Two years ago today, I lost my very best friend of many years when attorney and civic leader Kent Bartholomew Mann was killed while riding his bicycle. It’s been a very sad two years for me. Kent was much more than just a friend. He was also my best-ever book editor. Although a lawyer by profession, he had a most amazing and creative gift for writing and editing, and many were the times I sat with him, or called him, and said, “Hey, I’ve got this scene that really needs so-and-so, but I’m stuck.” His creativity would go to work on the problem and almost always come up with an idea that was just right. He helped me so very much in my writing, my business, and my ministry.
Without question, Kent was my toughest critic, and my strongest and most faithful champion. He constantly challenged me to my highest and my best in every area of my life. More than once, when a situation just got too hard to deal with and I was ready to throw in the towel, he absolutely refused to let me quit. [And it’s hard to argue with a guy who stands at 6′ 7″ and weighs over 200 pounds. :)]
I was not the only person he touched with his kindness and encouragement. I have realized over this past two years that there is hardly any sector of my home town to which I can go where I am not reminded of how he did something in that place that helped someone – sometimes an individual, and sometimes an entire group of people. Was he perfect? Certainly not. But he was the truest kind of friend.
We spent hours working on one of my inspirational novels on the afternoon of the day he died. When we stopped for the day, I walked out the door with our plans made to pick up the work again the following morning. Three hours later, he was gone from this life.
I’m sharing all of this information simply to make this point: In the world we’re living in right now, true, trustworthy friendships are rare. If you have been blessed with that kind of friendship, value it as gold. Cherish it, nourish it, and guard it with your whole heart. These words offer the most sincere wish I can make for you in honor of my beloved friend.
Kent Bartholomew Mann is gone from this world, and it’s a darker place as a result. But he is still very much alive in my heart, and his legacy of love and friendship still lightens the shadows.
Please, won’t you come along with me
Up river in the fall?
We’ll float at leisure, passing woodlands
Burnished, thick, and tall.
We’ll watch thick clouds give way to sun
That breaks horizon’s crest
And choose a course that guarantees
Delightful Autumn Rest.
photo courtesy of Larisa Koshkina @ pixabay.com
I’ve just finished the prototype for my next journal, and I can’t wait to get it out there for writers who are always looking for more pages to fill.
This little gem is called the CHOCOLATE OWL JOURNAL and, instead of photos throughout like the coffee lovers journal, it will offer great little nuggets of chocolate wisdom from CHOCOLATE OWL himself.
Now, authors and book creators don’t generally dedicate something like a journal to people who are special to them, so this journal won’t include a dedication page either. But I just want to say that if I were dedicating it, I’d have to dedicate it to my friend Lee over at Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures Plus. She appreciates owls — and all kinds of God’s precious winged creatures — more than anyone else I know.
Well, I just wanted to let you see the front cover and whet your appetite for this newest project. It should be available for purchase by the end of the week at the latest. Price should be around $6.00. I’ll post again when it’s ready and give you all the final details.
To participate in Trent’s Weekly Smile Challenge, click on the link and get the simple instructions.
Well this week, I have two reasons to smile. One was last Thursday, and one was just this morning.
Thursday was another “Meeting Aboard the Ark” meeting that my ministry Radical About Jesus holds at our local civic center. I love these meetings because we have a great time worshiping the Lord and getting into His Word, but I especially love the meetings when people come who need much healing and help from the Lord. We had a meeting like that this time. So often, the people in need just don’t know that God wants them well and that He wants to provide all their needs. They’ve been taught that God delivers people sometimes, but sometimes He chooses not to, so they’re plagued with doubts and fears, and they’ve suffered for years.
But when they hear the Word of God and how He has poured His heart into promises to come to them and bring them the relief and the help they need — and that He has already paid for it all through Jesus’ finished work — they just open up and blossom like a flower in the sun. It’s the most amazing and joyous thing to see the change come over these people as they soak up God’s Word. Their faces light up, their eyes shine, they sit up straighter in their seats and even lean forward as if to soak it up better — because they’re learning how much God loves them and wants to help them. And they’re learning how to receive miracles from Him. Then when we come to the time to pray for them, their faith is ready to receive, and God is able to change their lives.
I can’t think of anything I’d rather do with my life than carry that delivering, healing, life-giving Word to people who need it so much. So, naturally, that kind of experience can produce the biggest smiles of all.
But then there are the little things — as Trent mentioned in his own post this week. And I had one of those experiences this morning. I left the house early for a prayer meeting, and just as I was closing my car door, I glanced over at a sort of grassy area close to my azalea bushes. I saw the most amazing sight: There were hundreds of tiny sparkling gems scattered throughout the grass — in varying shades of greens, blues, and reds. I was stunned. I had never seen anything like it before, and as my gaze traveled over the rest of my yard, I saw more. The dew still on the ground was reflecting the sun’s light in those prisms of color, and it looked like my lawn had been seeded with precious sparkling gems of so many colors.
Some of you readers may have experienced that situation before, but I never have, and I was just speechless for a moment. I sat there, motionless, and suddenly my heart just swelled with gratitude that the Lord had given me that special experience. I had been having a troubled time the past couple days, for a couple different reasons — not the least of which was sadness as I come to the week that is the anniversary of losing my husband (17 years ago now) and then losing my very best friend of many years (just two years ago this week.)
So my heart was heavy this morning, and the little light display from the Lord so cheered me and made me realize how much the Lord loves beauty and how much of it He creates. He just reminded me that if He bothered to create so much beauty in little drops of dew, how much more beautiful will Heaven and the rest of eternity be. I was running much later than I should have been for the meeting, but I just had to sit there quietly and soak up that lovely experience — which made me smile a lot — and thank the Lord over and over. I did finally get to church for the prayer meeting though. 🙂
I hope all of you have had plenty to smile about this week as well.
Of summer heat.
I say this ev’ry year:
Fall is the only perfect time
Is close now.
I hear the crickets sing.
And leaves are falling one by one.
Come and go.
And I appreciate
All of them, but none so much as
Thanks so much to my wonderful friend, photographer Terry Valley, for this amazing Autumn picture.
I want to step out in adventure,
But each time the first step draws near,
Before I can start to move forward,
I’ve run, face-to-face, into fear.
I long to get out of my humdrum
And into new elements wade,
But just when I find my direction,
I realize I am afraid.
What am I to do with myself then?
I have no solution in mind.
I look at the fear, and I dither,
Which means that I get left behind.
Perhaps, I’m not meant for adventure,
And everyday life it must be.
Oh, that would be such disappointment;
From humdrum I’d never be free.
No, I must be stern with my psyche
When my knees start to tremble and sway.
Courage is not being fearless.
It’s taking the plunge anyway.
I know so many people right now who are facing situations in their lives that seem impossible. The world has no answers for them, and for the world it truly is impossible — BUT NOT FOR GOD. I’ve reblogged this post here to encourage readers who may not visit the ministry site.
Do you find yourself in a situation that there seems to be no way out of — no solution — no victory??? Well then, it’s time to get excited, because the truth is that you’re in a very good place for a miracle. When the situation looks impossible — really impossible — turn it over to God. In His mind, it’s already fixed.
The fact is that He has already created a way to make it happen. He’s just waiting for you to give him the green light to put His perfect plan into action. He works first in the spirit realm, because that’s the realm of reality. All things physical were created by spirit, and all things natural are constantly changing — especially when spiritual forces are activated upon them.
God always works in that same mode. He creates the answers we need in the spirit realm first, and…
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I decided to just have a little fun with some of my recent art today by turning several of the pieces into black & white. Not all watercolor and acrylic paintings lend themselves to the change, but I rather liked how these turned out.
These playful posts are the kinds of things I do when I’m trying to avoid other work that I’m supposed to be doing. 🙂