Friday, December 16, 2011

"The Skin Map" by Stephen R. Lawhead

"The ultimate quest for the ultimate treasure. Chasing a map tatooed on a man's body across an omniverse of intersecting realities." I'm a sometimes fan of sci-fi/fantasy, so the thought of time travel that involves exploring alternative worlds intrigued me. Thomas Nelson offered this on their BookSneeze site in the form of audio book only. I listened to the book on my way to and from work. After a few chapters, I made excuses to drive my car instead of walking or riding my bike so I could stay abreast of Kit Livingstone's adventures with his great-grandfather Cosimo and Sir Henry. One sign of a well-written novel is the author's ability to make me gasp when the bad guys are about to overcome the good guys. Or when I say, "aha," at the moment he plants a nugget of information in the story. Stephen Lawhead did both...until the end of the book. The finale, which I won't reveal here (I'm not a spoiler for the next reader), came unexpectedly. I felt nothing had been resolved. I still had questions that needed to be answered. Even the epilogue left me with a question mark floating around my head. "How could he do this?" I demanded. I want to know what happened to Arthur Flinders Peachtree. How did the dread Lord Burley always know where Kit and Cosimo would be? Then I noticed the fine print on the cover: A Bright Empires Novel. I looked it up on the Internet and discovered the story continues in another book. What are the chances Thomas Nelson will offer the audio version of The Bonehouse to their BookSneezers? {grumble} I also wonder why Thomas Nelson published this book. I found no Christian theme in it. On the contrary, it seemed to be more new age than Church Age. Just saying... When I post my review on Barnes & Noble's site, I might give The Skin Map two stars instead of four or five simply because of all the loose ends that needed to be tied up at the end. I am a dissatisfied reader right now. >:-(

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thankful Yes, but to Whom?

Ahhh...the first Monday after a 4-day weekend. No leftovers--not even at my office. We've devoured everything in sight. And, of course, I repeat the same mantra on the way home from the day of gluttonous feasting: "I may never eat again!" But I always get hungry the next day. Many of us give thanks for our various blessings. I am thankful for my Celtic ancestry (as evidenced by my bagpipe-toting turkey here), for my husband of 16 years, for my 2 cats Pixie & Feathers, for my brother Jim and my sister Kathy and their respective families, for my job (especially since so many are without one now), for CWG Word Weavers, for the wonderful friends who bring us joy, for the Bible-teaching church we attend, and for the forgiveness of my sin. That brings me to the reason for this post. Everyone talks about Thanksgiving. Even the new media gives it a plug, if only to report the shameful behavior of shoppers on Post-Thanksgiving Black Friday. I rarely hear anyone mention to whom we are thankful. The words "thank you" flow easily from our mouths, if we are civilized people, that is, when another shows us kindness. But what about the grace God has shown us in sending His son to take away our sin? The word gratitude is from the same root as the Latin gracias, which means "grace." Out teacher on Sunday, Dr. Stephen Bramer, gave a wonderful acrostic to explain God's grace for us: God's Riches At Christ's Expense As I ponder the many blessings in my life, I want to honor Him who bestowed them on me. Yes, I'm even grateful for the strife and struggles that have come in the past, for they brought me closer to Him, and, because of that closeness, strengthened our marriage. What a loving God we have! Thank You, dear Lord, for the most wonderful blessing of all: Your gift of salvation, which brings eternal life. I have a dwelling place in heaven because I believe Jesus Christ is my Savior. Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples. 1 Chronicles 16:8 (NASB)

Monday, November 7, 2011

As the Deer Pants for Water

As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God? -Psalm 42:1-2 (NASB) We have no pastor at our church. Guest speakers from a variety of sources bless us with their Biblical knowledge. Some are professors from colleges, such as Moody Bible Institute or Dallas Theological Seminary. Others serve in the mission field. As Biblical Christians, we believe there are no coincidences, yet sometimes occurances might seem too close to be anything else. We know that God, in His infinite wisdom, is the underlying cause for any coincidence. Richard Sanders, a missionary to Chad, Africa, served as our guest speaker one Sunday. I'd like to share with you an incident that happened that morning. So subtle that I wondered if anyone else noticed it. Music director Ron Billingsly sang (in his beautiful baritone voice) a solo of "As A Deer Pants For Water." Mr. Sanders approached the podium to teach his lesson on the obedience of Rahab, but first described the special meaning the verses of that psalm have for him. As a nomadic tribe travels from east to west on the African continent, they take no water with them. Instead, they carry a small hart (or deer). When they need to drink they temporarily set the hart free. Following him on a two-hump camel (known for speed), the elders of the tribe track the little deer. He runs to and fro, then stops to smell the air, and begins pawing the ground with his hoof. He digs up dirt, then mud, then dips his head into the newly dug well for a drink. They rely on God's creature, whose heart pants for water, to bring them sustenance. This true account of how a deer pants for water showed me how I should thirst for God in my troubles and desert-like exile. I must look for Him, as the deer looks for water, with expectation of finding Him in my situation. Just as the water flows beneath the ground on which the deer stands, God, in the Holy Spirit, is there to nourish me with His brooks of living water. AMEN!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Another Success Story for a Word Weaver!

After reading this wonderful story, I want a pet dragon now.
I love a book that draws me into the story. FINDING ANGEL pulled me into the midst of Angel's world with the same velocity my vaccum cleaner sucks up a dead beetle.
As a teenager, Angel has no memory of her life before becoming a foster child at age six. When Angel's little foster brother finds an unusual bug, she discovers a link to her mysterious past. The pattern on the beetle's back is an exact replica of a charm on her bracelet. The bracelet is the only link to her lost identity. Angel meets a new friend, Gregor, who takes her back to her homeland - and not by train or boat - but through his own Talent. Dragons and beetles and elves abound, along with an ancient prophecy.

Kat Heckenbach's writing style is so convincing, I had a hard time returning to reality. I look forward to more stories from this multi-talented author. FINDING ANGEL is available on Kindle or, for non-techie people like moi, in the traditional bound book.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Animated Cat Office Gif | Funny Cat Pictures

Animated Cat Office Gif Funny Cat Pictures This is a first for one so techno-challenged. I hope it works. Being a cat "mommy," this animated gif picture gave me great pleasure! Blessings to my cat-loving friends (and may my not-so-cat-loving friends learn to love cats, too!)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Austin, Texas with My Sister

Anytime I can get together with my sister is a bonus. As children, we fought like bitter rivals. The only time we made a truce was an allied defense against our brother, Jimmy. As noted in my story, The Thornbuds, which Barbour included in "Heavenly Humor for the Mother's Soul," Jimmy's sole purpose in life was to torment us. But as we grew to maturity, Kathy and I became better than best friends, and Jimmy became our protector. When the wedding invitation came from our cousin Robert's daughter, Stephanie, I e-mailed Kathy.
"Are you going?" I asked.
"Yes! But David's staying home." Her reply was a hint this would be a sisters-only trip. Besides, weddings are for chicks; not for macho-disco, gun-toting guys like our husbands.
A chance to spend a weekend with my sister! And we had the added blessings of visiting beloved relatives we'd only recently seen at funerals. Now, we could come together for a happy occasion.
We shared a room at the Austin Motel, an eclectic, multi-level motel on S. Congress Avenue. Built in the 1930s, this quaint inn has old cars and metal artwork for decor. And we identified our room by the bullet hole in the window. The desk clerk explained it was the result of a band that stayed there in the 60s. Really? They never replaced the glass? We covered the tiny hole (just big enough for a mosquito to slip through) with scotch tape Kathy had in her purse. The staff includes Troy, the front office cat, and Rocky, the grounds custodial cat. Rocky was a bit camera-shy. But Kathy was able to get his picture in...the back of a pickup truck.

The wedding was lovely. Patrick Taylor and Stephanie Rollen were married in Hyde Park Presbyterian Church. The building is at least a hundred years old and was originally constructed as a Baptist church.

The reception was held on a paddle-wheel boat, which cruised the length of Lake Austin. The food was delicious (Tex-Mex fare - yum!). We spent two days walking S. Congress, checking out the trailers that offered take-out food (had great crepes at one!), looking at costumes in Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds, and a quaint antique store.
We found a few decorated bulls on the city streets, too. Here I am with my new Chia Pet!
Kathy and I trekked several miles in the triple-digit heat to another lake near downtown. She found her calling as Dona Kathy Quixote, the Woman of Lamanche!
Neither of us wore a hat and thought we'd have sun-stroke for sure. But a dip in the icy pool (and I do mean icy!) at the motel helped cool us down. The trip ended too quickly, and we headed for home on Monday. Kathy got to fly to Tampa with me before changing planes to return to her home in Birmingham. The only downside of the whole trip was the nasty flu bug I caught (probably on my flight to Austin from Tampa). I recovered after a week...well, almost recovered. These viruses are getting stronger every day!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Greetings from the Not-So-Oval Office

President…not a term I thought would ever be associated with my name. CWG/Word Weavers doesn’t elect officers. The founding members decided many years ago elections aren’t much more than a popularity contest or personality clash. When Jan Powell suggested passing the pen to me for this office as her term ended, I confess I took a step back. I don’t have an “A” type personality (more like a “Z” type, if there is one), and never considered myself presidential material. Although I’ve outgrown my fear of speaking to large crowds, thanks to many years in theatre and a leadership position with Tampa Christian Women Club, I do have difficulty in reaching out to form relationships.
When I met Jan at the Florida Christian Writers Conference in 2005, I never dreamed a friendship of this depth would develop. Her kindness and encouragement are a blessing to me to this day. A Little History Jan visited the original Word Weavers group in Orlando for a year before I finally joined her. Until then, we’d had a two-person critique group. She found more writers from Tampa who attended the Orlando group, and soon we had enough members to start our own chapter. Jan took charge as president, Tina Yeager agreed to be our chaplain, Sheryl Young accepted the role of recording secretary, and I became the group division specialist. Under Jan’s leadership, we have grown from four hopeful writers to a chapter of twelve members. And we’re successful! Over one-third of our group has sold stories to Chicken Soup for the Soul. Member Kat Heckenbach’s novel, FINDING ANGEL, is now available on Kindle and will be available in print mid-September. She designed the cover, too! Multi-talented, to say the least. (See it on Amazon.com) Word Weavers grew from a few members sitting around a kitchen table to a merger with Jerry Jenkins’ Christian Writers Guild. New groups are forming in other states, and now with a chapter in Canada, we’ve gone international! In the next two years of service to CWG/Word Weavers - Tampa, my goals are to grow our group to a divisible size, help our unpublished members become published authors, and bring glory to our Lord in our reputation as Christian writers.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Fight of our Lives by Bennett & Leibsohn

I prefer to read fiction because non-fiction usually serves as a good antidote to insomnia. I struggled to get through this work for that reason only. Unlike other non-fiction list-our-woes type of books, THE FIGHT OF OUR LIVES is a true eye-opener. Most books of this ilk merely point out the problem, but this one delves deeply into the cause of our slide into political correctness and directs us to a clear resolution. "Rolling off our couches" is a good first step. In eight short chapters, plus an introduction and epilogue, Bennett & Leibsohn describe the lessons we SHOULD HAVE learned (but didn't) from Viet Nam (which showed Bin Laden our weaknesses) to the Ft. Hood massacre (which underscored our PC standing). Quoting Gen. George Casey of the recent attack: "As horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that's worse." I had to read that line several times, asking myself, "Can a military general REALLY put diversity above his soldiers?" This book clearly identifies our enemies, some of whom are within our own culture. Eleven pages of notes for their voluminous footnotes is indicative of the authors' intense research. THE FIGHT OF OUR LIVES isn't based on opinion, but proven facts. I hope it starts a wildfire of couch potatoes getting involved in taking back our country. I will certainly share it, give it as a gift, and recommend it. I received a free copy of this book from BookSneeze®.com in exchange for my review, and am in no way compelled to write flattery for flattery's sake.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Expert Witness - We Are A Christian Nation

Righteousness exalts a nation,
but sin is a disgrace to any people. - Proverbs 14:34
Two hundred thirty-five years of freedom is unique. Why has the U.S. been so blessed? What makes us so special?
Psalm 33:12 answers these questions. "Blessed is the nation whose God is Lord." Our nation had a Biblical foundation. The founders planted good seed. You can tell the root by the fruit, according to Matthew 7:16-18.
Dr. Andy Woods, speaker, pastor, and Bible teacher, and attorney used a reliable source to prove that the United States of America is indeed a Christian Nation. His expert witness is Justice David Josiah Brewer, who served on the US Supreme Court from 1889-1910. His opinion in the case Church of Holy Trinity v. U.S. (143US 457,465,470-71 1892) cites multiple, irrefutable authorities.
The Declarations of early American settlers: Christopher Columbus wrote a book on Biblical prophecies. His motive for the voyage was not to prove the world was round, but to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in many distant lands.
The intent of the Mayflower Compact of 1620 was the advancement of the Christian faith.
The South Carolina Constitution (1778) established Christianity as the religion of the state. Roger Williams established Rhode Island for his Christian beliefs. Colonial life had an emphatic Christian tone.
Early education: Harvard's early seal and motto was: In Christi Gloriam. The rules for students of the university were to read the Scriptures twice a day and be ready to give an account of their faith proficiently. Yale and William & Mary had similar rules and motto. No school was founded on Mohammad, Buddha, or Confucius. MIT was the first school established by atheists in 1871.
Early support from the government for the church: There was no hostility, but cooperation between the Church and State. Maryland's constitution in 1776 offered a tax to support the Christian religion.
Requirement of elected officials: In 1776, Delaware required office holders to profess their faith in God, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Vermont's constitution required every member of the House to vow belief in Christ and profess a protestant faith. John Jay, the 1st Chief Justice of the USSC, stated choice of our rulers, our duty, privilege, and interest of our Christian nation is to prefer Christian leadership.
Use of the word "God" in reverence: The name of God is invoked. When His name is used in singular, it is presumed to include the Trinity.
The Declaration of Independence should have been called the Declaration of DEpendence on God. Our rights come from God, not the government. Man can't take away our rights because he didn't give them.
The U.S. Constitution uses the phrase "in the year of our Lord" (Anno Domini) to indicate the date.
Absence of contrary declarations: There is no repudiation of Christianity found.
Establishment of Christian Chaplains in the military: The original range of service was Christianity.
American population: (1890) One-third of the population was directly connected to a Christian teaching or church. Ben Franklin, whom many call a "deist" actually quoted the Bible. Thomas Jefferson, also referred to as a "deist" offered an historic call for prayer. He wrote to Europeans advice for immigrating to the new country: "Atheism is unknown, infidelity rare and secret, bad examples to youth are rare."
Acceptance of the Bible: Two hundred fifty million copies of the Bible. No further comment needed here.
Beyond dispute: Justice Brewer presented no doubtful facts. His evidence is 100% historically true. The laws and customs of the U.S. are based on Moses and Christ. The Bible is the guide of life. Christian doctrines are accepted as comfort in times of sorrow. Government Establishment of the Thanksgiving holiday, calls for fasting and prayers, recognition of Christmas, promotion of Sunday school for children, and Christian literature.
God alone deserves the glory for His part in creating this nation. He gives us a potential for greatness. We are a city on a hill because of our Christian roots.
Satan wants to erase the historical truths of our beginning. By removing our Godly heritage, he takes away the moral compass. We must remember from where we have fallen. From Harvard's motto: In Christi Gloriam to California's law demanding schools to teach students about homosexuality (but forbidding them to teach the truth our founding fathers). We have indeed plummeted a great distance.
Any country can be great if God has His place of authority.
Any church can be great if God has His place of authority.
Any person can be great if God has His place of authority.
Let us reclaim this nation for Christ.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tampa Police in "Obedient Heart"

A scene from Chapter Five in "Obedient Heart"
Jennifer tapped her fingers against the phone. Should she call the police? A man ringing her doorbell and running off wasn't a crime. But if that man had driven by her house, followed her, then come to her door, well...that was a different story, wasn't it?
She picked up the phone and dialed the non-emergency number. "Tampa Police Department, Operator Eighty-Six." The woman's confident voice reminded Jennifer of a female Jack Webb.
"I don't know how to report this," Jennifer said.
"Just start at the beginning, ma'am."
"Okay." Jennifer took a deep breath. "Earlier this evening, two men in a van drove by my house. And then I went out with...um, I went out." No need to bring up her botched blind date. "I saw the van following me. I think it was the same one. And a few minutes ago, one of the men came to my front door. So, I don't know. Is this a prowler, a prankster, or a stalker?"
"I'll send a patrol car out to you. What's your name and address?"
Five minutes later, the patrol car drove by twice before pulling to the curb in front of her house. The officer walked to her porch, pausing to shine his flashlight through the shrubs before climbing the steps to ring her doorbell.
Jennifer opened the door to let him into the foyer. Another patrol car pulled to the curb, and an officer climbed out of the vehicle.
**************************************************************************
Our protagonist, Jennifer Ryaan, lives on Davis Islands, a neighborhood sprinkled with eclectic businesses and homes. D. P. Davis dredged up these islands in the 1920s from two small islets: "Little Grassy Key" and "Big Grassy Key" where Tampa Bay meets the Hillsborough River. He purchased the land for $350,000.00 and later sold three hundred of the original lots for over $1 million. He didn't live to see the growth and development of his islands. In October 1926, he was lost at sea during a transatlantic voyage. Another lesson in "you can't take it with you."
The homes range from modest 1920s bungalows to the infamous "St. Jetersburg," the nickname the news media gave Derek Jeter's mansion on Bahama Circle. Jennifer would never meet the famous baseball player since her modest brick ranch-style home, built in the '60s, is on the east side of the island facing the shipping canal. Bahama Circle is on the west side, which has direct access to either the Hillsborough River or the bay. I used the theft of my husband's bicycle to research the quick response to Jennifer's call for police. Tom had left the shed door open while he ran inside the house to get a tool. It took five minutes for a thief to move my bike out of the way (how insulting!) and steal Tom's Schwinn. The phone call I made to the police, and their quick response, was similar to the scene above. The thief must have beamed up to the Enterprise for the two patrol cars to have missed him.
The officer who took the report sympathized with us that, since the bicycle's value was under $500, the theft was considered a misdemeanor. That meant they wouldn't assign the major case squad to investigate. {sigh}
In the fifteen years Tom and I have lived in South Tampa, this was our first experience with a neighborhood crime. I was so impressed with the two officers' quick response to our call, as well as their professionalism, that I wanted to boast about Tampa's Finest in my novel.
(Tampa police photos taken from www.tampagov.net/dept_police)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Brunchery in "Obedient Heart"

The Brunchery Restaurant & Catering, owned and operated by Greg Elliott, is located at 3225 S. MacDill Avenue in South Tampa.
***********************

Another snapshot from my novel "Obedient Heart."

...the waitress approached with their beverages. She pulled out her pad to take their orders.
"I'll have the chicken quiche and salad, please." Jennifer smiled and handed her the menu.
"And you, sir?"
Jack's gaze remained focused on Jennifer. "I'll have the same, please."
Jennifer grinned at Jack. "Do real men eat quiche?"
"Of course." He brandished his fork like sword. "But with a manly fork." He set the utensil down and rested his forearms on the table. "So, they caught only one of the men?"
"Yes. He won't give up his partner, so it means the battle isn't over yet." She stroked the glass of tea with her fingers before picking it up. "Surveillance will continue. It's so frustrating having this hanging over my head all the time."
************************************
The Brunchery is a perfect setting for this lunch scene. My Professional Women's Bible study meets here every Friday morning from 6:45 - 7:45. Yes, that's in the A.M.! Twelve to fourteen of us gather together for a study in the Word before work as guests of owner Greg Elliot. He graciously opens his doors for us, and even provides the coffee. I wanted to reward his kindness by mentioning his restaurant in my novel, and the characters were happy to accommodate me. According to the restaurant website, (http://www.brunchery.com/) South Tampa News (a regional section of the Tampa Tribune) voted The Brunchery as a top choice of best place for breakfast/brunch. No surprise there. The outstanding service and eclectic fare keep locals (and out-of-towners) coming back for more. Even the President of the United States ordered a catered lunch from The Brunchery on a visit to Tampa. Greg provided more than 1,000 sandwiches in a day's notice. I bet he did it without breaking a sweat, too!
Jack and Jennifer will visit the Brunchery again in the novel's sequel (still in its cocoon). In the meantime, you can find me there Friday morning at 6:45 with my Bible open. I'll be the one with the mug of decaf.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tampa Theatre in "Obedient Heart"

A snapshot from my novel, Obedient Heart:
"What's wrong, Maggie?" Jennifer asked. "You look sad."

"Oh, I'm not sad, dear." She picked at her food with her plastic fork. "Well, maybe I am, just a little. The paper said The Inn of the Sixth Happiness is coming to Tampa Theatre in a couple of weeks. That's my favorite Ingrid Bergman film." She put down her fork and slapped the arm of her wheelchair. "And I'm stuck in this place and in this thing." "Oh, I wish I could--"
"You wish you could take me. I know. But I've seen your car. My wheelchair won't fit, so let's not think about it."
(Later, when Jack McGowan asks Jennifer is she'd like to go to a movie, she declines.) Jack reached for the doorknob and paused. "You know, Tampa Theatre has a special screening of a classic Ingrid Bergman movie this week. Maybe we could do that Thursday evening."
(Of course, Jennifer mentions Maggie's desire to see that film. And Jack, being the gentleman who knows the road to Jennifer's heart is through her compassion for those less fortunate, offers to take Maggie with them.) TAMPA THEATRE is another local landmark I use to bring my characters to life.
This historical theatre, which opened in Tampa on October 15, 1926, is one of our city's finest jewels. Housed across Franklin Street from the TECO plaza, one would never guess its opulence from it's near-ordinary facade. But once inside, you walk on mosaic tiled floors, climb marble steps to the balcony, and gaze up at 99 faux stars in the ceiling. The theatre has 1446 seats in the auditorium and, aside from airing independent films, is famous for its Summer and Winter Classic Series.
My husband and I have made it an annual ritual to attend the July showing of Casa Blanca, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. We own a DVD of this cult movie, but there's nothing like watching it on the big screen. And during these events, the theatre offers Bugs Bunny cartoons before each movie.
And we must not forget the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ! The massive instrument rises through the stage floor as the organist plays a medley of show tunes, usually followed by the film's theme song, and finishes with Phantom of the Opera. Words cannot do this presentation justice. You simply must experience it. The late Rosa Rio played the Wurlitzer for silent movie events. She was beyond her hundredth birthday when she played her last performance.

This summer, the theatre will bring back one of my favorites, Some Like It Hot, starring Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemon, and Tony Curtis. The last time they aired this film, Tony Curtis made a rare appearance. He was still as handsome as ever with white hair! His gracious treatment of fans endeared me to him even more. And, yes, I have this on DVD, too. It's so much more fun to attend the screening at the theatre.
A sampling of the films offered this summer are:
A Place in the Sun
Starring
Elizabeth Taylor and
Montgomery Cliff
The African Queen
Starring
Humphrey Bogart
and
Katherine Hepburn






Gone With the Wind
Starring
Clark Gable
and
Vivian Leigh

They'll also host a sing-along showing of The Wizard of Oz.



You can see why I simply had to include one of Tampa's finest historical features in my award-winning yet-to-be-published novel.

(As a PS, Blogger still hasn't resolved the spacing issues that have plagued me in my recent posts. I apologize for the huge gaps between my paragraphs & photos. I correct it six or seven times, but it goes right back to the gaps when I publish the post)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Separation of Church & State? Where is It?

The Lord is our judge
The Lord is our lawgiver
The Lord is our king
- Isaiah 33:22

On May 22, Dr. Andy Woods blessed us with a lesson on the often touted non-existent Constitutional statement regarding the wall of separation between church and state.

The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free expression thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

So, where is the separation of church and state clause? It's in the USSR Constitution, not ours. Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to a Baptist church to assure the elders that the government would not interfere with church doctrine. He'd turn over in his grave if he knew how his reassurance to a church has been twisted and corrupted to ban Christianity.

The two cases (1962 & 1963), which illegalized Biblical and Christian teachings in public schools, failed to cite a single precedent. In fact, no court has cited precedent prior to 1947, censoring our history between the founding of this country and the post WWII era. And the courts selectively applied their rulings to only Christians. Militant secularization is pushing America away from its Judeo-Christian roots. Humanism and other pagan practices are permitted in schools, but don't try to read a verse from the Psalms.

The proponents of Roe v. Wade also cited no precedent, but used a "penumbra," a shadow that lurks behind the wording, dependant on which way the sun shines on the particular document. The law itself is unconstitutional because it gives the federal government license to interfere with the laws of each sovereign state. The courts have usurped their power by recreating the Constitution instead of interpreting it. In Isaiah 33:22, God established three separate branches of government:

  1. Judicial - interpret the law (The LORD is our judge)
  2. Legislature - create law (The LORD is our lawgiver)
  3. Executive - to enforce the law (The LORD is our king)

The U.S. Supreme Court has pursued and claimed legislative powers. Their motto has become, "With five votes, we can do anything."

Here's my opinion:

How did this happen? It's the frog in heated water syndrome. We let it happen while we were distracted by other issues that seemed important at the time. Can we change it back? Perhaps. But it will take years of appealing, and only then if we elect public servants who know what the Constitution says.

Get your pocket-sized copy of the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution by visiting http://www.constitutionfacts.com/ Study it, learn it... and the next time someone says you can't pray in public because of "separation of church and state," tell them this isn't the Soviet Union! --------------------------------------------------------------------- Dr. Andy Woods, B.A., Th.M., J.D., Ph.D, Professor of Bible and Theology at the College of Biblical Studies, adjust professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, author and Senior Pastor at Sugarland Bible Church in Sugarland, TX.

My apologies for the weird formatting. I can't seem to convince blogspot that I don't want the extra spacing. Maybe it's feeling overly generous. I'm techno-challenged.

Monday, May 23, 2011

FBI and other members of the Government Alphabet Soup

Held captive in a tiny hut deep in the Guatemalan rain forest, Ted Bohannon and his friend, Donald Gregory, have one goal: take the four children imprisoned with them and escape. Two years later, Ted's widowed sister Jennifer Ryaan paces in her living room. A mysterious note with a Guatemalan postmark appeared in her mailbox that afternoon. Someone knows her missing brother's fate. And her friends couldn't have picked a worse time to set her up on a blind date with airline pilot Jack McGowan. FBI agents, who investigated the original case, received new information about Jennifer's brother from a confidential informant. With Jennifer's permission, they set up phone taps and surveillance. A clandestine meeting in Paris brings Jack under the cross hairs of their suspicion. Jennifer refuses to believe Jack is involved, but how can she argue with such compelling evidence as photos of Jack with two international crime bosses? A tug-of-war between Jennifer's feelings for Jack and her determination to locate her missing brother is overshadowed by two strange men from Guatemala. Are they stalking her? _______________________________________________ My research for this novel began with visits to the Department of State website. I chose Guatemala because of the crime reports and warnings listed on this site. From there I visited the FBI's national website, where I requested information via an e-mail message. Neal Schiff, their liaison in Washington, DC called me the next day. Through many phone calls, he gave me the "inside scoop" (as much as he could without having to kill me-tee hee) of the Bureau's methods of handling this type of international incident. One of my co-workers, who has relatives who served in missions in Central America, confirmed my earlier research. Her uncle was kidnapped while living in Guatemala and held for several months before the family could come up with the ransom. After receiving payment, his abductors returned him (albeit a mere shadow of his former self). Unfortunately, not all victims survive their captivity. One purpose of this novel is to hint at this oft' swept under the rug multi-million dollar industry that continues to grow in Central America, as well the horrendous market of child trafficking. When you plan to travel abroad, please check the D.o.S. website, and heed their warnings. (www.state.gov) And hang onto your children, even if you're at a theme park in Main Street, USA.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Pach's Place in "Obedient Heart"

Pach's Place (pronounced Patches) is South Tampa's answer to "Cheers." In this neighborhood eatery, open for breakfast and lunch, everybody knows your name. My husband suggested the owners put one of those in/out planners on the wall so we regulars can move our little button to the "in" position when we arrive. This is one of the few real restaurants I mention in my novel, "Obedient Heart." The characters meet there for breakfast on several occasions, and FBI agents nab one of the villains (after he finished his omelet). I spoke with a member of the staff about being featured in my novel. He whole-heartedly agreed to allow me to host a book signing event there. A professionally designed poster, with the book cover on it, will read, "Look for Pach's Place on Page --- of Obedient Heart!" Named for the original owner, the late Al Pach, this little diner kept it's small-town neighborhood flavor. All the more reason to use it as a source of nourishment for Jennifer Ryaan and her friends in "Obedient Heart." http://www.pachsplace.com/ The completed, award-winning novel of 100k words is presently in a holding pattern, while my agent Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency, shops it to publishers. Go Joyce! www.hartlineliterary.com

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"Save the Date"

"Save the Date" by Jenny B. Jones took me captive in the first paragraph of the prologue. The sassy protagonist, Lucy Wiltshire thought she was about to become engaged to her long-time boyfriend. The expected proposal turned out to be his news of a job offer...in another state.
Two years later, Lucy found herself in dire straits when Sinclair Hotels, one of her biggest donors for Saving Grace, pulled their funding. Tough economic times, it seemed, knew no boundaries. Lucy established Saving Grace, the home for girls who age out of foster care, and her dedication to "her girls" created some comical scenes throughout the book. One of my favorites was Lucy crashing the Sinclair gala...literally. Alex, the heir to the Sinclair fortune and a candidate for Congress, swept her to the dance floor to keep her away from the affluent guests. But Mr. Zaminski didn't have a chance. Lucy knocked into a waiter, causing him to spill his tray of shrimp cocktail on the floor. The beaded strap of her second-hand gown broke at the same time. Zaminski hit the floor. Lucy, graspong her last semblance of modesty, headed for the nearest exit. Alex followed her outside. While comforting her, he inadvertently gave the news media photos of him embracing a young blonde.
Two weeks later, Alex discovered his numbers in the polls rose dramatically because of the photos and a bogus magazine story about his romance with Lucy Wiltshire. Thus came his scheme to easily slide into his Congressional seat. Lucy needed funds to keep her home for girls open. He needed her to pose as his fiancée.
From their first meeting to the end of the story, I watched Lucy grow from a klutzy kid to an elegant young lady. Alex grew from a self-centered football hero-playboy to a caring young gentleman.
I identified with Lucy because she knew as much about football as I do and shopped for clothes in second-hand stores (you can find me most weekends at Life's Treasures in south Tampa - Bruno Magli shoes for $3.00!) .
I highly recommend this light-hearted romance novel. Jenny B. Jones is a master at planting seeds, setting gems, and creating sassy dialogue. Her talent for flashbacks (or back story) is pure genius. A great example for any aspiring writer to follow, this is the way a novel should be written!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Another Success for Obedient Heart!

I received the e-mail from West Bow/Thomas Nelson/Women of Faith writing contest while my sister was here visiting from Alabama. My novel, Obedient Heart, had placed in the top 30 entries. Kathy rejoiced with me. The contest would announce the first place winner on March 1, 2011.
I left it in God's capable hands, and returned to Birmingham with my sister, my husband Tom, and his granddaughter Becca for a short visit. While Kathy & I went to a weekend scrap book retreat, Tom stayed in Birmingham to do "guy stuff" with Kathy's husband David. Becca continued on to a friend's home in Tennessee.
With all our giggle fits, with a bit of scrap booking here and there, I forgot all about the contest.
Tom & I drove back to Tampa on February 28th, and I went back to work on March 1st. A posting on Facebook asked, "Are you the Janet Rockey who won in WOF writing contest?" I checked my e-mail to find a message from West Bow Publishing at the same time my phone rang. One of the editors of West Bow called to congratulate me. I had won third place. Okay, so it isn't FIRST place. But to place third in 750 entries is exciting. I checked the web page and found that I had been in fifteenth place before they made the final decision. And almost all my writing friends who critiqued this novel are at the Florida Christian Writers Conference. I'm sure they heard my shout all the way to Leesburg!
The prize is a 50% discount on publishing costs, since West Bow is a self-pub house. That would be great if I had a stash of cash hidden inside the walls of my 1926 bungalow. Alas, but no. I have to make a decision, and soon. I wonder if they'll give the third place accolades to another entrant if I can't come up with the money to pay for my award. If the author who came in behind me can swing the cost, I wouldn't mind giving it to him or her. But let me keep the recognition of being a third-place winner!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Another Year Older

Well, today is my birthday. People tell me I don't look my age. One co-worker said I don't act my age. I don't feel my age. I think someone lied. But I must have been born when my mother claimed, because I remember all the fun stuff we did way back in the fifties. In Brownfield, TX, my sister and I joined friends for a walk down a dirt road to a wood-framed shop to buy a sno-cone or a "dime cherry-lime." We watched TV programs, "Gunsmoke," "The Rifleman," and all the episodes of the Cartright boys on the Ponderosa. We went to church on Sundays and Wednesdays. Dad sang in the choir and Mother taught Sunday school. And you didn't have to be embarrassed to say you were a Christian back then. We played outdoors in the summer, picked cotton on friends' farms, rode our bicycles all over the countryside without fear of predators. We had dogs: A Collie named Tonie and a Boxer named Babe. We had cats: A Siamese named Ichibon, followed by Dinghow 1 & Dinghow 2. Then came Genai, who outlived our mother. We had a parakeet named Cutie. She/he never talked, despite the little record we bought to train her/him in English language skills. My brother Jimmy horned toads and snakes as pets. I don't know if he ever named them. Then we grew up, got married, got heavier (well, some of us did), got gray hair, and few laugh lines crease our faces. But I don't feel my age. Maybe that's a good thing. Now, when I look in the mirror, I can say, "Not bad for an old lady!" Another benefit is an added excuse for shortcomings. "Oh, did I forget to do that?" A smile creeps across my face. "Well, I'm blonde AND old!"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ancestors: Our Roadmaps to History

One of my New Year's Resolutions was to post every Friday, then broke that promise the following week. I wonder why it's easier to keep a promise to someone else than it is to keep one made to yourself. Maybe that's a question for my friends who are licensed counselors. Here is an interesting item on my agenda. I told my sister I'd like to create a scrapbook of our family history. Our dad researched our family tree back in the 60s, in pre-Internet days. He had to do it the hard way, through letters and library archives. He told us the story of our ancestor, Sir Gregory Clement, who was hanged for beheading the king of England. My sister found a short article on Sir Gregory Clement through Wikipedia, and they even had a portrait of him! Born in 1594, to John Clement, a merchant and Mayor of Plymouth, Gregory grew up to become a Member of Parliament and one of the regicides of King Charles I. After working for the British East India Company, Sir Gregory returned to London from India and supported Parliament in the civil war. He became a Member of Parliament for Fowey in Cornwall in 1648. He then served as a commissioner of the High Court of Justice at the trial of King Charles in January 1649. He was the fifty-fourth signatory on the king's death warrant. Fifty-nine commissioners signed in total. In 1652, the House of Commons dismissed him because of a scandal with his maidservant. Political opponent Thomas Harrison is suspect in engineering the false accusations. (Some things never change.) When Charles II reclaimed the throne, all fifty-nine judge regicides who signed the death warrant and witnessed the king's execution feared for their lives. A few fled England, but Sir Gregory was arrested, tried, and convicted of high treason. According to my dad, the executioner offered those who were convicted with him a cordial for courage before being put to death. Sir Gregory refused the elixir and went bravely (and unrepentantly) to his death. On October 17, 1660, Sir Gregory Clement was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Charing Cross. A sad ending for a man of nobility and noble causes. So, there you have it. Part of my history. And I'm sure a part of history that will prevent me from being invited to Prince William's wedding to Kate. Snubbed by royalty...ho-hum.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Happy Friday

HAPPY NEW YEAR!
HAPPY FRIDAY!
This is one of many New Year's Resolutions I've decided to make for 2011: Post on my blog at least once a week. I've not kept up with my postings mainly because of being promoted to another level in my job. One blessing about my new position is the support and encouragement I receive from my team of attorneys and investigtors, but training in a new field can be stressful.
So, I'll post new messages every Friday, unless something comes up...like a death warrant or a brief. Just a thought here: why do they call it a "brief" when it's a 100+ pages of legaleze? One of the many mysteries of life.
Blessings to you and yours!