Published in the Rains County Leader on January 27, 2022:
The last two weeks have seemed like a mini shut down, at least in my little corner of the world. The schools shut down two extra days over the Martin Luther King weekend for deep cleaning and because one hundred staff members and teachers were absent. The prayer lists grew longer as one family after another reported cases of COVID/Omicron, Cedar Fever, and other forms of upper respiratory distress, and the lunch crowd at the Senior Center was barely into double digits. The Believers’ Baptist Friday Night Home Group was canceled two weeks in a row, Wednesday morning Bible study was canceled last week, and church attendance on January 16 was about half of normal. Then, just about the time David and I were getting back to the gym after his back issues, we missed two weeks while we experienced alternate bouts of sniffles, congestion, and lots of fatigue that led to many unscheduled naps. Some shelves at Brookshire’s were unusually bare, and there were no harried workers in the aisle restocking them – and I began to have flashbacks to the fall of 2020.
It wasn’t all bad, though. During our mini-isolation I made some progress on the to-be-read stack of books on my bedside table, and for those of you who are Tatia fans, I added several chapters to the rough draft of the next book in the series. I caught up on the laundry – although I think I’m now behind again – and did a little bit of early spring cleaning. I didn’t have the energy for anything elaborate in the kitchen, but thanks to my Crock Pot and Instant Pot, we had some really good comfort food and some not-so-good-for us snacks. We watched lots of TV – some good movies and some real stinkers – and Kitty enjoyed snuggling with David on the couch on the really cold days.
Published in the Rains County Leader on January 20, 2022:
January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month. During this month, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services makes fighting against human trafficking a priority, and strives to improve awareness, services, and prevention efforts to help eradicate trafficking in Texas. In keeping with this goal, I want to share some of what I’ve learned during the research for the novels I have written about human trafficking, specifically about child sex trafficking.
Before I wrote the first book, my perspective was very narrow. In my mind, this unspeakable crime was limited to the back alleys of foreign countries or a few mega-cities in the U.S. where orphans or run-aways were snatched from a hopeless existence and forced into something even worse. And it didn’t include children.
Then, one Sunday evening, a couple from Tyler visited our church. They had founded an organization called For the Silent whose mission statement reads, in part: we work to end sex trafficking and exploitation by empowering the voices of vulnerable and exploited youth. Their visit was a real wake up call.
Sunset Valley Creations is the publisher of Clean Fiction, a quarterly magazine that offers reviews and a to-be-read list of Christian fiction and clean secular fiction. From now through January 31 they are holding a Best Bookstagram Contest. Although Kitty’s Story isn’t fiction, she is so cute they allowed her to submit an entry. Help her out by going to https://www.sunsetvalleycreations.com/vote and voting for entry #6!
Published in the Rains County Leader on January 14, 2022:
Several weeks ago I wrote a column about a friend who had been on the receiving end of a very unkind attitude and some very unkind words. These words came from an erroneous assumption based on her appearance after surgery and extensive chemo and radiation treatments. I ended that column with a quote from the friend’s Facebook post:
I say all this to say, be kind. You have no right judge someone based on appearance alone. We are ALL fighting battles you may never know about. Because trust me, a smile hides a lot.
Judging seems to have become a national pastime in our culture. People are quick to quote the Scripture that says “Do not judge…” when questioned about a personal decision, but they are just as quick to point fingers or level angry accusations because of a hat, a bumper sticker, a political sign, or an opinion. I was raised in a time when we were taught to be discerning but not to render a verdict until we had walked a mile in the shoes of another or at least until we had all the facts. I saw something Sunday that gave me a lot to think about in this regard.
Published in the Rains County Leader on January 7, 2022:
On New Year’s Eve, David asked me the big question of the day: Have you made any resolutions this year? I was already prepared with my answer based on a memory that had popped up on Facebook earlier that day.
“No,” I said, quoting the 2013 version of myself, “I think I’ll make plans instead of resolutions. Less pressure!”
As the day went on, I thought about some specific plans for 2022. First on my list is the same on the lists of many others this time of year – I plan to go to the gym on a more regular basis. I will be starting with a large advantage over most of those others, though, because I’ve only been a couch potato for less than a month as opposed to years or forever. Still, I became aware last week of what a difference a few weeks can make in the area of fitness.
David and I joined Anytime Fitness in February of 2020. Since then we have worked out four to five days a week with very few breaks. We have both seen significant changes in our weight and shape, and more importantly, we both felt better. Then in December, he began suffering from sciatic pain, and although he was going to physical therapy, he didn’t feel up to a more serious gym workout. And when he didn’t go, of course, I didn’t go either.
The story of a lonely, innocent girl who gets tangled up in the sex trafficking trade in a small Texas town. It’s about her relationship with Eric, a slick suburban pimp; Jesse, a Christian tattoo artist and motorcycle rider; and Mrs. G, a compassionate but tough attorney and foster parent.