Memorial Day: Flag Stories

By Edie Melson

This time of year it seems everywhere we turn the world is decorated with red, white, and blue. There are colorful banners, balloons, streamers, and of course the flags. Seeing this outpouring of patriotism brings special joy to those with a loved one serving in our military.

I should know, our oldest son went straight from high school graduation to Marine Corps boot camp to Iraq, where he served two tours as a frontline infantry Marine.

I’d always considered myself patriotic. I love our country and have always supported our military—at least from a distance. Yet it wasn’t until after our son enlisted that I discovered the deep meaning of patriotism and the true price our freedom carried. Even now, I can’t get through the Star Spangled Banner without tears. But it’s the flags that cause a stirring in my soul.

Now, every flag I see tells a story.

Some of them are easy to see as they wave over businesses and in front of massive buildings. They measure yards across and are visible miles away. I love to watch them billow and snap in the wind, colors popping in the sunlight. Their size brings to mind the thousands who have put their lives on hold and spent time serving in our country’s military.

In contrast, I also see smaller flags in residential areas and in the rural areas I drive through. I remember one particular flag, flying proudly from a rusty mailbox. The edges were frayed and the colors had paled in the hot sun of many summers. It whispered the story of our veterans who had paid a hard price for their service. They may no longer be whole, but they still stand proudly for the country they served.

During this time of year, it’s not uncommon to see multiple flags, lined up with mathematical precision. Every line straight no matter what angle I view them from. The symmetry of these banners remind me of those now serving in our military. In my minds eye I can see them standing tall, exhibiting excellence and pride in their service around the globe.

At times, the flags I pass hang limp, with no wind to give them life. They hug the poles that support them and bring tears to my eyes as I remember those who have paid the ultimate price. The sight of those flags always reminds me to pray for the families they’ve left behind.

One day, as I stood high up in an office building overlooking Saint Louis, I caught a glimpse of the familiar red, white, and blue reflected in the mirrored building across from me. I realized there was a parade, far down on the street below. I couldn’t see the street from my vantage point, but the huge flag being carried was a shattered reflection in the squares of mirrored glass of a nearby building. That flag’s reflection reminded me that whatever happens our flag still flies—shining bright as a beacon of hope around the world.


While My Soldier Serves

Thousands of families send loved ones off to fight on a daily basis. These families spend a lot of time living in a world out of control. This kind of stress can take an incredible toll, but there is hope. When we feel helpless, we can take our fears to the One who loves us more than anything and holds the universe in His hands.

In this book you’ll find the words to usher you into His presence. These prayers are a place to visit again and again as you take your own fears to God. They’re just a starting point, written to help you find your own voice as you call out on behalf of the one you love.

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Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, no matter if she’s addressing parents, military families, readers of fiction or other writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world.

Her passion to help those who are struggling find the strength they need to triumph is reflected in the characters she creates and the insight she shares. Connect with her on her website, through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Find her books on Amazon.com.

 

God Inspires Kindness in Impossible Situations

 By Lynn U. Watson

With a grateful smile, she tossed imaginary bouquets to Jesus. The scenario: I asked her permission to share this story. She reminded me that I wasn’t supposed to know that it was her.  I reminded her right back how I anonymously thanked her on that Sunday a few years back.

Recalling the sweet moment, she lifted her hands and offered Jesus ALL the glory. Another friend snapped this photo; and no, neither of us recall a memo to wear lime green.

It all began when he delivered the news with an I-told-you-so attitude, and it smacked like the blow of a high-powered sledge hammer. I completed training from one of the most highly acclaimed reflexology schools in the country at the time. Our state denied my application for board certification. Crucial for me to supplement our family income, I  invested a year of life in this. One more time the voices in my head hollered loud and clear – you’re not good enough – you’ll never be able to do that. Were those voices right?

Redeeming the situation meant attending another school in my state, and paying their full tuition. That $1800 (AGAIN!) loomed more like $18,000,000. After draining a measly savings left from a small inheritance I still needed several hundred dollars to make this happen.

Craft sales and dollars scraped from every pot available secured my way the first time. Overwhelmed by the thought of a redo and unable to wiggle one more penny from our tight family budget, the chains of hopelessness and helplessness strangled me. A few friends aware of my plight contributed generously, but the fund remained impossibly short. How awesome God loves impossible situations!

Meant to be anonymous, the envelope arrived with only the church’s return address. It contained a gift card that filled the gap for the rest. With immediate realization of who sent it, I thanked God for her generous spirit. I didn’t know her well at the time, but she’s one of those people who makes you feel comfortable bearing your heart and burdens right from the start, confident she’ll never tell another soul.

Nearly ten years gone by now, I’m so thankful for the friendship we share. Getting to know the heart of this beautiful lady revealed how she stands in the gap for so many. Continuously making herself aware of the needs around her and madly in love with Jesus, acts of kindness flow freely from Miss Bonnie’s life. To her it simply represented a monetary gift she gladly offered in Jesus Name, but He orchestrated the act of kindness that allowed me to break free from those chains and began to bring restoration to my weary soul.

Of special note,  my devotional, The Essence of Courage, features fictional characters whose life stories are based on the lives of real women. A little piece of Miss Bonnie’s story became a part of who Cinnamah-Brosia’s “Gram” is in the book.


Pulled reluctantly into women’s ministry nearly four decades ago, Lynn Watson now treasures the opportunities that were provided to lead, encourage and mentor women through relationships and Bible studies. She wrote a few of the studies, too.

Drawing from those experiences, along with years serving others professionally in the complementary healthcare field and her love for essential oils, Lynn delights in bringing her readers freshly inspired insights drawn from and focused on the many fruits, plants, oils, and spices mentioned in God’s Word. Married since 1973, Lynn and Steve call Bartlett, Tennessee home. Their home is filled with handmade treasures and lots of love for family, especially their five beautiful (of course) grandchildren.

Website/Blog http://LynnUWatson.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lynnuwatson writer

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Lynn-U-Watson/e/B01N4NH1OA/


The Essence of Courage: Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit in Solomon’s Locked Garden and in Your Heart (Cinnamah-Brosia’s Inspirational Collection for Women) (Volume 1)

Fresh & Unique! Explores spices & essential oils in the Bible. Ties those in King Solomon’s Locked Garden to the fruit of the Spirit. Visits women in the Bible & fictionalized contemporary characters who encourage you to cultivate the fruit in your heart. Icing on the cake: fun facts and activities to bring the spices & essential oils into your life.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0692840532/

Thoughtfulness in a Snowstorm

By Ellen Andersen

Everything in New York City was completely opposite of what I was used to. I grew up in the desert in California, with few neighbors in a small town. Most everyone knew each other and were generally friendly, offering a smile if not a personal greeting.  When I moved to New York City for graduate school, the difference in people’s lifestyles took me by surprise.  I was 3,000 miles from home but still in the same country so I didn’t expect such a culture shock.

Suddenly, I lived in a place where no one spoke to anyone else, despite there being millions of other people there. I’d never seen life move so fast.  People were literally running from one place to another, without so much as a quick hello.  No one made eye contact or spoke to each other unless they had planned to meet up somewhere.

Public transportation took us wherever we needed to go and people were packed like sardines on the subway or buses, not saying a word to each other. Perhaps they were focused on their agenda for the day. Or it may have been a way to retreat from the stress of fast-paced life. Whatever the reason, it was a 180 degree turn from what had been normal for me.

One day in my second year, there was a large snowstorm  there that dumped two feet of snow overnight.  blizzard-NYC Small Acts of Kindness blog postIt had been predicted, but the intensity of this one surprised everyone—even the natives.

It was cold, but the sun was shining and reflecting beautifully off the snow. Most businesses had shut down except a few grocery stores.  It seemed that life had come to a standstill, even in the middle of the city.

As I walked down the block, I saw an elderly lady walking with a cane and carrying a bag of groceries. She began to cross Broadway, but had a hard time with all the snow. A younger gentleman saw her, stopped what he was doing, and gently took her hand, helping her across.  He made sure any cars that had braved the weather stopped and let the two of them get to the other side. He demonstrated compassion for someone he didn’t know who needed help. It wasn’t a particularly heroic thing to do, but in the middle of the snow it made a difference to her.

What have you done or witnessed that impacted someone for the better? Share it here so we might all benefit from the experience.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.

Small Acts of Kindness: Encouraging Words

By Cindy Ervin Huff

I’d just completed the first leg of my flight to my first writer’s conference. I chose to go to one offered in Colorado because of an online writer’s course I was taking. The flight from Chicago to Denver had been uneventful and lonely. Anxiety over this new venture creeped into my thoughts. My resolve to go to the conference was fraught with doubts and anxiety. “Who did I think I was anyway?” God knew my heart. The short trip from Denver to Colorado Springs was a game changer for me.

I introduced myself to the woman sitting next to me. She was a published author attending the same conference. To this day, I don’t recall her name.  But I do recall the advice she gave me. “Take out some paper.” She instructed when I explained it was my first conference and I didn’t have a clue. She gave me a list of tips on pitching and talking to editors and publishers. My nerves settled by the time I got to the conference destination.

My first appointment was less than stellar. But my second with Susan King, from the Upper Room more than made up for it. After she looked at my devotional things and explained how to change them to submit to her. She took the time to share how I could approach publishers with my fiction idea. The next appointments went so much better.

God provided me with two women willing to share their knowledge with me.  It set me on a course to do likewise As I continued to learn the craft and gain experience I pass those nuggets on to newbie writers through my blog. When I attend my annual writer’s conference in Illinois I find those lost and confused attendees to encourage.

Think of your work, school, or family. Can you show kindness to someone who’s having a tough time?


Cindy Ervin Huff, a multi-published writer and 2014 Editor’s Choice winner for her first novel Secrets and Charades has a passion to encourage other writers on their journey. Check out her blog Jubilee Writer www.jubileewriter.wordpress.com or visit with her on social media.

Amazon Author page:https://www.amazon.com/dp/1946016144/

Facebook Author page:   https ://www.facebook.com/author.huff11/

Twitter: twitter.com/CindyErvinHuff

Facebook:www.facebook.com/cindy.e.huff.


Secrets & Charades

Jake Marcum’s busy ranch leaves him no time for courting, and his wounded heart has no place for love. When battlefield nightmares disturb his peace and his tomboy niece, Juliet, needs taming, somehow a mail-order bride seems like a logical solution.

Dr. Evangeline Olson has no idea her niece is writing to a rancher on her behalf, and she sure isn’t interested in abandoning her medical practice for a stranger. But when an inheritance threatens to reveal a long-buried secret, she travels west to become Jake’s wife.

Jake soon realizes Evangeline is more than he bargained for, especially when her arrival causes a stir in the community. As the two try to find their way in a marriage of convenience, their fragile relationship is further tested by cattle rustling and kidnapping. Can their hearts overcome past hurts to create a real marriage?

Small Acts of Kindness: Our Stay in the NICU

By Jennifer Hallmark

Our newest grandchild, Rozlyn Claire, arrived early. Almost four weeks early. I received the call one morning that I had an hour to get to the hospital if I wanted to see my son’s first baby arrive in the world. He and his wife had been at the hospital all night while they tried to stop her labor. But to no avail.

At eleven in the morning, Rozlyn made her big entrance. She looked perfect in every way, weighing in at 8 lbs. 10 oz. We thought everything was okay. But we soon learned her oxygen and breathing weren’t good and within a few hours, she boarded a pediatric ambulance and began the seventy mile ride to Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children. Once there, she was placed in the NICU.  As north Alabama’s only Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the state-of-the-art facility is designed to care for critically ill babies, premature newborns, and infants requiring close observation.

From the moment, Rozlyn arrived she received top-level care. In her section, one nurse is provided for each child. Each baby is monitored and charted. Parents were allowed to call at any time to check on their child which proved invaluable since my daughter-in-law was still in the hospital. The majority of the nurses were kind, caring, and considerate of the stressed parents, grandparents, friends, and family who came to visit.

During Rozlyn’s twenty-five day hospital stay, we were encouraged by the hospital staff, other parents and grandparents, and our friends and family from back home. So many prayed for Rozlyn and our family. People called, facebooked, and texted to check on how we were all doing. Some sent money and food which came in handy with the long treks back and forth to Huntsville.

I appreciated each and every small act of kindness my family received during this time. Whenever we would start to get down, someone was there to encourage us to not give up.  It really is true.

Rozlyn leaving the hospital

Kindness matters.

Spring Busy-ness

Here’s some news from my friend Betty and some updates on our other blog ☺

Betty Thomason Owens

Near the end of March, things get really busy around here. I’m busy judging various writing contests and acting like I know something. I’m an officer of a couple of organizations, one of which requires several hours of work per month.

My house is in dire need of a good Spring cleaning, and my yard…don’t even get me started. I need to schedule my schedule. So my blog posts have been a little skimpy lately. I doubt anyone really noticed, because everyone is so very busy. After all, it’s Spring.

So, since I really need to be cleaning and reading and writing, etc., this post will end with a couple of announcements and a meme. Well, maybe not a meme, because I forgot to make one. Anyway, I hope you’ll bear with me through all this busy-ness, because in a short few weeks, I have another book coming out. I’m…

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Book Review: Hope by Fay Lamb

By Jennifer Hallmark

Today, I’d like to take a few moments and tell you about Fay Lamb’s newest book, Hope in the Ties That Bind series.

Wow. I really am amazed how much better each book in this series has been to me. The book, Charisse, started the journey and her second book, Libby, will always have a special place in my heart. This latest release, Hope, is even stronger.

I had a difficult time reading it at times because the main character, Hope, is dealing with a serious disease. My BFF Rose had Leukemia and the writing was so well-done that at times, it brought back memories. But grieving is not a bad thing, at times, and I felt a sense of release when I finished the book.

I’m not going to say a lot more because I don’t want to give away the story, but you’ll get to see Charisse and Libby again in this third book of the Ties that Bind. And there is yet one more book to go. Hurry up and write, Fay! 🙂

Make sure you read every book in the Ties That Bind series, especially Hope. You’ll be glad you did…


Hope

Hope Astor is literally a starving artist, living off the good graces of her friends as she seeks help for the fatigue that has plagued her for over a month. Dr. Daniel Duvall is a noted oncological surgeon whose life hasn’t been the same since losing his sister in a car accident the year before.

When Hope receives her diagnosis, she understands that her carefree artist’s lifestyle has left her without any options to save her life, but her friends try to convince her otherwise. They persuade Hope to seek treatment from the best doctor she knows. Trouble is, Hope is the reason Daniel’s sister is dead, and she doesn’t think saving her life is on his list of priorities.


Fay Lamb writes emotionally charged stories that remind the reader that God is always in the details. Three of the four books in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series, are available: Stalking Willow, Better than Revenge, and Everybody’s Broken. Hope is the third book in The Ties that Bind Series, which also includes Charisse and Libby. Fay’s adventurous spirit has also taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.

Future releases from Fay will be: Frozen Notes, Book 4 of the Amazing Grace series, and Delilah, Book 4 from The Ties that Bind.

Fay loves to meet readers, and you can find her on her personal Facebook page, her Facebook Author page, and at The Tactical Editor on Facebook and on Goodreads. She’s also active on Twitter. Then there are her blogs: On the Ledge, Inner Source, and the Tactical Editor.