b-blog

Brainstorming Drawing Winner

Thank you all for your creative ideas for titles. It’s nice to have friends who are better with titles than I am! I’ve forwarded a long list of suggestions to the team at Revell. The marketing director said she saw a lot that she loved, and they’ll take it to their titling committee this week. I’ll let you know what they decide. If your suggestion is selected, I’ll mention you in my acknowledgements page in the book.

My youngest son drew a name from all of you who left a comment, so if you didn’t win, blame him. The winner is….Loretta Boyett! Loretta, I’ll contact you on Facebook.

Thank you all for participating! This was a lot of fun.

Help Me Brainstorm!

It’s time to name the third book in the Wings of Glory series. Yesterday, the fantastic, creative team at Revell, my agent, and I brainstormed title ideas. They really liked my working title, When Blue Skies Return, but with the font and look of the series – see the book covers – the title is just too long.

We’d love to stick with the “Blue Skies” theme, but need something shorter. Something along the lines of “_____ Blue Skies,” “Blue Skies _______,” or “Blue Sky _________.”

Here’s a short synopsis of the story:

Lt. Raymond Novak prefers the pulpit to the cockpit, but his stateside job training B-17 pilots allows him to court Helen Carlisle, a widowed mother who conceals her pain under a frenzy of volunteer work. The sparks of their romance set a fire that flings them both into peril. Ray leaves to fly a combat mission at the peak of the air war over Europe, while Helen takes a job at a dangerous munitions yard and faces an even graver menace in her own home. Can they both find the courage to face their challenges?
Help me brainstorm! Leave a comment, and I’ll enter your name in a drawing to win a copy of either A Distant Melody or A Memory Between Us.

Lessons from the 1940s – Look Back for Inspiration

Happy Independence Day! This poster seemed appropriate with its Revolutionary War theme.

In 1943, the United States, and the rest of the world, faced its greatest threat. Germany, Japan, and Italy with the other Axis powers, had conquered vast areas of the globe. The Allies were just beginning to make progress, clearing North Africa, invading Sicily and Italy, and invading some Pacific Islands, but the road ahead looked long and difficult. It would prove to be so.

This poster reminded the people of 1943 of their heritage, that Americans fight for liberty. The American colonists fighting for freedom in the Revolutionary War faced the greatest military power of the time and prevailed, mostly because of their intense drive to be free. Their example inspired World War II soldiers to fight for liberty at home and abroad despite the odds.

Likewise, we can learn much from the past. I enjoy writing these posts. When I think of what the men and women of the 1940s endured so we could be free in 2010, it inspires me to embrace their values.

This Fourth of July, remember what made America great – our love of liberty, our willingness to fight for what’s right, our ingenuity, our flexibility, our sense of humor, our diversity, and our moral strength – and embrace it. Keep America great by keeping Americans good.

Promises

I broke a promise.

Last summer I promised to take my kids to Waterworld. I fully intended to do so, and even purchased tickets in advance. But then one child went on choir tour, all three went to camp, we went on our family vacation, visited family out of state…where I broke my wrist. My cast was like a personal sauna, and I couldn’t tolerate a full day in the sun. We didn’t go to Waterworld.

I’m not alone. We’ve all broken promises. Sometimes due to circumstances beyond our control, sometimes due to lack of careful planning, and some of us have even made promises we never intended to keep.

No wonder we have a hard time grasping the concept of a faithful God who always keeps His promises.

However, God is sovereign—there are no circumstances beyond His control or knowledge. God is wise—He makes perfect plans and takes care of every detail. And God cannot lie—He is incapable of saying one thing and meaning another. If God promised, it’ll happen.

He’s promised to be with us always (Matt. 28:20), to give wisdom whenever we ask (James 1:5), and to come back for us some day (John 14:2-3), and many other wonderful things. He’ll keep those promises. He can’t do otherwise.

“O Lord God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O Lord, and your faithfulness surrounds you” Psalm 89:8.

By the way, this year…Waterworld!

Kids Count

“If Jesus lives in your heart, does that make Him a parasite?”

For the past week, I’ve fielded questions like that from my class of fourth-graders at Vacation Bible School. While VBS wears me out physically, it energizes me spiritually. When I started volunteering at VBS twelve years ago, I was a little concerned. What if they asked questions I couldn’t answer? What if I made a fool of myself? What if they were too cynical, too cool, too “all that” for Jesus?

Well, they ask me tough questions, but nothing I can’t answer with the Lord’s help. And the bigger a fool I make of myself, the more effective I am as a teacher. But the biggest surprise and the greatest joy is the kids themselves – far from being “too cool” for Jesus, they seek Him with all their hearts! Three kids this week told me, “I want to learn more about Jesus. Tell me how I can learn more about Him.” Wow. When the gospel message is placed in front of children, most of them gobble it up like a box full of sour gummy worms. They gobbled up the gummy worms too.

Of the thirty-five children in my class, eight of them made confirmed, first-time decisions to follow Christ. Children hear the gospel message with different ears than adults. They don’t think about what Christians are like (and how we fail), what churches are like (and how we fail) – but only what Jesus is like. And they want Him.

“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these'” (Matt. 19:14, italics mine). Note that He didn’t say “drag” the children to Me, but “let them come.” As in, that’s where they want to go naturally. So let them come. Don’t stand in their way.

You can be a doorway to let children come to Jesus. Tell your children and grandchildren. Help in a Sunday school class or at VBS. Watch children’s faces light up when they hear the joyful news that God loves them, there’s forgiveness for their sins, and they can have eternal life in Him! You’ll be as blessed as the children.

Lessons from the 1940s – Never Forget

Today, we commemorate the 66th anniversary of the D-Day landings. On June 6, 1944, the Allies landed on the beaches of Normandy to liberate Europe from Nazi power.

In August 2007, I was privileged to stand on Omaha Beach on a misty, overcast morning not unlike the men faced that historic day. As I stood on that long stretch of sand and gazed at those high bluffs which once bristled with machine guns, I was moved deeply. We’ve all seen the movies and watched the footage – men dashing with rifles in hand, stumbling in the waves, beckoning their buddies onward, sheltering against debris – falling to the sand. But being there and feeling that sand beneath my feet gave me another level of understanding.
Today the Normandy beaches bristle with people on holiday – those who come to remember, and those who come to play. Children laugh and chase the waves and build sand castles. Tourists stand in silence, wipe tears, take pictures. This is as it should be.
Sixty-six years ago, 155,000 American, British Commonwealth, and Free French troops landed in the biggest amphibious operation in history, along with free people from many other occupied nations. Take a moment today and remember those who risked their lives, who gave their lives so we can live in freedom.

Chasing the Light

Meet Daisy. Daisy is a retriever. She thinks she’s a hunter. Her favorite prey…light.

Daisy chases after laser pointers and flashlights and random blinking lights. And this time of year, the morning sun shines through the sliding glass window in my kitchen and glances off the face of my watch. The Magic Light. This is her favorite thing in the world.

While I’m assembling school lunches and my three kids are making their breakfasts, I have an 80-pound yellow lab dogging my steps. Pun intended. She frantically searches the floor around me for a glimpse of the Magic Light. And when she sees it, she pounces, nips at it, and follows wherever it leads.

In the morning, Daisy won’t leave my side because she knows I’m the source of the Magic Light.

She drives me bonkers. But she makes me think.

I have a Source of light in my life too. Do I crave the Light of the World above all else? Do I stick close to Jesus’ side, dogging His steps, searching for glimpses of His light, pouncing on it, and following wherever His Light leads me? I want to stay as close to my Master as Daisy does to me.

Lessons from the 1940s – Discretion

During World War II, posters like these decorated storefronts, train stations, and other public places. Spies were present. An innocent conversation in the barber shop, the grocery, or a phone booth could be overheard and passed to the enemy. Information about troop movements, sailing schedules, and strength of the armed forces was especially guarded. One careless comment could lead to thousands of deaths.

Free speech is one of the cornerstones of American society, but during the war, limits were accepted in order to protect lives – and ultimately those very freedoms. Citizens understood that free speech without discretion could be harmful.

Lives may no longer be on the line, but a lack of discretion causes a new realm of problems unimagined seventy years ago. The speed of Twittering, Facebook, and blogging, coupled with the popularity of full self-expression, can lead to great hurt and damage. In the past year, I have seen on-line…

  • Spouses trashing mates or ex-mates.
  • Employees griping about jobs and bosses – on work time.
  • Parents posting pictures from Disneyland – when they called the children in sick from school.
  • Comments about hangovers and getting wasted.
  • Students sniping about teachers by name.
  • Unpublished writers lamenting the drivel on the bookshelves – published by houses they’d like to write for.
  • People requesting prayer on very personal matters for other people.
  • Citizens wishing harm or failure to politicians or celebrities.

Perhaps a return to self-censorship is warranted. Before hitting “share,” if we all took a few seconds to consider the possible impact of our posts, a lot of damage could be prevented. I run through a mental checklist – would I want these people reading this post – my husband, parents, children, boss, pastor, neighbor…and the person I’m writing about (even celebrities have feelings)? I have failed. I’ve posted things I regretted and removed. But if we all tried, civility could replace anger on the Internet.

Loose lips may no longer sink ships, but they can sink families, reputations, and careers. Thoughts?

Bent but not Broken

“She was bent over and could not straighten up at all” (Luke 13:11). For this crippled woman in ancient Israel, walking was awkward and slow. Looking people in the eye required painful contortions. Carrying burdens was difficult. People pitied her, ignored her, mocked her. For eighteen years she could see little but the ground in front of her. If her family didn’t help her, she had to beg. Depression and hopelessness darkened her spirit.

My grandmother suffered from osteoporosis, which almost doubled her over. It slowed this energetic woman down and threw off her balance, making her prone to falls. When standing, she had to twist her head or lean on her walker to look you in the eye. But she had a supportive family, a walker, a determined spirit, and faith in the Lord. Although sometimes discouraged, she never gave in to hopelessness.

Jesus laid his hands on the crippled woman and healed her. She stood straight and praised the Lord. Jesus took my grandmother home, where she stands straight and sings His praise.

In hopeless situations, Jesus is the key. Sometimes He brings physical healing, sometimes He comforts us in our painful circumstances, but He always gives hope. “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” 1 John 1:5.

How has the Lord helped you in dark situations?

Lessons from the 1940s – Liberty and Justice for All?

On the morning of December 7, 1941, Mess Attendant Second Class Doris “Dorie” Miller (pictured in the poster) was collecting laundry on board the USS West Virginia in Pearl Harbor. The Japanese attacked. The alarm for general quarters sounded, and Miller reported to his battle station, an antiaircraft battery amidships. It had already been destroyed. A heavyweight boxer, Miller carried wounded sailors to safety, aided the mortally wounded captain, and manned a .50 caliber machine gun – a weapon he’d never been trained to use – and was credited with downing a Japanese fighter plane. For his bravery, he received the Navy Cross on May 27, 1942. Sadly, he perished when the USS Liscome Bay was sunk by a Japanese submarine on November 24, 1943. (Source: http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq57-4.htm)

Dorie Miller was the first African-American hero of World War II, and not the last. There would have been even more if the US armed forces hadn’t been segregated, with black troops in separate units under white officers, usually assigned to the mess or to manual labor behind the front. The reasoning was that black men weren’t capable and that integrated services would “offend the sensibilities” of white Southerners. Both justifications are appalling.

Racial tension came to a boil during World War II due to unprecedented mobilization that introduced northerners – black and white – to conditions in the south, and exposed the cancer of racism in American society. Race riots erupted in Detroit, Philadelphia, Birmingham, and many other cities. Black troops fumed when German and Italian prisoners of war received better treatment than they did, and they wondered why they should fight for freedoms abroad that they didn’t enjoy at home.

On July 17, 1944, an explosion blew apart two munitions ships at the Naval Magazine in Port Chicago, California, killing 320 men, most of whom were black. The black sailors had been loading ammunition under unsafe conditions and indifferent white leadership. Fifty of the survivors refused to load ammunition again. Instead of being convicted of insubordination, all fifty men were convicted – after eighty minutes deliberation – of mutiny, a capital offense. The convicted included two men who had medical excuses for why they refused to work.

The unexpected benefit of the Port Chicago Explosion, the largest US Home Front disaster of the war, was that it opened the eyes of the general public. Outrage grew to such an extent that the US Navy, the most segregated of the services, became the first to become truly integrated. Injustice had been exposed, and seeds were planted that would lead to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and the end of legal segregation.

While World War II showcased the best in the American character, it also highlighted the worst. The war trumpeted our national ideals, and showed where we fell short. We still fall short today. Segregation is gone, blatant discrimination is illegal, but subtle racism exists – often subconscious – in attitudes and thoughts. And in all races. Looking to our past shows us how far we’ve come – and where we have room to grow. I have faith that the US can someday become a land where a person’s race leads to neither discrimination nor special privileges, and where all people can achieve if they have the character, ability, and drive to do so.