Thursday, June 16, 2016

What I'm Reading Lately

Ok friends, it's time for a beginning of summer book and podcast update.

Have I mentioned how much I love to read? I know I have, and I love it more as I age. My reading taste is not as diverse as I'd like, so I've been branching out a bit. If you're a writer, one of the best pieces of writing wisdom is to read books in your genre, but also read lots of fiction. I've not made a secret of my love of memoir; people fascinate me. Most of my writing is non-fiction, and I tend to lean in this direction in my reading as well. However,  I've been reading more fiction, but none I'm willing to recommend. I take seriously the responsibility of recommending a book.

My First Love...Memoir

by Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle has been on many book lists, as well as writing conference "must reads" if you're going to write your own memoir. It's been on my TBR list for awhile. I tucked it in my luggage on a recent trip to New York City, but didn't get very far because of the busyness of the trip. As soon as I got home, I devoured it. Yes, it was that good. Author, Jeanette Walls, reveals her childhood story of life in a dysfunctional family that redefined the word dysfunctional for me. Her memories are vivid and well written, but it's her story of survival in the midst of heartbreaking circumstances that kept me reading. Some of her most difficult years were spent in a small town in West Virginia, only 75 miles from where I grew up. She's within a few months of being my age and I could identify with the time and place as well as the unfairness life. At the tender age of 17, she leaves home for the bright lights of the city where she makes a name for herself in the world of newspapers and  television. The book is in the process of filming for the big screen.

by Adam S. McHugh

Are you a good listener? The Listening Life by Adam S. McHugh has transformed my understanding of communication. Relationships are the foundation of life and this book has not only helped me understand and learn how to be the right kind of listener, it's given me insight to ways I've coped because of my childhood. A true listening life is more powerful than words if we learn to hear and understand those in pain. I will reread the book again and again. This book should be read by anyone who is in the business of counseling or comforting others. I can't remember when a book made as profound impact on me as this one, except maybe Simply Tuesday, by Emily P. Freeman.

by Madeleine L'Engle

This book took several chapters to decide if I liked it, but it was worth the read. The second half of the book was much easier for me than the first. Her writing is intellectual, yet comforting; part memoir, spiritual journey, with writing practices sprinkled throughout. I'm glad I pressed on through the beginning pages. It was worth the effort for the nuggets I discovered. 

More Podcasts...

For Writers


10-Minute Writer's Workshop

Pop Culture and Media

The Popcast with Knox and Jamie

Enjoy your summer, and happy reading!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

New York City, of All Places

You may have thought, because of the post title, I was going to write about my recent trip to the Big Apple. Yes, it was an amazing four days. NYC is definitely a destination for your bucket list.

I could tell you about going to my first Broadway play, Beautiful, the story of the life of Carol King. Her music had me in tears for most of the production. I'm a child of the sixties and seventies and the music touched me deeply.

Me and Janet
I could tell you of the lights and energy of Times Square at 11:00 p.m., and the feeling of safety in the midst of thousands of people.

I could tell you of museums and parks and famous sightings. Or, the underground subway ride with the chest of drawers on its way to a new home.

I could rave about the food...oh, the food was so good. It really was. And the ladies I broke bread with are the best travel companions. Anna, daughter of Janet, my longtime friend, planned our excursions with the finesse of a travel agent. We followed her everywhere she wanted to take us, walking 33.5 miles in four days. Did I mention the delicious food we ate? It's a good thing we walked 33.5 miles.

There are occasions in life when you're confronted with a person, event, or conversation and you must plunge into the encounter based on prior knowledge, your own gut feeling, or fear. Taxi ride, need I say more? The only time we hailed a cab, apart from the shuttle to and from the airport, was a 30 minute ride from the Upper West Side back to the center of Manhattan. It was a moment in my life, planned before I drew breath. Our days are not random or by chance.

Skyline view from Central Park
I am a committed believer in Jesus Christ. I write in this space and tell of my beliefs, my struggles, and my joys. This is a safe place to express my heart. During the ride in the cab, our driver, a twenty-something college student, began a conversation about politics and social issues. He assumed, from our accent, we were southerners. I have no idea how he knew. Anyway, he also assumed we were conservative homophobes.

For the record, I must tell you, in the past my husband would've taken the lead in friendly banter and I would've sat quietly in the backseat people watching and daydreaming. However, this time, I found myself explaining my political views, my social issue opinions, and defending my faith.

The young man boasted of being an atheist. Before leaving the cab, and this enlightening exchange of world views, I was able to tell him of God's love for him and Jesus' death on the cross for him. It was a natural progression of conversation. I didn't beat him over the head with it, and he promised he would think about all we'd said. He asked that I do the same, and I have.

It was a short conversation in the scope of the entire trip, yet it was one I will not soon forget. A seed was planted right in the middle of NYC on a beautiful Friday afternoon. We each made an impression with someone who is blind and deaf about the most important part of life, with our words, our demeanor, and our smiles. This is what we are called to do as believers, "Be ready in season..."

9-11 Memorial and Museum
Did I say all the right things? Only God knows. Will He use our words in this man's life? Only God knows, but the Bible says His word will not return void.

I want to be ready to share my faith with whomever is put in my path. I must not be afraid to share the truth of all I've learned and experienced in this life. We must be sensitive to the beliefs of others, yet firm in our own belief. Then, and only then, will we be taken seriously in this post Christian world we live in.

True freedom cannot be found in the temporal, but the eternal. That should be our message. It's not up to us to change the world, but we need to be faithful and obedient to whatever opportunities we have. He will do the rest. It's a promise.

With the summer months upon us, many will be out of their normal routine. Where, and with whom will you find yourself in a cab or hotel, on a boat or restaurant? People are looking for answers to life's deepest questions and meaning. If you're a believer, you have the answer. Be gentle and kind and let Love talk. Amazing adventures await you.