On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

Published in the Rains County Leader on March 2, 2021:

On September 7, 2017, Heather Rollins created a Facebook group called Emory Alerts. In March of 2020, the name was changed to Heather Rollin’s Community News, and now this group is a great source of information and more to just under 4,000 members. Rollins describes the group this way:

Just a side gig to help keep the citizens of Emory informed about community events. Something I choose to do – NOT something I have to do. If you are a business I will share for you. Please understand – one post a day is relevant, more than that is too much and people will dismiss!! My page my rules…I will help if I can, Thank you!!

I discovered the group sometime last year and found it very helpful as well as educational and entertaining. During the pandemic, the various posts provided much needed information about what was open and what was not, which events were scheduled and which had been cancelled, and the current status of the mask situation. There were also a few ads that helped in finding Christmas bargains without braving the mall, and sometimes there were hilarious memes that helped ease the cabin fever.

Read the rest of this entry »

Published in the Rains County Leader on February 23, 2021:

The Snowpocalypse of 2021 has been a challenge to all of us – some more than others. While many report spending days without heat and water, David and I experienced only two days of rolling blackouts, and we had no water outages. We’re now under a “Boil Water Notice,” but that’s only a minor inconvenience.

TV, on the other hand, was a major difficulty. As the thermometer fell, so did our Internet speed – and since our television reception comes through the Internet, we received mostly nothing. Without access to email, social media, and other digital entertainment, and having no desire to go outside and frolic in the snow, we searched for ways to amuse ourselves. David didn’t want to trek across the street for coffee, so we read a lot, I wrote a bit, David paced the floor, and we both looked out the windows.

Our neighbors were cocooned inside their houses, too, so they did nothing to relieve the boredom. In contrast, the wildlife was very interesting. Monday morning I saw Kitty in her predatory stance staring intently out the front window. A bird had found a thin spot close to the front porch and was doing a little dance that involved a couple of scratching steps, which sent dried leaves flying, followed by a peck which hopefully scored a tasty bug or seed. There was a catchy rhythm to the dance, and where Kitty saw a potential snack, I saw a demonstration of what a little spunk and ingenuity can accomplish.

Read the rest of this entry »

Published in the Rains County Leader on February 16, 2021:

Many opportunities to be grateful have presented themselves this week – a home that keeps us comfortable even in the worst weather, a full refrigerator and pantry so we don’t have to make a run to the store, and Internet service so we can keep in touch when church is cancelled, to name a few. One thing I’m particularly thankful for is warm water. With the temperature in the teens and twenties, cold water makes all the hand washing we do these days uncomfortable if not downright painful. Every time I turn on the water, I debate whether to be ecologically responsible by using the cold water or to be comfortable and wait for the warm water. I also think of a story I heard many years ago when I was selling insurance.

I entered the insurance business as an office manager, but I soon became a licensed solicitor and then a full-fledged agent. Maintaining an insurance license requires a certain amount of continuing education, and our company often supplied that in the form of seminars. The key note speaker at one of those meetings told a story from his childhood. I don’t remember the finer details of the story, but it made a lasting impression on me.

Read the rest of this entry »

Published in the Rains County Leader on February 9, 2021:

What is one of the first things we say to our grandchildren when we see them? I have no scientific proof to back this up, but it’s probably something like Come give Grandma a hug! And more than likely, the kids come running. Maybe it’s because they know that Grandma usually brings treats, or maybe it’s because there’s something in human nature that craves the touch of another person.

One of my favorite stories from our family history is of a cousin who went to her grandmother and asked for a hug. It must have been cool, because the older woman had on long sleeves. She picked up the little girl and gave her a squeeze, but the child wasn’t satisfied. “No, Grandma,” she said as she patted her arms. “I need to feel skin.”

It’s a cute, feel-good story, but the theories of some healthcare professionals seem to back up the little girl’s need. In an article dated March 1, 2010, Maia Szalavitz of Psychology Today stated that touch can ease pain and lift depression. She further said that babies who are denied touch through lack of being held, nuzzled or hugged may fail to thrive and may even die if the situation continues too long. In April of 2018, the Healthline website quoted family therapist Virginia Satir as saying “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Published in the Rains County Leader on February 2, 2021:

Those were some of the first words Robert Worley said to me after I walked into his office and introduced myself. Worley is the new Director of the Emory Development Corp., and I was there to interview him for the article you can read on the front page of this edition of the Leader. He went on to explain that, during his four years of high school, he worked as a printer’s devil for the Paducah Post in Paducah, Texas. This was during the days of hot metal typesetting before computers performed the task digitally, and one of his tasks was to feed pigs or ingots of lead into a vat of molten metal to keep the presses moving. Among his mementos of those years is one of the heavy metal bars along with memories of the feel of a drop of hot lead splashing onto his neck and the sound of a drop as it sizzled through the top of his shoe. Although he left the printing business after he graduated from high school, Worley has continued to find a friendly relationship with local newspapers to be invaluable in the economic development business.

Since that conversation, I’ve thought a lot about my own relationship with newspapers. My first memory of this print media is of spending Sunday mornings – after I was ready for church – lying on the floor of the living room in front of the radio with the “funny papers” spread out in front of me. I don’t know if it was a local D.J. or someone with a wider audience, but there was a man who read the comics every week.

Read the rest of this entry »

Published in the Rains County Leader on January 26, 2021:

No, I didn’t go to my local recruiter and sign up. Military enlistments are down, but I don’t think they’re desperate enough to accept a mature woman like me. I did, however, do something almost as controversial, and one gentleman who shared my experience said it was like enlisting in the Army. I wasn’t sure until the last minute that I was actually going through with it, but on Saturday morning I received the first of two doses of a COVID vaccine.

The vaccines have been the subject of much conjecture, argument, and discussion since March 30, 2020 when the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services initiated Operation Warp Speed to develop a vaccine. Since then, I’ve been caught between two opposing sides of the argument.

Read the rest of this entry »

Published in the Rains County Leader on January 19, 2021:

In the past nine years I’ve posted over a thousand posts on my blog. I began blogging because my son advised me that I needed to build up a following of readers in order to attract a publisher for my first book. At the time I used my computer for little more than an electronic typewriter and a quick way to send letters without a stamp. But the blog host I chose was pretty user friendly and offered some free tutorials, so I took the plunge.

There was a learning curve. It took me a while to set up the site, but I finally uploaded my first post and hit the “Publish” button.Since then I’ve become much faster and more efficient at both writing and posting. One of my favorite parts of the process is finding pictures and inserting them strategically in the narrative. I’m pretty good at it, too – or at least I was until a couple of months ago.

Read the rest of this entry »

Published in the Rains County Leader on January 12, 2021:

This last week provided lots of material for a serious post about the state of our society and our country, but I decided to write about something more fun – Kitty. The title doesn’t mean that David and I have adopted more cats. But we have had several feline visits recently, possibly with the thought of becoming the next Brendle household fur baby.

The first applicant showed up in mid December when a nocturnal visitor left a few tufts of fur and sand on the front porch glider. Shortly after the first discovery, David startled a small gray cat that had apparently taken shelter from the cold wind and rain. Of course, I had to post a picture on Facebook, and my cat-loving friends offered suggestions of how to meet the needs of our new friend. He looked pretty well-fed, though, and we believe that providing food to a wild animal does him a disservice by interfering with his natural hunting instincts. We did, however, decide to offer him Kitty’s bed – first, it’s softer and warmer than the glider and second, Kitty prefers our bed.

Read the rest of this entry »

January is Human Trafficking Prevention/Awareness Month, and yesterday I posted an article about Cecilia Abbott, First Lady of Texas, who recently announced a statewide interfaith “Week of Prayer to End Human Trafficking” on Jan. 11-17. The article included daily prompts for those who choose to participate. Today I’m following up with some suggestions about what you can do after you pray.

Even though I knew child trafficking existed, in my mind it was a remote evil until I heard a presentation from an organization based fifty miles from my home who rescues girls and sometimes boys who have been trafficked. Since then I have written two novels in the hope of raising awareness about a tragedy that exists, not just in foreign countries or huge cities but in the towns where children you know and love play and go to school.

One of the most common questions I’m asked about my books is why on earth I chose to write about such a dark, heart-wrenching topic. I have a long, involved explanation, but basically the answer is that I want my readers to understand that sex trafficking is real and that it is here and now. I also want my readers to know there are things they can do to fight sex trafficking. Jesse and Mrs. G are a couple of my characters who exemplify some ways to help, but not many of us can offer cover-up tattoos or manage a rescue ministry. Everyone can get involved, though, and that’s why I’m sharing this post.

Educate yourself:

Here is a list of just a few organizations that fight sex trafficking. These websites and many others are good places to read about the extent and reality of this crime. And there’s always Google or whatever search engine you prefer.

Volunteer:

These organizations always need help. Each organization has a different list of needs, and whatever time or talent you have to offer can probably be used in some way.

Donate:

In addition, they always need money. If your schedule is already full, maybe you can donate to the cause.

Politics:

Maybe politics is your thing. Find out if there are any initiatives on the table to get more funding to fighting sex trafficking. Write your governor, senator, congressman, county commissioner, anyone who might have some influence to either propose or support such an initiative. Research other attempts to fight sex trafficking and throw your support behind them.

Finally, get involved one-on-one:

Personally, I’m not a big picture person. I prefer to try and reach the vulnerable before they become victims. I believe in working with kids one-on-one to make them feel worthy enough that they won’t fall for the schemes of someone like Eric, the trafficker in my books.

My church has active programs for children and youth that include Adventure Club and nursery for children, special programs for youth, and Sunday School and camp for all ages. All of these activities provide opportunities for adult volunteers to spend time with the kids in groups and also one-on-one, taking time to look them in the eye and say, in actions and sometimes in words, “you are important” – “you matter.”

Not into church? That’s okay. How about sports teams, cheerleading, FFA, all the many secular organizations for kids that always seem to be looking for coaches and team parents, adults who will give their time. What about becoming a mentor? Contact the counselor at a school in your area and make yourself available. I’ve been a mentor since 2014 and have been visiting with the same young lady for almost seven years. 

When I look at the magnitude of child trafficking, I sometimes feel like the old man in the starfish story. A little boy was at the beach after a huge storm and there were millions of star fish washed up on the sand. They were drying out in the sun and would soon all be dead. He walked along picking up one after another and throwing them back in the water. An old man was walking toward him, watching what he was doing. When he came close, he said, “Son, you’re not doing any good. There are too many for you to make a difference.” The boy smiled and picked up another small starfish. As he threw it into the water, he said to the man, “I made a difference to that one.”

I hope I make a difference with what I do at the church and at the school, and I hope I make a difference with what I write. I also hope each of you will look for ways to fight trafficking. If each of us does something to help one starfish, we really can make a difference.

Blessings,

Linda

A recent article from the Hill Country Journal:

Texas First Lady to host week of prayer to end human trafficking

Austin – Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott today announced the “Governor’s Response Against Child Exploitation” initiative will host a statewide interfaith “Week of Prayer to End Human Trafficking” on Jan. 11-17.

The week of prayer coincides with Human Trafficking Prevention Month in the state of Texas and serves as a call to action to the faith-based community to unite in prayer, learn more about human trafficking, and discern opportunities to prevent exploitation and support survivors.

GRACE will launch the Week of Prayer to End Human Trafficking through a virtual interfaith event on Jan. 11 at 6 p.m. on Facebook. The event will include remarks from state officials, prayer, and a panel discussion of faith leaders and members of the Office of the Governor’s Child Sex Trafficking Team.

“The Governor’s GRACE Initiative is working closely with communities of faith all across Texas to help prevent human trafficking an bring hope an healing to survivors – and the Week of Prayer to End Human Trafficking is an important part of our efforts,” said First Lady Cecilia Abbott. “I urge Texans of all faiths across the state to join us in prayer and action so that we can put an end to human trafficking once and for all.”

GRACE is a collaboration between the Office of the Texas First Lady, CSTT, the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), and a diverse group of faith leaders across Texas that work together to develop effective strategies to end human trafficking. The initiative launched in December 2019.

Daily Prayer Intentions for the Week of Prayer include:

Monday, Jan. 11 – Pray for an end to human trafficking;

Tuesday, Jan 12 – Pray for survivors to find healing;

Wednesday, Jan. 13 – Pray for all those working on the front line to support survivors;

Thursday, Jan. 14 – Pray for all those working to bring traffickers and exploiters to justice;

Friday, Jan 15 – Pray for an end to demand and societal factors that lead to exploitation;

Saturday, Jan. 16 – Pray for discernment on the actions you can personally take to address human trafficking.

Texans can use the hashtag #TXPraysToEndHT on social media to share their support for the Week of Prayer to End Human Trafficking. To coincide with the announcement, the First Lady released a video encouraging Texans to participate in the Week of Prayer.

Blessings,

Linda

%d bloggers like this: