Thursday, December 29, 2022

Short story Challenge - Beginning to Write - Open Memoir: Emotionally Damaged - Appendix

I've done a lot of writing in my life, but mostly business related--letters, reports, analytical studies. But I've never considered myself to be a writer of stories... Probably because I'd rather read them than write them...LOL... But, once in a while, mostly when given a challenge, as was done with this story, I'll take a try... What do you think?


This was my first attempt for a new group calling for the creation of a story from a first line at an older site, Gather.Com, in 2008.



The cool breeze flowed around her, soothing her frazzled nerves. Shelly had just had one of the worse days of her middle-aged life! Not only had she had to take care of her own 1st grade class, she had been forced to care for the 2nd grade class as well. Trading off personal days was not one of the decisions for which she had voted, but with the new principal trying to gain favor; she was caught in "majority rules" status.

Fortunately Hank had been wonderfully helpful, as usual. He had already rolled back the large dividing partition between classes, set up the movable chalkboards in the middle of the larger room, and had even rearranged the chairs when he had cleaned so that they faced toward the larger front of the lecture hall. Now as she sat, enjoying her freedom, she smiled and thought I think Hank might have a crush on me!

Now that she was able to look back at her day, she decided that it had been unusual enough that she shouldn't blame what had happened on the new policy. After all, when the Taylor twins were sent to school when they weren't feeling well, that had started the problem! When they both took a turn for the worse and vomited right as they were coming through one of the doors to the room, they couldn't be scolded. 

And even though she had called Hank right away to help clean up, while she took care of the girls; they hadn't acted fast enough to prevent four of the second graders from running through the halls into the room, only to go sliding across the room as each ran into the vomit! Fortunately, most of the regurgitation had been water with a little bit of tea because the twins had not wanted any breakfast. Still the boys screamed, "Gross, Yuk! Get me out of here!" as well as some words they had undoubtedly heard outside of her classroom--thank you very much!

And all of that, of course, set the other children laughing and calling out torturous taunts to those getting up off the floor, their clothes a mess, their handprints on the walls and anything else they touched before they stood.

The only good thing about all of that was that Sara, her friend and the School Secretary had heard the commotion and ran to the room offering help. She quickly saw the problem, herded the boys to take to the nurses' office and then to call their parents if they needed to leave school due to being hurt or to change clothes! The twins were already in the nurse's office and were sure to be sent home.

Thankfully, after that catastrophic beginning, the children settled down to work, even though Hank was there in front of the room, cleaning up the mess that had been made. Now, as she sat at her desk, drinking the coffee that Hank had thoughtfully brought her from the teachers' lounge, she watched him and laughed. He had brought back a magazine he'd found in the lounge and was waving it back and forth, creating the gentle breeze that was soothing her.

"Hank, I don't know how to thank you for helping me through the day!"

"It was my pleasure, Shelly; I like to help out whenever I can."

"How did you happen to start working here, Hank. I remember you used to go to the same high school as I did, but then, didn't you leave town?"

"Yes, right after I graduated. You may not know it, but I won a scholarship that year and I left right away to study to become a teacher. It really was the only way I could ensure I was financially able to get my degree."

"Why, no, I didn't know that--that's wonderful! And have you been able to finish your teaching degree?"

"Oh, yes," Hank laughed. I worked my way through and I was already teaching in Illinois. But, my mother got sick and needed me home after my father died. I took this job to get to know the school and submit my application. Now I'm waiting..."

"Waiting?"

"Yes, I was told confidentially that there would be a teaching vacancy and that they would be very interested in my applying for the position. You may have heard by now that Mr. Rosenbaum will be leaving this year. But what you don't know is that I'll be taking over his 4th grade class!"

Not able to handle her surprise, Shelly merely responded with a gigantic smile and said, "Really?"

"Yes, and I've been wondering, would you like to help me celebrate my new job by having dinner with me tonight?"

As Hank continued to send his cooling breeze around her, Shelly knew her frazzled nerves were gone and laughingly responded, "Can we go now?!"

As I read this story again, getting it ready to post, I have to laugh--you see, the story setting was a classroom...which I was dealing with routinely when I was working... So it is true, that if you know enough to write about a location, then it makes the story easier to develop...

I had begun to manage a classroom environment of over 250 rooms spread across three different campus locations: Downtown, Evansdale and the Medical Center. This included scheduling all classes that used what we called general-purpose. That is, any class could be taught there because they didn't need any specialized equipment. A chalkboard, teacher's station and the seating for students was standardized in each room. A screen was normally also included, but the equipment was carried in. We did have a requirement to provide for accessibility, as needed.

It was my job to begin to better utilize those rooms. I began by learning which departments were housed in each building, getting to know the size of classes that would normally be taught by the instructor. For instance, a normal class size for English would be about 25-30. Normally, if at all possible, I would merely assign/confirm the room that had been used and again requested from previous semesters.

The challenge began when I started using hours that were normally not taught. Early morning classes and late afternoon classes were avoided for obvious reasons, but that meant that the rooms sat empty for those hours... 

At the beginning, all of the scheduling was created manually and in response to the individual from academic departments that handled their class schedule to be taught for any given semester. We would normally be working on three different semesters at any given time. It was my job to begin to negotiate a wider spread of their classes across the day. It was fun, for the most part...

Especially when I could say, upon being asked what I do at the university, I would say "I tell the students where to go..." A little ornery, but cute, don't you think?

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Meet Saint Tommy:NYPD in first in series: Hell Spawn: A Catholic Action Horror Novel by Declan Finn -


I can smell evil. I show mercy to the lesser criminals - the desperate. Even those I’ve put behind bars seem to like me. But now there’s a serial killer bringing darkness beyond imagination to my city. I can smell his stench a mile away. But how can I prove it?

How do you do forensics on a killer possessed by a demon?


Odd Saint  - My name is Detective Thomas Nolan, and I am a saint. This is neither boasting nor an exaggeration. I only had an inkling on the morning I chased Anthony Young, purse snatcher…again.  Kid was four years older than my son. Young Anthony (see what I did there?), a 20th time offender, had upgraded to double duty, on this day both snatching the purse as well as the iPhone of Malinda Jones. 

Malinda was one of many careless New Yorkers who are so deep into their phones that they barely registered oncoming traffic, to heck with noticing a thief running up on them. My radar was already up after Anthony bumped against me as he brushed past. I didn’t bother checking for theft. I had nothing in the pockets of my tan overcoat, and my pants pockets were out of the reach of even a skilled thief. 

I merely continued my morning offering as the Opus Dei had taught me and was about to go into the Our Father. Then Anthony charged forward, sweeping Malinda’s purse from her shoulder, and plucking the iPhone from her hand. It was the latest model, over a thousand dollars’ worth of technology in one easy-to-steal package. 

Obviously, Anthony didn’t see the all-caps NYPD emblazoned in gold letters on the front AND back of my policeman-blue baseball cap. To make matters worse—for him—was that he did this in front of the mental health court for Queens, heralded by the black wrought-iron fence about ten feet high, which was serviced by the NYPD as their security. Further down the block was a housing community with its own private security. In short, there was no real way that Anthony was going to get to the end of the (admittedly very long) block. I was still under an obligation to chase the idiot. 

“Freeze! Police!” I barked before I took off after him. As expected, it made him run faster, but he obviously heard me, so he had his fair warning. I pounded along the pavement behind Anthony, who was built for speed over anything else. He was short and slight, but he could run. I was bigger, a bit over six foot, and broad in the shoulders. Every big man will tell you one thing—running was just a great way to destroy your ankles and your knees if you do it right. I was a lumbering truck chasing after a motorcycle, but the moment Anthony ran out of gas, the impact would be similar. 

As I ran, I mentally recited the Our Father and was on the Hail Mary when the strangeness happened. Suddenly, I could see myself ahead of Anthony… while at the same time, standing in front of him, I saw myself chase behind Anthony. It was a strange, vivid experience, with each view of Anthony as clear as the highest definition television—with almost more clarity than real life. It was odd, but I was also too busy to ponder it. I held out an arm, leaned into it, and Anthony just ran into my arm. He clothes-lined himself so hard, his feet left the ground. I swept back under him as fast as I could, catching him just before his head hit the concrete. It wouldn’t do for him to have brain damage over a stolen purse—it wasn’t like he had little gray cells he could afford to lose. I smiled into his face. “Hi Anthony. Would you like to tell me your rights? We’ve done this dance too often.” 

He merely smiled widely and shrugged, even as I hauled him to his feet. “Eh, you win some, you lose some. Still ain’t gonna serve any jail time.” Anthony was a poster boy for juvenile recidivism and a great example for anyone who agitates for prosecuting all criminals as adults. He wasn’t necessarily a bad kid, but he could use an extended stay in Boys Town—or an overnight in Rikers Island to scare him straight. 

“It would help if you won any,” I suggested. 

“Can I cuff myself this time?” he asked as I took his wrists behind his back and cuffed them. “Guess not.” 

I rolled my eyes. “Anthony, have you considered that if you want money, you get a real job?” 

He laughed. “You mean work for a living? Hey, that’s racist, yo.” I shook my head and sighed. This kid was going to give me a headache. 

“Meet me halfway, find a crime you’re at least good at?” 

Malinda caught up to us at long last. She was 48, 4’9”, and 180 pounds, so it took her a while. She looked at the perpetrator and frowned. “Anthony Young! I should have known. Just wait until I tell your gramma! Wait until I tell Father Pawson!” Anthony finally looked concerned. 

“Aw, come on, Missus Jones, do you have to? I didn’t know it was you.” Malinda wound up for a smack to the back of his head, and I twisted him around to put myself between them. 

“Mrs. Jones, you can’t do that. I’ve got him cuffed already.” 

Malinda glowered. “Fine. But you take him right to the station. I’m going to meet you there. Taking my stuff. How dare you, Anthony!” She stormed off ahead of us, not even waiting for me to hand her stuff back. I pocketed her phone and slung the purse over my shoulder—it was big enough to be a satchel, if worse came to worse. 

“How’d you get in front of me, anyway?” he asked. “I don’t remember you being that fast.” 

I blinked. That was a good question, to which I didn’t have a good answer. I had heard that deja vu was simply a matter of slow communication between two halves of the brain. Perhaps it was serious brain lag? No, that explanation didn’t even work for me at the time, but since I didn’t have a good answer for him, I merely told him the truth: “I haven’t the foggiest notion.”

~~~

You know, it's kinda difficult to think that you're reading a horror novel when you keep smiling and thinking of this as a spoof. You know, something like ghost busters, the theme that kept coming into my mind as I read... But Tommy Nolan, NYPD, was not chasing ghosts--he was a legit New York police officer who walked the streets of New York, and sometimes ran after those who break the law...

The first thing you learn about Tommy is that, while he is running, he is saying prayers, Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee; blessed are thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. ...now and at the hour of our death....then starting, the Our Father... Seriously, I kid you not... I had heard of the need to "pray without ceasing..." but I never really had a real notion of how that could happen... But, then, I'm not a Saint-in-training...

Of course, Tommy did not consider himself a saint, nor even one in training, since most saints are named "after" death... But, I've told you too often about God Incidents happening, not to be willing to believe that this man was, indeed, doing God's work! Even if he was a character in a book...lol!

(By the way, I watched a few Hallmark movies over the last few days and several were referred to as Godwink movies. Well, of course, they meant the same as my favorite saying God Incidents...Still, it was fun to see others have realized that there were sometimes things that happened that were too clearly more than coincidence!)

Now, Tommy suddenly had a gift, that wasn't too pleasant...he could smell something that smelled worse than rotten... He could smell evil... And he smelled it when he got back to the station to again arrest young Anthony... As soon as he got there, Tommy smelled something rancid...and he had to find out what it was!

And it led to:

The source was what most civilians would picture as a “typical” junkie—the type who has obviously hit bottom, He was anemic, malnourished, scrawny, and painfully underweight. At 5’8”, he may have weighed all of one hundred pounds. His hair was black, stringy, and greasy, and his eyes were a pale, watery blue. I couldn’t tell if he was about to cry or bite someone’s nose off … or just curl up into a ball and die, since he looked close enough anyway. Sunken cheeks, protruding cheekbones, and he hurt to look at. His hands were cuffed behind his back, but the elbows were so bony, I was concerned he could stab someone with those alone. And he smelled like death, decay, and made the stench of garbage trucks smell sweet in comparison. “Okay, Hayes,” one of the officers told him, “you’re almost done. You can be in your cell in a bit.” As I approached Hayes, he started, his back becoming ramrod straight. He turned to look at me. His face went from being passive and wishy-washy to a mask of rage.  He roared loud enough to hurt my ears and make the cops around him flinch. With a loud crack, his arms shot forward. He’d dislocated his left thumb to get out of the cuffs. He grabbed the nearest policeman, hurling him across the room with maniacal strength. The cop slammed into a desk, then smashed through a window. The cop behind him grabbed on, and the perp whirled, smacking him aside. He grabbed the cop’s nightstick, and cut the leg out from under the officer... Hayes whirled on me, bellowing, “Era uoy tahw wonk I!” Then he lunged.
And that's when Tommy met his first...demon... A chase like no other begins when the demon moves from body to body to outrun Saint Tommy! 

My first read by Finn, A Pius Man, took readers into the Vatican and I thoroughly enjoyed those novels by this author... He has become a prolific novelist and moves from one genre to another without any trouble. Using the Catholic Church often, he places those with deep faith into fantastically, sometimes supernatural, action. Indeed Tommy Nolan will learn of God's gifts to him as he tackles a demon who can live in and move from one person to another... And the only way to track him was by Tommy's ability to identify evil...by its smell! Imagine trying to write up a report on each of those attempted arrests! Seriously it's fun to watch as God gives chase through humans!

Do check out others reviews for Finn's books here at Book Readers Heaven... Use his name for a search and you'll have a list going back to 2013 with his Pius Series! Finn includes his own opinions re the abortion issue, so if you cannot deal with a different opinion from your own, pass this one by...rather than give it a low rating as some have done.  

Fortunately I don't have to choose, but I have to admit that the hint of humor in meeting the Saint Tommy Character has shown just how Declan's writing has soared into big time in the last decade! I loved this first book and already have the second one! And, whether or not you already know that God CAN move mountains, the climax of this story will give you a great way to consider just how His miracles could work...if you were a saint...in...training... Do check this one out!




God Bless,

Gabbie

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Christmas at Home - Open Memoir - A Single Christian Woman - Jesus is the Reason for the Season

 




Christmas in my home always included a Christmas Tree that sat in a corner of our large living room. Decorations were ones that had been passed down from Christmas to Christmas and told the story of our earlier times of celebration as well as welcoming in this year's recognition of that most sacred and holy holiday - Christ was born in Bethlehem, Come to Save The World!

You know, folks, I don't remember ever talking about Santa Claus! Sometimes, Santa would come into a conversation around that time, but he never really played any major part for me or my family. In fact, as I think back over my life, I find that some of these memories were actually played over and over while attending the various churches that I have joined, based upon where I was living... Although, I remember most about the church where I attended as I went to school. We had a lot of relatives living nearby and so family was also there for most events. Sometimes, we would join for services with the nearby church as well.

Christmas was all about the birth of Jesus and being in church, saying small parts we learned by heart, and singing Christmas hymns... All of the children and choir members would participate in a program, routinely put together by our pianist, Dee Sangston and Marcellus Evans, our song leader. Actually, Dee is my sister and Marcel and she would sing together for most events, large or small... 

I learned from Dee, when I began to substitute as pianist, to review what the sermon was going to be about, and then select our music to complement that day. I always found this as a wonderful way to share God's Word, as both words and music spotlighted that day's lesson from the pastor.

All of the children in church would participate in the Sunday School program, with the youngest saying something simple, like "Happy Birthday, Jesus..." Indeed, I remember that we always sang Happy Birthday to anybody who had a birthday that week and the individual would go up and put coins into the Sunday School bank to recognize their own birthday. So, when Christmas came, we would sing Happy Birthday to Jesus, and then we would all be asked to give a special gift in honor of his birth...

The older children and teens would memorize short poems or, sometimes, read from the Bible and share how shepherds and wise men came to Bethlehem... directly to the manager where the star led them

The choir and congregation often started the program with Angels We Have Heard on High... and other related hymns...





One of the greatest joys of my life was the times I was involved in the music program, no matter where I lived. I would often sing solo and would memorize most of the hymns we routinely used for each service. At one of the churches, the choir would go caroling and would stop by senior citizen homes. It is a uniquely giving experience to walk where somebody is unable to care for themselves and sing to them. I remember there was a woman who had no way to speak or hear, yet I held her hand and sang... I hope she felt the warmth I wanted to share with her...

On Christmas Eve, we would have a candlelight service and members of the congregation would dress as the various people who were at the manger that night...

I would sing to start the procession... I Wonder As I Wander Out Under the Sky... How Jesus the Savior was Sent for To Die...


And the Wise Men would start walking down the aisle, as they looked on to be with Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus who were already waiting at the front of the church...


The Shepherd would follow... And as they came, candles would begin to be lit... and as candles glowed, the overhead lights would be turned off, until the only light was the candles and the light over the piano... And somebody would start to sing Silent Night...and then more and more voices began to sing...


That Service would conclude with a soloist singing O Holy Night...

People would begin to get up and circle around the church so that we would say our final prayer as the song finished and the pastor would bless the evening and then invite everybody to the basement for fellowship... 

You know, folks, with all that was happening at church, we never even thought of anything else except that Jesus had been born! Hallelujah!

And the church would have candy or fruit to give to us for Christmas! And, of course, cookies were served with something hot to drink before we would get our coats and leave...

The earliest Christmas I can remember is when we got a set of croquet. All of us knew that Mom worked day and night to feed and clothe us and have a home... We also knew that there would be little money for any type of gifts. So Mom would buy one big gift for all of us to use... I can still remember when we went out to set up the croquet set...and start hitting those little balls... We were thrilled to have a toy, a game for our gift! And, later, as we grew older, gifts would be placed under the tree, from our siblings, our relatives... and, really, if anybody said Santa Claus, I guess I've forgotten that...


Mary, Did You Know talks about what would happen to Jesus later in his life... And, so, at this time, we also stop to ponder: What is happening in our lives. We see a country, Ukraine, at war, fighting for democracy, against an authoritarian leader who cares nothing about the death of so many people... In America, we see just how closely we came to losing democracy as we know it, when an authoritarian president decided to take over, using violence and force--yet he was stopped! But the division of America is still being tested... 

Mary, did you know that the death of your son was never really accepted by the world as being our salvation? So many different factions are purposely being incited only for the power or greed of people. Will we ever be free of tyranny, or those who seek power over anything else? We put our faith in your son, yet there are those who use His name to go against or hate others, even referring to the Bible to "prove" it... Mary, did you know that Love seems never enough to counter-balance Hate?

Did you know that Santa Claus would become more important than Jesus on His Own Birthday? At least it seems like that for many... I know you really didn't have a choice, but, Mary, are you ever saddened, or even angry, knowing that your Son seems to have died in vain? 

I wonder as I wander, out under the sky, Why Jesus, the Savior was sent for to die... For poor orn'ry people like you and like I... I wonder as I wander... Out under the sky... He WAS THE KING!


Mary... Come to Us... Pray with Us...Celebrate Him


Jehovah... Come to us...Pray with Us...Celebrate Him


Holy Spirit... Come to us...Pray For Us...
Celebrate His Birth!






Merry Christmas from 
Book Readers Heaven -
My Favorite Christmas Song
O Holy Night! 
Happy Birthday Jesus!!!




Thursday, December 22, 2022

Murder on the Down Low By Pamela Samuels Young - Spotlights Issues for HIV Deaths by Women, Especially... During AIDS Awareness Month

 


“Hi, honey,” his wife chirped back. “I’m catching a movie with Karen tonight. The kids are with my parents.” “Have a good time.” Diana was always good about making sure he knew her precise whereabouts, and Dr. Banks appreciated that. Now that he was free for the evening, the thought of arranging another hookup with Clarence crossed his mind, but he quickly dismissed the thought. He was not a greedy man. 

He never prowled for sex and the thought of going to a gay bar disgusted him. Only gay men did that, and he wasn’t gay. His lunchtime excursions were just a freaky little hobby. Nothing more. Nothing less. He was a fanatic about safe sex and always chose partners who were family men with as much to lose as he had. Dr. Banks even required his sexual partners to periodically produce written proof that they were HIV negative, and he gladly did the same. 

He loved his wife too much to demand anything less. In the twelve years since he’d said I do, there had only been five other men besides Clarence. Dr. Banks turned left into the parking structure, made his way to the second level and backed into a stall that bore his name in neat block letters. He hummed his favorite Temptations song, My Girl, as he took off his shades and clipped them onto the sun visor. 

Pushing open the car door, Dr. Banks planted his left foot on the ground at the same moment that a bullet pierced his cheek, just below his right eye. The force of the shot sent his head hurtling backward, then slowly forward, as a splash of crimson darkened the car’s pristine beige interior. As the second and third bullets entered his neck and chest, Dr. Banks’ body fell sideways toward the open car door. His hand reached out for something to grasp, but found nothing to break his fall. In what looked like a slow motion videotape, Dr. Banks tumbled onto the dirty garage pavement, head first.





Every time I read a novel by this new writer, for me, I finish and want to continue on to the next book... This is the Vernetta Henderson Series Book 3... I'm a fan of legal novels, but when a writer takes on issues from today's headlines, then I find them even more intriguing...and, additionally, a learning experience. While this book was published in 2008, we are still, unfortunately, seeing the same types of hate that have been around for decades and more... I don't even attempt to get into a discussion on one's sexuality. I think that if God has created us in His image, then it is not up to us to judge whether any given individual is "not" how God had created that person. It works for me, but nosomuch for many... In fact, I want to share the author's addition at the end of the book related to why and how she came about writing this book. I certainly learned a lot, but I'll highlight, for me, her most important words...
 

Author’s Note: I often have a hard time recalling exactly when or how the idea for a particular novel originated. For the most part, the concept simply pops into my head from some unknown place. That’s not the case with this book. I have a crystal clear recollection of watching an Oprah show featuring J.L. King, author of On the Down Low. As I listened to his insider’s account of the mindset of men on the down low, I was completely stunned. My emotions during that sixty-minute program, went from shock to anger to fear. 
As a writer of fiction, my goal is to entertain. Writing this book, however, has given me an opportunity to both entertain and raise awareness about this important topic. The statistics mentioned in Murder on the Down Low are fact, not fiction. While African-American and Latina women make up only 24% of the female population in the U.S., we account for more than 80% of the total AIDS diagnoses for women, according to the latest statistics published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Unfortunately, these shocking numbers are not likely to decline until we—the victims—decide to do something about them. HIV may not be curable, but it is completely preventable. We can’t continue to sit back and wait for someone else to tackle this crisis. This is our fight. We must begin this battle by pulling our heads out of the sand. 
While there are indeed men whose conduct puts our lives at risk, we also do our own share of harm to ourselves. We place our own lives at risk by not getting tested. We place our own lives at risk when we fail to use protection. We place our own lives at risk when we behave in ways which dishonor our bodies. These are areas we can fix. 
Today. While African-Americans are among the most religious people on the planet, we tend not to extend our spiritual teachings of love and compassion toward our gay brothers and sisters. That, too, must change. 

The Book Covers that This is a Multi-Race Issue!

A wealth of information about HIV/AIDS is available via the Internet. For more information, please visit The National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Inc. (www.nblca.org), The Black AIDS Institute (www.BlackAIDS.org) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.org). In the meantime, stay safe.


In this book, Vernetta's best friend, Special, takes center stage as she mourns the death of a cousin who has died... According to announcements, she died from pneumonia, but this was not the truth and Special was first upset and then became angry. In her opinion, Maya was...murdered! And she felt that her fiancĂ©e should be made to pay for her death! In fact, she became more and more obsessive as time went by, even to making a public announcement during Maya's funeral...

To everyone’s amazement, including Vernetta’s, Special sidestepped two ushers, shrugged off a funeral director and charged straight into the pulpit. The mourner who was speaking stumbled aside as Special snatched the microphone from its stand. “Everybody thinks Maya died from pneumonia,” Special said, choking back a sob. “Well, she didn’t.” 

Vernetta shot out of her seat and was at Special’s side in a flash. “What’re you doing?” she whispered, covering the mike with her hand. “Don’t do this!” J.C. followed after her, and the two of them formed a tight half circle around their distraught friend. Reverend Jones took a half step toward them, but froze when J.C. shot him a cop glare that didn’t require any verbal instructions. 

“People need to know the truth,” Special replied in a weak but angry voice. Nichelle had also joined them, which was a surprise considering how much she hated confrontation. She stood off to the side, still dabbing her eyes with the tattered Kleenex. Vernetta placed a hand on Special’s shoulder. “Maya’s family doesn’t want people to know.” “I’m her family, too,” Special replied stubbornly. “And I think they should know.” A muffled clamor drew all eyes to the front pew. Maya’s mother slowly rose to her feet. Pearl Washington was a young woman. Just over fifty. But the weight of her daughter’s death had added a good ten years to her otherwise flawless face. “Special’s right . . . ” Mrs. Washington said in a weathered voice that had Maya’s feminine raspiness. “People should know. Let her speak.” 

After a long, uncertain moment, J.C. took a step back. It took another few seconds before Vernetta reluctantly did the same. As the congregation waited, Special dropped her head as if she had suddenly lost her nerve and was searching for it on the floor. But in an instant, she straightened into a lofty, almost regal pose. “Maya wasn’t just my cousin,” Special began, fighting to control her emotions. “She was like a sister to me. And she shouldn’t be lying in that casket. The only reason she is, is because somebody deceived her. And it would be a crime to deceive all of you.” She stopped and rubbed her right eye with the heel of her hand. “Maya didn’t die of pneumonia. Maya died of AIDS. And Eugene Nelson was the man who infected her.” An elderly woman gasped from the back row, and a teenager sitting up front cupped his mouth with both hands. 

“Maya didn’t know that Eugene was gay or on the down low or whatever you want to call it,” Special continued, ignoring the waves of shock ricocheting through the church. “Eugene needs to pay for what he did. And I promise you . . .” Her lower lip began to quiver and for a second it seemed as if she would not be able to go on. “I plan to make sure that he does.” Special let out a loud, agonizing wail as her three friends rushed over to her. Reverend Jones waved frantically at the pianist, whose fingers hit the wrong keys, then broke into Amazing Grace. 

Vernetta wasn’t sure what emotion she felt as they escorted Special from the pulpit. But she didn’t blame her friend for what she had just done. It didn’t make sense for Eugene to be walking around looking like the picture of health when Maya was dead. What was God’s lesson in that? Special was absolutely right. Eugene had to pay. As a matter of fact, they had already come up with a plan to make sure that he did. 

Realizing that you've been infected of a deadly disease by your beloved surely must be the worst thing that could happen to many women... At least that is how Special, Maya's mother and her closest friends decided... They were beginning the plans for suing Maya's husband for wrongful death and intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

While this very personal trauma was being felt by Maya's family, there were other families experiencing similar losses... But from a different perspective, As an investigation started, it was discovered that there had been four murders of prominent Black men and, when Eugene was also killed, Vernetta began to think that there was a serial killer working in the area... It was bad, but not something she would become involved with, until, when Eugene was murdered, the police immediately began to build the case to arrest Special, who from the very first, had talked about Eugene needing to pay the penalty...and she just might be willing to see that happen... At least that was how the local police were justifying her arrest...all on circumstantial evidence... And, yes, some of the acts done by Special were illegal, but she was not responsible for his death...

In fact, as readers continue, we are faced with a whodunit that is extraordinarily well written and, ultimately, a shocking and climatic ending! Well done, Ms. Young! 

The merge of homosexuality within the religious part of our lives is prominently addressed, but not from the usual perspective. Ms. Young points out that if those who are gay were not forced to be closeted, for fear of being harmed, that the activities of having sex on the "down low..." would probably not occur. That is, gay men would form open relationships and not be forced, sometimes, to be in a heterosexual marriage. The topic is sensitive as, it seems, all sexuality issues are as it relates to religion... For surely, the church has not been successful in dealing with the many issues that need to be addressed in the real world, post-Biblical times...

As we have seen, given the Supreme Court actions and discussions recently, the nation has been forced to look backward related to issues that we all once thought had been settled... The fact that religion has been used to incite hate, division, and prejudice is once again alive and active due to the maga influence. People are dying, again... And use of scripture is being used by those who "hate" for their own personal goals. From 2008, when this book was published, to 2022, today, we are once again questioning who can love who... 

This book is an excellent exploration of the topic within a fantastic and compelling legal suspense story that will keep you on edge until the final chapter! If you see yourself as some of the characters in this novel, take a moment to see which of them reflect your own opinions, and whether that was a "winning" choice for the way the book concludes... Me, I'd place myself as one of Maya's friends...and I'd be doing whatever it took to seek...accountability! At this time, it is much more important day after day after day...!


Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me
You have been so, so good to me
Before I took a breath, You breathed Your life in me
You have been so so kind to me
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the 99
And I couldn't earn it
I don't deserve it, still You give yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me
You have been so, so good to me
When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me
You have been so, so kind to me
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the 99
And I couldn't earn it
I don't deserve it, still You give yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending reckless love of God
There's no shadow You won't light up
Mountain You won't climb up
Coming after me
There's no wall You won't kick down
Lie You won't tear down
Coming after me
There's no shadow You won't light up
Mountain You won't climb up
Coming after me
There's no wall You won't kick down
Lie You won't tear down
Coming after me
There's no shadow You won't light up
Mountain You won't climb up
Coming after me
There's no wall You won't kick down
Lie You won't tear down
Coming after me
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the 99
I couldn't earn it, I don't deserve it, still You give yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending reckless love of God

I don't know the Answers
But I Can't Believe Hate is Yours
I don't know the Answers
I'll trust You to Give the Answers
Death Should Not Result from Love
I don't know the Answers
But I'll Choose Your Love Over Hate Always

God Bless

Gabbie

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Forbes - Dictionary.com Spotlights "Woman" As Word of the Year! And No Wonder!

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/14/us/politics/pelosi-portrait-capitol.html

You Know Folks, I already had this set of Videos selected for an article...When, this morning, I learned that !Woman! has been named as the most used, or searched for, word for 2022, I knew it was time...  Obviously I was not surprised! 

Not only did we have the world's oldest woman monarch die during the year, we now know that the word Queen, is originally related to the world woman. Check out the article, if interested in learning more about the selections!

We also had women in the news for either being placed in prison or those who were violently attacked for whatever reason and in whatever country... Or even attacked for speaking truth, like Liz Cheney...

Right now, I just want to spotlight all of the significant issues that bothered me the most! Obviously, the overturn of Roe Vs Wade was the instigator of millions of women speaking out about the loss of rights awarded years ago. In my opinion, this is NOT about abortion, it is about what women rights are needed to make them able to better deal with the issues they face daily. On the other hand, I DO believe that each woman, together with her doctor of her religious support system, has the right to CHOOSE what is the best options for her. And I truly believe that God does have a part in that decision...as He has given us Free Will - Our Own Will to choose...

Once I realized that and know of the impact of our choices, then I do not believe any religious leaders or governmental representatives have the right to take that away from us. I alone must face God's judgment for my own choices. God DOES NOT NEED legalities, pro or con, to be a part in consideration of abortion or any other thing we may choose to do. The only consideration I would use is how my decision may impact others... And, again, I believe that is part of Free Will to make those choices...

 







Being aware of how women are being treated in this last decade, especially, is important for all people, both women and men. Simply because the abuse and bias against women has risen during this same time period... I know, because I'll be sharing some of the issues I faced as a part of my Open Memoirs as issues are addressed in one way or another, in the news these days!

Having WOMAN as the Word of the Year just may be the turning point for the Nation and the World... For it tells me that women around the world are refusing to continue "to walk behind men..." either figuratively or in reality... I am not a feminist, per se, rather a woman who has learned that all people are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights...and that means women are equal, minorities are equal, et. al., and we need to learn how to accept that and not allow individual power-seeking authoritarians from preventing our equality in all things...

So, folks, I was thinking about how to close this out and was looking for a song, or two, to express my thoughts... When the following was pulled up by my search... As you all know, I've been very upset with how Christianity has been splintered - or perhaps it has always been this way? Anyway, I coulnd't understand how a man like Donald Trump could ever be considered as Chosen by God... Mainly because, many people I know also questioned this view, right?


So, I was talking to a friend one day and expressing my personal opinion about how King David had dealt with his daughter's rape...and, before that, that he had arranged the death of a woman's husband, so he could have her for himself... I was told, Bathsheba seduced him...

Kinda like blaming Hilary Clinton for Monica's act for her husband, then president... right?

For me, if we don't recognize what is truth, even in our faith, then are we going to willingly participate in God's plan for us? You know, folks, I spend a lot of time considering this... For instance, I find it appalling that Joe Biden cannot take communion because of his actions to support the needs of all in the nation, including women... minorities, and those who seek asylum in America... Personally, my thought is related to what would Jesus do? 


Let's see, He tells us to love our neighbors...that means to me everybody... In fact, Love is the most important word that Jesus puts into action... And when somebody does something that is wrong toward our neighbor, He doesn't lie and tell them that's ok, because they are Muslims, or Jews, or whatever they find a problem with that neighbor... In fact, when a woman was to be stoned for being a prostitute, Jesus spoke to the men, first, to ask about their own actions in stoning her.

Jesus knew why the woman was a prostitute...she needed money, I would guess, to live... Yet the supposed good people who would stone her as by the law, clearly would never stop and ask, Woman, do you need food, do you need shelter? For surely, we would like to help you not have to use yourself in order to live. May we offer you a way out of having to live as a prostitute?

Hey, let's face it, that's also like blaming the woman for all her johns who want to use her body, rather than helping her to eat or have shelter...or a decent-paying job! As we all know, it's always the prostitutes that are taken in to jail...NOT the Johns! Gotta wonder about these things, don't you? Or do you?

If you don't seek Truth? Can you really Love? Guess that's why God gave us Free Will... It's up to us to do what is right...and truth normally is part of that, in my personal opinion...


Father God,
Let Us Learn to Look to the Why?
Why are women abused/used by men?
Why are women unable to choose?
Why are women named as the evil one
For surely, there is something more than that Apple?
Why oh why are we forced to fight equality battles over and over and over?
Let Your Love Be the Driving Force
Not the Tool for Judgment...

God Bless Us All




Gabbie

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Getting Ready for Christmas? Check out Stories by Steven Manchester - Holiday Traditions: Tales of Christmas Magic!

 


“What about music?” Desiree asked. 
“Yeah, are Christmas songs considered a tradition?” Tyler asked.
 “They sure can,” Grandma said, “and to prove it, I bet you guys can remember the words to more Christmas songs than any other songs you know.” 
“Really?” Belle said. 
“Sure,” Grandpa said, “Who can tell the names of Santa’s eight reindeer?” 
Everyone raised their hand. 
“No,” Grandpa said, “all together…let’s hear it.” “Dasher and Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid, Donner and Blitzen.” 
“That’s right,” Grandma said, “and how did you learn those names?” 
“From the song?” Belle said. 
“Exactly! From the lyrics.” 
“That you’ve heard over and over every year since you were born,” 
Grandpa interrupted. “But do you recall,” Grandma began to sing, “the most famous reindeer of all?” “Rudolph!” the children screamed in unison. 
“And think about it,” Grandpa said, “that song was recorded by a man named Gene Autry in 1949.” He stopped to put on his mischievous grin. “Right around the time that your grandmother was graduating from high school.” 
Grandma playfully slapped his arm again. “That’s not true.” “And kids just like you have been singing it ever since,” Grandpa added. 
Grandma nodded. “Twenty years later, they made a television special about Rudolph, which we all watch together every year.” 
“The one with the talking snowman?” Desiree asked. “That’s the one,” Grandpa said, smiling at Grandma, “and the snowman’s name is Burl Ives.” After a moment of silence, Grandma said, “Okay, so let’s hear the rest of it.” 
“Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer, had a very shiny nose,” the children sang at the top of their lungs, “and if you ever saw it, you would even say it glows…” 
“You know, Grandpa,” Jacob said, “I really am glad that we celebrate Christmas in America.” 
Multi-award winning author, Steven Manchester, has created a wonderful and endearing Christmas Traditions storybook that you might want to find and place in your grandchildren, or children's Christmas Stockings! It will delight alll who read it, even us who "still" remember all those songs we learned and sang each Christmas... and that's been many a year for me. In fact, I've been singing these songs as long as Steven has been writing his books! Wellll, maybe even longer, but I do remember being one of those who first reviewed this young writer who soon became a favorite for so many readers across the world...

And speaking of across the world, Steven has done the research for us and presents all types of holiday traditions from the many countries who have traditions that celebrate a special holiday for them. I loved hearing about all of them! Especially when there is a song I can learn...like this one!

“Whether you’re rich or poor,” the old lady added, “the best gifts in this world come straight from the heart.” 
“I like Mexico,” Tyler exclaimed. 
“You do…why?” Grandpa asked. “Tacos.” 
Everyone laughed. Grandma went back to the big book. “Actually, the Mexican people have much more to offer than just delicious food.” 
“Like what?” Belle asked. “Well, for starters, the Mexican people call Christmas, Navidad. They celebrate Christmas for nine days with a ritual called Las Pasdas. During this ritual, people dress as Mary and Joseph, and travel from house-to-house asking if Mary can stay the night. But they are always told that the inn is full.” 
“That’s awful!” Sophie said. 
“But then the door opens wide,” Grandpa explained, “and they’re all invited in for a party—with food, songs, and a pinata for the children.”

But the magic really starts in the second story called, Christmas Wishes." Wait, have to share a personal note as to why this story was so special... Did you all know that I collect music boxes?! And, on Christmas, my tradition is to pull out all of my various boxes related to Christmas...with the manger of Jesus right in the middle, of course...


And the second story that Steven gives us is about the Howland Home for Orphaned Children with a loving woman named Miss Sawyer. But no matter how nice the Home was, it was still sad and often scary for the children living there... Until Penelope discovered something about a music box that her beloved grandmother had once given her...

The girls of the Howland Home for Orphaned Girls lay in their bunkbeds. Susan awoke and sat up in bed, her breathing heavily from a bad dream. “Oh Grandma,” she whispered, “I miss you so much.” Penelope also stirred from her sleep. Jumping down from her bunk, she sat beside Susan. “Everything okay?” she quietly asked. 
“Can you tell me why good memories feel so painful here?” Susan asked, shaking her sad head. “My grandmother used to take me to dance classes.” 
“I didn’t know you danced,” Penelope said. 
Susan shrugged. “Because I don’t anymore.” 
“Well, you should.” 
“Why?” Susan asked, “do you feel the same way since they brought you here?” 
Penelope shook her head. “Not really.” “How did you end up here?” 
Penelope shrugged. “My parents were in a car accident and…” She stopped for a moment. “No one from my family was able to take care of me, so here I am.” 
Susan threw her arm around Penelope. “Well, for whatever it’s worth, I’m glad you’re here.” 
Smiling, Penelope wrapped her arm around Susan. “Ditto.” 
After a long moment of silence, Susan said, “I just wish I could remember what everything was like before I came here. I’m starting to forget…” 
“That happens to me sometimes,” Penelope admitted. “Just stop thinking so hard, and it will come to you.” Miss Sawyer entered the bedroom. “Okay ladies, it’s time for bed,” she whispered. “Two more days of school, and then we have a busy weekend of decorating.” 
Without complaint, Susan and Penelope returned to their bunks. Smiling, Miss Sawyer returned to her own bedroom. 
As everyone fell asleep, Penelope quietly got up. Reaching under their bunk bed, she opened a box and pulled out a snow globe. “Susan’s right,” Penelope whispered to herself. “I’d give anything to remember what Christmas was like with my family when we would go into town on Christmas Eve.” She closed her eyes tight. “I wish…” She shook the globe three times. “Oh, I wish…” 
The world went black, before a shimmering portal appeared. Penelope hurried through.. • • • 


The Christmas Village—within the giant globe—was decorated in... (you've just got to find out what happens!)

On Christmas morning, Penelope, Maggie, Susan, and Jen gathered around the orphanage’s Christmas tree. As Miss Sawyer handed out presents, they all laughed and celebrated together—singing Jingle Bells.


So before you run to order the book, let me tell you about the last story!


Of course, no matter where Santa Claus is, there is always music...


But, one day, kids all over the world were worried... They were seeing news announcement about where Santa and Mrs. Claus was sighted--even in Hawaii! And more requests to Santa for favorite toys were coming in daily!


But the head elf was sooooo upset! Because, yes, Santa had decided to take Mrs. Claus on their first vacation ever...just a few months before Christmas!

Santa was so excited and so was Mrs. Claus! Her very first vacation! Santa was sure this was a perfect time because he had a great crew of elves to complete their work....he knew...just...in...time...


But, Baker, the head elf who was left in charge began to be different...he kept pushing them to meet their deadlines, so many toys per day...he would call out to anybody and everybody... All of the elves were so worried that they slowed down even more than they would usually be working! Making toys for all the good little boys and girls just wasn't as much fun as when Santa and Mrs. Claus (who made them cookies) were not here... They were sad...and even the toys were worried that there would not be enough made for every child!

Standing in the middle of Santa’s Workshop, Baker yelled, “You’d better ginger snap to it, Jake!” He gripped his clipboard tighter. “Mess up again,” he said, even louder, “and it’s off to the Island of Misfit Toys for you.” 
Busy making toys, the elves sang, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer…” They were completely out of tune; it was very unusual. They not only sounded out of synch, their work was in utter chaos. Elves were bumping into each other; some toys were on the floor, while others were broken or not made right. The elves sang completely off tune. They were working so fast that they were messing up badly. There was no joy, only stress. 
Baker paced the workshop floor like a prison guard. He approached Evan and inspected his work. “It looks like someone needs to lay off the hot cocoa and speed up production on the rocking horses, or there’s gonna be a lot of unhappy kids this year,” he said, shaking his head. “Stop acting like a South Pole elf, 
Ev. You’re better than that.” Baker glared at the others. 
“We all are.” Upset, Evan threw his work onto the bench. “You know what, I’ve about had it with your bullying, Baker!” He took a deep breath. “No one wants to do a better job than me, but this pace is ridiculous!” He became even more angry. “I haven’t had a cup of hot cocoa, a sugar cookie, or a candy cane in days.” 
Evan looked at his short co-workers. “None of us have!” The elves shook their sad heads... 

For the first time ever, the elves started singing a song that was just for the children! They really wanted Santa home! What would all the little "good" children think if they didn't get their presents!? They would think that nobody loved them any more! But we know that isn't true, right?! 



Because Christmas celebrates the one who loves all children! And He will be sure to visit us! In one home or another... Holidays speak of Love! Enjoy the Book!



God Bless and Happy Holidays!

Gabbie