How One Town Thrives in the Midst of Big Change (Lititz, PA)

 

I took the above photos on October 6, 2018 when we attended “The Chocolate Walk” in a local town. This town has been known for it’s chocolate since before I was born (long before I was born), and it didn’t start in this local town. However, it’s been an icon in this town for over 100 years. The first picture above is what is left of the original Wilbur Chocolate Factory, which is now going to be turned into Luxury Condos. Wilbur still has a chocolate store in this town and still sells plenty of chocolate. However, the new store lacks the history of the original store which was housed in the building being reconstructed. The new store is modern and, in my opinion, has lost much of its original charm because of the loss of history.

The rest of the photos have a happier story. While my heart breaks at the change of such a long-standing icon, I applaud the town businesses of Lititz, PA for remaining strong and not running in fear — fear that because of the major change, the people may stop shopping, tourists may stop coming. No, this town’s businesses continue to thrive as they offer wonderful products and services. The town also continues to hold wonderful events that draw people in, like “The Chocolate Walk”. Despite traffic and parking issues, this town continues to draw crowds and its businesses continue to thrive.

I love visiting this town because it is rich in history — the majority of the buildings are historical and beautiful. The shops are beautiful and offer unique and useful, as well as beautiful and artistic products and creations. The town also offers a variety of wonderful eating establishments, whether it’s pizza or chocolate you’re craving or a more substantial meal from the historical General Sutter Inn and Bull’s Head Pub or something in between like an authentic Mexican restaurant, or the healthier fare of The Tomato Pie Cafe. There is something for everyone in this quaint town.

I did mention the rest of the photos but haven’t explained them all yet — “The Chocolate Walk” is an annual event where people purchase tickets for money that is donated to wonderful organizations that benefit children. These tickets give the ticket-holders the privilege of visiting many of the designated shops in town to taste delicious chocolate creations made by bakers, creameries, confectioners, chocolatiers, and more for six hours one Saturday a year. Photo #2 is an army of chocolate mice that were quite tasty with a maraschino cherry in their middle. Photo #3 is a pirate skeleton holding a rifle, sculpted from metal and standing guard outside one of the delightful shops. Photos #4 and #5 are some of the fall decorations — do you recognize the character in Photo #5?

Photo #6 was one of my favorite novelty clocks in a store that sells these wonderful clocks as well as some beautiful clocks, jewelry, and ceramics, which is exemplified in Photo #7.

You may wonder why I chose to show this town the way that I did, and I have to say, it is because my own town — where I was born and raised and still reside, died, to my chagrin, many years ago because Walmart got approval to build a store on the eastern outskirts of town and everyone panicked. There were protests and cries that Walmart would run all of the local businesses out of business. (We had a K-Mart on the southern outskirts of town before the Walmart, and it hadn’t affected the local businesses.) Sadly, many of the local businesses closed before Walmart was even built and open. Business owners tucked their tails and ran instead of staying and standing strong and waiting to see where customer loyalties lay.

I grew up in a town where we did all of our shopping and enjoyed it. But for many years, there are no stores to really shop in and no great eating establishments with the exception of one or two. It has become a sad town that has been fixed up to “look attractive”, but no one does anything to bring in businesses that would revive the town and make it a place people want to visit again. My heart is broken because my children will never know the kind of town I grew up in. If I knew how to do something about it, I would.

That is why I have such praise for Lititz and am thankful they are within driving distance. Stay strong Lititz!

Do We Have a Responsibility in Regard to Our Entertainment?

Entertainment surrounds us — social media, movies, music, books, DVDs. It invades our sight, our hearing, our minds, and our hearts. Therefore, don’t we have a responsibility to be careful about what entertainment we allow to invade us?

The book of Proverbs in the Bible is a book of wisdom and in that book it says, “Pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”  (Proverbs 4:20-27)

Also, in the book of Philippians we read, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)

Therefore, it is my understanding that we are responsible for whatever we fill our senses, our minds and our hearts with.

So, why am I talking about this? Because of a brief conversation I had with some friends recently. These friends are also believers, and we were talking about writing and one mentioned the writings of Diana Gabaldon, especially her “Outlander” series, to which I commented, “that’s garbage”. Two of my friends responded with, “No, it’s not. Her writing is fantastic.”

Now, I will admit that I have not actually read any of Diana Gabaldon’s works. So maybe she is a very skilled writer. However, I do know that her Outlander series has a lot of explicit sex in it, and a lot of it is rape, which she romanticizes.

In my opinion, that is wrong, and it certainly isn’t something I want to read and invade my mind and heart with.

Whenever I’ve made these comments about Ms. Gabaldon’s writing, I’ve heard the same thing from both Christian and non-Christian women who read these books, “That was the way it was in that place and time period.”

To which I must say, “I’m sure that NOT EVERY male/female relationship in that place and time period involved rape, just as I’m sure that EVERY woman who has ever been raped has experienced a violent, invasive, traumatic event and would not find it in the least bit romantic. Therefore, I find it irresponsible that a writer would have women romanticizing and fantasizing about their rapist(s) and the act of rape.

I find it disappointing and disheartening that Christian women are reading such things and finding them great entertainment. I refuse to read that type of so-called entertainment.

I am also very careful with what I write because I do not want to be responsible for leading someone down a crooked path. I don’t write preachy stories or stories that will have a strictly “Christian” label, but I do write with the same responsibility with which I read, and though my characters face temptation and sometimes yield to it just as any human, they will also grow and learn and find redemption.

 

 

Let’s Talk About Webinars

Have you ever participated in a live webinar?

I have participated in several. I have found the ones that I enjoy the most are the ones that have been set up by a group or organization that I belong to who do a complete webinar with no sales pitch at the end.

Sales pitch endings — yes, these are the webinars that I have come to strongly dislike. Why? Because they send you an invitation with lots of promises, like “in this webinar you will learn how to make money selling ebooks on Amazon”. There is also information offered about the speaker of the webinar which usually says things like “I used to be a struggling writer, trying to sell my work to feed my family” or something similar to give you a picture that the person had decided to try to have writing as his/her only job and wasn’t doing very well. He/She was struggling to pay bills, make ends meet, feed the family, etc. Then there’s usually something like “I hope you are not in a similar situation, but if you are, I want to help you. That’s why I’m sharing my secret for selling ebooks on Amazon with you. Just sign up to join my webinar, and hurry because space is limited and seats are going fast.”

So, you think to yourself, I relate to this person’s circumstances, and I would really like to be able to sell my (or more of my) books on Amazon. This sounds like a good marketing webinar. Therefore, you sign up and block out the date and time on your calendar to be sure you don’t miss it. (Of course, they send you several email reminders the day of the webinar, right up to start time).

Then with excitement and hopefulness, you tune into the webinar at the appointed date and time with a notebook and pen by your side so you can catch all of the important information. The webinar starts out well, giving you tips, advice and information that you think will be really helpful, but as the end of the webinar time approaches, the tips, advice and information slow down and eventually stop, just short of completing the information you were expecting and looking forward to.

What happens next? The speaker of the webinar begins a sales pitch. Yep, the information was to lure you in to pitch some new website or resource or online classes for writing that will cost you hundreds of dollars.

What happens to your excitement and hopefulness? Well, if you’re like me, it plummets into the pit of your stomach, and you think, “What? I thought you wanted to help the struggling (translate to starving) writers. How can wanting them (me) to spend hundreds of dollars they (I) don’t have, to get the complete information and help your webinar promised, help them (me)?

So, you turn off your computer, completely disappointed/distraught. And if you’re like me, you think, if they really wanted to help me, the struggling writer, why couldn’t they give me the complete information and offer their sales pitch on another webinar, or, why couldn’t they have been honest and informed you that to get the complete “formula”, you would have to purchase something at the end of the webinar? They claim they have made thousands of dollars with their “formula” and they want to “help others who may be where they were”, but in the end, they’re really not much help at all.

The last webinar I participated in, the speaker admitted, about halfway through the webinar, that he uses a pen name and if you search for his name (that he gave for the webinar), you’ll never find him, and he didn’t give his pen name so you couldn’t even look him up to see if his self-proclaimed success was factual or not.

(Sigh) These are all of the reasons I have sworn off webinars that are advertised on the internet or through email. If the webinar is offered through a group/organization that I am part of and know I can trust, I will participate. Otherwise, I’m not interested. I’m tired of empty promises from writers who claim to have found success that others could attain just as easily, only to have them want to make more money off of someone who can’t afford their prices, which also makes me really wonder if what they’re selling is really worth the money they are charging. Oh, sure, they have those little quotes they share that are supposed to be legitimate quotes by people who have learned their “formula” and are using it to become successful, but we all know, those quotes can easily be bought for a price for such purposes.

How about you? Have you participated in any of these webinars? Have you found any of them helpful and legitimate without your having to invest hundreds of dollars? I’d love to hear your story(ies). Please leave comments in the “Comments” section below.

A Monday Movie Review

I don’t usually post about movies here, and this is my review of a movie that’s been out for some time.  You see, we saw this movie yesterday at some friends’ house, and I was disturbed by the movie and feel the need to share.

I have heard many people rave about this movie.  It’s supposed to be a kids’ movie, but it’s rated PG.  It’s the first Pixar film I didn’t really care for.  It’s “Big Hero Six”.

If you haven’t seen the movie yet and are thinking about seeing it, you might not want to read any farther, as there will be spoilers in the rest of this post.

What did I find so disturbing?  Hero is the main character.  He and his brother live with their aunt because their parents died some time ago.  Then Hero’s brother dies in an explosion and Hero is right there to witness it.  I found this very disturbing as an adult, let alone for a child.

Hero finds that his brother’s robot was in their home and he makes a new program for the robot because he wants it to help him find and catch the guy who is responsible for the explosion that killed his brother.  Four of his brother’s friends also get involved.

Long story short, Hero enters into a time warp type thing to rescue the daughter, of the bad guy, who is got stuck in there and the robot sensed that she was in there.  The robot goes in with him and then the robot has to be left behind in order for Hero and the girl to get out in time.  So, yet another loss for Hero.  Yet, the bad guy gets his daughter back, even though he’s going to jail.

In the end, Hero finds that in the robot’s hand, (the only thing that he has left of the robot), is the original program his brother designed for the robot, so he is able to recreate another robot.  That’s supposed to be the happy ending.

Why do I find this movie so disturbing?  Because I have three adopted children who suffered neglect, rejection and abandonment in their pasts.  A child like that watching a movie like “Big Hero Six” may suffer those feelings anew watching the loss that Hero went through.  If I had known what the movie was like, I wouldn’t have allowed our youngest to watch it.  He’s a very sensitive child as so as it is.  However, because we did watch it, I did speak with him about it, and he seems to be fine.

On the other hand, there was also another child present who has suffered a lot of loss in his/her life and is going through struggles with grieving some of those losses right now, and I can’t help but wonder if it was wise for that child to see it, although the parents said that the child had seen it before.

So, I know that most people would think nothing of watching this movie with their children, but being the mom of children with hurtful pasts makes me much more aware and sensitive to things that could be a problem for them.  We’ve experienced upsets with two of our three children, in the past, over movies we sat down to watch with them that we thought would be okay, so we can’t always even be sure of what may or may not upset them, but it certainly makes me more careful.

My older two sons had no problem with the movie and thought that I was over reacting because Hero still was able to have the robot and he had his brother’s friends, to which I said, “Yeah, but they weren’t family.”  I don’t think I’m over reacting because  I don’t believe we can be too careful with the tender, sensitive hearts and spirits of our children.

One of my favorite movies to watch with my children is “Lilo and Stitch”.  It has a wonderful message for children with hurtful backgrounds and/or behavioral issues.

Have you ever seen a movie you found disturbing that everyone thought was a great movie for kids?   Do you know of any movies that have a good message for children who have had hurtful pasts?

Movie Madness Monday

No, this will not be a regular weekly post, and, no, it will most likely not be what you expect.

I just wanted to take some time to express my frustration with the movie industry.  You see I still have a child under the teen years at home, not to mention that I think the teen years need to be carefully guided because they are so important and teens are so impressionable.

Anyway, I am disgusted with the fact that the movie industry seems to think that it is important for animated movies to “appeal” to adults as well as children in today’s society.  I just have to ask, did the old animated movies not “appeal” to the adults who took their children to seem them, or even the old Disney movies that weren’t animated?

I remember my parents taking my sister and I to see animated movies like the Peanuts and Winnie-the-Pooh when I was a kid and they seemed to enjoy them.  I never heard them complain about them.

But, suddenly if an animated film doesn’t include innuendo, potty humor or swearing (or something close to it) or something scary, the film isn’t adult friendly.  Seriously, do all adults feel this way?  I can answer that with a resounding “no”.

I, and many of my friends, want “family friendly” films by which I mean films that are appropriate for children; films that parents can take their children to without worrying that their children will be exposed to something they don’t want their children exposed to at a young age, or that their children might ask about that they don’t want to explain to their children at a young age.

It’s downright aggravating to have such limited, almost nonexistent, films that I find appropriate for our youngest son to see.  Therefore, we purchase and watch DVDs at home of things we find appropriate; things like The Peanuts, Winnie-the-Pooh, old family friendly t.v. shows like The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie.

The last really family friendly movies we have seen were the Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University movies and Inside Out.  I am thankful that Pixar still does a fairly good job of making family friendly films.

How about you?  Do you think today’s new adult friendly animated movies are fit for children of all ages?

Where Have the Editors Gone?

I am a person with strong opinions, especially about things that I am passionate about.  This is how a conversation I had with a friend from my Thursday writing group became the topic of this post.

We met last night since this week, Thursday is New Year’s Eve, and Susan asked Laura if the story she recently finished will become a series.  That led us to discussing how you can create a series from a story you didn’t mean to be a series, if a publisher/editor ask you to make it a series.

That led to Laura mentioning an author who she enjoys reading, who writes books with good storylines, but she said it is also obvious that the writer isn’t a strong writer and there are often errors such as spelling and grammar even with a traditional publisher, which caused me to ask “Where Have the Editors Gone?”

Everything I have learned is that we have to be strong writers and we need to put out our very best.  We need to do a lot of reading, especially in the genre we want to write, and we should find at least one writers’ group to be a part of, and we should never stop studying the craft of writing.  I’ve heard the stories about hundreds of rejections and the demanding editors.

Yet, so many, even bestselling writers, are getting published and hitting bestseller status, yet they’re writing is lacking.

My question then is “Where have the Editors Gone?”

So, Laura asked an agent about this.  She wanted to know how this is possible.  How are these books not getting edited?

The response she received was that they have already established a following and the books are selling.  It all depends on numbers and as long as you’re making big money, the publishers and editors don’t care whether the writing is good quality.  This agent also mentioned that this is also why you will sometimes read an earlier book by a writer that is better written than later books because often good writers will stop working hard to do their best once they hit big numbers because they don’t have to produce the same quality once they’ve become successful.

To all of this, I say, “WHAT?!  It is ridiculous that today’s readers are accepting poorly written books and then hailing them as “wonderful” in book reviews, blog posts, and on Good Reads.  For goodness sake, can you at least write an honest review and let the author know that you like the story line but think they should improve their writing.  It is possible to do this in a kind way.  I have done it.  Just read this post for an example.  I believe I was honest without being harsh in this post and I even complimented the writer near the end of the post on what I noticed may be her strength.  Just because the many publishing options make it so much easier to publish today, and just because you may build a large following should not be an excuse to not produce your best possible work.

I have always been a bit perfectionistic and would never dream of producing less than my best.  Also, I believe that I am called to strive for excellence.

 

Profanity — Acceptable or Unacceptable

Okay, so I have heard differing views on this in the Christian writing realm, and was surprised when I attended a workshop recently where the speaker spoke about the importance of including “absolute truth” in our writing, be it fiction or nonfiction. This speaker also stressed that “absolute truth” only comes from the Bible, which I completely agree with.

The speaker also spoke about the difficulties of getting published with a Christian publisher because they have very strict rules, and the speaker mentioned that if we, as writers, want to reach non-believers, we won’t be able to do that if we publish with a Christian publisher, which I tend to agree with.

However, the speaker also said that it was okay to use profanity; that it makes it more realistic.  (This is something I have heard many times before).  I have been thinking about the contradiction in that workshop — “absolute truth” from God’s word, which clearly says, in Ephesians 4 and 5, where Paul is preaching about believers living as children of the Light:

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you.  

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.  Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.  For of this you can be sure:  No immoral, impure or greedy person — such a man is an idolater — has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.  Therefore do not be partners with them.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.”   (Ephesians 4:29 – 5:10)

I know that I could have simply shared Ephesians 4:29, but many people make accusations about taking scripture out of context, so I wanted it to be clear that the context is clear.  There is no question that we are not to participate in such behaviors, according to the “absolute truth” of God’s word, the Bible.

Therefore, if we are not to participate in those behaviors with our mouths, isn’t also our responsibility to not participate in those behaviors with our pen or keyboard?

As for the thing about using profanity making it more realistic, I have to say that I live a real life and do not use profanity, and in my real life it has been my experience that when others know that I do not use profanity, even if it is a normal part of their speech, they try not to use it around me and if they slip and use it, they immediately apologize.  My husband has told me the same thing happens to him.

Finally, I have to say that I know many people who use profanity daily, and yet I have never heard them complain about a book that they have read or even a movie or T.V. show that they have watched stating, “That was unrealistic.  There wasn’t enough profanity in that.”  Nor have I heard any of them base their like or dislike on a book, movie or T.V. show on how much profanity, or lack thereof, was included.

Therefore, I will continue to stand on my convictions and write profanity-free.

What do you think?  Profanity — Acceptable or Unacceptable?