Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Parable of the Cookie

Timmy knew if he was a good boy, his mommy would give him a treat. But if Timmy wasn’t being a good boy, he would get in trouble.

Timmy didn’t like to get into trouble.

Cookies were one of Timmy’s favorite treats. His mommy made the best cookies in the whole world.

The smell of his mommy making cookies one morning made Timmy act especially good. He made his bed, cleaned his room and even played dolls with his little sister. (He didn’t like to play dolls. That was girl stuff!)

When the oven timer made a beeping noise that meant the cookies were done, Timmy carefully walked down the stairs. He wanted to run, but his mommy told him that he should walk down the stairs, and not run.

Timmy found his mommy in the kitchen. She was wearing big mitts on her hands to take the cookies out of the oven.

“Mommy,” Timmy said, “I’ve been a really good boy today.”

His mommy smiled at him. “Yes you have. Thank you.”

“Can I, I mean, may I have a cookie?”

“Sorry, sweetheart,” his mommy said as she placed the cookie pan on the top of the oven. “These cookies aren’t for you.”

“But—but—but I’ve been a good boy! You even said so. Why am I getting punished?”

His mommy took off the big mitts and then knelt down to Timmy’s level. “Timmy, you aren’t being punished. These cookies are for Mrs. Jones next door. It’s her birthday. She likes peanuts. You can’t have peanuts. You’re allergic to them.”

Tears streamed down Timmy’s cheeks. “I don’t understand. What doesn’t allergic mean?”

“It means they will make you sick.”

Timmy still didn’t understand. Why was something bad happening to him when he was being so good?   

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Action Required

Little kids have different ways of trying to get attention. Sometimes it involves screaming. Sometimes it involves tears. Sometimes it involves breaking something or hitting a sibling.

Some parents have more than one child. These same parents also have a limited amount of time and attention they can give any one particular child at any particular time. Still, that doesn’t stop some kids from continuing to scream until they get what they want, or until the parent works with them to correct the behavior.

It’s not enough to say that kids will just grow out of it. Some never do.

While working in banking, I had a district manager who would send out 20 to 25 emails a day directed toward the branch managers, including me. Most days I was swamped with helping customers, training employees, making sure we were in compliance with all the federal regulations, and so on. You know, doing my job.

My boss would get mad that we wouldn’t reply right away to his emails, even when he put in the email a deadline when he demanded a response. It came to a head during one of our monthly managers’ meetings.

“We simply aren’t by our computers all day,” said one manager.

“We check our emails as often as we can,” another manager said.

“We try to respond, but there are simply too many emails for us to keep up with,” said another.

As a group, we discussed various ways we could address the emails that were time sensitive, meaning they needed to be replied to by a certain time. The solution was for our manager to include the words “Action Required” in the subject line of the really important emails to make sure we knew that those particular emails needed to be addressed first when wading through the sea of emails we got each day.

It seemed like a reasonable plan and it even worked for a few days.

However, within a week, we were back to getting 20 to 25 emails a day from our boss, and each one had the words “Action Required” in the subject line. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

"Wall Of Faith" cover revealed

I'm delighted to present the cover of my latest book, Wall Of Faith.

Here is the description of the book:

While serving a Mormon mission in Mexico, nineteen-year-old James Williams is involved in a terrible accident. The horrendous events that follow lead Williams to question not only his reasons for going on a mission, but also why he believes in God.  

Wall of Faith is a compelling story of one young man’s search to understand his faith—even when that very faith is put to the test.

Wall of Faith is an amazing book. I found myself laughing and crying while I read. A fantastic read that transcends denominations and beliefs.” –Author Tamara Ward

Based on a true story.

***Wall Of Faith will be available on Sept 10, 2013.***

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Parable of the Light Bulb

A certain man was using a ladder to clean the cobwebs off of a light bulb in his one room apartment. While climbing the ladder, he slipped. The man fell and broke his hip.
He received medical treatment, but would be bedridden for several weeks. It hurt tremendously to move, so the man stayed in his bed most of the day. He lived alone, and his only form of distraction was books brought to him from the library by a neighbor.
The man’s sister came to visit several weeks after the accident. She lived across the country and made a special trip to check on her brother. She knew neighbors brought in meals, of which she was grateful because he had no other family in the area.
She arrived late one night after the sun had set. When she knocked on her brother’s door, he shouted, “Enter!”
Her brother was sitting up in his bed, a candle burning next to him on a small table. There were no other lights on in the room.
“Dear brother,” she said. “I was saddened to hear of your fall. How are you feeling?”
“I am getting better,” the man said.
“Tell me, why are you sitting in the dark?”
The man pointed to the candle. “I have plenty of light.”
“Do you mind if I turn on the light bulb?” she asked.
“As a matter of fact, I do.”
His response confused her. The sister moved over to a chair next his bed and sat. “I do not understand.”
“If it had not been for that light bulb, I would not have broken my hip,” he explained.
The sister paused. The light bulb did not cause the fall, though she could see how he made a connection between the two. “But surely, you cannot see as well without brighter light provided by the light bulb.”
“Actually, I am seeing better than ever.”
“How so?”
The brother pointed to books scattered around his bed. “After my fall, I was angry with the light bulb. I started researching the light bulb. Do you know what I found?”
The sister folded her hands in her lap and listened politely.
“No one knows for sure how electricity causes a light bulb to work. It cannot be proven.”
“But brother,” she said, “you have seen a glowing light bulb.”
“Have I?” he said. “Maybe it was just my mind playing tricks on me.”
She took him by the hand. “I have seen a light bulb glow.”
“But do you know how a light bulb works?” he asked.
“No. But that knowledge is not needed to see the light or to benefit from what powers it.”
The man took his hand from hers. “How can you believe in something without a full understanding?”
“Because I choose to,” she said.
“That is naive.”
“Is it?” she asked. “Or is it hope that inspires me?”
“I do not understand,” he said.
“I hope that if I turn on the switch, the light bulb will glow. I don’t have to understand how it works for me to enjoy its light.”
“But you admit to needing to turn on the switch,” he said. “To perform an action to enjoy the glow from the light bulb. Perhaps there is no light. Perhaps it is all your imagination.”
The sister stood. “We shall see.” She walked to the wall, and turned on the switch. The light bulb began to glow.
She looked to her brother. He had covered his eyes with his hands.
“See? I told you it would not work,” her brother said.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Friendship for the win!

The dust has cleared. In the end, Friendship won. Well, not really the concept of friendship, but rather a small group of people who live in a historic area called “Friendship” near Apex, North Carolina.

What did they win, exactly? The naming of a high school being built in the area. The new high school, opening autumn of 2015, was to be called “West Apex High School.” However, residents in the area where it is being built petitioned for a name change to “Apex Friendship High School.”

Some people liked it. Others, not so much.

I’ll openly admit I signed a petition to have the school be named “West Apex High School.” Why? Am I against the concept of friendship? Not at all. I think the world would be a better place if people were friends. Do I have an issue with the people who live in the Friendship area? Again, not even close.

My feeling is that the name “Friendship” simply isn’t appropriate for a High School—a place whose primary purpose is to teach students skills and knowledge to help them earn a living. 

Also, students take a sense of pride in where they go to school. Think I’m wrong? Look how many people have stickers on their cars of where they went to school, especially universities. I have my doubts about "Friendship" garnering the same fervor as other school names.

The word “friendship,” in and of itself, has a broad meaning—much broader than a historic area in North Carolina. That's precisely the point that people against the name were trying to make.

Some of those in favor of the name took the challenge as a personal affront. According to reports, (which I won’t quote or site so I won’t get sued, but you can look it up by just doing a Google search) one person who lives close to the area said the people in the Friendship area felt like those against the name were doing it out of other reasons—racial implications were brought up.

As of the posting of this blog, the smaller group got their way: the school was named for an area close to where it was built, regardless of the meaning of the word. This isn’t unheard of—many schools are named for the streets where they are built.

To that end, since this precedent has now been set, I not-so-humbly propose the following names for buildings and such based on REAL streets in Apex:

Apex Barbecue Road Kill Removers
Battery Bee Home for Abused Women
Battlewood Pre-school
Bright Beginning Funeral Parlor
Buena Vista Landfill
Burnt Hickory Fire Department
Cabin Wood Apartments
Care Free Psychologists
Cash Street Homeless Shelter
Castleburg Mobile Home Park
Country Hearts Divorce Attorneys
Deep Gap Surgeons
Elm Street Dream Center
Flippin Bird Sanctuary
Forget Me Not Retirement Home
Gentlewoods Prison
Grazing Meadows Public Pool
Gumdrop Dentistry
Hickory Bottom Weight Loss Center
Leisure Fitness Center
Lone Eagle Bird Sanctuary
Modest Lingerie
Peace Haven Gun and Pawn
Penny Investments
Poets Corner Auto body Shop
Prince Dead End Midwives
Rabbit Walk Taxidermy
Rocky Mountain Yachts
Secluded Acres Public Park
Timber Cut Arboretum
Tobacco Farm Cancer Treatment Center
Weeping Oak Cemetery
Xanthacarpa Spelling Center
Yellow Rainbow Septic Tank Services

Monday, August 5, 2013

Book review of “Penumbras” by Braden Bell

I’m delighted to share my insight on a wonderful new book, “Penumbras” by Braden Bell. It is the second book of the series, following the delightful “The Kindling.”

Bell sets out to tell a tale of “Middle School Magic” and he nails it. The characters Conner, Lexa, and Melanie are realistic and grounded enough for the fantasy elements to shine.

Too often, in my opinion, authors forget the basic concept that characters need to be interesting or people won’t care what happens to them. In reading “Penumbras,” I felt like I was getting back together with friends I’d not seen in a while and I loved the visit.

I don’t want to spoil the details of the book. And boy, are there some wonderful surprises and great moments waiting for you in these pages! I will say that Braden Bell has a gift of making the magical elements of the book work within the framework of the story. Yes, magic is a big part of the story, but at its heart, it’s about the characters—and that’s what made this book a wonderful read!

For more information on Braden Bell, click here.

Braden Bell

To order “Penumbras”, click here. (And hurry! You won’t regret it!)