Giving Thanks

giving thanks
Signs of a time for giving thanks

Thanksgiving, the unique day set aside for giving thanks, is nearing. Ever struggle to say Thank You in a way that feels sufficient? 

an occasion for giving thanks
I’m giving thanks for The Calling of Ella McFarland

I’m embroiled in this experience at present.

My first novel, The Calling of Ella McFarland, is due to be released on December 1. I expect to hold an actual book in my hands very soon and have yet to link together the words and phrases that will express my gratitude.

What emotions will the sensation of holding that first book engender?

Between the covers will be pages filled with words I chose with care. For readers’ sakes. For the sake of the memory of my mother and grandmother who identities are woven into the characters Ella and her mother Betsy. And for Jesus’ sake, which is the closing line of every prayer I’ve prayed over this story.

giving thanks
I’m giving thanks for Mama, a grandmother who left a name worthy of a great-great-granddaughter

The seeds for the story were planted decades ago when I sat on my grandmother’s lap for tales bout life in Indian Territory prior to Oklahoma statehood. Mother watered the seedlings with intrigue and love for that state of her birth.

As I grew up the daughter of a South Texas farmer in the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s, I learned what connected me to my family roots buried in rural soil was the constancy of Jesus Christ who heals, enlivens, and sustains.

giving thanks
I’m giving thanks for the sweet aroma of the Rose of Sharon.

For generations He has brought the sweet aroma of the Rose of Sharon to the gruesome stench of death and heartbreak. He has taken the dreadful sultriness of a summer hail storm, destined to wipe out a cotton crop and a year’s earnings with it, and replaced it with the gentle breeze of Hope, the Anchor for the Soul. And He has transformed the gut-wrenching sight of a loved one, maimed and becoming more so each day, into a vision of a new body in a new heaven.

I thank Jerry B. Jenkins and his team of judges for choosing this story as the first place winner in the 2014 Operation First Novel contest. The award has made possible the revealing of Ella McFarland who was born as I imagined what shape my gentle, quiet, shy grandmother’s world might have taken if the kaleidoscope of her life had twisted a hair’s breadth in either direction.

On Thanksgiving this year I will give thanks for Jesus, my family, friends, a home that shelters me, food in abundance, and more conveniences than are good for me. But this year I’ll add a Thank You for a once-in-a-lifetime blessing of a debut novel. Surreal.

giving thanks
Thanksgiving: a time for giving thanks

My words of gratitude won’t feel sufficient, but they’ll be the best I can muster.

Thankfully, the Lord can read my heart.

One thought on “Giving Thanks

  1. Teresa Brooks

    Amen! I am thankful for all you mentioned as well and can’t wait to hold my copy of your book in my own hands! Love you and the story that tumbled out of your heart and will soon be here for all who read it to be blessed!


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Systems of Thought: Faith


If Andrew Evans in The Calling of Ella McFarland were asked to comment on the reasonableness of faith in God as a system of thought, I know how he would respond:
Never assess a system of thought–or faith–by its distortion. Go to the source.

According to humanist philosophy, the measure of all things is man. One man’s truth–or goodness–can be another man’s evil. Survival is based on fitness. Destruction of life is neither good nor evil, only expedient.

I the one who establishes a religion sets an example of violence toward those who oppose world-trade-center-67695_1280him … if he crushes them … those who do the same in his name are not distorting his example. They are living it. 

Jesus set an example of love toward those who opposed him. He died for them. Every violent act committed in the name of Christ–from the Crusades, to the Inquisition, Salem witch trials, mistreatment of Jews and Blacks and every other religion and ethnicity–is a distortion of Jesus’ example. One must not judge Christianity by its distortions. They are inconsistent with Jesus’ teaching and example.

I choose Jesus.

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” John 18:36 (NIV)

Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? Matthew 26:53 (NIV)

2 thoughts on “Systems of Thought: Faith

  1. Indeed, Shelby! Thanks for commenting.

  2. Shelby Stone

    I am so thankful for Jesus’ gentleness and examples of unconditional love. Great post!


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