Thursday, November 10, 2016

Writing though Grief

I'll admit to it. I'm grieving for a country I've always been proud to be a part of. Being patriotic is part of who I am. It was instilled in me by my parents, especially my father who made sure we were all schooled daily on national and international current events. He would sit down nightly and read the day's newspaper, sometimes reading it aloud and sometimes just conveying his feelings on a subject that he'd read. Much like my mother, who would read and comment on the Bible research she was studying while preparing for the Sunday School class she taught. Our home education was steeped in God and Country.

I grew up Methodist and there was nothing luke-warm about our Sunday morning sermons. I attended other denominations when I spent weekends with cousins or other friends and got the same dose of worship and praise in their churches. We were all in this together, some just a little more structured than others. I also remember the day that Jesus reached down personally and touched my heart, making it His forever.

Daddy was all about the little people. Being a farmer, he knew what it was like to have good years and bad. He knew what it was about to be on the receiving end and what it was like to be on the giving end. I was also born privileged, but not in the way people speak of privilege now; privileged that in spite of being born and raised in the rural South, there was no racial hatred taught in our home, and for that, I'll be forever grateful.

I was also taught to respect the office of the President of the United States of America, somewhere along the line shortened to POTUS, which sounds like a rather disrespectful term if you ask me.  But if you didn't like a president, you just sucked it up and waited for the next four years, but you still were taught to respect the president. The only time I remember my father truly grieving over a presidential election was when Richard Nixon was voted in for a second term, and we all know how that played out. He was sick for days. I know he would be sick if he were alive today. Instead though, he is basking in God's everlasting sunshine in a place that knows no physical or emotional pain.

I am a Christian writer, and for this entire process of election, I'm ashamed that I've remained quiet about my feelings on Donald Trump. The few times I've alluded to my feelings in written word, I've done so gracefully as not to offend other Christians out there who somehow think this vile man is the answer to the world's problems. I stood by in shock as I watched people defend this man's actions, some of the most un-Christian like actions I've ever witnessed in not only a presidential candidate, but in a person in general. One who believes in the idolatry of money; of pride and ego; of self-aggrandizement. I heard the issues brought up, and I too have struggled with some of the issues, but still I could not even look at this man and not get a sense of revulsion that made me literally sick to my stomach. It was an emotion straight from my heart and soul; a place where the Holy Spirit resides in me.

We've studied Isaiah recently and all I keep thinking about and wondering, is God hardening hearts so that we as a nation are not seeing things clearly? We are told in scripture that he hardens the hearts of unbelievers (look what he did to Pharaoh), but what about believers? And if so, whose hearts have been hardened? I feel mine has been softened as I've prayed and gained clarity in the months leading up to the election, but does the other side feel the same? And as a Christian, why are my gut feelings so much different from those of other Christians. It's so troubling to me - maybe something I will never understand.

I hope and pray that our next president, (excuse me if I can't yet say his name) will not be like King Ahaz of Isaiah's day - too stubborn to listen to the advice of God's prophet and too quick to side with the wrong rulers. If so, we are all in trouble.

I do know that I need my space right now. I need time to grieve. I hope and pray that my friends and family who voted differently will understand if I can't see or talk to them right now. I thought I could move on faster than this, but it has taken its toll.

As I finish writing this as a healing process, I want to encourage my friends who are also grieving for our nation. God is sovereign. He is the ultimate ruler. I don't think he is rejoicing in our choice of leaders, but He has given us hope. There is the hope found in Isaiah, a Messianic hope where we can imagine all of creation is healed and restored, a place where we can live in peace.









Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Saga of the Lost Phone

This blog has run the gambit. It has had many identities over the years, but for good reason. My interests have changed, therefore my writing has followed suit. It's been about retirement, sharing bits of wisdom, day trips to small Southern towns, tablescaping, flea market adventures and much more. Recently I changed it to reporting small happenings and gossip in the small town of Park Place, the place of my books, a fictional Van Wyck, but the lost phone saga is not fiction and I'm sure it will never be replicated. Here it is.

My youngest daughter, a fellow democrat, is on vacation with some friends in Mexico waiting for the wall to be built so she won't have to come back home. Just kidding, but probably more serious than we know. But of course, she wants her family to join her, one of which I'm feeding and carpooling while she's gone.

Gen is fourteen, going on fifteen. I'm also carpooling the children of a neighbor, who is also in said Mexico waiting for the same wall. One of them is Gregory, Genevieve's age.  Monday, on the way home from picking them up at school, I told Gen that she had a physical therapy appointment and when she acted like she doubted it, I whipped out my phone to show her the email message from her mom, like, uh, grandmas make these things up. I was driving and that's the last time I saw my phone. Having not charged it the night before, I only had about 20% charge left, and everybody knows when it says that, it means it's going to leave you high and dry.

After I delivered Gregory home, I brought Gen back to my house for a few minutes before we left for the appointment. When we got back in the car, I noticed I didn't have my phone. We tried ringing it inside and outside the house, but no luck. It had to be in the house or the car, right? So we went on to the appointment. I would find it when I got home.

Searched everywhere, called it time and again. It was ringing but we couldn't hear it. So at this point, I decided I would be smart like my smart phone is supposed to be, so I logged into my iTunes account and asked it to Locate my Phone. The message it gave told me it wasn't charged. So much for smart.  I've worried about that six-hundred dollar phone more than you should ever worry about a material thing, but I do love my phone! It's also new. 
Meanwhile I got out my old iPhone and charged it up, thinking I may have to resurrect it and switch back to it. Last night I decided to give the Locate My Phone feature one more try. Yay! It looked like it was working this time and zeroing in on a spot on the corner of Steele Hill and VW Road on  the map right before my eyes. My house, it must be here! Then I heard a ping and was so happy until I looked around and found the pinging coming from my old phone that I had just charged. The read-out said "found phone" and that phone wasn't even lost! I went back to the Apple site and tried to pull up my new phone, but it only shows that I own the old phone. I may or may not have remembered to register the new phone on Apple when I got it. Ouch. But I had the box it came in! Yay! It had the serial number on it, so I tried to register it thinking there still might be hope and it would still have a charge since I hadn't used it. I think positive, usually. But aack! Once again, no luck. After the serial number, it wanted an agreement number from the agreement papers where I bought it. Oh, did I ever tell you how unorganized I am? Probably not and I couldn't find it.
So-o-o, this morning I went to Comporium where I purchased the phone and just knew they would have a copy of the agreement number. Wrong! But I don't think she was looking hard. She had a very hard time following along with my story, and she had a neat desk, looked very organized and looked at me sort of condescending, like I was supposed to know to keep those sorts of things.
I came home all blue, rejected and dejected from Comporium. When I pulled in the driveway, Henry walked out of the house to meet me. My phone had been found! He was excited too, because of the six-hundred dollars I'm sure. Where, I asked, feeling a little elated for the first time in two days, actually three days if you count Monday.
It was at the high school and had been turned in by a boy who found it in his book bag.
My thoughts went to Gregory! But how?
Can't you just see this in slow motion. 
Genevieve in front seat, Gregory in back seat.
Book bag on floor. 
Gregory opens book bag to get out his own phone, leaves it open. 
Genevieve has my phone, reads email and lays phone on console.
Brakes applied.
Out of all the places phone could go, it tumbles into book bag.
Gregory closes book bag and gets out of car.
Book bag is left by back door away from hearing ears as we try calling it.
It stays in dark book bag overnight and all next day because there was no school because of election day; then overnight again.
Gregory takes book bag to school this morning, opens it. Hey, what's this phone doing in here?
Takes to office. Smart lady in office charges it and calls the last number called.
Voila! I have my phone back. I did feel slightly unpopular when I checked my messages. Not a single one.
I can sometimes go days without using my phone, but with my daughter in Mexico waiting for the wall to be built and thinking that Gen would need me to put on my superwoman cape to run to her rescue at sometime or another, I went a little crazy with the lost phone. Can you tell?

But the really, really fun part is when I picked up Gregory today at school. I told him I'd found my phone. He said, where did you find it? I said, here at the high school. Some boy found it in his book bag. He turned to me with a look of shock on his face and said in his cute little British accent, "that was me!" Kids! You gotta love 'em!

At least this was a short story and not a book.
The end.



Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Gossip on Main Street

Once again, you can be privy to the happenings and rumors in the fictitious little town of Park Place, South Carolina as I write my new book. Here's today's Park Place Gazette. The Wednesday Edition is giving you a few teasers from my next book!

Hmm... Strange things are happening in Park Place. Everyone's talking about the stranger seen behind May's Flower Shop during the worst thunder and lightning storm of the season, but the next day they've forgotten all about it when the town's first murder in decades has been committed in the same alleyway behind the shop's dumpster. Who could it be? Rumors are flying and no one in Park Place will feel safe until Police Chief, Jess Hamilton finds the killer.

Someone in town is having a baby, but we're not telling who!

Who's the mysterious nun who's working with the homeless shelter at the catholic church? She's awfully interested in the murder victim, but you'll have to read The Sweet Tea Quilting Bee to find out why!

Stay tuned.....

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Once again, we'll get a little glimpse of what life is like in Park Place, the fictional town that's written about in the Southern Grace Trilogies. The Park Place Gazette will give small town news as it happens! Read all about it! A fictional newspaper for a fictional town!


THE PARK PLACE GAZETTE
Tuesday, July 20, 2016
Special Edition

Local News

Park Place General Hospital to get a new wing

       The family of the late Dr. John S. Beverly has once again shown their benevolence by donating the funds to build a new wing on the west end of Park Place General Hospital.  Jackson R. Beverly, the grandson of the late Dr. Beverly is carrying on the family tradition that the late Dr. Beverly started in 1976 when he donated his old plantation home and property to be used to open The Beverly Hill's Children's Home and Orphanage. The new wing of the hospital will be built as an oncology center with state-of-the-art equipment for diagnosing and treating cancer patients. Park Place residents will no longer have to make the trip to Charlotte for treatment. Construction starts in September, 2016 and an estimated completion date of June, 2017. 
Park Place General Hospital
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sports Section

Women's Softball Team Goes to State Finals

        Park Place's very own Diamond Diva's Softball Team will be traveling to Columbia on Friday to participate in the state finals for Women's Softball. A stand-out on the team, Penny Evans, spoke to this reporter last week. "We're out to win," she said right after practice on Thursday night. "We have the best pitcher in the league and every single one of our girls have hit the ball out of the park at least once this season. We're not settling for second best. We want victory!" The girls around her were cheering her own. Let's not forget to wish them luck this week.
Diamond Diva's Softball Team 2016
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Park Place High School Football

     Football anyone? Tryouts for the 2016-17 school year's football team at the high school will be held on July 29th from 8 - 11:30 am. Rising 10th, 11th and 12ths graders are eligible to try out.  Practice sessions will start on August 10th. 

Last year's senior Corey Kayfield at practice
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

About Town

  Park Place Presbyterian Church's Ladies Tuesday Morning Bible Study group completed their study of the Gospel of John on Tuesday morning followed by a delicious covered dish luncheon. Park Place has some of the finest cooks in the country. As a matter of fact, just to enjoy the occasional lunches makes this reporter want to join the group for their upcoming Bible Study on the Book of Isaiah starting on September 20th. They welcome new members, so join them in September!

Park Place Presbyterian Bible Study Luncheon

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Matthew Eli Clark, son of Reverend Rock Clark and wife, Liz Clark, celebrated his first birthday last week with friends and family. Guests included Danny and Maura McCarthy, Holly and Sonny McCarthy and daughter Abby, and both sets of grandparents. We wish little Matthew a very happy birthday.

Matthew Eli Clark's 1st Birthay
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     There's a new club in town! The Dixie Bee Quilter's Club was formed last month by antique shop owner, Valerie Owens and the meetings will be held in the antique store on Tuesday mornings from 9 - 11:30 a.m. Register early because the spots are filling up fast. For more information, call Valerie at 223-413-4000.



That's it for this week's edition! See you next week for more news from Park Place!

Reporter: Glenda Manus

The Park Place Gazette - Week Two

Once again, we'll get a little glimpse of what life is like in Park Place, the fictional town that's written about in the Southern Grace Trilogies. The Park Place Gazette will give small town news as it happens! Read all about it! A fictional newspaper for a fictional town!


THE PARK PLACE GAZETTE
Tuesday, July 20, 2016
Special Edition

Local News

Park Place General Hospital to get a new wing

       The family of the late Dr. John S. Beverly has once again shown their benevolence by donating the funds to build a new wing on the west end of Park Place General Hospital.  Jackson R. Beverly, the grandson of the late Dr. Beverly is carrying on the family tradition that the late Dr. Beverly started in 1976 when he donated his old plantation home and property to be used to open The Beverly Hill's Children's Home and Orphanage. The new wing of the hospital will be built as an oncology center with state-of-the-art equipment for diagnosing and treating cancer patients. Park Place residents will no longer have to make the trip to Charlotte for treatment. Construction starts in September, 2016 and an estimated completion date of June, 2017. 
Park Place General Hospital
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sports Section

Women's Softball Team Goes to State Finals

        Park Place's very own Diamond Diva's Softball Team will be traveling to Columbia on Friday to participate in the state finals for Women's Softball. A stand-out on the team, Penny Evans, spoke to this reporter last week. "We're out to win," she said right after practice on Thursday night. "We have the best pitcher in the league and every single one of our girls have hit the ball out of the park at least once this season. We're not settling for second best. We want victory!" The girls around her were cheering her own. Let's not forget to wish them luck this week.
Diamond Diva's Softball Team 2016
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Park Place High School Football

     Football anyone? Tryouts for the 2016-17 school year's football team at the high school will be held on July 29th from 8 - 11:30 am. Rising 10th, 11th and 12ths graders are eligible to try out.  Practice sessions will start on August 10th. 

Last year's senior Corey Kayfield at practice
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

About Town

  Park Place Presbyterian Church's Ladies Tuesday Morning Bible Study group completed their study of the Gospel of John on Tuesday morning followed by a delicious covered dish luncheon. Park Place has some of the finest cooks in the country. As a matter of fact, just to enjoy the occasional lunches makes this reporter want to join the group for their upcoming Bible Study on the Book of Isaiah starting on September 20th. They welcome new members, so join them in September!

Park Place Presbyterian Bible Study Luncheon

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Matthew Eli Clark, son of Reverend Rock Clark and wife, Liz Clark, celebrated his first birthday last week with friends and family. Guests included Danny and Maura McCarthy, Holly and Sonny McCarthy and daughter Abby, and both sets of grandparents. We wish little Matthew a very happy birthday.

Matthew Eli Clark's 1st Birthay
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     There's a new club in town! The Dixie Bee Quilter's Club was formed last month by antique shop owner, Valerie Owens and the meetings will be held in the antique store on Tuesday mornings from 9 - 11:30 a.m. Register early because the spots are filling up fast. For more information, call Valerie at 223-413-4000.



That's it for this week's edition! See you next week for more news from Park Place!

Reporter: Glenda Manus

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

New Format - Newspaper Style

Today I was thinking, wouldn't it be nice if I could share some of the daily happenings in the lives of my characters. The town of Park Place and its population of characters live in my head as well in my books and I often imagine them living day-to-day much like we do where I live in Van Wyck. I'm sure they had a July Fourth celebration and the ladies of  Park Place Presbyterian Church will be hosting their annual High Tea as a fundraiser again this summer.

The Park Place Garden Club is busy trying to choose the prettiest Yard of the Month. I've heard that Jenny Wilson and Betty Ann Williams are in the running and are planting a few more annuals to give their yards and gardens a burst of color before the judging begins.

Wanda Burns is busy writing her new book, and when asked about the publication date, she said, "I've been spending way too much time on Facebook. I've got to find a secluded place to write where I don't have access to the internet!" Last year she wrote from a gazebo by the sea. Perhaps this year she'll find a nice, quiet spot by a mountain stream.

There's a rumor going around about a crime that was committed in the alley behind the Banty Hen Antique Shop, but the crime is still under investigation since the new book is not due for a couple more months. This reporter doesn't want to give too much away!

Stay tuned! The Park Place Gazette will be in production soon!


Glenda Manus, reporter

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Character Feelings

Are there times when you can't think of a single word to evoke the emotions of a character you're writing about? This was a tip I recently found on The Writer's Circle Facebook page. I'm finding it helpful but just remember, it's always better to show, not tell.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Magic of Christmas

Author: Glenda Manus

Devotional January 6, 2016


Romans 12:2 (ESV) “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”


Today is January 6th, the Epiphany, traditionally the day in which the wise men brought their gifts to Jesus. During our stay in Germany, our landlords celebrated Christmas up until this day and invited us to join them in their festivities. Since then, I’ve used this excuse to leave up my tree, enjoying the soft lights just a few days longer than most of my friends and family. 
Christmas Day has come and gone and now all that is left are a few Christmas trinkets gracing my mantle at the start of the new year. The tree is left standing, looking somewhat forlorn with no presents underneath and the lights from the tree are spotlighting the bits of glitter that will take months to get out of my carpet. And oh, there’s the small table in the foyer displaying shiny multi-colored lights surrounding the nostalgia driven decor of my childhood.
I have tried every year since I became an adult to conjure up the magic of Christmas that believing in Santa inspired. The tinkling of bells as his sleigh settled on the rooftop, the footsteps on the roof, the whoosh of a fat man sliding down the narrow opening of the chimney; all those things filled my head as a child, just like the sugar plums from the famed story, Twas the Night before Christmas. If Santa could do all those things, surely he was magical enough to continue his spell on me. But every year, I failed to achieve those awe-inspiring moments my youth. The glimmer of recognition was there, but it was always just out of my reach. Sure, some of the magic came back while watching my childrens’ eyes open wide when they saw the toys Santa left under the tree. Bigger and better toys each year until sometimes it became a financial burden, all just to create that feeling once again. Nostalgia, it’s a wonderful thing, but aspiring to claim it year after year is not healthy and I’ll admit that I carried it with me like an albatross around my neck.
I’ve always observed the spiritual side of Christmas too, involving myself in church activities of the season and loving the old Christmas hymns. I’ve picked names off the angel tree and enjoy buying for those who have so little, abiding by the message of Proverbs 14:31 which says that to help the poor is to honor God. I slip dollars in the kettles of the Salvation Army bell ringers. I enjoy the Advent season, preparing for the coming of Jesus. It’s a time of anticipation and hope in what can sometimes seem a bleak and hopeless world. I’ve studied Luke’s account of the Birth of Jesus, the Son of God. But it’s almost as if I have celebrated two entirely different holidays at the same time. The one of magic, glitz and glitter and the one of a dear Savior’s birth.
But as I’ve grown older, I’ve stopped trying to “fix” Christmas. I shop for the family, but I don’t let it consume me as I have done in the past. I don’t go all out decorating as I once did. My excessive amount of Christmas decor now sits in the attic waiting for  grandchildren to grow up and stake their claim on the nostalgic trinkets from Grandma’s house. I no longer sit in a dark room with only the lights of the Christmas tree, digging down into my memory bank for glimpses of the Christmas magic I might have missed, then feeling disappointed when I didn’t quite grasp it.
What caused this transformation of thought and why am I no longer searching for “Christmas”? It’s because I’ve found that Christmas is not confined to December; it’s an everyday occasion and it goes hand-in-hand with Easter. The Son of God born in a lowly manger, his death, his resurrection along with the promise of an everlasting life. These are not tangible things we can hold in our hands like Christmas trinkets; they’re not sparkly lights and glittery objects that we can see with our eyes. It’s just something that you know in your heart; it’s called faith, and the joy of knowing it and believing it surpasses all the “magic” that our childhood Christmases ever held.
Tomorrow, as I take down my tree and store it and my few trinkets back in the attic, I will not be melancholy. I will pack them away knowing that Christmas lives inside me all year long. I will bring them out again year after year, looking upon them fondly, but not needing them to satisfy the yearning of years gone by.


Prayer: Lord God, thank you for creating in me a new spirit. A spirit that celebrates You all year long. May we never forget that what you have in mind for us is good, acceptable and perfect.


Glenda Manus

01/06/2016