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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Halloween: Ghosts, Goblins, Ghouls and …

Halloween isn’t celebrated in The Calling of Ella McFarland, but it surely is in our neighborhood.

Every October 31st, I envision the pagan rites from which our night of sweden-123784_1280ghosts, goblins, and ghouls springs, and I wonder what place such images should claim in Christians’ minds. And in a neighborhood claimed for Christ.

At the ancient Celts’ festival of Samhain, people lit bonfires and wore costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. At one time animal and human sacrifices were offered on the bonfires.

cemetery-499770_1280In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs: All Saints’ Day. The evening before, All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween, incorporates some of the traditions of Samhain. 

The night from October 31st to November 1st was a time “between years” to the Celts when the borders between this world and the other were flexible, allowing spirits of all sorts to interact with humans. To assure that one did not overstep a boundary or violate a taboo, many people chose to stay in their homes with doors securely locked. And so it is today. Invariably, certain homes in America remain darkened and locked on the scariest night of the year. lightning-552038_1280

Reminds me of the ancient Jews in Egypt when the Death Angel passed over the homes marked by blood. When the Lord goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down. (Exodus 12:23, NIV)

celts-village-948287_1280The ancient Celts’ fairies, heroes, and heroines have transformed themselves into modern-day animated characters like Tinkerbell, Batman, and Superwoman. superheroes-534104_1280




The Celtic pooka and bean sidhe (banshee) have given way to Halloween ghosts, goblins, and ghouls. And vampires. 

I recoil at the sight of blood dripping from a vampire’s lips … but it reminds me that blood claims a major place in a Christian’s thinking. … the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (Hebrews 9:22, NIV)

jesus-753063_1280The difference lies in whose blood is shed and for what purpose. The proverbial vampire takes life. Jesus laid down His. The blood on a vampire’s lips feeds his evil appetite, turns what was good into evil, and stains what it touches. Jesus’ blood reconciles, cleanses, atones, redeems, and transforms evil into holy.

I had had this framed reminder of Jesus’ love–author unknown–in my home for years and hadn’t realized how it was affecting my granddaughter. Thank You, Jesus.

All of which brings me around to my granddaughter who at age 7 made  an unexpected request. “May I have some paper without lines, please?” 

With paper and pencil in hand, she disappeared into another room and reappeared with what she had copied, took it home, and displayed it in their kitchen: I asked Jesus, “How much do You love me?” “This much,” He answered, and He stretched out His arms–and died.

A ghoulish scene if there ever was one.

On this Halloween when dressed-up vampires, ghosts, goblins, and ghouls roam  the neighborhood, I’ll remember Jesus is the Lord of our household, our neighborhood, city, and the world. And I’ll remind my grandchildren that the message of His love sacrifice transcends all the evil works of the world. And every pagan tradition.

Which is what will happen in homes and neighborhoods everywhere where Jesus is welcome. So celebrate on!

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates … (Deuteronomy 11:18-20, NIV)

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