An open poem to survivors: hope has a name

Above the fray.

Above the screaming.

Above the hurt, the fear, the unknown, the uncontrollable, the unattainable, the shame, the injustice, the loneliness, the brokenness, the pain, the shame, the voicelessness, the powerlessness, the rage and the outrage, the frustration, the desperation.

*HOPE*

has a name.

One name above all names.

It’s not a vote or a man.

Not a woman or a stand.

Not a charge.

Not a time.

*HOPE*

Has a name.

A name above all names.

A word.

THE word.

One that raises the dead and heals the wounds and salves the infections and opens the eyes and stops the bleeding and calms the seas.

*HOPE*

Has a name.

One name.

One.

Name.

JESUS.

Meet the characters of How Sweet the Sound: Jed Manon

All this month, I’m introducing various characters from my novel, How Sweet the Sound. Today I’m introducing Jed Manon, the unlikely friend of the protagonist. 

Order a copy of How Sweet the Sound today to learn more about Jed and all the characters in this lower Alabama story. Available at this link and wherever your favorite books are sold.

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A rebel.

Maybe he has a cause.

Maybe he doesn’t.

Maybe his role in the story is to find one.

Unannounced and unexpected, Jed Manon arrives bigger than life in Bay Spring, Alabama, bringing with him secrets of his own.

Will he and Anniston face the dangers lurking in Jed’s life, a life markedly different from her own?

Together, what will they learn about trust?

Pain?

Even, and perhaps, love?

If you’ve read How Sweet the Sound, what did you think of Jed? Share your thoughts below (without giving away any plot secrets, of course!)

*Photo credit: Boy rolling a cigarette. Kentucky, 1964. William Gedney Photographs and Writings Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library. http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/gedney/

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How Sweet the Sound: A Novel

Available now at your favorite online, national, or local bookstore.

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Home Sweet Farmhouse Home: Collections

Home is where the heart is.

That’s for sure.

I don’t know about you, but especially during these times of social uncertainty and unrest, I am finding a particular comfort in my home.

While my other Home Sweet Farmhouse Home posts have focused on projects, I wanted to write a little bit about collections. The sort of collections that make a home…well…home.

Luke 2:19 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible, and especially since becoming a mother:

“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

So much love, so many memories were happening all around Mary when Jesus was born. She didn’t have a Creative Memories scrapbook consultant (I was one back in the 90’s!) down the street to help her save all the memorabilia, or a smart phone to document the visitors and events in real-time. So she pondered, cherished, and held the memories close in her heart. I’d be willing to bet she pocketed perhaps a smooth stone, a swatch of fabric from baby Jesus’ swaddling clothes, a snippet of wool from the sheep they shared the cave with.

Similarly, here are a few ways I’ve collected “memories on display,” if you will, in our home, visual reminders of travels and places and people we cherish:

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I love farms.

I love barns.

My ancestors were farmers, and several of my cousins still are today. Indeed, if you’ve read Lead Me Home then you know that my dairy-farming cousins were the inspiration behind this novel.

No wonder I collect paintings of barns.

These paintings in particular, belonged to a friend’s mother, so not only do they remind me of my heritage, they remind me of the special place from which they came as well.

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One of my dear friends, Sharon, painted this barn (below).

Isn’t it gorgeous?

You really should check out her work here. She’s pretty amazing.

All of my barn and farm paintings are in my dining room.

That’s one thing I’ve learned about decorating with collections: grouping things makes them stand out.

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Like these pretty glass jars.

I don’t have a particular memory associated with them, but I like them.

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Same thing with these vintage tablecloths.

Some of them belonged to my grandmother.

Others I’ve just collected over the years.

Putting them together in a little antique wire basket makes them look neat and special.

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I have two of these chicken egg crates, and I use them for books on my bookshelves.

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These rocks belonged to my grandfather, who was a hobby lapidarist. He cut and polished these himself.

He was also the inspiration behind my novel, Then Sings My Soul.

Keeping these beauties in a cigar box in the basement wasn’t doing them any good.

Now they are front-and-center on my mantle in a bowl I found at Goodwill.

I smile and remember Grandpa’s glee at showing us a new stone he’d been working on each time I walk by these.

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Sea shells!

Who doesn’t have a few of these around from a trip to the beach?

We love our trips to the beach. The vase of cotton sprigs and these shells, all together in a cake stand, remind me of steamy southern nights on the Alabama gulf coast.

No wonder I was inspired to set my first novel, How Sweet the Sound, in southeast Alabama.

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This painting also belonged to my grandpa, the lapidarist. He spent a lot of time on Lake Michigan, and I am sure he liked having this in his home to remind him of the lakeshore when he couldn’t be there.

This also inspired me to set Then Sings My Soul in South Haven, Michigan.

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The glass lamps have beach pebbles and pieces of driftwood in them that my family and I collected during our own trip to South Haven, Michigan.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing some of the ways I’ve used collections in my home sweet home.

What do you collect?

How have you used collections in your home?

May the Lord bless your home and the precious memories you ponder today and always.

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So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self  is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV)