Friday, March 29, 2013

The Old Days --Memoirs Week 5

When I was a little girl, World War II was going on. We had ration books, green stamps, oleo that my mother mixed with yellow food coloring to make it look like butter, and not much money. We didn't get a toy every time we went to the store, like kids today do. We waited until Christmas or our birthday to get a new toy. Many of our toys were homemade.  I remember a rocking doll cradle made from an oatmeal box. Kids roamed the neighborhood playing with other kids. When it was time for us to come in, our mothers stood on the front porch, yelling our names. And we came running.

 An icebox in our kitchen held a big block of ice, which we chipped with an ice pick when we wanted a cold drink. On the day when the iceman came, mother would put a sign in the window telling the iceman how much ice to bring in the house--a 25 or 50 pound block. My grandmother made all my clothes, even my underwear, and my mother was a whiz at making good nutritional meals with very little money. We raised chickens and rabbits for meat, and I never saw the inside of a restaurant until I was grown.

My grandmother did take me to town once a week, riding the old "interurban," a streetcar with an aerial on top connected to cables installed over prescribed routes of travel in Dallas. We ate lunch in a cafeteria or at a food counter downtown, did some shopping, and usually saw a movie. In the plush Dallas theaters called "The Palace," "The Grand," or the "Rialto" we watched many of the elaborate old-time musicals with Doris Day, Deanna Durbin, Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, and other movie stars.

We had a radio, but didn't get a television until I was about eleven or twelve.  Sometimes on Saturdays my little brother and I would go to a neighborhood theater and see a "kid's show." The theaters showed "serials" that were continued each week. The hero or heroine was always left in some precarious situation, to ensure that we kids would come back to find out what happened next week. And if we didn't get there, there was no TiVo or computer to call up that episode and discover the ending. If we missed it, we were out in the cold, not knowing how the characters solved their problems.

We did not have an indoor bathroom. We had a path to the outhouse far out in the back yard, and we bathed in the kitchen in a #3 washtub. One day my dad came home with a long galvanized tub and we were ecstatic. We could heat the water, pour it in, and take a bath without having our knees up to our chin. It was long enough to stretch out your legs while you bathed, and we felt privileged.

Whenever someone was taking a bath in the kitchen next to the warm stove, everybody else in the family had to stay out to provide a little privacy. Once one of my grandpa's sisters came for an extended stay, and I didn't know she was in the kitchen taking a bath. I ran through the kitchen just as she stood up from her bath and was startled to see a wrinkled, old lady standing there in the tub. I'm sure I startled her just as much. I got out of there fast.

People never locked their houses in those days. If it was too hot to sleep in the house, we took our quilts and pillows outside and spread them on the lawn and slept there. I remember many nights when we searched the skies for the big dipper or other star formations before going to sleep, while the cool breezes refreshed us. The next morning the sun would wake us up.

Sometimes an old tramp would come to the back door, asking for a plate of food in exchange for some work. My mother would give him some food and he would sit on the back steps to eat it. When he knocked on the door to return the plate, she would give him a job to do in the back yard to pay for his meal. There was never any fear and most any housewife was willing to give food to a hobo. He would go his way and we never saw him again. But others would come. I think these men must have passed on information about which houses were friendly to these homeless people, and who had good food at their house.

Ah, the memories from those old days. People in their 70s now have memories of times like these. I lived in the big city of Dallas while my husband grew up on a farm. In my book A Heritage of Faith, you will read about life in the old days, and life through the years as times changed, people changed, and so did our country. We would not dream of leaving our doors unlocked today. Children today have to have name-brand clothes. Every teenager feels undressed without his or her cell phone.

I wonder how many people would like to go back to those old days. Not many, I imagine. If the children of today were suddenly thrust into those times, they could not handle it. The familiar is the best way, and even though there are a lot of things wrong with our world today, it's most likely that few of us would want to go back, even if we could.

This is an example of how you can write your memories of stories for those who will come after you in your family. As you read my stories, I hope your mind will be challenged to think of your own, and write them down. Have one of your children or grandchildren read your stories. They will be so impressed, it will encourage you to write some more.

If you comment on these "Friday pages" you will be in a drawing to win one of my books, A Heritage of Faith. Please leave your name and email address so I'll know how to contact you if you win.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Story of Second Chances

To Win Her Heart by KarenWitemeyer, is a story of second chances for several characters in this western novel, which takes place in the late nineteenth century.

First, there is Levi Grant, a giant of a man and a former prizefighter who is released from prison as the novel begins. He served two years in Huntsville prison because he accidentally killed a man. He moves to Spencer, Texas, where he becomes the town blacksmith. He has a speech problem, so he is a man of few words, but he is well-read and intelligent, even though he doesn't look the part, and he would rather not have people learn about his past.

There he meets the petite and beautiful Eden Spencer, daughter of the town's founder, who runs a library in her home. Eden is a high society spinster whose former fiancee left her at the altar.

Enter the nemesis, Sheriff Conrad Pratt, who wants to marry Eden and lets her know that every time he comes around.

Later in the book we meet a sixteen year old girl, Chloe, whose mother is a prostitute in the local bar and brothel, and her beau, a Scottish lad who works at the quarry and brings iron work to Levi.

The local minister offers Levi a second chance when he recommends him for the job of blacksmith without telling the town leaders about his prison record. Chloe is offered a second chance when Levi rescues her from the brothel before she is tainted and harmed.

Eden has trouble giving Levi a second chance when she finds out about his prison record. And when the sheriff discovers Levi's hidden past, he has an agenda to run him out of town.

This book is filled with twists and turns and action-packed adventure. Near the end, I couldn't read fast enough as everything came together.

Ms. Witemeyer has written a great story about redemption, forgiveness, and second chances, and I hope you will check this one out. She will be interviewed on my blog June 3 with a book give-away.

Two-time RITA® Finalist and winner of the coveted HOLT Medallion and ACFW Carol Award, CBA bestselling author, Karen Witemeyer, writes historical romance fiction for Bethany House, believing that the world needs more happily-ever-afters. She is an avid cross-stitcher, shower singer, and bakes a mean apple cobbler. Karen makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at:

REMEMBER, you still have a chance to enter to win Finding My Place by Margo Dill. Scroll down to her interview and enter your name if you'd like to win this book of historical fiction for children, ages 9-12. Winner will be announced March 31. Yes, I realize that is Easter Sunday. Margo has a sale going for her book until April 1. The runners-up can buy her book before that date, so if you don't win, you can still get her book for $8.00. That's why I'm announcing the winner on Sunday. Be sure to leave your email address so I can notify you if you are the winner.

Monday, March 25, 2013

It Makes You Think

“It Makes You Think”

On Monday I was riding back into town after a long bike ride, looking forward to being OFF the bike at home, when right in front of me two SUVs had a major accident. I was the second person on the scene and helped two little kids and their mom get out of their vehicle. A crowd gathered and the police, fire, and ambulance got there. Amazingly, there were no obvious injuries, as I saw all the vehicle occupants walking around. After a little while I saw there was nothing else I could do so I gave my name & contact info to the police and the mom, and went on.

Very shortly after I left the scene I realized that if I had been 30-45 seconds ahead of where I was on the road, one of those vehicles would have plowed right through me. My bike would have put up very little  resistance and I’m pretty sure there are no airbags anywhere on it. I would have been severely injured…or worse.

It makes you think. If I hadn’t stopped to take pictures earlier in the day. If I hadn’t met that other cyclist and slowed down to talk. If I had made up my mind quicker in one convenience store about what I wanted. If the wind hadn’t been quite that strong. Really, any of a hundred things I did on the ride—omit any one and I’m gone.

It makes you think about what is really important. Am I doing my best? Am I doing GOD’s best? Am I being the person He wants me to be?

We all know it shouldn’t take witnessing an accident to get us to take stock of our lives—but I did witness one and I have been thinking about what I’m doing with the gifts God gave me. I’m so glad there were no horrible injuries, and I pray that the people are all OK. I also thank God for protecting me from being injured. But most of all, I pray that I’m  being submissive to God’s will for my life, and that I’m allowing Him free rein to do with me as He sees fit. Like everyone, I resist God in certain ways—and I pray that that resistance will always be on the decline.

What about you? Take stock this week. Where do you  need to give God freedom to work in your life?

(written by our son, David Nobles)

These pictures were made during VBS at First Baptist Church Midland, Texas.
The scene was on the platform, emphasizing the theme for the week of run and Bible study.
You can tell it was depicting New York.
At the time, David was on staff there as Minister to Singles.
He now works for Dawson Petroleum in Midland, Texas. And this week he and Margaret are on a Caribbean Cruise!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Writing a Memoir -- Week 4

My book, A Heritage of Faith, is not a true memoir, it is a collection of family stories. I felt it important to leave a heritage for our children and grandchildren about how my husband and I grew up, how God called him to be a preacher and me to be a preacher's wife, and how God led us together. It is an unbelieveable story.

Charlie had been out of school for twelve years. While living in Fort Worth, Texas, he quit high school, worked on a cattle ranch, then at some other jobs until he joined the Army. During this time God called him to preach. I was six years younger, so I was going to school in Dallas, and listening to my daddy preach every Sunday. I was dating a boy in high school and continued to date him after graduation while I worked in an office for two years. He even gave me a ring and we talked about getting married. Yet I had a deep desire to go to college.

At God's direction, I quit my job, gave James back his ring, and went to a nearby junior Baptist college, where I met an amazing "older" man who had come to the college one semester earlier, studying to become a preacher. He was 25, I was 19. Six months later we were married, and I stopped attending college so I could work and help him get his degree and attend seminary. I was very naive, knew nothing about life, only that God called me to be a preacher's wife, and I believed I had found the right one. (I still do after 58 years of marriage.)

As Charlie pastored churches and worked extra jobs so we could live, I had four babies in six years. Our family complete, I worked again until I went back to school get my college degree. I taught piano lessons, sold Avon, and worked in various offices as we moved around.

Years later, after Charlie completed his college and seminary education, I went back to college and obtained my teaching degree. We struggled financially. Today's children know nothing about the hardships that their parents and grandparents had, so I wanted to tell them. Hence, I wrote my book.

Here's a story about our life before we had any children. We lived in DentonValley, Texas, about 60 miles from Abilene, where Charlie was a student at Hardin-Simmons University. I was pregnant, I had quit my job and we were living near the church in an old farmhouse--difficult to heat, out on the prairie where the wind blew and there was no grass, only tumbleweeds and sagebrush. I can still see that place, as I stood on the inside in the kitchen, looking out the window and trying to stay warm by heat from the oven.

When Charlie was pastor at Denton Vally, we continued to live in our rented house in Abilene and drive out to the church on Sundays. But after I learned that I was pregnant, we decided to move into an old farmhouse on the church field. A few months earlier I had miscarried our first child, and I thought that if I quit my job and stayed at home, I'd have a better chance at completing my pregnancy successfully.

It was a big farmhouse and it was winter, but we blocked off some of the rooms so we wouldn't have such a high heating bill and lived in only the kitchen, a small living room, and one of the bedrooms.

One afternoon Charlie began to develop a terrible toothache. He took some medicine to stop the pain. It made him sleepy, but the pain didn't stop. When the pain became almost unbearable, he took more medicine, then realized he had to have help. He said I would have to drive him to the dentist, where he had an office in his home, because he was just too sick to drive.

I was not an experienced driver, but I carefully drove to the dentist's house. The dentist asked him which tooth was hurting. He must not have had any x-ray equipment, because Charlie pointed to what he thought was the right tooth, and the dentist pulled it out. He gave him more pain medicine, and by the time we got home I had a hard time getting him out of the car and back into the house. It was early evening and he went straight to bed.

During the night, though, he woke me and said, "That dentist pulled the wrong tooth!" The pain was worse than ever. And besides that, Charlie was groggy, he was talking funny, his speech was slurred, and he was very unsteady on his feet. He acted like one of my uncles who used to come to our house while he was drunk when I was a little girl. Whenever that uncle appeared in that condition, my parents ushered me to my bedroom and got rid of him, so I was unfamiliar with most of his symptoms.

Charlie said, "You'll have to take me back to that dentist, honey, because this medicine has made me drunk!" He stumbled around and finally got his pants on. Meanwhile I looked at him like he was someone I never knew. This was the preacher God had told me to marry, yet he was acting like a drunk man.

I said, "You're scaring me. I haven't been around drunk people much before."

Then he smiled crookedly and said, "Isssh all right, honey, I've been drunk before." He reached over to pat me on the shoulder, but he patted the air near my shoulder instead. He was really out of it!

What a revolting development. My preacher husband had been drunk!

I drove back to the dentist's house, we got him out of bed, and he pulled the tooth next to the one he had pulled that afternoon. The pain was gone, Charlie slept the rest of the night, and life went on, even if my husband's past indiscretions had been revealed and I had learned something I had never before  known about him.

Whether you choose to write a true memoir, or to just tell stories as I did, writing your memories would be a wonderful gift for those who come after you. I hope you will give some thought to giving this gift to your children and grandchildren.

My husband when he was a cowboy, before I met him. He's the fourth man from the left, in the white shirt. On the ranch where he worked, only old men and young boys did the work because this was the 1940s when all the able-bodied men were away in the military. My husband went to work on Silvercreek Ranch in Fort Worth when he was 13, living in a bunkhouse and doing the work of a grown man.

Me, shortly before I went to college.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Something That Lasts by James David Jordan

As I said on another blog, I like to know who the author is when I read a book. This one has been in our church library for several years, and even though I had read it before, it made a bigger impression on me this time than when I read it the first time.

I learned by searching the internet that the author grew up as a minister's son. (My dad was a preacher, too). He is now an attorney in Dallas and has written two other books--a series--Forsaken, 2008, and Double Cross, 2009. He is a writer of Christian mystery/suspense. I cannot find any books he has written since 2009.

Something That Lasts was Jordan's first novel and it was not suspense, it was about a minister, David Parst, who had an affair and lost everything in his life that mattered. He was pastor of a church in O'Fallon, Missouri, when, Erika, an attractive woman, set out to get him. She did, at the expense of her husband's life, and Parst's family. Erika's husband stood up in church one evening and announced that his wife and the pastor were having an affair, then he killed himself on the sidewalk in front of the church. The pastor's wife and his son were in attendance at the church service, but they packed up and left him that night.

This happened early in the book. The ensuing pages told about David's wife, Sarah, and his son, Jack. Jack was devastated and hated his dad for what he did. After Jack grew up and married Katie, he still could not forgive his father. So this is a three-generational story, similar to the sagas I used to read by Barbara Bradford and other secular authors, but better, because of the Christian overtones.

David eventually became a pastor again, but remained forever alone. He kept in touch with his family without their knowledge, and one day they made contact again. Many life events were narrated as Jack refused to come to grips with his feelings of hatred for his father, and his disillusionment at God for letting bad things happen. All that had to be worked through as other things happened in the lives and marriage of Jack and Katie, who was a committed Christian. One event was the devastating loss of a child. Jack could not believe that God loved him when all these bad things had happened.

As the wife of a pastor, I have been acquainted with Christian men who gave in to sexual temptation and ruined their lives and the lives of others as David Parst did. I have known others who did not yield, even though they were tempted, and their influence for God continued.

I think you will be happy with the ending of this novel, even though there is a lot of sorrow in it. I've read the last chapter, and God wins. However, the pleasure is in reading this book and seeing how He does it.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Meet Author Margo Dill

Today's author interview is with Margo Dill from St. Louis, Missouri. She is a blogger deluxe and teaches classes about blogging and using the internet. She also authored a children's book and has two more scheduled for release in the near future.

Hello, Margo,  
I know you were a school teacher and are now a writer and a very busy blogger. What do you write, and how do you help teachers with your blog,  

I write mostly children’s books, although I have written all kinds of things from poetry to short stories for adults, from creative nonfiction to articles about teaching and writing. I have also covered town council meetings for the newspaper and currently have a book review column in the Sunday paper, The News-Gazette (Champaign/Urbana, IL).

My blog introduces readers to books (picture books, middle-grade and YA novels, memoirs & self-help books geared toward women), provides a review and key facts, and ideas for how to use the book with kids or discussions to go with the book. I also like to promote women authors and have a theme of helping women and children around the world.

When I was a piano teacher, I told my students to always remember the main thing: keep the beat going, don’t let the tempo lag behind. What are some things bloggers should always do, in order to have a successful blog, one that people will come back to?

You have to blog on a consistent basis—if you decide to blog twice a week, then try to stick to that most weeks. People are busy, and they will stick with you for a while if you are sporadic. Eventually, though, they’ll find another blog to read that has similar information and is updated consistently. You also have to provide useful information. Teachers and librarians have e-mailed me to tell me that they really enjoy my blog, or they got an e-mail subscription or recommended it to a home school friend. I’ve even gotten speaking engagements because of my blog. So, I am providing a service for people who work with and/or parent children and teens, as well as a platform to promote my book and show people its educational value, too.

I was expecting that answer. Could you tell by my question? Thanks for reminding us of the need for consistency. Tell us about some of the books you have written as well as those you have under contract.

1.     Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg (White Mane Kids, Oct. 2012) is a middle-grade (ages 9 to 12) novel set during the Civil War with a 13-year-old girl as the main character.
2.     Lucy and the Red Ribbon Week Adventure (High Hill Press, TBD) is a picture book about a first grader who has trouble listening during Red Ribbon Week at school.
3.     Maggie Mae, Detective Extraordinaire, and the Case of the Missing Cookies (Guardian Angel Publishing, TBD)  is a picture book about a little girl who helps her grandma figure out WHO is taking the freshly baked cookies.

How do you use your book Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg to help homeschooling parents and teachers?
There is an educational section in the back of the book, which provides “the true story” of Vicksburg to show children that much of the book is based on fact—people really did live in caves during the Siege to save themselves from the Yankees’ shells, and they even ate rats to keep from starving! The back also has discussion questions for each part of the book and extra resources if kids, teachers, or parents want to know more about the Siege of Vicksburg.

On my blog every Wednesday, I post something about  my book. Sometimes, I post thank you notes or photos from school visits and kids. Other times, I post lessons that have to do with the six plus one traits of writing or the Common Core Standards, and I connect these lessons to my book.

I just finished reading your book. It was exceptional, and I could tell you had done a lot of research. I would recommend it for children and adults alike. The effects of war on both children and adults was shown realistically and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Incidentally, this is the book that will be offered to the winner--those who comment on this blog! Tell us how you use other books to give lesson plans to busy teachers and parents. Where do you find the books and how do you come up with the lesson plans?

I use my public library a lot! I also get books from publishers and authors to review. Coming up with the lesson plans or discussion questions is easy for me—much easier than writing!  I was a classroom teacher for eight years and a Title I teacher for two years. I guess when I read a book I am always thinking: How would I have used this in the classroom or with kids?

What is Women on Writing, the blog, and how can aspiring writers and bloggers use it to the greatest advantage?

WOW! Women On Writing ( ) is actually an e-zine and a blog—the content on the blog changes every day like a regular blog, and then the e-zine is published about six times a year with articles and columns around a certain theme, like a regular print magazine. The best thing writers can do is sign up for the posts to be e-mailed to them and the newsletter, too. Both are free, and then writers can read and respond to posts and issues that directly affect their writing. You can sign up for the newsletter on the home page and for the blog posts at this link: .

I took a class offered on this blog--for several weeks you tutored me and I set up my blog and got it going because of this class. I know WOW offers many classes. How do you choose teachers for the classses offered on this blog?

Instructors actually create a proposal of a class and must turn in a resume. Then the classroom moderators, Angela and Marcia, decide whether or not the class is approved. A writer must have experience in the field and a detailed proposal in order to teach a class. Angela and Marcia also do evaluations on new instructors to make sure that the class is being taught as the instructor said it would be. So basically, anyone with writing experience who has a good idea for a class that is not already being taught can apply to teach a class.

How important do you feel it is to belong to a writer’s group? Which one do you belong to and how does it help you?

Writing groups are invaluable! First, I belong to SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) because it is the best professional organization for children’s writers. They offer workshops (free and discounted) for their members at both the national and state level. I am connected to other children’s writers across the world and have gotten to know many in my state—it is a source of information and support. I also belong to the Missouri Writers Guild and Saturday Writers, a chapter. Again, I enjoy the camaraderie with other writers, and I also think their programs are informative and improve my writing skills. I also have a critique group—Lit Ladies, which is great because they help me with my current work-in-progress and keep me progressing on it.

What writers’ conference(s) would you recommend for someone who wants to write children’s books, as you do?

Any conference sponsored by SCBWI or a state SCBWI chapter is a great conference. For more information, go to to read more and find out what your state or region may offer.

Do you have any other advice for those who are trying to break into the writing market?

You CANNOT give up. It took 11 years for my book to go from idea to published copy. Some of that was completely out of my control, and I had to just keep writing and keep believing. Also, it is important to network and support other writers. You’ll need that support some day!

Thank you, Margo, for your expertise and your willingness to be interviewed on my blog. I appreciate your time.

Margo and Juanita have one copy of Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg to giveaway (it’s a paperback).  To enter to win the book, please leave a comment below with either a question, statement, or PICK ME! Also make sure to leave an e-mail address. You need to leave your comment by March 30. Juanita will pick a comment randomly on March 31 and contact the winner. The book will be mailed to the winner, hence the need for email address so you can contacted if you win. U.S. mailing addresses only please. Any questions? E-mail Juanita at

This is the cover of Margo's book, "Finding My Place:One Girl's Strength at Vicksburg".

Enter a comment to be in the drawing to win it.
Tell about it on Facebook or on your blog, to get extra entries to win the book.
Link to my link when you tell about it: and your name goes into the drawing once for each contact.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Writing your Memoirs--Week 3--Win a book!

The main thing you have to do to write your memoirs is to get started. Here is a story I wrote about my husband and his brothers. (I heard him tell of these incidents as I listened to him preach.)

After you read the story, look for a way to win a copy of my book of memoirs, "A Heritage of Faith."

                                         The Old Swimming Hole and Other Adventures

           My husband grew up in the country near Fort Worth, Texas. When I hear his stories, I am amazed that any of the Nobles boys made it to adulthood.

           Their dad was a foreman on a cattle ranch, so Charlie and his brothers, Ed and George, had endless land to play on. In the winter, they shot squirrels and rabbits, and trapped coons (and sometimes get a skunk), while during the summer they swam bare-naked in the creek for hours every day.

            They liked to trap small animals like squirrels and rabbits and sell the skins to make a little extra money to buy Christmas presents. One cool, crisp autumn Saturday around Thanksgiving time, Ed and Charlie trapped a skunk and skinned it. They went home, but their mother would not let them come into the house. She gave them their dinner, but made them stay far away from the house. Even after a bath in a tub out in the yard, they still stunk. The boys went to the barn, and there they stayed for the night. The smell was so bad it made their mother’s nose hurt, even with them in the barn and her in the house. The next day their mother washed their clothes and made them take another bath in the old washtub. It helped some, but not enough.

            On Monday when they went to school, all the kids were standing around the potbelly stove trying to warm up after a two-mile walk to the one-room schoolhouse. With the heat of the stove, the skunk smell that still remained on the boys' bodies intensified. The Nobles boys stunk so badly that the teacher sent them home, telling them not to come back until the stink was gone.

            So they discovered an added perk to trapping wild animals. They got a couple days off school and could go out in the woods to trap more animals to make even more money for Christmas. They avoided the skunks after that experience, though.

            The three brothers were each a couple of years apart. Ed was the oldest, then Charlie, then little George, who wanted so much to be like his big brothers. During the summer, the boys loved to swim with all their friends at the swimming hole near their home. Ed and Charlie had learned to swim, but George had not yet learned.

              Since George wanted to be with his brothers so badly, they improvised a plan for him. They had an old, wooden sled that they used to pull wood to the house so their mom could heat up the old cook stove, and they taught George to lay his body over it and float in the water.

              While his brothers and their friends swam and played, George entered from the bank, sliding into the water on his sled and staying close to the shore. His brothers had told him to stay close to the bank, and he tried to obey, but sometimes the sled drifted off. He would paddle with his hands to get back to shallower water whenever that happened. With two years between each of the boys, their ages were nine, seven, and almost five at the time. All the boys in the group tried to look out after George, since he was the youngest of all of the eight or nine little boys who played together on Silver Creek back in the mid to late 1930’s.

             The Nobles boys and their friends would run to the water, strip off all their clothes, and take turns jumping in by using a long limber branch hanging from one of the trees. What fun it was to drop into the cold water. They whooped and yelled as they dropped in, immediately swimming, diving, and dunking each other. 

            Then one day, one of the other boys accidentally upset the little sled as he jumped into the water, and George was knocked off. Not knowing how to right himself, George struggled to get hold of the sled again, but it kept going down deeper. After a minute, one of the boys saw the empty wooden sled and said, “Where’s George?”

            Panic set in as the boys dove down in the muddy water, searching frantically for their youngest companion. When one of the boys found him and drug him up on the bank, they all crowded around, each wearing only his birthday suit, trying to think what to do to help their little companion.

            Now every boy was quiet. Nobody shouted or played. It was a serious moment as several naked boys stood looking at George. He lay very still, not moving at all.

            They had no idea what to do, but suddenly one of them flipped George over on his stomach and began hitting him on the back while others pumped his arms. Water began to come out of George’s nose and mouth, and when he coughed, the happy boys shouted and yelled. They knew their little friend was going to be all right.

            After that day, the boys were more careful when they jumped in the water. They watched for George every time. Day after day they played in Silver Creek, but they never told their mother about what had happened when George had nearly drowned. 

            They taught George to swim, and he no longer needed his little sled. As he grew, he was as good a swimmer as any of the others.

             They played every summer day in the creek, and every winter they hunted for small animals using traps and a 22 rifle, one that today would require an adult’s supervision.
             It was ten years before the boys told their mother about that day. They knew that if they told her, she would not allow them to go to the swimming hole again. George was all right, so they kept it to themselves until they all were grown and past the days of getting a whipping for what they had done.

             The three boys were best of friends all through their lives. George died a few years ago, but Ed and Charlie talk on the phone every week, since they now live in different states. Charlie moved to Missouri to pastor churches, and Ed remains in Texas close to the place where they all grew up. They built a lifetime of memories when those three little boys lived on the ranch with their parents, growing up wild and free.

Using this as an example, try writing your story. Begin with a good memory, add a few descriptive words, and try to work some conversation in.

Please comment on this page with your thoughts about writing memoirs or about blogging Every Friday, as I write, I will ask for comments. Then, in mid-April, I will tally the comments and draw a name to receive a copy of my book "A Heritage of Faith." Tell me what you think or just say "Pick me!" to get your name in the drawing.

If you tell about this on Facebook or on your own blog, you'll get a double entry. If you post it more than one place, you'll get a triple entry. Link to my link and I'll know you posted, then I'll give you an extra comment and your name will be in the pot again, so you have more chances to win the book. Just show my link when you post:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Promises to Keep by AnnTatlock

Promises to Keep by Ann Tatlock is another amazing read by a woman who has written many wonderful Christian novels. This one is about a family who moves away from an abusive husband to live near family. The mother, Janis, is determined to keep her children safe-- her almost-18-year old son, Wally, her 11-year-old daughter, Roz, short for Rosalind, and the baby, two-year-old Valerie.

Life is humdrum until the day they find an older woman on their porch, reading the paper. They learn that Tillie Monroe used to live in the house they purchased. When she broke her hip and went into the hospital, her sons sold the house. But she loves it and keeps coming back. She tells people it is her house. Finally Janis gives her one of the bedrooms and Tillie moves in. She becomes one of the family, babysitting the children while Janis works and cooking in her old, familiar kitchen.

Roz makes friends with a little black girl, Mara, and the two of them begin to share secrets--secrets about their daddies. Roz wants her daddy back. When he was not drinking, he was a pretty good dad, in Roz's opinion. Mara has a secret daddy, and a secret about her birth that she tells Roz about. Both the girls, fifth-graders, dream of a time when they can have their dads in their lives again.

The friendship between the two eleven-year-old girls is sweet. Then Roz's dad shows up and starts to meet with her secretly. He has plans to make their family whole again, and Roz believes him.

As the secrets compound, the girls promise not to tell anyone about what is going on in each of their lives. They are only children and do not understand the intricacies of marriage and family life, or the dangers in their child-like trust.

I will not tell the ending. I can only encourage you to read this book. Like Tatlock's other books, it has a compelling and explosive ending. There is no bad language in the book and it is a wonderful read.

Spare Change by Bette Lee Crosby

This book, about a little boy whose parents neglected him in order to pursue their own interests, was a compelling read. It is not a Christian book. The child grew up listening to his parents curse and fight, so his language was filled with the words he heard. He was a tough child who had to more or less make his own life.

His mother's goal was to go to New York where she would hopefully be discovered as a singer, and his father was a farmer who wanted to keep his wife in the backwoods so other men would not see how beautiful she was.The two were either always fighting or making up. Ethan Allan made himself a sort of tent in the yard where he would hide to get away from the continual conflict. As a baby, he could sit on the floor and dodge the flying pieces of furniture as they loudly argued and cursed each other. By the time he was three, he could make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or dig from a cereal box when he was hungry.

There are other quirky and colorful characters: Olivia Westerly, who married Ethan Allan's grandfather, Scooter Cobb, the owner of the diner where Ethan's mother worked, and who eventually killed Ethan's dad, Jack Mahoney, the detective who tried to solve the murder, and others.

After the death of his parents, Ethan found an envelope with his grandpa's address on it, and ran away to find him. What he found was the woman who had married his grandfather shortly before his death, a woman who had never wanted children, and so had waited until she was 58 years old to get married.

Olivia, shocked when she met Ethan, tried to get him to clean up his language. The neighbors in Olivia's apartment building are colorful and filled with ingenuity when Ethan Allen showed up there, where kids and animals were not allowed, as they tried to protect Ethan from the committee who could cause Olivia to lose her apartment if they found out about Ethan and his dog.

I liked the way Bette Lee Crosby used each character's particular voice as she moved through the chapters. She wove the story deftly picturing Ethan Allen, scared to death after witnessing his father's murder seeking to a place of safety, something he never had before.

As Olivia and Ethan connect together, butting heads over his language and her trying to fit him into the mold of a regular child, we see a love develop between them. This compelling book keeps the reader engaged long into the night.

The author said, "Ethan Allan was a tough little kid and his language was a part of him and the way he grew up." I've seen children like that during my career as a teacher. If you continue past the first part of the book, with the bad language used by both  Ethan Allan's and his parents, you will enjoy the way the rest of the book comes together. This is an exciting book, as the detective tries to figure out who killed Ethan Allan's parents.

Bette Lee Crosby has written other books without coarse language, and she will be interviewed on my blog later on this year, highlighting these other books.

Monday, March 11, 2013

I Hear Voices, by David O'Dell Nobles

This post was written by our son, David Nobles. David is head counsel for Dawson Geophysical Co. in Midland, Texas. Prior to that he served as Minister to Singles in three churches in Texas and Oklahoma: Midland, Oklahoma City, and Longview, Texas, and before that he practiced law. I think he must have written this when he was having a bad day. We all have bad days. I posted this because even when we have bad days, God will carry us to victory if we listen to Him, as you will see near the end of this piece.
* * * *

I hear voices.
Not all the time, but fairly often. Fortunately, they don’t tell me to hurt anyone, at least no one except me. What they tell me is that I am, at best, mediocre. In spiritual terms they say I am lukewarm, like the church in Revelation that God spit out of his mouth.
The voices have lots of examples of mediocrity. In high school I was a good student but an average athlete. Yes, I graduated from Law School but with a C average. I had middling success as a lawyer—I won lots of cases but none were big or important to the overall legal community. I never made much money. I went to seminary and made straight A’s but I was ‘just an education guy.’ As a minister every church I’ve served has seen a substantial decline in attendance during my tenure. My area did a little better than the overall church, but not much. (He didn't tell you here that he won awards in seminary TWICE for getting the highest grade in the education department.)
I’m an average golfer. On the bike I’m not horribly slow but I’m not fast either. The same is true for running and swimming. I drive a red Mustang but it’s a 6-cylinder ’03 automatic. My height is average and I weigh too much.
I know a lot about the Bible but I don’t have any special insights. I am a decent communicator, orally and in writing—maybe a little better than average, but I am certainly not someone people can’t wait to hear or read. Need an example? We started this thing called ‘PowerHouse’ in single adult Bible study where I had the opportunity to lead a 10-minute devotional for our entire group. Attendance declined. Now we have a different format.
But you know what? My Bible tells me God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Jacob was a deceiver, Joseph was a jerk, then a slave and a prisoner, Moses was a shepherd who did not want to be a leader, Gideon was a farmer with an inferiority complex, David was a shepherd and the last-born in his family, Mary was a peasant, Matthew was a tax collector, Peter was a simple fisherman, all the disciples were ‘unschooled, ordinary men.’ Like Paul, I can definitely say “To keep me from becoming conceited… there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” And like Paul, God says to me: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
I am grateful that God has chosen to use me to be a blessing in many lives. I can see the faces right now of people who now are part of the family of God, who gave up despair and found purpose and happiness, who are serving God as a full-time vocation, who discovered the joy of service as a volunteer or leader, and who have won victory over many different types of problems.
The voice of mediocrity is my unwanted companion. Sometimes I believe it, and those are bad days. Many days, hopefully more often than not, I recognize the voices for what they are: the “thorn in the flesh,” the reminder that the good things God does through me are just that: GOD at work. I suspect most of us have these same companions, to a greater or lesser degree. I encourage you to embrace the lesson of grace Paul taught us. I encourage you to acknowledge the presence and power of God in your life.
David and his wife, Margaret, visiting the Holy Land
David is our third child and our second son. He has a law degree from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and a Master's degree in ministry from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas.

David's guest blogs will be every second and fourth Monday of each month, until I run out of articles he has sent me. I hope you enjoy them. I don't think he is mediocre. I think he's a pretty neat guy. Hope you will enjoy hearing from him for the next few months.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Memoirs--How to Begin?

My husband and I with our first son, Steve, in 1957
 My husband, Charlie, and I married six months after we met at Decatur Baptist College in Texas. He was a preacher; I felt that God had called me to be a preacher's wife. I was 19, he was 25 and had finished his years in the Army. We felt an instant attraction when we met. You must remember this was 1954. Girls were mostly housewives, very few women were in the working world. My goal was to get married and have babies because that was what I saw in the women who came before me.

After we married, as I listened to Charlie preach, I thought his stories were wonderful. They were stories of things he and his brothers did, but he always brought them to the conclusion of how God figured in the incident. I often thought, "Somebody ought to record these stories. They should not be forgotten."

Years later, when I began writing down things I remembered from my life and my husband's, I just started typing little stories. My main purpose at that time was to leave something of us for our children and grandchildren. Putting it all together and adding to it was the next step.

The title of my book of memories is A Heritage of Faith. I wanted our descendants to know what God meant to both of us. I wanted the book to be a help to them in years down the road.

I told about our parents and the heritage that had come from them. Charlie's parents were Christians. They lived on a farm and had no transportation, so it was hard for them to get to church, but they lived a Christian life before their boys. My parents were not Christians--not until I was almost killed when I was hit by a car at the age of seven. That accident brought my dad to the Lord, and he knew almost immediately that he had to be a preacher. It was a pivotal time in the life of our family, and it turned my family around.

I felt that I had a story to tell. My dad had told it for many years as he preached, praising God for saving my life and giving him salvation. In Chapter 4 of my book, I tell the story of the car accident that put me in a coma for a week. Doctors told my parents they had done all they could do; whether or not I woke up was up to God, they said. My dad began to pray, even though he did not know God and did not know how to pray. He offered God his life for mine. He told God that if I lived, he would live for Him. The chapter in the book takes eight pages, I've only briefly summarized it here.

My dad holding our firstborn son

Suffice it to say, I woke up with no residual problems, Dad trusted God a few years later (oh, he tried to get out of his promise to God, but God wouldn't let him), and we were a new family. No more cursing and drinking. Dad spent his time reading the Bible and being mentored by the pastor of our little church, and when I was eleven, he preached his first sermon. We went to church several times a week. Dad was the child of migrant workers with only a fifth grade education, but he got his G.E.D., he took seminary courses at night, and he began to preach. He preached until he died at the age of 79.

If you have a story that you feel is important enough to build a book around, you might want to start writing your memoirs. Start with that pivotal story. Write it, edit it, let somebody read it and help you think of more details, if possible. Don't think it unimportant. If it is important to you, then write it.

When I was first writing my stories, I mailed them to my mother. She made a cassette tape of memories and sent them back to me to help me with my book. I kept on writing every day, and soon I couldn't get through the day without writing.

You might think, "Who would want to read my story?" Your family would, for example. And who knows, it may make the best seller list. Mine didn't, because I did not understand how to market it. But people we knew, and some that we didn't, bought it and sent me letters about how much they enjoyed it.

So what are you waiting for? Can you think of a something that happened to you that was miraculous? Something worth putting down on paper?  Go for it. If you do, tell me about it in the Comments. I'll mention it in next week's installment of Writing Your Memoirs.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Reminder -- Free Book

Don't forget to go to the tab for "Author Interviews" and enter your name to win a copy of God's Little Miracle Book by Sally Jadlow.

And I hope you enjoy the reviews of three books I have read since I posted last on March 2.

The Unfinished Gift and the Homecoming by Dan Walsh

These two books were published in 2009 and 2010 by Dan Walsh, some the first ones he wrote. They are excellent books; they held my interest and I honestly could not put them down.

When I started The Unfinished Gift I knew I would not stop until I reached the end. It came in the mail at about noon and I finished it at 10:30 that night.
Of course, surely you know, I'm retired, and my husband knows how to cook! And it was a night with nothing on the calendar, nothing to prevent me from keeping on reading.

It was about a family at odds with each other. The father, Ian Collins, had disowned his son, Shawn, because he married a girl he didn't want him to marry. Shawn was in the army and it was December, 1943, Shawn's little seven year old boy, Patrick, was riding in the car with his mother when she was killed. So Patrick was taken to his grandfather's house, to a man who was not very nice to him. Ian had not spoken to his son since before Patrick was born and had never met Patrick. He called him "the boy" most of the way through the book because he could come to accept him as a real person. Ian did not want to come to terms with his feelings. He was mad and he wanted to stay that way. He ignored Patrick, yelled at him, and made him feel more alone.

The lady from child services, Katherine Townsend, tried to locate Shawn to tell him of his wife's death, and tried to protect Patrick from his grandfather. Meanwhile, Shawn was shot down over Germany while flying a plane and reported "missing in action."

When Ian got the telegram about his son, he began to think back, and his heart began to soften. Patrick steals the show in this book and in the next one.

The Unfinished Gift was a wooden soldier Patrick found in the attic. You'll have to read the book to see how this worked into the melting of Ian's heart. It's a wonderful story. This book was full of adventure from the first word.

The story continues in The Homecoming when Shawn returns home from the Army. This book contains a lot of history of the war, stories about bombing missions during World War II, stories about people and their hearts.

Shawn came home a hero. The story of his mission where he saved most of the members of his crew and got them home without being captured made world-wide news. Ian is impressed with this, so his heart begins to soften. He begins to realize how foolish he has been for the past eight years.

Shawn is still in the Army and is sent back, but with a different job. Still, however, he has to leave Patrick, so he hires Katherine to be his nanny; to get him to school, to see to his needs, and to help Patrick's grandfather.

I enjoyed both these books, but I liked the first one better. I'm glad I read them both, though, because it helped me see how a family at odds could come together again, and how God worked in people who didn't know Him to cause them to believe in Him.

Of course there is a happy ending. I'll let you guess what it is.  Or better yet, order these two books and read them for yourself. I can guarantee you won't want to put them down.

Finding Jeena by Miralee Ferrell

I thought that Finding Jeena by Miralee Ferrell was going to be a continuation of The Other Daughter, another book I reviewed by that same author. But this one was a stand-alone book. Jeena, the title character in this book, was a friend of the title character in the first book. She had been mentioned briefly in The Other Daughter beause she was a friend of Suzanne (title character in that book).

Jeena was a woman who had no thought for God. She had a good education, a good job, a nice car, nice clothes, and all she needed, so she thought. But when hard times came, as they do to many people in this economy, and she lost her job and everything she had, she was placed in a situation where she began to think about God.

 She was hired to work for some unscrupulous men (unknown to her) and she got caught up in the mess they made. Her bank account was closed to her, her job was gone, she lost her car and her apartment. Jeena had to do some distasteful things--she had to go to live in a women's shelter.

As the author, Miralee Ferrell, wove the characters Jeena met, I felt that they were real people. They were women of all kinds. Some were open and friendly, others were angry and spiteful.

When people are down on their luck, as Jeena was because of circumstances out of her control, sometimes it is so that God can get their attention and turn them to Him. Sometimes the things we think are bad are really put into our lives to get us to focus on what we need. Jeena did, and God came into her life.

You will find a lot of adventure and even some pretty scary stuff as you read this book. Jeena was totally out of her comfort zone and in a seedy part of town when she lived in the shelter. Through her contact with Christian people at the shelter, Jeena began to think about God and eventually turned her life around. I think almost anyone would enjoy this book because it was so true to life. Read it for yourself to see what I mean.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Interview with Sally Jadlow

Author and Poet Sally Jadlow lives in the Kansas City area. She is a member of Heart of America Christian Writers' Network.

Sally's books can be found by typing her name into the "Books" tab at Find her blog at

You can enter a contest to win one of her books by going (above right) to the Author Interviews  page on this blog. Read the interview, then make a comment to be entered in a drawing to win one of her books.

If you unfamiliar with making comments, you have to click on the link to comment, then enter your name. If you have a blog or website, enter it as your address. If you do not have one, enter your email address (it will not be published). Then make your comment, hit "continue" or "submit" and wait to see if it was published.

Thoughts on Reading a New Book

How do you begin to read a book? Do you just open to the first page of chapter 1 and begin? Well, I don’t. I need to know who wrote the book and what it is going to be about. Mostly, I need to know if the author is a person I would like to know.

I look first at the acknowledgements. Did the author thank his editor, his agent, and people who proof-read his book? Who are the important people in his or her life that he mentions on the first pages of the book?

Then I read the introduction. What is important to the author that made him write the book? I look to the end of the book to find out where the author lives and what he does, besides writing books. I like to know all this before I start a word of the actual book.

I just opened a book by Dan Walsh. On the first page of the acknowledgements, he thanked his editor and told him that he had been praying for him. WOW! That spoke to me. He thanked his agent for believing in him. After having my most recent book rejected by two agents, I appreciated this statement with more feeling than I had possessed before.  He thanked the people in his church who had prayed for him. Finally, he thanked our Lord Jesus Christ for His love and mercy.

I knew I was going to like this book, and on the second page, I was hooked. I can’t wait to see what happens in The Unfinished Gift by Dan Walsh.