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Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

Community | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains  County Leader on August 20, 2019:

communityAccording to several on-line dictionaries, community is 1) a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common and 2) a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

Last weekend I attended the 5th Annual White Chapel Girls Retreat at the White Chapel Bed & Breakfast in Mountain Home, Texas. Every year about this time, a dozen women withdraw from everyday responsibilities and gather for Bible study and prayer along with lots of food and fellowship.

Before it became a B and B, the site of the retreat was simply the home of Julee White, a Donkey twinswoman with a heart that is much bigger than the six acres on which she lives. She has the gift of hospitality, and because of this, she has become the go-to place for strays of all kinds. At present, she has 4 dogs, 4 cats, 7 goats, and 3 donkeys in residence. The dogs and cats have free access through a pet door into the laundry room where they find a variety of food and water dishes which, although intended to be species specific, are often shared equally. The donkeys and goats share their food with each other as well as with the small herd of deer that sidle over when they hear the door to the feed shed squeak open. In addition to the four-legged critters, Julee feeds her feathered friends from countless hummingbird and regular bird feeders. The deer have been known to help themselves to the spillage there as well. Because of her many mealtime guests, especially the goats who have become very well-rounded since coming to live with her, Julee originally named her place the F & H (Fat & Happy) Ranch .

Julee also has many human friends, and her home is a museum of their love. Her lawn is encircled by a walking path lined with yard art, and her front walk is embedded with mementos, all from people who love her. The interior of her home is filled with treasures, and she can tell you who gave her each piece and when.

ChapelHowever, the focal point is the White Chapel, also referred to as the Broken Chapel. Several years ago, Julee felt a Divine Call to build a chapel toward the back of her property. She tried to brush the idea off, but it wouldn’t go away. She wanted it to have special meaning, so she sent out a call to friends for materials that were broken or discarded from other projects, and the response was overwhelming. The resulting chapel is more than can be described in this small space, but it is all she had imagined and more.

In 2014 Julee received a call from two friends who wanted to organize several women’s retreats, and they wanted to know if she wanted to participate. “Now I know why God wanted me to build the Chapel,” she said through tears. “Can we have one here?”

Friend invited friend, and in August of 2015 ten women invaded Julee’s home for the first annual White Chapel Girls Retreat. We were all a little uneasy at first. Some of us knew only one other person, and the teacher had never done anything of this scope, but Julee wasn’t fazed. She spread air mattresses on the floor, pulled casseroles out of the freezer, and by the end of the long weekend, we were all Fat and Happy sisters.

Five years later, the F & H Ranch has become the White Chapel Bed & Breakfast, and the White Chapel Girls, now an even dozen, have become a community. For most of the year, we live in places scattered across the country, but for one weekend a year we live together. I don’t know if that qualifies us as a community, but we definitely have a particular characteristic in common – we all believe in Jesus as our personal Savior. As for the second definition, that fits us to a Tee. Throughout the year, we share attitudes, interests, and goals through Facebook and email so that each year there is a feeling of fellowship as if we had been apart days instead of months.

WCG with paintings

On our last night together, we shared Communion in the Chapel. Community and Communion come from the same root word, and one definition of Communion is sharing or exchanging intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level. As we communicated with God and remembered His sacrifice, we also looked around the circle and thanked God for each other.

Our world has become a scattered place where we can live, work, shop, and travel without ever seeing another person. But like Julee’s menagerie of birds and animals, we were made for community. “Reach out and touch someone” is more than a telephone company commercial.

Blessings,

Linda

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

Marked for Life | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on June 18, 2019:

our father's childrenI’m home with all bones intact but with a heart that has more marks than I can count. Let me back up a step or two in case you didn’t read my last column. I went to Royal Family Kids Camp last week, a very special place where kids in foster care can spend five days and four nights just being kids and having fun in a safe environment. In 2013 I served as a counselor and came home with a broken ankle and a broken heart. This time I was the camp scribe. I wasn’t as actively involved in the organized games and other strenuous activities – and David was home praying that he would get his wife back in one piece – so I came home physically undamaged. But as I watched and listened with the eyes and ears of a writer, I saw and heard the struggles, heartaches, and triumphs of more children and counselors than before when I was focused on the two campers that were my responsibility. There are more stories than I can write, but here are a few.

“Jane” was so afraid of the water that she brought her own life jacket and continuously Pink wristbandquestioned her counselor about the lifeguard’s ability to save her if she got into trouble. All campers are required to pass a swim test in order to venture into the deeper end of the pool or to go over to the pond. She wanted to take the test, but she was afraid, so she practiced long and hard. By Wednesday, she was ready to try. Everyone in the pool area had seen her struggle, and they all stopped to watch. When she passed, the cheers and applause were deafening. The wrist band she earned became her pink badge of courage, and she showed it to anyone who would look the rest of the week. (more…)

The Good Light | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on March 12, 2019:

Kitty in the Light 043016I’ve learned a lot about good and bad light from Connie, my photographer neighbor. Good light results in pictures that make me look like I want to look, and bad light makes me look like I do in a changing room mirror under the awful lighting the retail stores seem to favor.

It’s difficult to take good pictures inside our home, at least in the daytime. There are windows in every room, and I’ve learned that natural light pouring in from one of those windows results in washed out photos and lots of silhouettes. After several unsuccessful attempts to capture Kitty in her condo, which is in front of a large window, Connie advised me to change my position by ninety degrees so the light would illuminate my subject from the side. The result is one of my favorite pictures of Kitty. She is looking out through one of the round holes in the side of the condo with a regal look on her face and a halo of light bouncing off her shiny fur. (more…)

What was Alzheimer’s to our family? | by Linda Brendle

new-book-coming-soonI announced a couple of weeks ago that Anaiah Press will release Mom’s Long Good-Bye: A Caregiver’s Tale of Alzheimer’s, Grief, and Comfort, my second memoir, on March 12. Here’s a little bit more about the book:

Alzheimer’s was the evil plaque in Dad’s brain that changed him from a hard-working, easy-going man into a cranky, ill-tempered couch potato.

Alzheimer’s was a thief. It stole Mom away a piece at a time and left me to grieve a loss that went on for years.

Alzheimer’s was a twisted comedian that made me laugh at the ridiculous things Mom did while I cried inside because of the reason behind her antics.

Alzheimer’s was the demon in my head that made me impatient with situations that were no one’s fault and angry at an opponent I couldn’t defeat.

Alzheimer’s was the monster in the closet or under the bed that changed our lives forever once the doctor spoke its name.

But Alzheimer’s was also the loser.

In spite of his difficult final years, Dad left a legacy of peace and love that lives on in the family he left behind.

While Mom’s past disappeared along with her memories, she also forgot the social anxieties and fears that had plagued her all her life and became a real party girl.

The wardrobe mishaps and other silly incidents often led to shared laughter and hugs that made life feel almost normal if only for a moment.

As the good days became fewer, I learned to cherish them when they came.

When Mom’s vocabulary was down to only a few words, one of those words was Jesus; and even to the end, she always responded to music.

Both Mom and Dad passed from this life without a struggle and with peaceful smiles on their faces as they looked into the face of the One who cares for the least of these.

I have found solace in knowing that my task of caregiving was completed not perfectly but well, and I have found comfort in sharing our story with others who are going through the same thing.

A beautiful cover is in the works. I will let you see it as soon as the final version is ready.

Blessings,

Linda

Grabbing the Brass Ring | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on September 18, 2018:

Grabbing the brass ringThere was a time when a hot date consisted of a stroll on the promenade and a ride on the carousel. To add some excitement to the ride, some carousels featured a dispenser that offered a brass ring. The dispenser was placed so that riders had to stretch, taking a risk of losing their grip and tumbling off their mount, in order to grab it. The reward for grabbing the ring was a free ride, though, so many a dashing young man faced the danger for the chance of winning the admiration of a fair maiden. Brass rings are only available on a few vintage carousels now, but “taking a shot at the brass ring” has come to mean striving for the highest prize, or living life to the fullest. Last week, I shared a booth at the 2018 Rains County Fair with Tennille Case, a very special woman who grabbed her brass ring with both hands and walked away with much more than free ride. (more…)

Release Day – Tatia’s Tattoo – What’s it all about? | by Linda Brendle

The most horrific incidents of child sex trafficking happen in the streets of your town, not on the Hollywood screen.

Final_Tatia's Tattoo Cover trim size

Now available at BookPros and Amazon

I loved it! Tatia’s story touched me to the core. It captures the intense struggles and tragic events confronted by the many victims of sex trafficking. The story is compelling and well written, and I had to dry my eyes many times. The dialogue is amazing, particularly in the courtroom. – Christi Palmer, Beta Reader and Fellow Author

This is a wonderful book! Dealing with sex trafficking as often as I do, I can attest to how often it truly happens this way. Eric’s grooming of Tatia is very realistic. – Sara Attaway, A child welfare attorney

 I was very impressed by how the author described very difficult scenes in a way that is affecting while not being lascivious. – Christian Piatt, President and CEO of BookPros

Would you be shocked to learn that a thriving child sex trafficking trade exists in your town and that the children who go to your schools and play in your parks might be the next target of the local pimp?

I was stunned to learn about the sex trafficking trade that thrives in a small East Texas town less than fifty miles from where my husband David and I live out our country retirement. Tatia’s Tattoo is about a child who has been sidelined by life and has fallen through the cracks of a system that should have protected her from this type of insidious crime.

 Tatia’s Tattoo begins on a Friday morning as Tatia Robins, a successful D.C. attorney, awakens from a nightmare that has tormented her for over a decade, a replay of her twelfth birthday when Eric stole her innocence and then sold her for the first time. After spending some time in prayer, she finishes packing and leaves for Royal Children’s Camp, a Christian camp for foster children where she first met Jesse and Mrs. G and now serves as a counselor every summer.

The journey to camp each year stirs up memories of her journey from a happy child in the arms of loving parents to one more statistic in the sex-trafficking industry in a small Texas town. She also remembers her day in court when she stood up to Eric, the man who was supposed to have loved her.

She is met at the airport by Mrs. G, the woman who recognized her as one of the least of these in spite of her skin-tight mini dress and the prisoner’s band around her wrist. Throughout the weekend, she looks forward to a reunion with other members of the Grochowsky Rescue Academy and with Jesse, the Christian tattoo artist and biker who waits patiently for Tatia to feel safe enough to tear down the protective walls she has built around herself. Will the love of her new family and Jesse’s surprise gift be enough to help her reclaim the power that Eric stole from her?

It is my hope that Tatia’s Tattoo will give a voice to the oppressed and broken children who cannot speak for themselves. – From the Author

Filled with tragedy, crime, redemption, and love, Tatia’s Tattoo is a poignant story that exposes the sordid underbelly of sex trafficking in small-town America and shines a light of hope on how it might be defeated.

Buy now at:

BookPros

Amazon

Blessings,

Linda

Tatia’s Tattoo: Release minus 1!

TATIA’S TATTOO

RELEASE DATE: TOMORROW!

GENRE: CHRISTIAN FICTION/LEGAL THRILLER

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As a successful D.C. lawyer, Tatia’s mission in life was to destroy the sex trafficking trade in small-town America. She knew where to find it. She’d been there. With only apathetic foster parents to protect her, she fell prey to the local pimp. Trapped in the sordid underbelly of a small Texas town, she survived by sheer will. Her friendship with her fellow victim Cindy was the only light of humanity in the darkness until she saw a familiar face. Would Mrs. G, a mama bear of an attorney, still think she had strength and potential? Would Jesse, the young Christian tattoo artist and biker, still look at her with a twinkle in his eyes? Or would they both see only the mark of shame Eric had etched onto her forearm?

I cannot remember when I read a fiction book that moved me like this one. – Lisa Stillman

Final_Tatia's Tattoo Cover trim size

Pre-Order Paperback on Amazon Now 

Paperbook and Ebook available on BookPros and Amazon on release.

To read the Preface and first 2 chapters, go to https://www.bookpros.com/books/15 and click on “Download a sample” below the cover.

Blessings,

Linda

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