temps.

I woke up at 5:00 a.m. on the morning of the wedding and the first thing I did was check the weather forecast. It was already in the 70s, would rise to 90s by the time of the wedding, with 85% humidity. I kept up a continual prayer as I applied my makeup and fixed my hair.

Despite my prayers, the weather was not cooperative that morning. When we stepped out of the cars at the church, we were hit with a blast of hot, sticky air. As we were walking in, I said, “Well, maybe the weather service is wrong and there won’t be any…” BOOM! A clap of thunder interrupted me. It started raining soon after we arrived.

There was too much to do with the wedding to even think about the weather. We laughed and smiled throughout the ceremony, especially when Bethany began jumping up and down as Mike was pronouncing them ‘husband and wife.’ They kissed, greeted their guests, cut the cake, and had their first dance. After the guests left, we all changed into clothes that would be more comfortable for an outdoor cookout.

I drove to the second reception with my niece Melanie and her children, who had come from Texas for the wedding. We were talking about the wedding and how beautiful it had been. “Even the rain wasn’t bad. Look,” Melanie said, pointing to the outside temperature gauge on her car’s dashboard, “it’s 75 degrees outside.”

I sat dumbfounded. All that time, I had been praying for no rain and Bethany had been praying for 75 degrees. I had been praying for something that was easily possible and Bethy had been praying for the impossible.

Amidst all the gifts Bethy and Billy received that day, they got a special one; an answered prayer from God.

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YHWH AUDIO STREAM

YHWH AUDIO STREAM

Authentic Media reduces price of Kindle UK version through August.

Authentic Media and Walk Through The Bible Ministries UK continue to partner to ensure their joint collaboration YHWH The Flood, The Fish & The Giant by GP Taylor and Paula K Parker, is available in every possible format. Following the book publication last year, Walk Through the Bible created an audio version which is now available for audio streaming though the website www.YHWHbook.com

It all started with a hope and prayer…

Several years ago Paul Keeys, of Walk Through the Bible Ministries, sent out a “ridiculously optimistic email” to NY Times best-selling author GP Taylor.  2011would be the 400th anniversary of the King James version of the Bible and Keeys wanted something that would renew children’s interest in the book that has impacted our culture and language.

“I asked GP Taylor if he would write a book for me that would present the stories of the Bible to young people, giving description and flesh to these ancient places, people and events,” Keeys said. “Somehow, my wild contact paid off; he agreed to write two books.”

In May 2010, YHWH: The Flood, The Fish & The Giant, written by GP Taylor and US writer and playwright, Paula K. Parker was released by Authentic Media. YHWH is a collection of classic, ancient tales from the Old Testament, retold in a fresh and vibrant way for a generation that is perhaps more familiar with Hogwarts and Mount Olympus than the Garden of Eden.

“I know many young people and adults who don’t read the Bible simply because they don’t think the language is understandable,” states Parker. “The purpose of the book is not to proselytize or convert,” Taylor insists, “but to give children, young people and adults a taste of the mystery of one of the most life changing books ever written. It is an introduction to the stories that have entertained and thrilled people for thousands of years.”

A great advocate of encouraging children to read, Taylor says he felt compelled to participate in co-authoring YHWH: The Flood, The Fish & The Giant when he discovered that up to 90% of children and young people in the UK are Biblically illiterate, with even such classic tales as David and Goliath, Noah and the ark, Samson, and Jonah going unnoticed.

“This isn’t just a problem from a faith-based perspective,” Taylor points out. “It also devalues our language and our culture. When a sports commentator recently said that the big match was a ‘David and Goliath struggle,’ many young fans didn’t know what he meant.”

YHWH, The Flood, The Fish & The Giant found US fans from Nashville to Hollywood and all points in between.

Popular Christian recording artist and author, Bonnie Keen (First Call), commented, “Mega kudos to Paula Parker and G. P. Taylor for bringing this fresh collection of timeless adventures to a new generation. As one often hears, ‘You can’t make this stuff up!’ YHWH, The Flood, The Fish & The Giant fits the bill for any reader longing to embrace a heart-pounding story where the underdog wins the day and good triumphs against all odds over evil. In this marvelous new work we remember afresh why Biblical stories have infiltrated centuries of literature, culture and most importantly continue to capture the human heart.”

Filmmaker, Mitchell Galin (Stephen King’s ‘The Langoliers’) added, “What an absolute delight. Rarely have I seen stories so vividly portrayed; portrayed in a way that makes them come alive the way a good campfire story comes alive. And the source, the greatest stories ever told, but in a way that makes them accessible as they have not been before. You can walk through the gardens, feel Noah’s confusion, experience Abraham’s anguish, but in all we see unquestioned faith. We’ve heard or read the stories before, but what GP Taylor and Paula K. Parker have done is make you “feel” the stories in a new profound way.”

With the manuscript for the second book, tentatively entitled YESHUA The Vine, The Demon & The Traitor, in the editing stage, Keeys came up with an idea of making YHWH The Flood, The Fish and The Giant available as an audio stream at YHWHbook.com and read by influential English authors, actors, entertainers and ministry leaders. Actor Graham Cole (The Bill and Dr. Who) read “The Tower.” Jeff Lucas (Jeff Lucas International Ministries) read “The Troublemaker.” Check YHWHbook.com for a list of upcoming narrators.

In support of the new audio stream, Authentic Media reduced the price of the Kindle version. “promoting the Kindle version of the book on Amazon UK for just 94p throughout August. “ In the first day of the promotion it dramatically climbed over 22,000 places on the Amazon Kindle chart!” says Authentic publisher Malcolm Downs. The print version of the book is available at $5.08 on Amazon US.

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FALLING SPARROWS

FALLING SPARROWS

 For years I have worked on a book of devotional thoughts; images, if you will. Since this is a book of pictures, I realized I could not print this book without illustrations.

I have found an illustrator in Tracy H. Sugg. Tracy is a gifted artist, with sculpture being her forte.  While Tracy works on the illustrations for this book, I wanted to share a few entries from Illuminations.

 Falling Sparrows

After six months of trying to find a house, we finally moved. After weeks of unpacking the essentials, I was finally able to unpack my schoolroom; I wanted it ready when we began homeschooling in a few weeks. Hunting through the various boxes, I realized that two large boxes were missing.  One contained items that we had bought to enrich our homeschooling, including antique books and a rock collection my children and I had collected. The other box had supplies we had bought in bulk to ease the expense of school. Somewhere, somehow, these two boxes had been lost in the move. While some of the items were replaceable, many were not.

After the last few months of frustrated waiting, it was too much; I sat down amid opened boxes and cried.

            Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed something through the window; something falling from the tree in our back yard.  Wiping away the tears, I watched – there it was again.  Moving closer to the window, I saw a baby bird fall to the ground.  Another one fell near it. They were the tiny blue jays from the nest outside of Josh’s bedroom window.  Over the last few weeks, we had watched the eggs hatch and kept up with the babies as they grew. 

I realized I was watching the moment when the mother bird pushes her young out of the nest.

            I looked around the yard and located all the baby birds, chirping pitifully for their mother and the safety of their nest.  Nearby – on a branch not two feet above them – was their mother.  As her babies fluttered around the yard, she stood guard, ready to protect them if need be, but not interfering with this important moment in their lives. After a half-hour of hopping and fluttering, one by one, the babies took their first flight. As the last one took off, their mother followed close behind.

            “A sparrow does not fall to the ground unless the Father knows it – how much more are you than they?” 

            I had always supposed that scripture referred to the death of the bird.  Now it took on new meaning.  Many times, like the mother bird, God has pushed me from my nest, realizing I needed to leave my comfort zone.  I fluttered and cried certain that He had abandoned me.  Yet, looking back, I realized that He was always there, watching over me, protecting me, and exulting when at last I stopped clinging to the ground and learned to fly with Him.

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RACHAEL AND THE RAMBLING BLOG-MONSTER

RACHAEL AND THE RAMBLING BLOG-MONSTER

My beautiful and brilliant daughter, Rachael

Ever since my eldest daughter Rachael – who is quite brilliant, I must confess, but then I’m a doting mama, but I am speaking the truth – oh look, I have gotten off on a mini-bunny trail and now must find my way back.

I wonder why they are called bunny trails? Other animals leave tracks, and the way I sometimes get distracted, they should be called dinosaur trails or elephant trails. But I wouldn’t want to be associated with something old and extinct as a dinosaur – although I did want to be a paleontologist when I was a child – or be associated with anything as big and wrinkly as an elephant – although Dr. Suess’s Horton (of “Horton Hears a Who” and “Horton Hatches an Egg”) which were some of my favorite childhood books. But I do get distracted quite easily.

I assume it’s because I’m female and therefore can multi-task – look I used a big word, aren’t you impressed – and unable to focus like men. I often envy men their ability to be able to totally shut out the world and noise and activity going on around them and just zero in on what they are doing. Why do we use zero to mean focus, because in math, zero means nothing, and we wouldn’t say that we are doing nothing when we are trying to concentrate .

<pause>

I just realized that I don’t remember what I wanted to say in this blog.

Hmmmm…the title was “Rachael and the Rambling Blog-Monster.” Did I tell you that Rachael is brilliant…oops, not going to get distracted again! anyhow, several months ago, Rachael told me that I needed to start a blog. She said all authors write blogs and since I’m an author I should write one as well.

Being a loving mother – did I tell you that Rachael…NO! I’m not going there – I followed Rachael’s suggestion and began BIRTH OF A BLOG on my website. I would write about whatever was on my mind which, being female and unable to focus on one thing, could be a lot at any given moment. Tomatoes, rain, shopping, cell phones; whatever occurred to me I wrote about in my blog.

At first, I tried to write my blogs on Mondays, using it as sort of a mental exercise to get the blood pumping in my brain before turning my attention to whatever deadlines – don’t even get me started on why they are called ‘deadlines’ -were staring me in the face. Did you like how I gave the deadlines the living ability to stare? But if they are living, wouldn’t that mean they are livinglines?

<pause>

I lost my train of thought again. Hey, did you know that train came from the idea of something following, as in, ”The train follows the engine?”

STOP THAT! Focus on the blog at hand, or actually the blog on the computer screen.

So anyhow, after a few weeks of blog-writing, life as a writer intruded. For those of you who think that life as a writer is enjoyable, let me assure you; it is. Being able to sit at home and create is a blessing I am most thankful for. However, one challenge of being a writer is that you can’t set a regular schedule. Business meetings with writing-related people don’t always fit into a pre-determined schedule. Emails from editors wanting you to check your 200 page manuscript one more time before the book goes to the printers can come while you’re on vacation. [It’s happened to me.] I could go on and on, but then…

<pause>

You did it again! Get back on topic!

As I was saying…sometimes things popped up on Monday and I wasn’t able to get around to writing my blog. I began worrying about it, thinking that my readers were going to my website, not finding my blog, and wondering what happened to me. I could see them wondering whether I have given up writing and deciding to follow another author; which I haven’t and don’t want them to do.

My blog-monster, who is not beautiful or as brilliant as my daughter Rachael

My blog – which started out as a simple mental exercise – grew into a huge monster, lurking in the corners of my house. When I go to the kitchen for a cup of coffee, it rambles after me, drooling and muttering that I have forgotten him. When I am writing other things, the monster sits down next to me – nearly breaking my couch with its weight– and grumbles that I have enough time for other writing, why don’t I have time for it? Even when I’m sleeping, the blog monster invades my dreams and whines – rather like a petulant teenager – that I don’t love it anymore.

So I sat down today – a Wednesday – to write my blog. Because I want to appease the blog-monster and because my eldest daughter Rachael said I should write one. By the way, did I tell you that Rachael is brilliant?

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RAIN LESSONS

RAIN LESSONS

Drip….drip….drip…

There’s a steady rain falling outside. Not the stormy, go-to-your-safe-place rain, but a soaking spring rain. The kind that replenishes the earth, washing away dust and glistening on the tree leaves and flower petals.

But somewhere nearer, I hear a different dripping. This one glops with a different cadence, suggesting leaky roofs, repair bills, and mold.

I should get up and investigate.

I should get started writing; deadlines are looming.

I should do some housework; dust is making a permanent home on my furniture. And don’t even get me started on the floors.

But even as the sound is a warning, it’s soooo…mesmerizing. Stay…sit…sleep…

As I listen, my hands still on the keyboard and my eyes slowly…start…to…close…

I’m sure there is a life lesson in this…something about being careful…about recognizing the difference between the outpouring of blessing and the illusion of carefree carelessness. A lesson on being alert and not succumbing to the suggestions of the Adversary, whispered soothingly in my ear, to ignore warning signs…or sounds…

I’m sure there is a lesson here…if I could just wake up…

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO SAM I AM’S DADDY!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO SAM I AM’S DADDY!

The Theodore Seuss Geisel Stamp was released on Dr. Seuss's 100th birthday, March 2nd, 2004

Rather than writing a blog of my own thoughts, I wanted to take the time to honor one of the people who motivated me to become a writer. Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Born Theodor Seuss Geisel (pronounced /ɡaɪzəl/ ) on March 2, 1904, he dropped out of Oxford, where he was attending grad school, when a classmate Helen Palmer [she became Mrs. Theodor Geisel in 1927] commented that he was a talented cartoonist. Geisel used his drawing skills an illustrator for advertising campaigns, including Standard Oil and Flit insecticide. His line, “Quick, Henry, the Flit!” became the “Got Milk?” of its day.

Although Geisel often commented that he wrote children’s books because his ad contract with Standard Oil prohibited him from writing pretty much anything else as well as his great love and understanding for children, there was another motivating event. Geisel wrote his first children’s book the same year he and Helen learned they were unable to have children.

I could spend the rest of my blog relating Geisel’s story and impact on our culture, but it would not be anywhere as interesting as visiting Seussville. There you can read Geisel’s full bio, watch videos, check out interactive games and learn more about the amazing man who would impact children – and adults – worldwide.

As a way of honoring Geisel, the National Education Association marked today as a part of their ‘Read Across America’ promotion, with a goal of showing elementary children that reading can be fun and not just work.

I know that, for me, wandering the world of Dr. Seuss’ imagination birthed in my young girl’s heart the burning desire to write stories that would entertain and impact people’s lives. Over forty years later, I am living that dream.

Thank you, Dr. Seuss.

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PRUNING A ROSE

PRUNING A ROSE

The following blog is from my upcoming book, Images.

            Learning how to prune roses is very painful and not just from getting stuck by a thorn.

            As a beginning gardener, I struggled with the idea of pruning. There is that beautiful plant, growing in the sunlight and – according to the experts – the careful gardener has to come along and cut part of it off. For no apparent reason that anyone can see.

            Then I learned the method and reasons behind pruning roses.

Old, dead branches are removed completely from a rose bush. If the gardener is not sure that a branch is dead, he begins pruning a bit of the branch at a time, looking for the light green pith inside the branch. If there is none, the branch is removed completely. Branches that cross over the center of the bush are cut off in order to allow more oxygen to reach the center of the plant. Dead blossoms are removed and the stem trimmed down to the point where the new growth will come out; this cut is angled away from the center of the plant, to train the rose to grow in the proper direction. All cuts are sealed with glue in order to protect the flower from disease and infestation. When this is done, the flower will send nourishment to the point of pruning and the flower will grow healthy and vigorous, produce abundant blooms.

            Just like the Lord when He prunes me. There I am, growing in the Son’s light and He comes along to prune me. Yes, it is a cut, and yes it does hurt. But, He is careful to trim back deadweight to where He knows new life is about to come forth. He opens me up to allow more of the Spirit to breathe into my life. And He always seals me with the Holy Spirit, to protect me and allow more of His breath to blow through me. So, I can be stronger in Him and bloom.

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