This Memorial Day seemed especially sad. We've lost so many in Special Forces under this president and in suspicious circumstances. Seventy-two percent of the military deaths in Afghanistan (72%) occurred under this president. Former SEALs lost in Benghazi under a shroud of lies. Extortion 17 killed 30 SEALs under flawed conditions aimed at destruction producing a terrible tragedy which implicated intentional efforts to sabotage the peculiar assignment. When Chris Kyle was murdered, this president didn't so much as call his family to offer condolences. Chris Kyle (aka American Sniper) is a hero whose skills saved so many of his brothers in battles. Yet this president brought a traitor in Bowe Bergdahl to the White House Rose Garden after trading five now-active terrorists for him.
We are still One Nation Under God whether or not this administration upholds it. We are desperate for God's mercy, His forgiveness, His grace, and His direction. We need our God back in His rightful place of leadership in our America. We need more hearts turned to Jesus instead of humanity. Humanity has perpetually failed and will continue to fall short. Without God anything done is a waste of time.
We remember those who gave their lives, who fought through fears and braved horrid conditions to protect our nation and preserve our freedoms, sacrificing for what they believed. Such a cost.
God, please, once more for the remnant, bless the USA. Don't let us fail because we certainly will without you. Let your justice prevail in the hard places and keep us striving to pursue truth. May we be worthy of your calling. Please, Lord, bless the USA. In the Name, Authority, and Blood of Jesus, Amen.
Father, thank you for sending those warriors who fought for noble purpose based on the principles you have given us.Thank you for those throughout the ages who've sacrificed their lives for freedom and the glory of godly ideals.Thank you for the USA and those who've given it all to protect it.Thank you for this country you set up to emulate righteous plans.Thank you for those who fought and died to preserve the nobility you infused into the document designed to honor you first.Thank you is never enough. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
The third book in the Porter Family Novels, A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade tells the story of two best friends separated at early ages who are reunited as adults involved in the same industry of Thoroughbred horse racing.
The third and youngest Porter brother, Jake, damaged, scarred, and haunted by his final tour in Iraq where he lost three of his men in an IED explosion, suffers from PTSD and survivor's guilt while training Thoroughbreds for Whispering Creek Horses. Well-respected in his profession, he knows he's barely holding it together most days. To add to his intense struggle his childhood friend has returned to town and asks if she can exercise horses for him. For an indecipherable reason she incites his rage in spite of her beauty, kindness, and determination. Does he resent her for leaving him when she had no control over moving away? They were inseparable friends, and he'd always protected her from her sometimes harebrained escapades and rescues. That part of him hasn't changed.
Lyndie James is back in her hometown of Holley, Texas, and her former best friend is now a former Marine sergeant and she thinks of him as "tall, dark, and brooding". She's learned his last tour caused him physical and severe emotional pain, and she's determined to help him however she can - if she can. She's a licensed jockey and has exercised horses at Santa Anita, one of the most prestigious tracks in the world. Jake wants no part of hiring her, but somehow he does.
(My only peeve - and it's only because I spent 30+ years in horse racing - is the incorrect use of racing terms. No one will know they're incorrect because the average reader has no inside racetrack knowledge. I do know that Becky did some research and tried to be reasonably accurate. It's a lot to learn, and I forgive her for the mistakes. Like I said, no one else will know she made them.)
Okay, we all know where this is going because it's a romance novel. And Becky knows romance. You have to have a passion for it to write real romance and to write it well. Becky gets it, she feels it deep and translates it to the page. Using humorous internal dialogue and some offbeat situations with her friend who lives in the same building, Becky is able to take some serious moments and infuse them with laughter, but make no mistake, there are some tear-jerking tender times involving Lyndie's younger sister Mollie and with Jake. The journey to the inevitable end is filled with raw pain, multi-faceted devotion, faith in who God is, intense struggle, longing, rebellion, and self-loathing. It's a study of a wounded soldier who sees himself as never healing, a young woman who needs to be a solid and dependable, loyal and loving friend - and more - to this man whose walls are steel-like impenetrable.
A Love Like Ours is typical in romance formula only. Becky Wade gives us well-developed and lovable - most of the time - characters with snappy dialogue and the absence of it which speaks volumes. Jake is a smoldering, serious, hotbed of hurt. Lyndie is fun, devoted, skilled, and lovely. It's a story of the inevitable plans of a loving God whose Son knows all the flaws and sins but gave His life for us anyway. It's about recognizing none of us are forgivable but God gave Jesus so He could do it anyway. It's about giving up on our own abilities to do anything and letting God's Spirit work in us to do what's best for us. It's a story about the least of us being given special gifts by a great God who sees what we can't fathom. It's about love, both big and small - and supernatural. It's about loyalty and divine protection which surpasses that of the human kind. It's about sacrifice, intentional and unintentional. And giving when there's nothing left to give.
A Love Like Ours is a quick and touching read that explores PTSD, loyalty and love, and the power of a relentless God and two friends who grow up to see the world in opposite ways. It's a story of healing and the miraculous touch of a close God. A Love Like Ours might be the best of the series so far - my favorite anyway.
Father, please continue to bless Becky's writing, to lead her to those places you want her to go, watch over her and keep her safe from all harm. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
The original film clip of the Michelangelo Antonioni movie Blow-Upstarring Vanessa Redgrave and David Hemmings pictured above. It was a fascinating film full of symbolism and "deeper" meanings. I loved it. It's coarse and vulgar at times but not repeatedly or for shock value. Taking place in London and actually featuring a concert with the Yardbirds in one scene, it spoke of times where individuals reached for more meaning in their lives but were stymied to find a sure reality. Searching for truth on their own terms produced nothing, but merging with a surreal landscape left them with relentless emptiness. Filmed in 1966.
Father, we were desperate for you then just as we are now. You are our only hope. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Many of you who visit here have few regrets. Some of you have had the pleasure and privilege of growing up with Jesus and have preserved and grown in your faith. You're to be commended for that. Not insulted or mocked or snickered at. Commended.
I spent 30 of my years in the world. I believed in God and prayer but didn't know Jesus personally. I briefly investigated Judaism, got into astrology for a season, acted badly for a while when I decided being "good" wasn't making me happy so perhaps being bad would. Honestly, it wasn't easy for me. I had to force myself to do things I knew were wrong, but without a Savior my moral meter was skewed.
Regrets accompany that attitude and many of the resulting actions. Lots of them. Once you surrender your life to Jesus, experience forgiveness for all that wasted time on activities that did nothing to build character and everything to cause pain to others and yourself, it's no easy task to get to the place where you can forgive yourself.
And although I regret my antics and behavior during a portion of my life, I am thankful that God has used those experiences in His perfect ways to minister to others who, upon learning of my Christianity, assume I have no idea of their struggles. The Lord has also allowed me to use my ungodly conduct as fodder for characters in my novels. Fiction done well takes a stark look at real life and leaves an impression. Whether or not I've accomplished that ideal in my novels is up to the individual reader's discretion.
Regret is humanity lived out. We begin in sin. We can choose redemption. We can be free of the condemnation of our sinful nature if we choose Jesus. For that choice, there is no regret.
Thank you, Lord. It's never enough. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Familiar characters Richard and Sheila have married and are looking forward to making a family and forgetting their pasts, but it's never quite that easy to discard those places where hurt and pain were the norm and the ability to absolve oneself of guilt is a trial all its own. Well aware their mistakes have been forgiven by God's grace, their enjoyment of one another and their future together looks golden.
Richard's business is flourishing, and Sheila has always exceled at her work. Their common objective is to raise a family. Sheila wants to be the loving parent she never had, her mother an ice queen, her dad distant. Her new in-laws are near perfect in the family department, and she's grateful for their loving acceptance.
When Richard's former employer in Manhattan calls asking him to return, not only is he shocked at their offer, he's afraid to even consider it. The fast, indulgent New York lifestyle had been his undoing and those personal memories from that season of his life bring only heartache.
Before I say anymore about this story of hope and heartbreak, forgiving and unforgiving, joy and pain, I would like to say Memory Box Secrets is Brenda S. Anderson's best work yet. Handling difficult issues with tenderness and insight, Brenda takes the reader on an emotional journey through the excruciating pain of adults and young people forced to make impossible decisions.
Memory Box Secretsexamines the "befores" of several lives and their consequences which lead to the "afters". Besides these circumstances, the different kinds of pain embodied in the past desperately need healing in the present. While I've never been particularly fond of Sheila, she displays some endearing qualities in this episode of her life. Having her early past revealed more clearly in a stunning scene with her mother, she is ill-prepared for what she learns. When trauma happens, she reverts to her closed-off self-preservation, pushing away the man who loves her while not allowing God to ease her pain.
The peripheral characters are well-designed and add substance to the story. The faith factor is always present but blends organically with the characters. There are hard moments in this story, the kind that elicit tears, but each moment is well-worth the emotional investment of this very well-written story of sinful pasts and healed futures, of abandonment and rekindled love, of personal sorrow and renewed hope. Brenda's unforeseen twists add depth to the complex situations in play.
Highly recommend Memory Box Secrets in this Coming Home Series by Brenda S. Anderson.
Father, please continue to bless Brenda with meaningful stories designed just for her to tell. Encourage her and give her what she needs to keep this part of her life thriving in you. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
One of many great clips from the classic American Graffiti. There were a lot of soon-to-be-stars in this film. This is one old movie I can watch again. The first time I saw it I went alone to a matinee. It's weird to laugh by yourself in a theater. This was a very well done coming of age, capturing the culture film. Recognize a young Harrison Ford?
Father, if only those who are talented would recognize and acknowledge where that talent comes from . . . Thank you, Lord. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
I touched on the "bad" boy and the "bad" girl characters last week indicating that sometimes the terms are applied to an image and general lifestyle rather than to an evil persona. Oftentimes the romance when these types of characters are used turns out to be "forbidden" or difficult or the kind of stuff where "wrong side of the tracks" meets good girl/boy and love happens but not without real challenges.
Making romance real in fiction depends on the author's take on the genre and the life experiences of said author. What you or I might think is truly romantic, another author or reader will disagree. Like so many things in the arts, regardless of craftsmanship, the end result remains subjective.
I'm not a girly girl even though I won't leave home without makeup and perfume. Those are the most feminine things about me, and they don't change. So what do I think is romantic? Words. What is said to me and how it's said carry so much weight in determining how I react. When my husband "proposed" to me, I finally gave in. We didn't know Jesus at the time, and I had a failed marriage under my belt. Not wanting to fail a second time, I didn't want to try it again since we already had baggage together. No question I loved him. The words, what he said, got me.
Different things, actions, spoken words, looks, walks, touches - all part of romance. One thing will send a person over the edge and something else will move another. Writing those unique characteristics into the fictional person must come from inside the writer. Creating visceral reactions is essential to writing romance, touching the senses.
For those who don't prefer romance, there is nothing a writer can do to change that preference, but I'm willing to bet if those readers have to trudge through some of it in a non-romance novel, they have a certain opinion or limit as to what is tolerable.
General market writers tend to think raw or explicit sex scenes are romantic when really they're just a written version of pornography designed to rile up the lustful desires in readers. They have little to do with real romance.
On the other end of the spectrum, some CBA readers tend to think anything sensually written is over the top, sinful, and definitely should be outlawed in Christian fiction.
There's no question that romance novels are prolific and the bestselling of all genres. Somewhere in the middle of each extreme there are multiple types of romance novels to read. Whether or not they feature bad boys and/or bad girls or good boys and/or good girls, the fine drawings of meaningful characters and their encounters with each other will matter over all else in their stories.
Father, we matter to you. You gave us romance, the author of love and desire. Nothing is perfect in this world, but you first created it perfectly. The only way we can even experience a hint of its beauty is to go through you. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Blood Evidence is the second book in a three book series by Mel Odom. I haven't had the pleasure of reading the first in the series (Paid in Blood).
Commander Will Coburn of NCIS and his team discover two bodies long-deceased on the property of an ex-con after raiding his farmhouse to rescue the daughter of Marine Captain Whitcomb. Coburn's team secures the girl after significant gunfire, an injury to one of his team, several prisoners captured, and a few escapees.
The two bodies belong to a missing Marine and the missing daughter, Chloe Ivers, of a Navy officer and her ex-husband Congressman Ben Swanson, Chloe's step-father. As Coburn, his team, and the Medical Examiner, Dr. Nita Tomlinson, attempt to determine the hows and whys of their deaths and what their connection could be, the intrigue and power plays begin.
Everyone loves to suspect the slimy politician will meet his match, and Ben Swanson is the consummate politician who will blame everyone else for personal woes, mislead, lie, and pontificate with poise to throw blame and suspicions elsewhere. Seemingly capable of anything to maintain his power, it's Coburn's and his team's job to hunt and search for the ties between the deaths and Swanson.
It's a good story with plenty of conflict, frustrations, emotional issues and upheavals, and filled with interesting characters. The thing I really liked about this story was its "structure". All suspense and thriller novels take the reader to the edge of excitement and then reroute them to another incident or character situation leaving the reader on the brink of chaos. Mel Odom does it extremely well, highlighting different characters, good and bad, in the midst of their struggles or schemes.
Ultimately Odom uses one of the least likable but impeccably skilled characters to find the keys to the case. There is one scene near the end of the story involving this character which didn't quite feel plausible based on her established personality but presented a welcome change in behavior.
Understated but definitely present, Christian faith is organically expressed and evident in the lives of certain characters.
Blood Evidence by Mel Odom (Tyndale Fiction, published 2007) is well worth the read for those who love military, procedural, suspense, and well-characterized novels. Probably should start from the beginning with Paid in Blood, but you won't feel "behind" if you read Blood Evidence.
Father, please continue to bless the writing and teaching efforts of Mel Odom. May he do as you ask of him and enjoy every minute of it. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
We're talking fiction here. Have you written a bad boy and made him your protagonist? What about a bad girl as your heroine? And are we really talking "bad"? Or are we talking rough around the edges with a good heart?
Characteristics of the bad boy can be all kinds of "bad". Same with a female. There's the connotation factor which plays into the bad boy image. And that image doesn't go with a truly evil character. The predominant "bad boy" usually plays tough but is tender on the inside, often only visible to his love interest who isn't the "bad girl" type. The "bad girl" is generally tough too because she's been through hard things and remains a survivor. The heroic "good guy" breaks through her walls and exposes the softness she's had to suppress just to make it in this world. Sound familiar?
So. Have you written either type of character I've described? Or do you recall either type from your reading of novels? I can think of a few I've read . . .
Father, we often lose our reality in forged images of ourselves. Help us to be real, to be who you created us to be, and to write real too. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Yes. Love it or leave it. This nation was prayerfully built on God's principles because they work and allow people to be free within the confines of love of country and its decent order.
We have failed as countrymen many times because of our abandonment of those principles and our indulgence in and glorification of sinful conduct. We have divided peoples when in truth we are equals. We have ignored laws and invented ungodly laws to replace them. We have followed the fleshly desires of corrupted policies by corrupted men and women. We need God back in our lives and in our nation. He is the only way to survive, to thrive, to insert meaning into wasted lives, and to rescue those who are lost and desire to find their way.
God, we're desperate for you. In the Name, Authority, and Blood of Jesus, Amen.
Debbie Reynolds singing the award winning song in the film Tammy and the Bachelor circa 1957. I must have seen this movie at the theater 10 times. You can see my heart for romance began at an early age. I loved this movie and song.
Hope you enjoy the flashback . . .
Father, thank you for memories which fill in who we were and who we have become. Help us to be who you want us to be. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
The expression "by the book" generally means adhering to laws or instructions on the right way to do things. It implies not cheating to accomplish a directive or purpose.
Too often the by-the-book approach seeps into writing fiction. And while this can work in an author's favor, it can also dash all kinds of creativity.
Genres dictate formulas for writing them. These accepted formulas most often appear in romance novels, but they exist for mysteries, suspense, cozy mysteries, etcetera. Genres overlap and sometimes in the publishing world, in order to gin up extra attention from readers of neighboring genres, the definitions are exaggerated and attached to books that really don't quite fit into how they're described in the marketing. I've noticed this happening more in the thriller genre - so many suspense novels are stretched to include the "thriller" moniker when it truly doesn't fit.
Many publishers insist that readers don't like much variation in their genres - again particularly readers of romance. And there are those readers who repeatedly grab the supermarket paperbacks or the Love Inspired fiction or a particular author's fare and stick to them. However, there are many readers who love variety, who care nothing about formulaic fiction, and who actually enjoy a mix in their genre types.
While novels need to have a solid flow, they don't need to follow a rigid pattern in their delivery. Story, story, story, no matter how bland or how boisterous, dictates the appeal to particular audiences. This should be but isn't always easy to predict. CBA publishers are notorious for not taking risks and stick to the by-the-book fiction. They've survived with this approach.
All that to say I don't choose to write by the book. Because I appreciate diverse styles and detailed character studies within the pages of a novel, I try to write what I like no matter where the story takes me. You can fault my efforts, criticize my design, and, as a result, not enjoy or appreciate my work. So be it.
Father, thank you for the love of writing and reading fiction. It's a true joy in my life, and I'm so grateful for those who share it with me. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
He said to them, "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."