Modern Day Heroes

On Saturday, October 29, 2018 I had the privilege of attending a banquet with the theme “The Courage to Stand”. There were four speakers, three of which were deemed “Modern Day Heroes” by a young friend of mine because they are embroiled in court battles because they are standing up for what they believe in.

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The girl in the gray dress is my young friend, (I attended the banquet with her parents and her), who, after hearing about these court cases and being impressed with the courage of these three people, deemed them “Modern Day Heroes”. The girl in the middle is a young woman who has gone through quite a few struggles in her life, and then one day in high school, after it was determined “that boys who identify as girls can use the girls’ bathroom and locker room”, entered the girls’ bathroom in her Pennsylvania high school and saw the reflection of a young man in the mirror. She quickly left the restroom and went to speak to the principal, who showed no care or compassion for this young lady’s safety and privacy. So, her case is waiting to go before the Supreme Court, and the incident happened about three years ago.

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This gentleman was fired from his job as a football coach at Bremerton High School because he prayed on the fifty yard line after every game. At first he did so alone. He didn’t ask anyone to join him, but when some of the players noticed, they chose to join him. Eventually that grew until the entire team joined him and then they started inviting the opposing team that often joined them as well. Coach Joe Kennedy was then asked to stop praying on the field after games. Then one day he prayed on the 50 yard line alone, no players or anyone else on the field and he was fired from his job. His case is also waiting to be heard by the Supreme Court.

After we took this photo, Joe and I found that we have something in common. Do you see his belt buckle — it’s a Batman insignia and I have a Batman cellphone ring holder on the back of my phone. Yes, it turned out we both love “Batman”.      🙂

 

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This gentleman is a good example of strength and courage as he is the Masterpiece Cakeshop proprietor who was sued by a gay couple for refusing to make their wedding cake, and after five years had finally won the case in the Supreme Court only to be targeted the very next day by the same organization involved in the  suit against him the first time. This time he refused to bake a cake for a transgender who wanted a cake made for his celebration of his seventh year as a female.

Seriously, there are lots of bakers out there. These people could have easily gone to another baker. Jack Phillips has had boundaries in place since he started his business. He doesn’t only not make cakes for gay or transgender people. He doesn’t make cakes for other things that go against his beliefs either and has never been sued for those.

I have to agree that my young friend labeled these people very appropriately when she referred to them as Modern Day Heroes, and I will be praying for these people.

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!

The Connection Between Stories and Real Life

As a writer and avid reader, I’m always interested in learning about the lives of other writers, both those who have already passed on, and those still living and writing today. I love to meet writers who are currently living and writing as well.

That’s why I love books and movies like “The Man Who Invented Christmas” which is about the life of Charles Dickens. I have seen the movie and it will always be one of my all-time favorites. I have the book but haven’t had the time to read it yet, but plan to in the near future.

I have also seen the movie entitled “Good-bye Christopher Robin”, which is about the life of A.A. Milne, and what a heart-breaking story that is. A.A. Milne led a very difficult and sad life. I also have the book the movie was based upon, but have not have the time to read it, but, again, plan to read it in the near future.

I usually prefer reading books to seeing movies, because books can give you a much more detailed story, not to mention that often movies change or leave out some of the important facts. Movies even sometimes fictionalize something that they really shouldn’t, especially when they deem the movie “based on a true story”.

I also enjoy visiting places that we read about in books. A few years ago, I planned a family vacation for us and we went to Chincoteague, Virginia because our youngest son and I had just finished reading all of the “Misty of Chicoteague” stories and wanted to see where Misty and the Beebe family lived. While on the island, we visited a museum where we learned that Paul Beebe had passed away, when he was young, in a car accident, but his sister, Maureen was still living on the island, but was older and had health issues and so wasn’t receiving visitors any longer. However, we did get to see some precious items that had belonged to the Beebe family because they were displayed in the museum. One of the items was the family Bible.

It’s so interesting to find and/or visit places we read about or places we know authors live or have lived. It helps to give you a better picture of the writer and their stories. Because even fiction stories are written by real live people, every story has a connection to real life, and that is fascinating.

How about you? Do you like to know more about the people who write the books you read or are you simply satisfied to enjoy their stories?

We Are Diverse; We Are the Same

We Are Diverse; We Are the Same
by Kelly F. Barr

Walking down a city street
I’m intrigued by all the diverse faces;
Some white, some tan, some yellow, some black, some brown,
All attached to diverse bodies:
Some tall, some short, some thin, some fat, some soft, some muscular.

When I talk to people,  no matter their skin color, I find diversity
In the music they listen to, the books they read,
The activities they take pleasure in,
The causes they defend, their passions,
The things that get their dander up, and their beliefs.

Some see the diversities as the people themselves.
Some appreciate and respect the diversities; Some fear and abuse the diversities:
The rich kid who looks down on the poor;
The bully in the schoolyard harassing the quiet, unassuming child;
The gangs in the city streets fighting and killing those of different ethnicities.

The racists who see themselves as superior
Verbally and physically attack people of different colors;
The parents who disown their child for converting to a different religion
Or for loving someone whose skin is a different color;
The elderly woman who trembles in fear when a young man with a nose ring walks by.

Despite the diversities, we are all the same;
We are all human. When cut, we bleed the same blood,
When a loved one dies, we all grieve.
We face the same fears and temptations.
We are all born and we all die.

Walking through the hospital E.R., I see
Two gang members who lay bleeding, one black, one Hispanic.
In the maternity ward two moms scream in labor, one white, one Chinese.
In the cancer ward white, tan, yellow, brown and black all on chemotherapy.
I question the doctor. His response,”We’re all the same biologically.”

Yes, we all laugh, we all cry.
We all face challenges and bask in victories.
We all need human interaction so why don’t we reach out a hand
To help one another no matter our skin color?
Together, let us celebrate that, though we are diverse, yet we are the same.

A Thursday Tribute

I have never done this before, but I really feel like I need to do this.  I want to pay tribute to two people who mean a lot to me because of their support and/or contributions to my writing life.

First of all, my husband.  I just have to say how much I appreciate the way that he shows his support for my writing.  How does he do this?

He never complains about my attending all of the monthly LCW (Lancaster Christian Writers) meetings that I want to attend, which is all of them, (smile).  In reality, I usually end up having to miss one or two because of family things that come up that take priority.  He also never complains when I find a free or inexpensive one-day writing event that I want to attend, and he doesn’t mind when I leave two, sometimes three evenings a week for two or three hours to get together with other writers for critique group or to write, brainstorm and encourage each other along our writing paths.  He doesn’t complain that I spend so much time writing and participating in writing related things and yet am still not adding to the family income.  He understands that it is a long process.  I am blessed to have a husband who quietly supports me and I greatly appreciate him.

The second person I want to pay tribute to is a fellow writer who has become a very dear friend and is moving to the other side of the country, Laura Zimmerman.  I met her at LCW but our bond of friendship began when she and I both attended a one day writing workshop in the private home of a complete stranger.  We were surrounded by strangers, and I think, because we recognized each other’s faces and knew we were both part of LCW, we both felt more comfortable and we sat together for the workshop and had some time to talk a bit and start to really get to know each other.

Then when I started the weekly writing group for those of us homeschool moms who often struggle with finding time to write without interruptions in our own homes, Laura soon became a regular part of that writing group, Scribes Oasis.  She has rarely missed a night of Scribes.  Laura also encouraged me in my ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) membership, as I was debating renewing my membership.  You see, ACFW is a national organization, and though we have a local chapter, most of the best resources of ACFW happen online, and for the first entire year, I didn’t really get involved in that online community.  Again, lack of time, as family takes priority.  Laura encouraged me because she was involved in a couple of the things that the online ACFW community offered.  So, I renewed my membership and have jumped into getting involved with both feet, and I’m loving it!

Through all of these wonderful writing groups, Laura has also encouraged me in my writing.  She has offered me great advice on my writing.  She has gotten excited about stories I have written or am writing.  She has helped me talk through some issues that came up in my writing that I wasn’t sure how to improve or write well.  Laura is a little bit ahead of me in the writing world, as this year, she obtained an agent and she has submitted three story proposals to this agent already.  He has already gone over the first one and told her what she needed to do to edit the story and improve it, and she literally pulled her story apart and put it back together again, and she believes it is better than the original.  It broke my heart to see her go through that, but her positive attitude through the whole thing and the happiness she shared about the finished edited product was quite an inspiration to me.  Also, the fact that she is a homeschool mom who still homeschools three children and still finds time to crank out stories, and now, devotionals and articles, amazes and inspires me and makes me believe that I can obtain those things too.  I just need to keep working.

So, when Laura leaves after Memorial Day weekend, I will miss her so much, but I am so thankful for today’s technology which will help us to be able to remain close friends who will still be able to encourage and help each other in our writing.  Thanks Laura for your friendship and your encouragement and support in my writing.  I know God has good things in store for you and your family wherever He leads you.

How about you?  Who is a big support and encouragement to you in your writing journey?

Top Ten Tuesday

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday’s list as suggested by The Broke and the Bookish is: Ten of my Most Recent 5 Star Reads.

I have written reviews of all of these books on Amazon.com.  However, I wouldn’t say that all of these are “recent” as I do not give out “5 Star” reviews easily.  To me, 5 stars are for books that are outstanding, in their story line, in having well developed characters that I love and care about and hate to say goodbye to and in the quality of the writing.

The last book on this list, I read and reviewed in September of 2013, #9 I read and reviewed in December 2014, #’s 1-3 are the most recent – I read and reviewed those in 2016, all the rest I read and reviewed in 2015.

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A Just Man by Helen Daniel

I received a free copy of A Just Man by Helen Daniel in eBook form to write an honest review for BookLook Blogger.

A Just Man follows several generations of the Matthews family through farming, shipbuilding, the Civil War and other circumstances.  I enjoyed the characters, though I think they could have been a bit more developed, as stories with well developed characters who face sad issues never fail to make me cry, and the sad issues in this story tugged at my heart but brought no tears.

I liked the story and the characters.  I found the book very simply written and easy to read. The story was sweet and enjoyable, although I found it a bit unrealistic.

A Just Man is also very clearly written in third person with a narrator.  The story is mostly told by the narrator rather than shown by the characters’ thoughts, dialogues, and actions.  After reading for a while, however, this became less noticeable to me, as I enjoyed the story.

It was mentioned either on the back cover or in a Preface that Helen Daniel had written stories to illustrate Sunday School lessons, and that is exactly what the chapters of this story reminded me of.  They are sweet stories of generations of one family and their struggles, as well as their faith.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for something about faith in God that is easy to understand.  I would recommend this to parents who want a good, faith building, encouraging  story to read and discuss with their elementary age children.  I would also recommend this story to anyone who enjoys a good, family friendly, easy-to-read book.