Monday, March 25, 2019

National Medal of Honor Day

Medal of Honors for the three military branches honored
March the 25th is National Medal of Honor Day. This medal is usually awarded by the President of the United States in the name of Congress at a formal ceremony in Washington, D.C. It's sometimes also informally called the Congressional Medal of Honor, and it is the country's highest military award for acts of valor.

There are three versions of the Medal of Honor - one for each of the Navy and Coast Guard, Army, and Marines. The designs have changed through the years. Since its beginning in 1861, there have been over 3,500 given to military heroes, and not quite half of these came from the Civil War. In fact, William Johnston is thought to be the youngest to ever receive the award. He was 13 but had been 11 when he earned it as a drummer boy. Mary Edwards Walker also received hers for Civil War bravery.

In 1990. Congress designated March 25 as National Medal of Honor Day to remember the medal, what it stands for, and the recipients. The medal is protected under a law which states there can be no unauthorized adornment, sales, or reproductions. Perhaps this is another good day to reflect on the brave men and women who have fought to keep our nation strong and free.

Friday, March 22, 2019

You Have the Power

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Matthew 28:20).

Too many Christians I know think they don't have the ability to witness and make disciples as the Great Commission commands. I hear comments to this effect all the time. This shows they're trying to rely on their own abilities, instead of turning to the power of the Holy Spirit within them. It's a huge mistake many Christians make in trying to live a Christian life, obedient to God. They attempt to do it on their own.

And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with the power from on high (Luke 24:49).

If we could have obeyed God's commandments on our own, Jesus wouldn't have had to come to earth and died as our sin sacrifice on the cross. But we couldn't, and He did. And before he ascended into heaven, He promised us a Teacher, Guide, and Comforter. In fact, He told the disciples to go to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit to come to them before they started their ministry. After the Holy Spirit descended on them at Pentecost, Peter and the disciples with him had over 3,000 converts in one day.

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8).

We underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit. He lives within us, and all we have to do is submit. He can give us the courage and words to fulfill God's purpose. In fact, God can use the humble much easier than those who think they have the ability. When we know we must rely on the Holy Spirit, we can do so much more. Pray about it.


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Two in One

I just published two novellas and then combined them to make one print book. I'm not sure how often this has been done before, but it was a first for me. This is also the first time I have enrolled in Kindle Unlimited because I didn't want to limit my other books to just Amazon. So far, this new venture seems to be working well.

I decided to take the classic fairy tales, rewrite them taking out all the fantasy and make-believe, and make them into romantic, historical novellas set in the Middle Ages. Mainly because of limited vocabulary, this has been challenging, but I'm enjoying it. I published the ebook, Roslyn's Rescue, first, which is loosely based on "Little Red Riding Hood." Readers are telling me they love it. (also free on kindle unlimited)

Next, I published Glenda's Gold, which is a retelling of "Rumplestiltskin." I was shown how to have Glenda realistically come up with the gold thread from a passage in the Bible. Finally, I combined the two to form Part One and Part Two of the print book, Time-Told Tale, Volume One. The novellas have sold well on Amazon, and the print volume has sold well for me.  (also free on kindle unlimited)

I have plans to bring out more stories in the same format. I'm thinking about Patricia's Prison (Rapunzel) and Jack's Jewel (Jack and the Beanstalk) for the next novellas. Of course, the print version will be Time-Told Tales, Volume Two. Feedback from readers has been positive, and I'm finding this to be fun.


Monday, March 18, 2019

North Carolina Women Through History

March is Women's History Month. Here is a brief look at some notable women in North Carolina's rich history.

Virginia Dare
Virginia Dare is known as the first English child born in the New World. Born August 18, 1587, her parents were Ananias Dare and Elinor White, John White’s daughter. She would become part of the “Lost Colony” when her grandfather went back to England for supplies and came back to find the Roanoke Colony gone. She was called Virginia after the new land they claimed for England, which they named after the “Virgin Queen,” Elizabeth I. Since the colony was never heard from again, Virginia’s date of death is unknown.

Dolley Madison
Dolley Payne Madison was born May 20, 1768, in the Quaker community of New Garden, North Carolina, which would be in Greensboro today. When just a toddler, Dolley’s family moved back to a plantation in eastern Virginia, where she grew up until she turned fifteen and her father moved the family to Philadelphia. After some problems, Dolley married John Todd, a Quaker lawyer, and they had two sons. However, John and one son died of a yellow fever epidemic in 1793, and she married James Madison in 1794. He became the Secretary of State under Jefferson and then the President of the United States in 1809. History often remembers Dolley as the First Lady who saved some of the White House's important portraits when the British burned parts of Washington, DC, in the War of 1812, although others also played an important role in that.

Cornelia Phillips Spencer
Although born in Harlem, New York City, in March of 1825, when Cornelia Phillips Spencer was just a year old, her father accepted a position teaching math at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and moved his family there. She married James Monroe Spencer in 1855 and they moved to Alabama, but he died in 1861, and Cornelia moved back to Chapel Hill. There she wrote for newspapers and penned her first book. When the university closed during reconstruction in 1870, she agreed with the decision to try to avoid the political upheaval, but she worked to have it reopen in 1875. She was the first woman awarded an honorary degree from the university and died in 1908.

Charlotte Hawkins Brown
Charlotte Hawkins Brown was born in Henderson, North Carolina, in 1883, but she was educated in Massachusetts. Her first job was teaching African-American children at the Bethany Institute back in Sedalia, North Carolina, but the American Missionary Association decided to close it down the year after she started. Charlotte worked hard to establish her own school for the children. She eventually opened the Palmer Memorial Institute as both a day and boarding school. She received national attention for her dedicated efforts and became a popular lecturer and speaker. She died in Greensboro in 1971.

Marie Watters Coleman
Born in Charlotte in 1922 and graduating from the UNC with a major in romance languages, Marie Watters Coleman became a code-breaker for the army during WWII. Her husband’s involvement in politics after they moved to Asheville led her to become interested, and she sat in the North Carolina House of Representatives from 1978 until 1994, becoming Speaker Pro Tempore for the last four years. She died in 2018.

Katie G. Dorsett
Born in Mississippi in 1932, Katie G. Dorsett attended several universities before finishing her doctorate at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She stayed in North Carolina, becoming a state senator and eventually Majority Whip. After retiring, she remained active in community affairs around Greensboro and was inducted to the North Carolina Women’s Hall of Fame in 2010.

Nina Simone
Taking the stage name of Nina Simone, Eunice Kathleen Wayman was born in Tryon, North Carolina in 1933. Her father was a preacher. With the help of a few local people who recognized her musical talent, she enrolled in the Julliard School of Music in New York. Along the way to success, she ran into some opposition that she thought came from racial prejudice. Not only did she make a name for herself as a versatile musician of many different genres, but she also became active in the Civil Rights Movement. She died in 2003 in France.

Elizabeth Dole
Mary Elizabeth Alexander Hanford Dole was born in Salisbury, North Carolina, on July 29, 1936. She graduated with distinction from Duke University in 1958 with a political science major and did post-graduate work at Oxford. She also got a master’s degree in education from Harvard followed by a law degree. Elizabeth married Robert Dole in 1975. She’s held numerous political offices, including Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission, Secretary of Transportation, Secretary of Labor, and U.S. Senator from North Carolina. She also helped her husband run for President in 1996, and she started to run in 2000 but pulled out before the primaries due to lack of funds and low poll ratings. She was a senator from 2003–2009.

Justice Sarah Parker
Sarah Parker was born in Charlotte and attended Meredith College and graduated from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. After graduation, she served in the Peace Corps in Turkey before coming back home to get her law degree from UNC. She served for several years on the North Carolina Supreme Court. In 2006, Governor Mike Easley appointed Sarah as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and she held the position for most of the time until she retired in 2014.

Bev Perdue
Born in Virginia, Beverly Marlene Moore Perdue ended up settling in New Bern, North Carolina. She began her political career as a state representative and then a senator. In 2000, she successfully ran for lieutenant governor, where she cast the tie-breaking vote for the state lottery. She became the Governor of North Carolina in 2008.

Patricia Timmons-Goodson
Pat Timmons-Goodson was born in Florence, South Carolina in 1954, the daughter of a soldier. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University Law School. Pat served as an assistant district attorney before becoming a district judge in 1984. Governor Jim Hunt appointed her to the North Carolina Court of Appeals and after she retired, Governor Mike Easley appointed her to the North Carolina Supreme Court in 2006, where she became the first African-American woman to serve there. She was inducted into the North Carolina Women’s Hall of Fame in 2010 and now serves as Vice Chair on the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Jennifer Pharr Davis

Jennifer Pharr Davis was born in Hendersonville, North Carolina in 1985. She attended Samford University and has received national attention as a long-distance hiker. She has walked over 1,200 miles on trails worldwide, including the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, Colorado, and the Long Trails in the United States and others in Australia, South America, and Europe and set records as well. She has been National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year and an Ambassador for the American Hiking Society. In addition, she is an author and speaker.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Dying to Self

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit (John 12: 24).

Planting season is almost here, and as any farmer knows, a plant which will yield much comes from a single seed. A corn seed sprouts to grow into a corn stalk with several ears of corn and many seeds. A bean vine produces many bean pods. One tomato plant will yield an abundance of tomatoes; and plants, like cucumbers and squash, are really prolific. But to have this new fruit, the seed must first die in order to bring forth new life.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).

We must do the same. To accept God's gift of salvation through grace, we must accept Christ into our life, dying to our old self and being born anew in Him. This is what baptism symbolizes. Christ served as our sacrifice on the cross and died in our place that we might live a new life and have a close, intimate relationship with Holy God. Then when we die physically, we will live forever with our Lord.

Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous (1 Peter 3:8).

But dying to self needs to follow us throughout our Christian life. Selfishness is what breaks up marriages, pulls people into crime, dirties politics, and is responsible for most of the ills of the world. We, humans, have a tendency to put ourselves first, to seek our own will and pleasures, and to think more highly of ourselves than anyone else. We like to think we deserve to be revered, have people cater to us, and get whatever we want. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We need to smother these selfish tendencies and die to self over and over again. The Holy Spirit is there to help us, but first, we must recognize the need.

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even this; THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR AS THYSELF (Galatians 5:14).

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Why Write?

With all the pressures and struggles facing writers today, this is a legitimate question. Aspiring writers often don't recognize the work involved, especially after a writer starts publishing. They usually think that after their book is published, they've arrived. Too many look for wide success, becoming famous, and having the money roll in. However, the reality is often far different. Statistics I saw say that only about 1% of writers can even make a living at it. If you write for these reasons, you are setting yourself up for failure.

That brings us back to the question, "Why write then?" Write for the pure joy of writing. Write because you have stories to tell that won't let you go. Write because being a writer is an important part of who you are. Write because you are called to write and will feel incomplete if you don't.

Writers have sometimes looked for that illusive muse or inspiration. However, it will be a hindrance if you wait for inspiration to hit or that muse to come before you sit down to write. Often inspiration comes after you sit down to write. You become involved with the telling, and the words just flow.  Once you understand that you need to write regularly, daily if possible, and if you write because you love it, everything else will begin to fall into place. Commit to writing, believe in your stories, and be open to learning your craft. Then, you should find writing as satisfying as I do.

Monday, March 11, 2019

National Johnny Appleseed Day

March 11th is recognized as National Johnny Appleseed Day in memory of the folk hero. John Chapman was born on September 26, 1774, in Leominster, Massachusetts, and died around March 11, 1845. He was a pioneer who is credited with planting apple trees wherever he went, especially in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana. His efforts have become legendary.

He loved plants and animals and worked for a while at an apple orchard. Then, he decided to travel west, taking apple seeds with him. However, the image of a poor vagabond roaming about planting apple seeds is somewhat distorted. He did give that appearance, but at the time of his death, he owned over 1,200 acres, which he left to his sister, because he never married.

Johnny Appleseed has become an American folk figure and legend. Songs, poems, and stories have been handed down through the generations. Plays have been written and performed and movies made about him. Tales of his benevolent spirit has lived on, and Johnny would have liked that.