Outskirts Press Self-Publishing Authors Impress EVVY Awards Judges—Here Are the 2019 Finalists — Self-Publishing News for Self Publishing Authors

I am so humbled to have my book, “The Town of Alpaca”, as a finalist in The CIPA EVVY Awards contest. Thank you, Outskirts Press for affording me this honor. I will be in Colorado on August 17th!

Outskirts Press self-publishing authors continually impress the judges at the annual CIPA EVVY Awards and this year is no different. In fact, our authors garnered 23 spots as finalists for the 2019 awards and we couldn’t be prouder! Now in its 25th year, the EVVY Awards, sponsored by the Colorado Independent Publishers Association (CIPA) and […]

Outskirts Press Self-Publishing Authors Impress EVVY Awards Judges—Here Are the 2019 Finalists — Self-Publishing News for Self Publishing Authors

Pssst…Do you want to know a secret?

I have a secret, but you must promise to tell everyone you know before I share it with you. You will? Great! Shhh… Churches are open after Christmas! What?! For real? Yes, they are. After yesterday, though, I was kind of afraid some people didn’t know that. You see, a week ago we had five Christmas Eve services with specialized parking plans, a parking lot traffic director, and chairs overflowing out the back of the Sanctuary and the Christian Life Center. Beautiful, stately red poinsettias graced the church and CLC, memorializing or honoring loved ones. An advent wreath accepted the lighting of its candles, each with a different message that was read by families of the church. Beautiful Christmas music filled the rooms, culminating in the traditional singing of the peaceful “Silent Night” as light was shared, one to another, each individual candle illuminating that of a neighbor.  It was wonderful.

Yesterday, the poinsettias remained, and we still sang Christmas songs, but to a scattered congregation, even less than usual for our church, most likely due to holiday exhaustion. To be fair, this is not an admonishment for not attending church outside of Christmas and Easter. Anyone who is acquainted with me knows that I detest mornings. As such, I may have missed a service. Or two. Or three.  (Etc.) Forgive me, Lord, but if I didn’t have to be there to sing, I may have been among the exhausted absentees. More accurately, this is an acknowledgment of the waxing and waning of our spiritual lives that we all experience.

There is a common belief that one does not need a brick and mortar building to have a relationship with God. While I know this to be true, I posit that there is more to the story. God is omnipresent. We can find, worship, and praise Him anywhere we are, that’s indisputable; but there is something to be said for the spiritual food gleaned from clergy, the fellowship of other worshippers, and the satisfaction of serving God, that only a church can provide. We can liken it to the “use it or lose it” theory. If we don’t hone our life skills regularly, we can lose the edge we have on them. The same is true of our relationships with God. The more we practice strengthening them, the more adept we become at being able to hear His guiding voice in our lives when He speaks to us.

Pretty soon, if not already, any signs of Christmas will be carefully packed away until next year, but Jesus never packs us away; He is always with us. Soon the anxiety over decorating, sending cards, shopping, cooking, baking, and wrapping will be nothing more than a blurry memory. Any spiritual highs we felt after attending uplifting Christmas services may now be on the endangered list, but it doesn’t have to be that way. At least once every week the spiritual food kitchens known as churches are open for us to consume as much or as little as we want. Just as we need a regular schedule of healthy food intake to nourish our bodies, so do we need a regular schedule of worship to keep us spiritually satiated. Biblical knowledge, fellowship with other Christians, and service to others are excellent ways to find peace and joy in our lives.

I can unequivocally say that you will find something to feed your soul at church20181230_205326.jpg, if not at any one church, try another one. There is no one size fits all when it comes to churches. You need to find your comfort zone.  Think back a week ago to that light you received from your neighbor before passing it on to the person on the other side of you. Those candles have all since been extinguished, but don’t allow your own light to fade. Go back for more spiritual fuel and share your light with the world. Keep the spirit of Christmas alive all year round. And now you know the rest of the story.

Two Flood Buckets Apiece

My heart is hurting, and I’m not alone. Where do we start? It’s one thing when the devastation is confined to defined states or geographical areas, but unimaginable pain, suffering, and loss in multiple countries? Where do we start? Are the first to be helped chosen by lottery draw? By the percentage of the area that’s been decimated? By the estimated financial losses? Or is it like a triage system? Field triage isn’t about taking the most seriously ill or injured first, as in a hospital. It’s about taking the ones most likely to live first, at the unspeakable expense of losing others, because they can’t save them all. Viability drives the agonizing choice of who to save in the field.

Most of us shake our heads, some of us cry, some pray, many will seek out ways to be of assistance, but how many of us have actually felt the pain of losing everything we had, and not only our health, possessions and loved ones, but our entire country, to the wrath of Mother Nature? I am humbled.

Who of us all will give until it hurts? To whom do we go to offer help? Opportunity abounds at every step; in churches, in schools, in stores, in emails, on web pages. There are endless chances to offer support, but which one is best? My 10 year old grandson, in the innocence to which only the tender young are privy, mused that if every single person gave 2 flood buckets apiece we could help so many people. How simple, how sweet, and how true. I think this weekend we’ll make 4 flood buckets, two for each of us, and take them somewhere where they are being collected. Or maybe one flood bucket and a basket of toiletries, or a basket of toiletries and a bag of clothing, or a  bag of people food and a bag of pet food, or a check, or………follow your own heart.

So many people. I am reminded of a story, author unknown, of which one variation goes something like this: “An old man was walking down a beach one morning after a strong storm the night before. The storm had washed hundreds of thousands of helpless starfish ashore. The starfish were stranded and faced certain doom once the sun was high in the sky. Across the beach the man saw a young child walking in his direction. As the boy walked, he would pause to bend down, pick a starfish up, and toss it back into the ocean. The old man was puzzled by the boy’s behavior and once they were close enough the man yelled to the boy, ‘Why are you wasting your time? You can’t possibly save them all’, to which the boy replied, ‘Maybe not, but it mattered to that one,’ as he tossed another far into the waves.” People matter.