Out of Darkness

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

1 Peter 2:9 ESV
Image by jplenio from Pixabay

Light. It’s the most powerful force in the universe.

Looking back, the last couple of years brought a lot of heartache and loss, not just for me, but for many. Turmoil, struggles, sickness, and death, became our everyday. And it’s not over yet. We stand in the predawn darkness, knowing that the sun will rise again. Waiting. And then it happens.

A few weeks ago, I stood on a balcony overlooking the Atlantic. Even in the darkness I could hear the waves crashing against the shore. And then the sun’s rays tinted the horizon. Dawn can be sudden and even startling at times.

Back home and standing in my kitchen window . . . well, the scene is not quite so dramatic. If I turn on my ambient noise and set it to ocean, I can pretend. Still, when the sun begins to ascend, there is no denying the power of light. Even breaking over the rooftops in my subdivision, it can be breathtakingly beautiful.

There is a beauty in every season of life that must be experienced to be appreciated fully. Coffee helps.

Out of darkness and into the light.

Happy New Year!

A Thanksgiving Chicken Memory

This is another reprint of a post from several years ago, with some revisions.

Thanksgiving at Grandma’s house did not include turkey, or if it did, the turkey was quite small and looked just like a chicken.

Image by Ylanite Koppens from Pixabay

My family and I have wonderful memories from Grandma’s kitchen, where her chrome and Formica table with four vinyl-covered chairs sat smack in the middle of the room. We would retrieve wooden chairs with braided seats from the back bedroom so most of the adults could sit together.

Happy times! The family showed up with all the aunts “totin'” a dish or two, as Grandma would say. We’d set the table and leave a stack of plates on the Hoosier cabinet for the kids to fill and take to the “front room”.

There was no kid’s table at Grandma’s. All of us kids perched wherever we could find a spot, on couches, chairs, or on the floor. That house only had four rooms and two of those were bedrooms. No plumbing at all, and the heat was provided by a woodstove in the front room.

The star of Grandma’s dinner table was a chicken. Grandma raised chickens, so one was always handy.

Okay, I have a confession to make here: I never ate chicken at Grandma’s. Maybe I was a picky eater—I don’t remember—but that hunk of flesh in the center of the table had been out in the yard a few hours ago, scratching around. I couldn’t eat it.

I loved all the vegetables, though. Mashed potatoes and gravy, lima beans, crowder peas, skillet corn and cornbread dressing. But not the chicken, and certainly not the giblet gravy. I’d seen what went into the gravy. NO way! This girl didn’t eat innards.

Today, there will be a turkey on my Thanksgiving table. And there will be giblet gravy because my husband loves it. These days, I usually eat the turkey. I didn’t see it walking around and never made eye contact. I hope it had a good upbringing.

Happy Thanksgiving to you, whether you dine on chicken, turkey, tofurkey, etc.

For each new morning with its light, 
For rest and shelter of the night, 
For health and food, For love and friends, 
For everything Thy goodness sends, 
Father in heaven, We thank thee.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson [Prayer of Thanks]

A Look Back at Thanksgiving

This is a repost of my 2015 Thanksgiving post.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s a beautiful time, when families gather together. We live on a small court and like us, many of our neighbors have lived here a long time. As the holiday approaches, extra cars are parked in their driveways. Their children have arrived.  

Image by Peggychoucair from Pixabay

I remember those days, when we packed up the car and left on Tuesday night, or Wednesday evening, to drive the seven hours to Mom and Dad’s. It was a special time filled with hikes in the woods, roasting marshmallows over a fire, and of course, the main event: Thanksgiving Dinner. Mom spent days preparing and finally, dinner is spread on the table and we sit down.   

Yes, it was over in minutes. But we lingered around the table, laughing and talking. Clean up meant time spent on my own with Mom as we put the food away and washed the dishes. We put away all the special things she only used on holidays. We reminisced about past Thanksgivings, and loved ones now gone. Our sleep was sweet, maybe because of all the turkey we ate, but also because we were tired from all the activity.   

If you ventured out on Thanksgiving evening, stores were closed. Restaurants were closed. Ghost town. And I liked that feeling. Families gathered together to celebrate. They weren’t working. They weren’t shopping. I was reminded of my childhood, when Sundays meant darkened store windows. Even the grocery stores closed on Sunday, the traditional day of rest.  

Those days slipped away and now you can buy groceries on Sunday. And if you forgot cranberry sauce, you can buy it on Thanksgiving. I guess it’s convenient and the stores make more money, but it makes me sad to see these old traditions slip away. And now, Christmas has encroached on Thanksgiving.   

Yes, in a way, Christmas has always out-shined Thanksgiving. When I was little, I was happy to see the back of Thanksgiving, because I knew Christmas was close behind it. Now, I want the days to linger longer. I want to enjoy Thanksgiving and then turn my attention to Christmas. But I realize it’s a personal choice. Christmas lovers all around me already have their houses decorated. And there’s really nothing wrong with that. 

Their emphasis is still on celebrating families, and that’s what Thanksgiving is all about. Taking time to be thankful for the year’s bounty. I’m thankful for all that God has given this year. Like so many others, we’ve been through some things. But in the midst of all that, I can be thankful for God’s provision throughout our time of need. He’s brought our family together in a positive way and helped us overcome our difficulties.   

When we sit down to Thanksgiving Dinner this year, we’ll have so much to be thankful for, beyond the food that is set before us. Each individual sitting at our table is a part of something so much greater. When all the pieces come together, we are whole, and we are blessed. 

   

Christ, our Lord to you we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise…

For the Beauty of the Earth by Folliott Sandford Pierpoint, 1864

I hope your Thanksgiving is a time of celebration. Thanks for stopping by!


Coming

March 22, 2022

A Big Deal

Ah, summer, a great time to kick back and relax, right? I love summer. I love being outdoors. I love to travel and find out-of-the-way places, like Cobbly-Nob, near Gatlinburg.

I have to confess, though, Bob and I missed our beach time this year. I didn’t think we would. I really expected more from the mountains. They were a feast for the eyes and soul, but…

If you love the beach, you know what I mean.

So, what’s the big deal? A HUGE sale from my publisher! I was just informed that ALL my Write Integrity books are on sale–Kindle Versions–for only 99¢. Yay!

And that’s not all, there’s a Sweepstakes for you to enter. I’ll let her give you the details. If you are interested, click the meme, or here’s the direct link: Write Integrity Press “We Love Our Readers Sale”.

Contest runs July 15 – 21

I hope you’ll take a look at the 39 books included in the sale. Everything from teen & YA Dystopian Fiction (I loved those!), historical romance, contemporary romance, suspense–even some excellent daily devotionals. You really can’t lose. You could buy the whole lot for less than $40.

I’ve read most of these books and highly recommend them. Be sure and let me know if you win the sweepstakes!

Have a question? Contact Me

Farewell to the Crime Fictionista

In this age of email, social media platforms, cyber chats, and zoom calls, is it possible to build relationships? Real ones? I suppose it could depend on the personality type of the involved parties.  

Just in case you’re thinking romance, I’m not talking about that.

Back in the twenty-teens, I joined a small critique group hosted by American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). They host a massive number of groups, so it is sometimes difficult to find the right fit. This was my third try.

The “captain” of this group was a local writer and friend, Jean Thompson Kinsey. Rather than being all historical fiction/romance, we had historical, suspense, mystery, thriller, and contemporary. Among them, was a writer named Nike Chillemi.

I had never met anyone quite like Nike. She hailed from Brooklyn, New York. I could easily imagine her accent.

Her writing? I’ll let her describe that:

Today, you might call me a crime fictionista. My passion is contemporary detective stories, murder mysteries, national security/espionage thrillers, and cozies. I like my bad guys really bad and my good guys giving their all fighting the good fight. I write gritty-funny-uplifting detective novels with a national security/public safety twist. My main characters, both male and female, are jump into the fray, fighters for justice. They are tough and very likeable.

Nike Chillemi – About Me

And so was Nike—tough and very likable. In fact, over the years of working together on stories, I grew to love her. Though I’d never met her in person, she became a best friend. She taught me a lot about telling stories, especially the joy of writing. Never lose the joy.

Nike, when we “met.”

When Jean Kinsey retired due to illness, Nike should have become head of our group, but she was far too busy with her many other roles, so she suggested that I take over. I did, with Nike’s help. She might have been second banana, but she never let that keep her from expressing her opinion. 😊

She was my go-to whenever a decision needed to be made in the group. She liked being in a “small” small group. Ours was one of two groups she participated in. As we added other writers to our roll, she made them feel at home, though her wit often caught them off guard. Afterward, I would receive a private email from one of the newbies, “What did Nike mean by that comment?”

She was fond of slapping my hand over misplaced or missing commas. The hand slap was more like a guffaw. It was an ongoing joke between us.

Not so long ago, Nike left Brooklyn and moved to a place she loved—Jacksonville, Florida. She adored her new home and told funny stories about her many pets. This post from February gives us a tiny glimpse into her day-to-day life: “I really do have a life besides writing detective novels and sticking my nose into politics. I cook a lot from scratch and bake. I also have four senior cats and a senior dog.”

Yes, she stuck her nose into politics. Further proof that she was not afraid to express her opinion.

Most recent publicity photo

Then, a few months back, Nike told me she had cancer. She intended to fight, and fight is what she did. All the while, she wrote. She finished her work-in-progress, Courting Danger, and managed to get it released on Amazon. There was a book release and then there was silence.

No emails. No posts on social media. Nothing. I sent emails that went unanswered.

That’s when I knew her condition was grave. In April, she sent out a note to all her friends. She was having surgery and would be out of touch for a while. Then there was a brief post on Facebook, written while in rehab,

While I was in post surgery I watched TBN exclusively. It was honey to my soul. Now I’m in rehab an it’s going well. Every time I come to FB I am overwhelmed by fear and panic. So I will only be posting about writing Christian murder mysteries on writing centered sites. I will not be making comments much on my stream or responding.

That was the last post I read from her. In June, I received a note from a mutual friend to let me know hospice had been called for Nike. The members of our critique group sent emails to be read to her.

On June 9, she passed away.

I had never met her in person. I had never heard her voice. Yet in her passing, my heart was broken. I had grown to love our conversations. I grew to respect her as a writer. She was my mentor, and a dear friend.

The members of our group mourned her passing. We haven’t had much heart for working on our stories yet.

No more sorrow. I know it was well with her soul. She is resting in Jesus now. No more suffering or anxiety for Nike. Our group will begin again, but I think we will always have Nike in mind when we send through our chapters.

So, can you build lasting relationships, sight-unseen in this electronic age? The answer is yes, you most certainly can.

Nike Chillemi on Amazon