He thrust stiff legs out at a rapid clip, bent forward from the waist, arms fully extended with hands wrapped securely around the piled high grocery cart's handle, the basket stacked with tied shut plastic bags. His new bright aqua tennis shoes probably replaced worn ones and looked to be about two sizes larger than his actual feet. Not short nor fat, he walked tall even with shoes too big.
He charged across the street with the Walk command, mission-oriented and determined. Guessing the shopping cart held all of his possessions, perhaps he was on a journey to acquire more or seeking a destination only he knew.
Instead of a tortured expression he wore a pleasant look and held his head high, his winter's hat ear flaps covering straggly plain brown hair almost to his shoulders. That stiff-legged gait answered the demands his mind set forth. The weather, not unkind on this day, still warranted his heavy jacket, worn and unclean, but left open as he trekked forward to wherever he was going.
Father, you see us all. The obviously broken and the concealed broken. Only you can fix us. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
My long-distance friend and author of several novels, two published, Brenda S. Anderson, is correct about me in saying I'm not a big fan of the "Women's Fiction" genre. However, Brenda's first published novel Chain of Mercy, reviewed here, introduces the Coming Home Series with both Chain of Mercyand Pieces of Granite dealing with serious issues that can make or break individuals and families. Each story takes their characters to the brink of self-inflicted pain and destruction.
Pieces of Granite gives the reader a rare two-fold focus. Integrating the stories of Debbie, her husband Jerry, their 3 year old daughter Kaitlynn, and their soon-to-be born daughter Lily who will be a Down Syndrome child, Debbie's older brother Richard, who is the protagonist in Chain of Mercy, plays a less visible but equally important role in Pieces of Granite which is the prequel to Chain of Mercy.
Pieces of Granite provides background to the Richard Brooks (known affectionately to his family as Ricky) we first meet in Chain of Mercy. He's the power businessman climbing a ladder to a respected position in a high-stakes company at the top of its game. Hypnotized by the wealth and status of a Manhattan lifestyle, he has set aside his Christian faith and conduct to high roll with his co-workers.
We also get a deeper look at Debbie, the set-aside professional therapist and pregnant mom, the committed wife, the little sister to two feuding brothers, Richard and Marcus, who finally reaches that near-breakdown when her husband Jerry refuses to bond with Lily because of his past losses and fears.
Debbie's big brother "Ricky" becomes instrumental in her family's healing when he decides to make them a priority, something he's failed to do too many times.
Back and forth between the story of Debbie's and Richard's individual lives and their relationship with each other, Pieces of Granite reveals the differences between them and what ultimately sustains them.
A Christian novel from start to finish, the meaning of the title is deftly illustrated at the end in a touching scene between big brother and little sister.
Father, please continue to bless Brenda as she tells stories of hard things in the lives of your people. Inspire her, lead her, and give her a voice to the hurting hearts who need to read her stories. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
In the wake of the Academy Awards those of us who used to be film buffs - and I say used to be because we used to regularly go to the movies - realize those filmmakers, those actors, and those who are involved in the film industry don't really want to be in touch with real Americans. Real Americans who display the flag, love the 4th of July, celebrate Christmas, and know the true meaning of Easter - these are not the film industry's people. Nope. Oh yes, about twice a year, maybe, one of the mega-studios will come out with a non-animated movie that shows a family who actually loves each other, or a group of people who bond in spite of their differences to do something noble, or estranged loved ones who make peace. And what do you know: the movie takes off, makes far more than it took to make it, and leaves the hearts of many feeling good for a change.
Sunday night the Oscar ceremony displayed the narcissism, the social-justice ideologies, the half naked bodies, the plastic smiles or practiced sneers, and those who embraced it all clapped for each other's causes as if what was being said deserved glorification and all the pomp and circumstance it was afforded. A tiny representation of America performed their hypocrisy with political nuances and agendas at full throttle with little subtlety and tremendous pride.
Somewhere in the night's activities, lost on each one of them except for a very few, those who had selected the nominees and the ultimate winners of the gold statue ignored the nobility of a film that honored an American hero. Chris Kyle, deceased, murdered, former Navy SEAL, did more for their freedom and safety and provision for them to spout their progressive drivel than any of them will ever do for anyone else. Ever. Yet those who cheered for all the actors, directors, screenwriters, producers, and ultimately the Best Picture few had heard of or seen, and those who nominated all of them and selected the winners couldn't manage to acknowledge the profound performance by Bradley Cooper who gave his best to capture the essence of Chris Kyle, didn't even nominate Clint Eastwood for his direction of American Sniper, and failed to find any way to bring any kind of recognition for a meaningful and important film about a true hero aside from "Sound Editing/Direction".
Why was he a hero some mutter? Because he had the fortitude to separate good from evil. Chris Kyle was born to be a warrior. Those who know the bible would equate him with David's fighting men, those who relentlessly fought to protect the kingdom of Israel from brutal, hateful enemies. Just as Chris Kyle did for America. He was gifted with a skill. He loved his country. He fought against a wicked foe and killed those who would murder his men who fought for freedom where they were and ultimately for the USA.
A pathetic, shallow, self-indulgent display of nothing that really matters in the world outside of their spectrum, this has been the state of the Academy Awards for many years. Their tunnel vision and small, small ideas of what's important were given the usual grandiose presentation of wasted talent used to push ideas of little value in the bigger scope of life. Shame on them who fail to gaze beyond their jaded mindsets.
Father, you're the only One who can change hearts and minds. The only One. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
The thing about writing is . . . anyone can do it, but only some can do it well. Or at least not badly.
I've been told that the ultra popular novels such as The Twilight Series and the controversial 50 Shades of Grey series were not written well. At all. This was not the opinion of a few - it seemed to be the consensus. Oddly enough, no one who liked either series seemed to care. Intrigued for different reasons by the storylines, both novel series accrued large followings who supported the movies rising from the tomes.
For those who slave over their craft, to see the astounding successes of these some would say "poorly written" books led to real disappointment. Other novelists shrugged it off, attributing the success to unique stories appealing to a large diverse audience. The Twilight Series cashed in on the growing fad of renewing the various vampire fetishes, and 50 Shades of Grey exposed the hidden, macabre, and perverse fantasies of apparently a significant number of the female population.
What these two novel series - and others no doubt - say about the reading population presents a conundrum of opinions. Is the "average" reader looking for unusual storylines? Do the average readers not care about the quality of the storytelling? Do average readers not notice how well or poorly stories are written?
The thing about writing is . . . some do it very well with little success. Others write technically well with little style and find success. And still others, to the dismay of those who do wonders with words, catch the attention of a large group of readers who care very little about how a story is told as long as it interests them for whatever reasons.
Father, I only ask that my writing be done as you direct. Period. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
It's a rare time when a series ends perfectly, but The Mentalist achieved this distinction. Starting with a broken man who's lived a life of feigning psychic powers from a circus background becoming the victim of a brutal unsolved crime, Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) sought out the CBI (California Bureau of Investigation) to gain information about the serial killer with the Red John moniker who murdered his wife and daughter. Patrick's profound intuitive skills lead him to assist the CBI under a skeptical Detective Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney). An unsteady relationship persists at first until Patrick proves to be an invaluable asset to the department.
Over time and the closing of many cases thanks largely to Patrick, the pursuit of Red John remains a constant whether in the forefront or the background of Patrick's life. Determined to exact vengeance upon the evil killer, many episodes through the years deal with his pursuit.
Figuring out an appropriate ending to the Red John saga caused Patrick to flee, get found, and wind up at the Austin, Texas, FBI where he insisted he be joined by none other than Teresa Lisbon. The series took a chance with relocating and changing the dynamic of the procedural with some new cast members, but given the time to morph into its final state, it ultimately worked.
Through thick and thin, the friendship between Jane and Lisbon grew deeper but with a refusal to recognize their attachment to one another, the relationship strained. When an angry and frustrated Lisbon opted to take second best, she inadvertently forced Patrick's hand. His action brought the concluding season which gave that much needed recognition to their friendship-turned to-love.
The two hour finale aired on Wednesday (the 18th of February, 2015) and covered all the bases. Opting for a happy, fulfilling ending to a very good series, The Mentalist ended with a smile and a hint of a tear.
Father, I always thank you for the talent you give and I always ask that those who possess your wonderful gifts find you, the One who gives them so generously. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
In an earlier post I complained about the recent TV series Castle. Although I still believe that actors Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic who play writer Richard Castle and Detective Kate Beckett respectively have little pop in their romantic chemistry, they've settled into a workable marriage that demonstrates their love for one another. In my former post I wondered if the series had lost its appeal, the episodes less than satisfying. The exception to that, and the indication that the series still has it, are the past two-part episodes concluded Monday evening.
A wicked serial killer, thought possibly dead from being shot during an attack on Castle and Beckett, surfaces under a fake name with an equally evil plastic surgeon for his girlfriend who was suspected of being involved in crimes but without concrete proof. Their objective rests in getting to both Castle and Beckett and causing them incalculable pain.
The two-part story gave credence to the type of serial killers presented in The Patrick Bower Files. Intelligent, obsessive, organized, and compelled to do evil without feeling a hint of remorse, the two pair up to commit their evil deeds.
With proper escalating tension the writers take the viewers on a tedious search for these two killers with Castle's and Beckett's lives in the balance. These episodes remind me the show still has something left to give. Using the police procedural method of solving the crime with those outside-the-box Castle ideas to help work the frustrating circumstances, finally success is achieved with the ultimate relief and satisfaction.
So. The series still has some life left to it with two of their best episodes ever airing this last two weeks. Well done.
Father, may those who've used your gifts well acknowledge you as the source. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.