I had such a lovely dream, though. If you look back in some of my 2006 posts, you'll see the love affair I had with a very young Christian. We were going to get married. But, God had other plans.
I actually saw two divergent paths that I could have traveled down. One would have been very rocky and full of pain, arguments, laughter, and strife. But, how is that different from anyone else's life who loves the LORD and works hard to do what God wants? The path I chose still had pain and arguments and laughter and strife and much, much peace in Him. I am so very content.
Satan tries his best to defile every work of God and that includes His teaching and training up of His children. We must strive to persevere in our faith, walking closely behind God if not actually sitting on His feet. I believe this is what John means when he says "He who overcomes". The overcomers are the ones who Believe God even though the situation looks as bleak as a blizzard.
We, my mom, my daughter, and I have been praying for my daughter a job. It has seemed that every door she knocked on was slammed shut. She's been in the movie industry since before Katrina. And the movie industry is really worse than any other industry I know. I was hoping that God would want her to walk a different path. But, dire straits had forced me to beg God for any job because unemployment had dried up.
Most jobs come to you after sending in a resume, or talking with someone or at least letting the employer know in some way that you would like that job. Not this one.
My daughter was called out of the clear blue and asked for an interview the next day. By Wednesday, she had the job. To me this is a miracle. How God works is still as amazing as Grace to me. Not only that, but Disney emailed her asking for her resume because they're doing a pilot for a new series. When God opens the windows of Heaven, the blessings overflow like a river bursting its banks. I am so thankful, and we are so blessed.
Glory to God in the Highest. He pours out peace during the storm, but with the clouds part the sun shines warmly causing the storm to be forgotten.
It is March FIRST, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sharon Hinck holds a BA in education, and she earned an MA in communication from Regent University in 1986. She spent ten years as the artistic director of a Christian performing arts group, CrossCurrent. That ministry included three short-term mission trips to Hong Kong. She has been a church youth worker, a choreographer and ballet teacher, a homeschool mom, a church organist, and a bookstore clerk. One day she’ll figure out what to be when she grows up, but in the meantime, she’s pouring her imagination into writing. Her stories focus on characters who confront the challenges of a life of faith. She’s published dozens of articles in magazines and book compilations, and released her first novel, The Secret Life of Becky Miller (Bethany House), in 2006. In April 2007, she was named “Writer of the Year” at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. When she isn’t wrestling with words, Sharon enjoys speaking at conferences and retreats. She and her family make their home in Minnesota. She loves to hear from readers, so send a message through the portal into her writing attic on the “Contact Sharon” page of her website, http://www.sharonhinck.com/. She is also an avid blogger...visit Stories for the Hero in All of Us.
This is a romance that moves pretty fast, and the storyline is compact. I liked it. The protag is a little sassy, but anyone who's been in a job that isn't a perfect fit... who's had to live with her mother for any length of time... and who is at the point in her life that God is touching her soul will so identify with this woman. Sisters should read it together. It's funny, it's heart grabbing, it's a good read for a Saturday afternoon. Four stars!
Joan Sanderson's life is stuck. Her older sister, Allie, is starting a family and her younger sister, Tori, has a budding career. Meanwhile, Joan is living at home with Mom and looking after her aging grandmother. Not exactly a recipe for excitement-or romance.That is, until a hunky young doctor moves in next door. Suddenly Joan has a goal--to catch his eye and get a date. But it won't be easy. Pretty Tori flirts relentlessly with him and Joan is sure that she can't compete. But with a little help from God, Allie, and an enormous mutt with bad manners, maybe Joan can find her way out of this rut and into the life she's been hiding from. Book 1 of the Sister-to-Sister series, Stuck in the Middle combines budding romance, spiritual searching, and a healthy dose of sibling rivalry that is sure to make you smile.
"A gentle story of one young woman's season of growth, deftly blending the tangle of family relationships with gifts of whimsey and revelation. A joy to read."~SHARON HINCK, author of Renovating Becky Miller and Symphony of Secrets~
Virginia Smith left her job as a corporate director to become a full time writer and speaker with the release of her first novel Just As I Am.
Since then she has contracted eight novels and published numerous articles and short stories. She writes contemporary humorous novels for the Christian market, including Murder by Mushroom (Steeple Hill, August 2007) and her newest release, Stuck in the Middle(Revell, February 2008), book 1 in the Sister-to-Sister Series. Her short fiction has been anthologized, and her articles have been published in a variety of Christian magazines.
An energetic speaker, she loves to exemplify God’s truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular talk, “Biblical Truths in Star Trek.”Virginia is a speaker, and an avid Scuba diver. She and her husband Ted, divide their times between Kentucky and Utah, and escape as often as they can for diving trips to the Caribbean!
Easter this year is: Sunday March 23, 2008As you may know, Easter is always the 1st Sunday after the 1st full moon after the Spring Equinox (which is March 20).
This dating of Easter is based on the lunar calendar that Hebrew people used to identify passover, which is why it moves around on our Roman calendar.
Found out a couple of things you might be interested in!
Based on the above, Easter can actually be one day earlier (March 22) but that is pretty rare.This year is the earliest Easter any of us will ever see the rest of our lives! And only the most elderly of our population have ever seen it this early (95 years old or above!). And none of us have ever, or will ever, see it a day earlier!
Here are the facts: The next time Easter will be this early (March 23) will be the year 2228 (220 years from now). The last time it was this early was 1913 (so if you're 95 or older, you are the only ones that were around for that!).
The next time it will be a day earlier, March 22, will be in the year 2285 (277 years from now). The last time it was on March 22 was 1818. So, no one alive today has or will ever see it any earlier than this year!
I was so excited to tear open my package from Thomas Nelson... It didn't have Ted Dekker in it, but the next best thing... his latest book called "Adam".
This psychological thriller is one of his darkest, I think, delving into the psychology of what could happen when two children are stolen from their home to live in an alien world of abuse.
It is classic Dekker in the details and research. This time in the details of forensics and FBI hunts for serial killers. The most chilling part is too close to the end to reveal here. The vortex of this book will suck you in and won't let you go. It's the kind of book that you will think about long after you've read the last page.
I'm telling you this book is well worth the money and is exciting to the very end. You'll not want to turn the lights out! What are you doing still sitting there? Go get it and read it.
Ted is the son of missionaries John and Helen Dekker, whose incredible story of life among headhunters in Indonesia has been told in several books. Surrounded by the vivid colors of the jungle and a myriad of cultures, each steeped in their own interpretation of life and faith, Dekker received a first-class education on human nature and behavior.
This, he believes, is the foundation of his writing.After graduating from a multi-cultural high school, he took up permanent residence in the United States to study Religion and Philosophy. After earning his Bachelor's Degree, Dekker entered the corporate world in management for a large healthcare company in California. Dekker was quickly recognized as a talent in the field of marketing and was soon promoted to Director of Marketing. This experience gave him a background which enabled him to eventually form his own company and steadily climb the corporate ladder.
Since 1997, Dekker has written full-time. He states that each time he writes, he finds his understanding of life and love just a little clearer and his expression of that understanding a little more vivid. Dekker's body of work encompassing seven mysteries, three thrillers and ten fantasies includes Heaven's Wager, When Heaven Weeps, Thunder of Heaven, Blessed Child, A Man Called Blessed, Blink, Thr3e, The Circle Trilogy (Black, Red, White), and Obsessed, with two more...Renegade, and Chaos to be released later this year.
Someone once said, "throughout the bible it is said that we should not get attached to material objects of this world."
Actually, I see a different picture. Throughout the old testament, the promises and blessings of God are associated with wealth and position. This is one reason "name it/claim it" philosophy seems to have Biblical ground.
Consider Abraham, Jacob, Job, Daniel, David and Solomon--rich men, all of them.
In the Old Testament, poverty is considered a curse. Anyone now living who faces real poverty will agree with this. Imagine having to walk 5 miles to get water, but you only bring back a small bottle full, because you can't afford to buy a larger vessel.
In the New Testament, however, Jesus teaches "blessed are the poor". Most people stick with Matthew's version, and hang their hopes on "poor in spirit", but in Luke's version, Jesus spells it out very plainly-contrasting the blessings due to the poor with, "woe to you rich, for you have already had your comfort". This may seem to be a rather sudden change of the rules between the two testaments?
Most preachers resort to Paul's statements, "I know how to be abased and how to abound". "If we have food and raiment, with that we will be content." "Let the rich not trust in their riches, but be ready to give generously, for God gives all good things for us to enjoy." (Which might be James...not sure)
With these "moderation in all things" type statements we are more comfortable. However, what may be behind the question, and is worthy of meditation, is this thought. "A wife gives herself for love, but a prostitute gives herself for money".
That seems to add a great deal of mileage to the visions in Revelation, where the Great Harlot, is compared with the Bride. It appears to me that a profit-motivated world system is a prostituted system. Hence, the love of money...and one reason the church is called out (ecclesia) from the world, and to have a different view than the world view and values.
It particularly upsets me when churches resort to "marketing" , "branding", and "merchandising", since this looks to me to be indistinguishable from the traders in the temple. However, there are others who will take a completely different view, and I do not wish to get embroiled in a fight.
Many people talk of getting "value for money", even in the Kingdom of God. Though it is a wise and worthy idea, I would rather believe in the economics of love. "You receive what you didn't pay for, and you buy things to benefit others." Because "God loves a cheeerful giver."
No... this isn't Russel Fink. This is Mike Snyder the author of the book.
Isn't he cute?
There is one thing about Mike Snyder and that is he is extremely unusual. His wit is a bit on the weird side, but that does not make it any less hilarious. He's been working hard on this novel for a long time. I remember the day I first heard about this character named Russell Fink. It was a short story and it was such a striking story it stayed with me for the past two years.
That story was about Russell Fink, and his fiancé was a lot more whacky, and not as likeable. Russell is a copier saleman who is just going through the motions and staying just ahead of the pink slip because his boss loves him as much as his boss's son hates him.
And who murdered his dog? Why did he punch out his boss? Why is his girl climb up a tree and for that matter why did Russell climb up a tree? Oh... and there are many more questions that you'll have to read the book to find out the answers. But...
It just so happens that I sat down with Mike and got him to answer some questions. I'll share them with you right now.
Mike – I noticed at the bottom of one of your short stories a thought process on how you developed your story. I also noticed (and you mentioned it, too) that "My Name Is Russell Fink" has some overtones and flavors – oh, all right – looks a lot like some of your short stories, or rather, three of your short stories are imbedded in your novel. What role did those stories play in how you built your plot line?
I love reading and writing short stories. It’s a different discipline than novel writing. A short story requires precision and brevity. At the same time, there’s more flexibility when it comes to form or structure or plot (Or in my case, lack of plot? The plot in MNiRF was not so much “built” as it was “tripped over”). I think what I’m going for in a short story is an emotional snapshot. For instance, the “sadder” parts of Russell Fink grew out of a much darker story about an entirely different character. Also, shorter works are also a great way to see if the story/character I’m working on has any kind of staying power.
Did you ever chase a rabbit while writing and have to scratch a chapter? If so, what happened?
Thankfully my editor did most of the chapter-scratching for me. And I’m really glad he did. My ratio of seat-of-your-pants writing vs. outlining used to be ninety-nine to one. Now I’m about 75/25. I do love the freedom and surprise and spontaneity of making things up as I go along. But it’s easy to write yourself into a corner without an outline. And I must admit I do this routinely. It’s time-consuming and frustrating, but I believe it’s a healthy part of the process. Still…sometimes a throwaway scene will have at least one great metaphor or one juicy paragraph that crystallizes some vital part of a character that you might have missed without writing the scene that got cut. I choose to believe that there’s no such thing as wasted writing.
Did Russell and his dad finally become friends or do they still have a lot of work to do in their relationship?
Hah, I’m not sure I have a good answer for this one. The most honest answer I can give you is, “I don’t really know.” But whether or not they actually become friends one day, they’ll still have a lot of work to do. And that’s okay. We’re all a bit of a mess. Russell and his father’s dysfunction just happened to be played out between the covers of a book.
And not to get too weird here, but I look at stories the same way I look at comedy. I’ve been told a time or two that I’m funny (see question #5). And I suppose there’s some truth to that. But I think it has more to do with training your senses to pick up on humor. I don’t create funny things; rather I observe them, then point them out to others. Most ‘funny people’ are merely conduits who’ve honed their timing and delivery, and are willing to risk not being funny.
It’s the same with stories. The reason I can’t be sure about what happens to the characters after the last page is because I never really got that far. I sort of went along for the ride, transcribed as much as I could, and hoped it would all turn out okay. So it’s hard for me to claim too much ownership of the actual story or predict what happens after The End.
Which character was the most fun to write and why?
Wow, that’s tough. And my easy ‘cop-out’ answer is: “Whichever one I was writing at the time.”
I really did enjoy writing every single character. I love them all. But if I had to pick only one, I guess it would have to be Dan. I’m sure there will be readers who deem him unbelievable, but I feel like I really know Dan. Although they have very little in common, he sort of reminds me of the roommate in the film Notting Hill, annoying but lovable.
Dan actually was fun to read, too. Sort of a surprising character (and vocation :) Did you ever just crack yourself up and laugh out loud while writing? Which part was it?
I think I remember laughing a few times, probably at Russell’s Battle of Jericho chant or the scene where he describes the doctor’s office. But truthfully, my emotions ran hotter in the other direction. I probably teared up twice as often as I laughed aloud. And that’s not an altogether bad thing. But there’s nothing I like more than amusing people. So just the fact that you asked the question makes me all warm and fuzzy. Okay, maybe just warm…I did shave today.
Sadder parts? Mike there weren't that many, it was such an upbeat book. Which sad parts got to you?
The sad parts (if I can remember them all) were mostly about Katie. I think there was a really tender dream scene that got cut as well. And then Gramps' funeral was really an emotional scene to write. Again that got pared way back, but it will be interesting to read it all again and see if those parts hit me the same way?
What was the best advice ever given you concerning your writing career?
Write every day, or close to it. And if you don’t love what you’re writing, don’t bother. Oh, and read, read, read! Read what you love and read over your head. Then read some more.
There’s other great advice out there, for sure. But I stand by those. I’ll even take it a step further and suggest that if you find yourself writing something you don’t love, then you should stop and write something else. I have abandoned one novel after sixty-five thousand words and another after eighty-five thousand. I have no idea if they were any good or not, but when I fell out of love with them there was no point going on. (NOTE: this should only apply to writing or inanimate objects—pets and family and friends are not to be so easily discarded!)
What tips do you have to offer aspiring writers?
For starters, I would ditto my last answer. But that would be too easy. So I’ll go with this one instead—don’t worry so much. Not about the rules or getting published or whether everyone likes your writing or whether you’re any good or not…and especially don’t worry so much about the results. Just read a lot, pray a lot, and write a lot.
I’m not advocating a bury-your-head-in-the-sandbox strategy, not by a long shot. We should all track our progress and make sure we’re getting better. And getting published is a great goal to have, and as such, there will be a few worrisome details to deal with. But please keep all that to a minimum. The single best thing any writer can to is to keep on writing and never lose the joy in the process. Those are things we can control.
What did you learn about God while you were writing this story? How has that impacted your life?
I think I got more reminders than any sort of new revelation. I was reminded that God has a sense of humor, that He loves stories, that no matter what our past is like or whatever batch of dysfunction or neuroses we throw at Him…that He will do what He does. He loves and redeems the lost and lonely and broken-hearted. Stories are a really good way to remember those truths.
I just love it when that happens. You turn a corner and suddenly there God is. It makes me smile every time. Is there a question that you'd like to answer that I didn't ask? Be brilliant and give me a good one :D
That’s hard…and a wee bit tricky on your part too! Let’s see…
Question: As far as the themes in the novel, were those thought out ahead of time and worked into the manuscript? Or not?
It’s pretty funny, actually. I’m reading Russell Fink again now (just got my first copy in the mail this past Friday!) and am seeing things I didn’t notice the first ten times I wrote it. To me it’s just further proof that God is the ultimate writer. His very long love letter to His children is read every day by millions and millions of people. But there seems to be no end to the “new” revelation He pours out on us through His words. (And for the record, I did NOT just compare my writing to God’s. For one thing, He’s been at this a lot longer than me. Plus, He’s got that whole I’m-God-and-You’re-Not thing in his favor too.) By His ultimate design, the written word speaks far beyond what’s actually on the page or what was in the brain of the writer at the time. And that’s a good thing too.
Thank you for allowing me to come over and play on your blog, Gina, It was a treat. And thank you to anyone who read this far.
AL GORE: I invented that chicken. I raised chickens on the family farm. With my own two hands I fed them, I watered them, I shoveled after them. Until I draw my last breath, I will not rest until every chicken is safe to cross the road. My opponent's chicken policy is a risky scheme that will endanger social security.
GEORGE W: I think my record in Texas shows my concern for chickens crossing the road everywhere. My policies will ensure that no chicken will be left behind. Additionally, they will have the right to invest their egg money in ways that will ensure they have a retirement that will provide for them.
HILLARY CLINTON: It takes a village to raise a chicken. I've been all over New York State listening to chickens everywhere. I've been a fan of New York chickens my whole life.
JOHNNY COCHRAN: You think you saw that chicken cross the road? But what's the real story? The L.A.P.D. made it LOOK like that chicken crossed the road. That Mark Furman has been after that chicken since the day it was born. Have that chicken try on the glove; if it does not fit, you must acquit!
COL. SANDERS: I missed one?
DR. SEUSS: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I've not been told.
GRANDPA: In my day we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Someone told us the chicken crossed the road and that was good enough for us.
SADDAM HUSSEIN: This was an unprovoked act of rebellion and we are quite justified in dropping 50 tons of nerve gas on that chicken.
CAPTAIN JAMES T. KIRK: To boldly go where no chicken has gone before.
BILL GATES: I have just released eChicken 2008, which will not only cross the road, but will lay eggs, file your important documents and balance your checkbook.
AND FINALLY............ BILL CLINTON: Hmmmm......Nice legs
Ten years after their mother Marilyn has died, the multi-racial Sinclair sisters (Meg, Kendra, Tandy, and Joy) still return to her converted attic scrapping studio in the small town of Stars Hill, Tennessee, to encourage each other through life’s highs and lows.
Book one spotlights headstrong Tandy, a successful yet haunted attorney now living back in Orlando where she spent the first eight years of her life on the streets as a junkie’s kid. When a suddenly enforced leave of absence at work leads her to an extended visit with her sisters in Stars Hill, a business opportunity, rekindled romance, and fresh understanding of God’s will soon follow.
I believe that Jesus wept because of a deep compassion for their grief. Not the professional mourners... but those who loved Lazarus.
I go to funerals for the living, not for the dead. If one of my friend's has a loved one who dies, I go for that friend and lots of times, I cry because they are grieving. When we know the person who died is a Christian because of his fruit, we know he is in a better place. (I am usually very jealous that person is in heaven--at least for a few minutes anyway.)
However, our hearts have an Eternity factor in them because of the eternal Holy Spirit. When a person dies, that breaks the eternal fellowship for a time and the grief caused by the breaking of fellowship is because of this hiccup in the eternal flow.
Yes Jesus knew what He was about to do. He'd planned it four days before. Yet, it still does not stop His compassion from being exercised for those whom He loved.
In Luke 16:31, Abraham tells the rich man, "...they have Moses and the prophets, if they do not believe them, they will never believe even if one rises from the dead." Jesus wept because he knew they would never believe.
Another time He wept is when He mourned over Jerusalem.
Matt 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, putting to death the prophets, and stoning those who are sent to her! Again and again would I have taken your children to myself as a bird takes her young ones under her wings, and you would not! How His grief poured over Jerusalem when He said, "See your house is laid waste."
The grief of rejection. To have so much to give and to know that if only the gift is accepted that the loved one would not suffer the Wrath of God... that could make any ordinary person go crazy. I can remember having a screaming mimi fit at my children when they did stupid, idiotic things. But...
That is both terrifying and a little bit funny to me. Terrifying that Moses, chosen by God, who spoke with God mouth to mouth, could not see God's full glory. And funny because God showed him His backside as He walked away. It just strikes me as amusing. Okay... so, I have a weird sense of humor.
According to Scripture... Romans 4:20 and did not stagger by unbelief at the promise of God, but was empowered by faith, giving glory to God, Our faith gives glory to God.
Psalm 50:23 Whoever offers thanks glorifies Me; and he who prepares a way, I will show the salvation of God to him. Our praises and thanksgivings give glory to God.
John 21:19 But He said this signifying by what death he would glorify God. And having said this, He told him, Follow Me. Jesus told Peter how His death would glorify God. I believe it was Jesus's obedience that also glorified God.
1Cor 10:31 Then whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all things to the glory of God. 32 Be without offense both to Jews and Greeks, and to the assembly of God. 33 Even as I also please all in all things, not seeking my own advantage, but that of the many, that they may be saved. What ever we do, we are to do it to glorify God. I'm thinking that if we had this at the forefront of our minds the instant we wake up, our day would probably be different, and at the end of the day, we would have much to be thankful for, and many more would be saved. Come on now, you know I'm right about this.
2Thess 1:11 For which we also continually pray concerning you, that our God would deem you worthy of the calling, and would fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness, and work of faith in power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here we see two things... Continuous prayer of the saints for their brethren; and worthy of the calling on purpose of God's good pleasure. This tells me our good purpose is impossible to do under our own energy and own will. We must have prayer over us so that we can do those works that God has called us to do which brings Him glory. Intercessory prayer is a must, not an option or a suggestion.
Which brings me to this: allowing God to work through us brings Jesus glory and glory to God. John 15:8 In this My Father is glorified, that you should bear much fruit; and you will be
My disciples. The work of our hands brings God glory. The fruit of the harvest brings God glory. Astounding.
1Peter 4:16 But if one suffers as a Christian, do not let him be ashamed, but to glorify God in this respect. Our trials and tribulations bring God glory. In this we should rejoice. I knew it was good if we suffered for Jesus sake, but I did not know that it brought Him glory. Astounding.
Somehow, that makes all this trouble that is common to man seem like a very good thing.
I do not believe regeneration happens without conversion. I do not believe that everyone in the world has been regenerated. I believe that when a person believes in Jesus, he is then regenerated upon his conversion. Nothing anyone has said or taught has ever changed my mind about this, even though my mind was perfectly open to hear.
The argument is just not convincing to me concerning the regeneration first then the conversion. I look at all the verses in the NT seeing that a person is made New, New Creation, New Creature in Christ -- all that says to me that the person is finally restored to what Adam was before he sinned. That is regeneration, to me.
That cannot happen without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit because a heart cannot be circumcised without the indwelling Holy Spirit. I am not interested in A comes first then B then C type of conversation because it is all academic until the Love is put into Action. I was just explaining how I can see that explanation of regeneration, but I do not agree with it. I take the Hebrew word for "all flesh" as it is defined by Strong's meaning "all mankind". That, to me, means The World... all humans, that is.
כּול כּלo kôl kôl kole, kole From H3634; properly the whole; hence all, any or every (in the singular only, but often in a plural sense): - (in) all (manner, [ye]), altogether, any (manner), enough, every (one, place, thing), howsoever, as many as, [no-] thing, ought, whatsoever, (the) whole, whoso (-ever).
The word is repeated for emphasis. It means absolutely all. Not one of every kind as in the animals going into the Ark. בּשׂר bâśâr baw-sawr' From H1319; flesh (from its freshness); by extension body, person; also (by euphemism) the pudenda of a man: - body, [fat, lean] flesh [-ed], kin, [man-] kind, + nakedness, self, skin. Human.
All means all Humans. Jesus said, "God sent His Son into the World so that the World might be saved." John 3:17 Not would be saved, but might be saved. The condtion is in 3:16 believe into the Son. Pledging, committing, plunging into. None of this stick the toe in the water, but gulping down the Living Water like a dying man thirsting for the water that would quench that thirst and change him from a dying man to a new creature, fully revived and refreshed.
Luke 8:13 And those on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the Word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a time, and in time of trial draw back.
What makes people think this is God's mercy to only those who hear the Gospel? What about what Paul says that those who do not have the law, sin is not imputed to them?
Rom 5:13 For sin was in the world until Law, but sin is not charged where there is no law;
I do not want to tread down a path that is quick sand, but the fact is, God said He will have mercy upon whom He will have mercy. No man can enter Heaven without going through the Son. AMEN.
But I cannot rule out the aborted babies or the mentally ill or those mentally retarded or cerebral palsy or all of Noah's great-great-great-great grandchildren who crossed the land bridge into North and South America before Jesus ever was born going to Heaven if God so chooses to have mercy on them because they never knew the Law or heard the Gospel. That is a God-decision, not a man-decision!
Am I saying that a person can get to Heaven without going through Jesus? I believe babies who die babies do. I believe the mentally ill and retarded do. I believe this because they have never known the Law. They do not know the 10 commandments. I believe they are blameless in the sight of God... sin is not charged to them. This is Biblical.
The world is aware of God, Romans 1 tells us that the world has no excuse because of God's handiwork and that God has put a knowing of Himself in His creation. Those who know and still reject... those are the ones whom God will pour out His wrath upon. He will have mercy upon whom He will have mercy, and He will condemn, those whom He will condemn. This is also Biblical.
It is February FIRST, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!
and her book:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rebeca Seitz is Founder and President of Glass Road Public Relations. An author for several years, PRINTS CHARMING being her first novel.
Rebeca makes her home in Kentucky with her husband, Charles, and their son, Anderson.
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Tandy’s purple stiletto heel tapped in perfect rhythm to the pulse that threatened to leap out of her neck. She stared at the phone, willing it to ring and someone on the other end to declare this a joke. Her boss did not just call her into his office. Now.
The smooth tones from her CD player of Ole Blue Eyes crooning I Did it My Way mocked rather than soothed. She had to calm down, but Meg’s idea of music soothing the savage soul was not working. Fingers shaking, Tandy snatched up the receiver and dialed her sister. Calm, stoic Meg always knew what to do in a crisis. From falling off the swing set to supplying Oreos and caffeine the night before Tandy’s bar exam, Meg was a pro at handling crises and keeping her three sisters’ lives humming.
A busy signal sounded, and Tandy slammed the phone back down. Of course Meg would be on the phone right now. Why on earth couldn’t that woman understand the helpfulness of call-waiting? Tandy could hear Meg’s soft, persuasive response now: Why would I stop talking to one person before our conversation ended, T? It’s rude and I just won’t have it in my house.
Grabbing the receiver again, Tandy punched in Kendra’s numbers, jumping when yet another hawk flew into her window. Why did Orlando have to have a courthouse with the perfect nooks and crannies to build a nest? Ever since the completion of this new structure, hawks circled attorneys in the Bellsouth building across the on a daily basis.
Kendra’s melodic voice floated over the line, its harmonious tones the same as in childhood: "You have reached the voicemail of Kendra Sinclair…"
Tandy slammed the receiver down again and glared at the circling hawks. Of course Mr. Beasley was angry. He had every right to be, really. That fat deposit in her checking account every other week meant the continuation of her dedication to keeping their clients out of jail. Certainly it meant she wouldn’t hand the prosecution the very evidence they needed to obtain a conviction. She fiddled with the purple and black silk scarf tied around her neck.
Would Joy be any help at all in this situation? Joy might be the baby sister, but her quiet strength could come in handy right now. Except that Joy loved to talk and Christopher Beasley was waiting. The thought of him in his office high above the hawks, tapping his long fingers on the glass top of a heavy mahogany desk, didn’t allow for long phone conversations.
Tandy’s office phone rang and she jumped. "Tandy Sinclair."
"Tandy, it’s Anna." Tandy smiled, thinking of the gentle lady seated a few floors above her. "Mr. Beasley’s on his third cup of coffee."
Her smile vanished. "Oh, no, Anna. Couldn’t you have dawdled a bit? You know how he gets with caffeine overload."
"And you know how he gets when I dawdle. You’ve got maybe three minutes before he asks me to get cup number four."
"I’m on my way." Tandy pushed back from her desk and stood up. "Thanks, Anna."
"No problem, sweetie."
Tandy dropped the phone in its cradle, her gaze darting around the room for something, anything that would prevent the next ten minutes.
If that idiot Harry Simons had been one iota less smarmy, this predicament could have been avoided. His outright ogling of her figure had been bad enough, but certainly not the first time Tandy had been forced to ignore a man’s unwanted attentions. They all seemed to believe her red, wavy hair was a sign she’d fulfill their wildest dreams. Heck, Mr. Beasley had probably even made that assumption at some point, as evidenced by his swift promotions landing her in a cushy corner office of Meyers, Briggs, and Stratton.
Tandy swigged caffeine and paced the office. It wasn’t even Harry’s condescension. His superiority, rooted in maleness, made no effort to hide the belief that a brain resting between the pierced ears of a thirty-year-old female graduate of Yale School of Law somehow negated its existence. That idiocy didn’t even raise her blood pressure. She fingered her pearl earrings and grimaced as a hawk glided to rest on the ledge outside.
No, she would have been fine, and Christopher Beasley would not at this very moment be preparing to fire her, except for one innocent little lunch with small-minded Harry. Why, oh why, had she agreed to go to lunch with the lizard? (Honestly, his head rivaled the shape of geckos that ran in and out of every flower bed in Central Florida.) Come to think of it, his eyes were shifty like a gecko, too. Was the single life getting to her so much that she’d date a lizard? She stopped and tapped the window ledge. Meg and Kendra were on her case to date more. But who had time to meet people after spending sixty-five hours a week at the office? She sighed. The sisters just didn’t understand life in the city.
"You guys have got it easy," she said to the hawks. "Circle, eat, rest, repeat. With the occasional head bang into a window to keep us lawyers on our toes." She shook her head.
Well, it didn’t matter now. Mr. Beasley awaited her presence and it would only get worse the longer she stood here. Her heels sank into the plush pearl-colored carpet as she crossed the office, ignoring the latest sacrifice to her black thumb—a nearly dead African violet. She opened her office door and cast one last glance at what, in about ten minutes, probably would not be her office. Oh well. Maybe she could take the plant to Anna.
She picked up the violet. At least the charade of defending a slimeball, who made fun of an old homeless man to make himself seem big, would come to an end. And the day was still young; she could hit the beach before the lunch rush hit I-4.
Shoulders thrown back, chin up, Tandy made her way down the hallway and entered an elevator lined in the obligatory mahogany, brass, and mirrors, testimony to Christopher’s desire to never rock a boat even in the decoration of his law firm’s offices. She eyed her reflection and saw steel in the brown eyes staring back. Cutting Harry off at the knees in public wasn’t the best financial move to make. How would she buy food for Cooper? Pay his vet bills? Keeping an old basset hound with arthritic knees and hips in comfort was a pricey endeavor. Still, it had been worth it to see the shock on Harry’s face when she announced in her loud voice the impending completion of his career. From a 9x9 prison cell, that cardboard box would look like heaven.
She checked her chignon, tucking in a stray curl and smoothing the rest down. Picturing Harry’s smug, pudgy face behind bars did way more to calm her pulse rate than Sinatra’s croon. The elevator dinged, announcing her arrival to Christopher Beasley’s penthouse lair.
Tandy took a deep breath, tightened her grip on the sagging violet, sent up a prayer of thanks that she’d picked the Ann Taylor suit today—must look sharp when being fired--and stepped across the threshold.
"He’s waiting for you." Sympathy shimmered in Anna’s blue eyes. The Orlando sun shining through the window made Anna’s hair glow like a fresh pearl.
Tandy set the violet down on Anna’s desk. "Thanks, Anna. It’s been good knowing you. I wonder if you might coax this little guy back to life?"
Anna raised her eyebrows. "Tandy, how many times do I have to tell you? You’re a danger to plants." She smiled and wagged her finger. "You taking them in isn’t an act of kindness. You leave the greenery to us old chicks."
Tandy laughed. "Yes ma’am." She took another breath. "I guess I should go in now."
Anna sobered. "Guess so."
"Still on cup number three?"
"I just took in cup four. I doubt he’s taken a sip yet, though. He’s slowing down."
"Thanks for everything, Anna."
"You’re welcome, honey. Take care of yourself. And you call me if you need anything, hear?"
Tandy nodded, only now realizing that losing her job also meant losing Anna’s kind wisdom. She blinked hard. Crying at work would not do. She stepped to Christopher’s door and knocked.
"Come." His deep voice bellowed through the door and Tandy’s pulse kicked up again. This was it. For the first time ever, Tandy Sinclair was about to be fired from a job. When she’d moved to Orlando to take this job and declare war on the city that took her childhood, Tandy never would have guessed she’d become an actual beach bum.
"Tandy, sit down, sit down." Christopher stood, gesturing to a chair and patting the telltale stripes of his Ben Silver tie. "Seems we have a little situation on our hands." The hawks circled one story below his window, the tops of their feathered backs lit by the sun.
Tandy sat down and nodded.
Christopher’s padded leather chair creaked with his weight. He settled back, propped his elbows on the arms, and templed his fingers. "Harry tells me he’s headed for a prison cell."
She nodded again.
"He also tells me that would be your fault."
Another nod. This must be what bobbleheads felt like.
"And he says he’s ready to sue this firm for inadequate representation unless I do something about it."
She quirked an eyebrow. Score one for Harry.
"I’ve assured Harry that there must be some misunderstanding since you’re one of the most capable attorneys this firm has seen in quite some time. So, please, Tandy, explain to me how one of our biggest clients, someone for whom you serve as lead counsel, suddenly finds himself facing jail."
Tandy tilted her head. He was giving her an out, bless him. Leave it to Christopher Beasley, King of Calm and Proper Appearances, to smooth the choppy waters and restore her professional boat to proper order. An image of Harry’s sneer popped into her mind, though, and the thought of backtracking fled like money from her wallet during a trunk sale.
She smiled and adopted her lawyer voice. "Well, Mr. Beasley, I appreciate your belief in my professional abilities, but it seems Mr. Simons has some rather extreme positions regarding personal values that led me to determine he is, in fact, guilty of the crime for which he has been accused. When I asked him directly, he admitted as much to me."
It was Christopher’s turn to raise a brow. "He told you he embezzled funds from Hope House?"
Tandy nodded. "Yes, sir. I advised him I could not put him on the stand, since I would be suborning perjury, but he refused to listen. It was either let him lie to the court or remove myself from his case. I chose the latter."
Christopher swiveled his chair and stared out at the courthouse. What she wouldn’t give for a hawk to barrel into the glass. Anything to break the tension. Losing this job wouldn’t be the end of the world…just of her bank account, for the time being. She really didn’t want to lose the paycheck, but Harry gave her no choice.
The man wouldn’t listen to reason if someone etched it in a brick and threw it at his head.
She thought about their lunch again, seeing the hump-backed old man picking through a dumpster across the street. His coat had been threadbare, but Tandy knew too well the value of a coat, threadbare or not, on the streets. The priceless nature of every layer between skin and street. How the three bites of cheeseburger he found wrapped in its foil was enough to fill his belly for an entire day.
Harry’s voice had faded into the background of restaurant chatter as Tandy’s mind flew back to the seven years she spent living in a box with her mother. Before she met Marian and Jack Sinclair. Hearing the trains rumble past where they camped. Begging people for money, searching for a dry place when it rained, for a piece of food that hadn’t already been discovered by bugs. Watching her mom bob and weave as she walked, that scary light in her eyes that was both mesmerizing and terrifying because it meant mom wouldn’t make sense.
Tandy knew now her childhood had been stolen the first day her mother lit a match beneath the bowl of a pipe.
"Stupid junkie. Probably lost his job because of some drug habit." Harry’s voice joined a thousand other voices that still kept her awake on too many nights. "Bet he chooses to live like that. Easier than getting a job and working for his money like the rest of us."
Tandy looked at Harry sitting there in his three-thousand-dollar pin-striped suit, black crocodile shoes, and platinum cuff links with the Brooks Brothers insignia. Thought about reminding him his money came from his father’s hard work and planning, but decided against it. Harry was, after all, a huge client.
"Oh, probably not, Harry. You’d be amazed what some of the people living on the streets have been through." She sipped her water and willed her blood not to boil at the stupidity of the man before her.
He sneered and pointed a stubby finger at her. "Don’t be naïve, Tandy. That man could get a job flipping burgers at McDonald’s just as easy as sit out there with a cup in his hand, begging me to part with my cold hard cash that I worked very hard to get."
Silence was about as possible as finding a pair of Ferragamo’s in a size ten. On sale. Never gonna happen.
"Harry, how would he get a job? I doubt he owns any clothing other than what’s on his back. What would he wear to a job interview? Where would he get enough sleep in one sitting to be awake for an entire shift? What address would he even put on his job application?"
"Why, Tandy, I didn’t know you cared so much about our fair city’s homeless degenerates." His voice, so patronizing and smooth, grated. It fought with the pockmarks on his face to portray a polished image. "I’d think, with such convictions, you would have a hard time taking my case."
"Why is that, Harry? You didn’t embezzle from Hope House. Which means you didn’t take money from the mouths of homeless people. Which means my awareness of the plight of the homeless works in your favor." She took a sip of her water and tried to relax.
He wagged his finger at her. "Tsk, tsk, tsk, Tandy. There goes your naiveté again."
It took her a second to catch on. "Excuse me?"
He grinned and, for the first time, Tandy knew what jowls meant. "I think we both know what I’m saying."
"I certainly hope not. Because if you’re confessing to taking money from a homeless shelter, I can’t put you on the stand. I’d be suborning perjury."
Christopher cleared his throat, snapping Tandy back into the present. He swiveled around to face her. "I’m in a predicament, Tandy. Harry Simons brings a lot of money to this firm, been with us for years. That must count for something. Yet I find myself struggling with the thought of firing you since I understand the ethical dilemma you faced."
A tiny smidgen of hope blossomed in her heart.
Christopher placed his palms down on his glass-topped desk, an act of finality. "And yet, I see no course of action but to terminate your employment with Meyers, Briggs, and Stratton. Anything less would cause serious repercussions in our relationship with Harry Simons."
She fought to breathe normally. Blinked to hold back tears. Her savings account was basically nonexistent, which meant she and Cooper better start looking for a big refrigerator box to call home. Or maybe finding Cooper another family to live with would be a better idea. One of the sisters could take him. Meg, or maybe Joy. Kendra would be a last resort. She was as good with pets as Tandy was with plants. Well, except for Kitty, but cats were self-sufficient.
A hawk slammed into the window, making Christopher jump and spill the coffee sitting on his desk. "Dadgum it! Anna!"
Anna came rushing in, saw the mess, and snagged a roll of paper towels from the cabinet by the door without a word.
"You’ve got to call somebody about these hawks, Anna. They’re ruining my concentration!"
"Yes, Mr. Beasley. I’ll make the call today." Anna shot Tandy a sideways glance. Tandy grinned. Seeing the unflappable Christopher Beasley in a snit was worth getting fired--almost. Anna sopped up the mess and left the room.
"Now, where were we?" He pushed paper around the desk, checking to ensure all the coffee was gone.
Tandy cleared her throat. "I think you were firing me."
Christopher stopped arranging paper and looked up at her. "Right, right. Well, I don’t think we have to be that drastic. How about a leave of absence?"
Thank heaven for hawks.
"A leave of absence, sir?" Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but, hey, it had to be asked.
"Yes. I think that will mollify our good friend Harry." Christopher nodded and patted the desktop, warming to his idea. "I’ll let him know you’ve taken some time to think through your behavior and will come back to the firm when you’ve gotten some perspective. Say, two months?"
Two months? She calculated the amount in her checking account and began deducting bills. With no extracurricular spending at all, it might work. Two months to find something else or learn how to eat crow. Okay, maybe this was a good thing. There was no immediate need to take another boring job in a legal firm. Two months was a ton of time. Figuring out her professional passion should be a snap. She could almost see Meg’s eyes roll at that thought.
"Thank you for that, sir."
Christopher smiled. "It’s the least we can do. You’ve been a good employee. I just wish this mess hadn’t occurred."
Poor Christopher. Conflict between an employee and a major client. He must have been up all night figuring out ways to smooth ruffled feathers.
She shrugged. "These things happen for a reason, I think." She stood up and held out her hand. Christopher took it with his own limp one and made a motion that might optimistically be called a handshake.
"Good luck, Tandy. We’ll see you back here in two months."
"Thank you." She turned on one Ferragamo heel and walked out of Christopher Beasley’s office. Eight weeks of nothingness spread out before her like a gift. There had to be a way to make money off of this.
She tapped her chin and watched the lights over the elevator. Maybe some tourist would want her apartment for a couple of weeks. Tourists would pay just about anything for somewhere to stay during season. A couple thousand bucks, easy.
But if someone were to stay in her apartment, where could she go? The whisper of her heart tickled Tandy’s brain. Stars Hill, Tennessee’s rolling countryside, Daddy’s smile, Momma’s painted roses, the sisters’ scrapbooks…
The ding of the elevator dispelled her mind’s image, but not the idea. Stars Hill. Well, it had been a while since she’d been back. Three years, if memory served. And, with Daddy and the sisters around, there wouldn’t be any need to spend money on restaurants. Though what she’d save might be spent on scrapbook stuff. It was one thing to scrap alone and quite another to sit around Momma’s old scrapping table with the girls.
Tandy exited the elevator and smiled. If she left right now, she’d be home in Stars Hill by morning.
She walked into her office, snagged her briefcase, and whipped out a tiny cell phone on the way back to the elevator.
"Hey, T, what’s up in the big city?"
Tandy laughed. "Well, not me. I’ve got eight weeks of a sudden vacation."
"What? What happened?"
"I’ll tell you all about it when I get there."
Meg’s squeal pierced Tandy’s ears and she jerked the phone away from her head. "You’re coming home? To Stars Hill? Yes!! When will you be here? Wait, what happened? Did you get fired? Did something happen at work?" Tandy could hear Meg’s three kids squealing now in the background. They must have caught on to their mom’s excitement.
"Seriously, I’ll tell you when I get there. Call Kendra and Joy. Breakfast at Joy’s, 9 a.m."
"You’ve got it, sister. James, get down off that table!" Tandy could just picture Meg’s eldest. He must have grown a foot by now. "I’m telling you that child will climb on anything," Meg said.
"Go keep your kids from tearing down the house. I’ve got to get home, get all my scrapping stuff packed, call the rental company to let some crazy tourist in my place for a couple of weeks, and get on the highway."
"On the road again…" Meg’s voice blared through the phone.
"Sheesh, Sis, are you ever going to stop with the songs?"
"Not as long as there’s a breath in me." Tandy heard scuffling. "James, put your sister down! I am not kidding with you, mister!"
Tandy chuckled. "See you in the morning."
"Okay. Be careful and buckle up."
"You’ve got it."
Tandy snapped the phone closed and walked through the parking deck toward her new little silver BMW 323. Man was this car going to stand out in sleepy little Stars Hill.