The power of one

“I’m only one person. What can I do?”

I’ve said this. I’ve thought it. I’ve let it lull me into inaction.

I feel like I need an army to make a difference in the world. Or a platform. Or a gajillion followers on Twitter or Facebook.

Maybe you’ve felt this way too.

If so, hear me now:

WHAT. A. LIE.

The truth is, there is power in one.

One person with a passion.

One person with a dream.

One person with a mission.

One person doing good.

And that’s what an organization called Help One Now is all about.

Help One Now is committed to helping one child by partnering with one leader. This is how we will break the cycle of extreme poverty: one community at a time, one leader at a time, one child at a time.

Here’s one of their stories:

Ten-year-old Naiderson is like many Haitian boys: he loves soccer, and because  his parents weren’t able to care for him, he was abandoned at an orphanage. He was one of 16 children brought to an orphanage after the earthquake. This orphanage, run by Pastor Gaetan and his wife, already had 14 children.

Help One Now began working with Pastor Gaetan, staring a sponsorship program to provide food for the children. They provided shelter and dug a well so the kids would have pure water. And they set up a tent school for the neighborhood kids to fill a void the earthquake left when it destroyed the neighborhood school.

Recently, Help One Now and its team of bloggers raised $150,000 for a new school building, which is now under construction and will open in the fall.

In this country, we value education. It is no different for those living in poverty. Education will change Naiderson’s life and open up possibilities for him. Children are the future here and there. Investing in his life will reap countless future rewards for his community and his country.

Help One Now is “a simple tribe composed of people who collectively work together to do good in the world.” A collection of “ones,” if you will.

If you’ve ever wanted to make a different but thought you were “just one person,” I’d encourage you to partner with Help One Now.

In the coming weeks, you’ll be hearing more about Help One Now on this blog and about their Garage Sales For Orphans campaign, which last year raised more than $150,000.

I’ve heard people say “To the world you may be just one person but to one person you just might be the world.” You don’t have to have a big footprint to leave a mark on the world. And if enough individuals work together, we can leave behind lasting change, change that makes a difference for one person or more than one person.

There’s strength in numbers. And one is a powerful number.

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Edge of your seat suspense: Review of Shattered by Dani Pettrey

The weather outside was frightful and cold when I dived in to Dani Pettrey’s second novel in the Alaskan Courage series, Shattered. Wrapping myself in blankets and sweatshirts while watching snow fall on a gray winter day was a sure-fire way to immerse myself in the setting. But Pettrey’s writing is such that even on a hot summer day readers will feel like they’re there.

Not long ago, I read Pettrey’s first novel, Submerged, on the recommendation of a friend, and I was caught up in the characters and mystery of the story. I didn’t hesitate to take the cShatteredhance to review her second novel and return to the island with Shattered.

The McKenna family is once again thrown into the middle of a murder mystery. Reef, a brother who  has been estranged from the rest of the family, has returned to his hometown of Yancey, Alaska but is soon a suspect in the murder of a fellow snowboarder. His sister Piper is convinced of his innocence and sets out to prove it. Deputy Landon Grainger, a longtime family friend, wants to believe Reef is innocent, but when the evidence points strongly to Reef and the sheriff wants a quick conviction, Landon puts his  job on the line to pursue the truth with Piper.

I haven’t read mystery/suspense in a long time, but picking up this set of books from Pettrey has sparked my interest. They’re compelling, the characters have depth and feeling, and the plot is full of twists and turns that keep readers turning the pages.

The McKenna family is tight-knit, but they behave like a real family with problems. They look out for each other but they drive each other crazy sometimes. I want to re-read these books to spend time with the family because it’s not hard to imagine they’d welcome you to their family get-togethers.

And while I’m not the biggest fan of cold weather, Pettrey makes Alaska down-right appealing.

If you’re looking for an enjoyable escape with unpredictable plot twists, then pick up Pettrey’s latest. (Or the first one in the series, Submerged.)

I’m a new fan not only of Pettrey but of this genre of novel.

And the good news is: Pettrey just announced three more books to be published in this series. So, there’ll be plenty of romantic suspense in the future as well!

Meet Dani: pettrey

Dani Pettrey is a wife, homeschooling mom, and author. She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves–the thrill of adventure, nail biting suspense, the deepening of her characters’ faith, and plenty of romance. She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two teenage daughters.

Visit her website at www.danipettrey.com.
You’re invited!
Dani Pettrey is celebrating the release of Shattered with a Nook HD giveaway and a Facebook Author Chat Party {3/14}. Shattered Pettrey
One winner will receive:

  • A brand new Nook HD
  • Submerged and Shattered by Dani Pettrey {Be caught up in this riveting series.}

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 13th. Winner will be announced at the “Shattered” Author Chat Party on 3/14. Connect with Dani for an evening of book chat, trivia, and a chance to win gift certificates, books, and other fun prizes!

So grab your copy of Shattered and join Dani on the evening of the March 14th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the book – don’t let that stop you from coming!)

Don’t miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 14th!

In exchange for this review, I received a free advanced digital copy of Shattered from LitFuse Publicity Group.

When you have to live your One Word

February. Short month. But its length of days belies its impact on my year.

OneWord2013_Release150Nearly two months in to this OneWord365 journey, I’m stunned by how meaningful and important “release” has become. After the first month, I wrote about how I saw “release” in everything around me. This month, it was more about acting on my conviction that I need to “let go” in a lot of areas of life.

There were things like visiting a new (to us) church in town for a baby dedication. Encountering a worship style different from what we’re used to is always a bit freeing. And during this visit, when the kids were released for the children’s program, our daughter took off and went with them, because that’s what she’s used to doing. I had a momentary panic attack because I didn’t know where she was going or who she was with (our son was almost asleep on my lap). Not that I’m saying I’m going to deliberately put my children in harm’s way, but there are times when I have to let go a little bit. Maybe this is just a preview for the fall when she’ll go to school and I’ll be a mess. (Spoiler alert: I’m a control freak AND a crier, so yeah, those will be some happy days.)

I must start the process of letting my kids go because I can’t keep them under my control forever. And in fact, when we named our kids, we did so with the intention that their lives would be God’s and not ours to control.

And there was the less important but still meaningful act of sending a stack of research books back to the library. I’m writing a novel, but those books were research for a different story. I am now free to focus on one story at a time.

Most significantly, this month unexpectedly brought me to a point of decision about life and future and calling. I could choose to cling to moldy expectations or I could take a step in a new direction.

I could do what’s expected. Or I could change the world.

change the world

I could shoulder burdens I wasn’t meant to carry. Or I could drop them.

let go

I could panic. Or breathe deep. And reach for the Hand of my Savior, trusting Him to lead me on this blind walk of faith.

I could bottle up my tears, my bitterness, my pain, my anger and pretend my heart is hard and unaffected by the choices and decisions of those around me. I could decay from the inside out. Or I could cry. And feel. And remind myself I’m alive.

crying

I could fight for a title. A couple of words that I think would give me worth or credibility. Or I could embrace me. And all that God has made me.

freedom to be you

Somewhere along life’s journey, I let myself be shaped by something other than my relationship with Christ. Even before I met Him, I did what I thought I was supposed to do. I became who I thought people wanted me to be. For good or bad.

I am still driven by people’s perceptions. By a need for approval. And acceptance. I desire to be worthy of this life God has given me.

Yet all this month, He has prodded me to “let go.”

To open my hands to him. (Psalm 143:6)

To wait on him. To pray “a self-emptying prayer that enables (me) to receive whatever it is God wants to give. (To) come to him with empty hands and empty heart, having no agenda.” (Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton)

Or put another way:

coffee with jesus

Coffee with Jesus is extra meaningful when the character has my name.

To walk at liberty. (Psalm 119:45)

To shake off my dust and free myself from the chains on my neck. “You were sold for nothing, and without money you will be redeemed.” (Isaiah 52:2-3)

And on Ash Wednesday, before the reminder that I came from dust and will return to dust, that my role in this world is liberator. “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58)

Thus my prayer for the months ahead becomes the words of a psalmist:

In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free.

Ten more months of “release” await. And I find myself excited about the possibilities.

Saturday smiles: Brought to you by the letter “s”

Scrapbooking.

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Snakes. (Not real because I would NOT be smiling if my kids had real snakes.)

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Snow geese. (We’re hoping for better weather in the coming weeks so we can linger and watch the show.)

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Serving.

Soup. (I’m making a cream of carrot today.)

Sitting in a movie theater with a friend watching a silly movie.

Sending postcards and receiving them. (Shout out to MaryLu‘s Motley Crew.)

Security.

Sending in the last payment for our van.

Stories. (The kids’ from the library. Mine on the Kindle, on my bookshelf, on the Internet, in people’s lives.)

Sundays.

5 on Friday: Fiction writers who challenge my faith

I love to read stories. Even more, I love to read stories that make me think. Here are five authors whose stories have done that. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  1. Jeanette Windle, author of Veiled Freedom, Freedom’s Stand and Congo Dawn, among others.
  2. Kathi Macias, author of the Freedom series, which focused on sex trafficking, and the Extreme Devotion series, among others.
  3. Chris Fabry, author of Borders of the Heart, a challenging look at immigration, and Not in the Heart, a story of sacrificial love.
  4. Christa Allan, author of The Edge of Grace, a story of unconditional love when a family member announces he’s gay.
  5. Matt Mikalatos, author of Night of the Living Dead Christian and My Imaginary Jesus, two books that made me laugh and cry, and that hit a little too close to home.

I’m sure I could add others, but novels these authors have written have gone beyond storytelling to challenge stereotypes or draw attention to injustice.

Who would you add to the list?

A slave’s story, part two: slavery

The following account is fiction, but the circumstances are real. Anna’s story represents girls worldwide who are sold into slavery. This is part 2 of 4. Read part 1 here. Details have been provided by The Exodus Road. Any errors are mine.

The bus finally stopped and the driver ordered the girls off the bus. Hungry, tired and scared, they took their first tentative steps onto the soil Anna now understood would be their new home. She held out no more hope for the job in America she’d been promised, and she dreaded what was to come. She didn’t like the way the driver looked at her or the other girls on the bus. He herded them into a rundown building and began speaking to them in a language she didn’t understand. Only one word made sense: “Laos.” Anna vaguely remembered the name from some nearly forgotten school lesson. How far was that from her home? She didn’t know.

The sound of sobbing filled Anna’s ears and threatened to overtake her as well. When the driver slapped the sobbing girl, Anna bit her lip hard to avoid being struck for the same show of emotion. She would not cry. She would fight.

They hadn’t been off the bus long when another man entered the building. He spoke a few words to the driver who smirked at the girls and left. The man spoke in clipped sentences, fluent Russian.

“You will call me ‘Master.’ There will be no talking amongst you. You work for me. You do what I say. If all goes well, you may earn your way back home.”

He did not smile as he spoke and Anna choked on her fears like the day-old bread she often brought home from the bakery. Her dream was turning into a nightmare.

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A week later, Anna had experienced unspeakable horrors. She was property, nothing more. The first night, she’d thought about escaping the clutches of her captor, but when another girl tried to run away, she was beaten so severely, Anna thought she would die. She had lived, but Anna wondered if death wasn’t a better option.

Sometimes Anna let herself cry for her mother and sisters, but only when she knew she was alone with the other girls. Her tears were useless. As were her cries. Whatever was asked of her, Anna did it without making a sound. She couldn’t afford to feel. Anything. For feeling meant she was alive.

And in truth, Anna had died when she’d boarded the bus.

She was lost. And no one knew where to find her.

 

Letting the past speak to the present: Review of The Moses Quilt by Kathi Macias

Can a quilt about the life of Harriet Tubman help a 20-something girl in 21st century California overcome a racial barrier?

moses quiltThat’s the question author Kathi Macias seeks to answer with the first book in her new quilt series, The Moses Quilt. The story centers on Mazie, a young woman on the cusp of her adult life. She lives with her mother and great-grandmother in California. Mimi, the great-grandmother, has moved from the Deep South, and Mazie serves as her caregiver most days. Besides caring for her grandmother, Mazie faces the dilemma of whether to marry her boyfriend, Edward, or not. He’s asked her and she keeps putting him off, presumably because he’s black and she’s not. As Mimi’s health starts to fade, she begins to share the story of the Moses quilt with Mazie and Edward. Through her stories, they learn about Harriet Tubman’s life and the obstacles she overcame to become the Moses of her people.

One of the aspects of Macias’ writing I appreciate is her willingness to tackle hard subjects in her novels. She’s written about sex trafficking, Islam, immigration and homelessness, and she does it superbly, putting faces and real situations on topics that are often debated and argued without thought to real people and real circumstances.

I didn’t enjoy this book as much I hoped I would. Mazie’s struggles with her boyfriend’s race seemed a little outdated for 21st century America, but it’s also possible I’m naive about such prejudices as their existence today. It was hard for me to empathize with her hesitation. She loved him, she should marry him, I thought. And the overall development of the story felt slow to me. Because one of the characters was a 93-year-old woman, all they seemed to do in the story was eat meals together and sit by the bedside and listen to stories from the past. And when they weren’t doing that, they were talking about the story they’d heard.

I just couldn’t get into it, and that made me sad.

Macias plans two more books in the quilt series, and I may still check those out. She is a good storyteller, and even at the end of this story, I was moved to tears. Maybe if I was a quilter, I would have appreciated the explanation of the quilt squares more.

Continue reading for more about the book from the author. macias, kathi

The Quilt Series sounds interesting, but what makes it unique or sets it apart from the many other quilt books that are so popular right now? First, I must confess to NOT being a quilter. I’ve never even considered taking it up! Second, I love quilts and have always been fascinated by the stories behind them. I combined that fascination with my passion for writing issues-related fiction, and I ended up with a three-book series that is, for the most part, contemporary but told against historical backdrops.
Sounds interesting! Can you tell us a bit about each of the three books in the series? Sure! Book one, The Moses Quilt, involves an interracial romance, where the couple works through their concerns and apprehensions as they learn the story of Harriet Tubman’s faith and courage as told through the patches of the Moses quilt that represents her life. Book two, The Doctor’s Christmas Quilt, deals with the topic of abortion told against the backdrop of the life of America’s first woman doctor, Elizabeth Blackwell, who was strongly pro-life. Book three, The Singing Quilt, deals with a young woman overcoming a physical disability; the background for that story is based on the “Queen of Gospel,” Fannie Crosby.
Was it difficult to do the research on these women, particularly Harriet Tubman? What did you learn about her in the process? I knew more about Harriet Tubman than I did about Elizabeth Blackwell or Fannie Crosby, but I expanded my knowledge of each as I did the research. Harriet Tubman’s amazing faith and courage is what stood out most to me about her life. Here was a woman born a slave, penniless for the majority of her life, and illiterate except for the scripture verses she had memorized (even if she couldn’t read them). Her prayer life was powerful, even as a child. After she escaped to the North and began making forays back into the South to help bring others out of slavery, friends would caution her against it. “Harriet, there’s a reward on your head—dead or alive. Aren’t you afraid?” She brushed off their fear and explained that she believed God had called her to help rescue her people; therefore, He would protect her. When her job was done, He would take her home to heaven, so what was there to fear? Wow, what a dynamic woman of God! I also learned that her achievements went far beyond rescuing slaves, though that’s what she’s best known for. She also served as a spy for the Union Army, worked as a nurse, and opened a home for indigent elderly former slaves. She died there herself in her mid-nineties, and the entire town flew their flags at half-mast in her honor.
Tell us a little more about the contemporary story in The Moses Quilt. The majority of the contemporary story is set just outside San Francisco. Mazie is white and deeply in love with Edward, an African-American lawyer who adores her and wants to marry her but tries to be respectful of her hesitation to make a commitment. What he doesn’t know is that Mazie is disturbed by what she considers secrets in her family’s past, secrets that begin to be unraveled as her great-grandmother, Mimi, tells her and Edward the story behind her Moses quilt, which she bought years earlier in Gee’s Bend, Alabama, a little town famous for its quilts. Edward thought he knew everything there was to know about Harriet Tubman, who had always been somewhat of a hero to him, but Mimi’s story opens up new avenues of discovery for both the young people in this relationship—and takes them straight back to the quilt’s origin in Gee’s Bend.
This sounds like more than just a “feel-good” story. Can it be used as a study book in some way? Absolutely! As with nearly all my books we have free downloadable discussion questions at www.newhopedigital.com that will enable The Moses Quilt to be read as a study book for individuals or used as a discussion/study book for groups.
For opportunities for free copies of THE MOSES QUILT by Kathi Macias, please follow this book tour on Facebook at:  http://www.facebook.com/CSSVBT.KathiMacias.

About the Author: Kathi Macias

Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 40 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences. She won the prestigious 2008 member of the year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) at the annual Golden Scrolls award banquet. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al.
I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview and/or book review on this blog. CSS Virtual Book Tours are managed by Christian Speakers Services (http://ChristianSpeakersServices.com).