In Search of a Good Read

Bookshelves line the perimeter of the room

 

Where do you go to get a good book? A local bookstore? A mass retailer with a display of books in the middle of the store? Online?

Ever thought about your church library? When I tell people I can get the works of all the newest authors and their most recent releases at the church library on Sunday, I  am rewarded with stares of wonder. But it’s true. My church library is an excellent source of the most up-to-date titles around.

Not all churches have libraries, I realize. Nor do they have three ladies dedicated  to meeting the needs of their reading public.

But at my church, Betty, Karen and Sandy man the library every Sunday, come in during the week to reshelf the returns, and peruse the latest mailers from  Christian Book Distributors to place orders for upcoming releases. Members suggest titles or authors they’d like to see and these three women investigate the requests, filling them when an author meets their criteria and as the library has funds. Not all authors make the grade.

Want to read Kingsbury? Bunn? Hunt? Raney? Blackstock? Alexander? Snelling? Bell? They are all there with their contemporaries waiting for you to check them out. This list doesn’t begin to cover all the names of writers with available books to read.

How about debut authors—O’ Barr, Sundin, Kyle, Yttrup? They’ve joined the ranks as well.

Your church doesn’t have a library? Find a couple of friends and see if you can start one.  Two or three volunteers sharing the load will make the work lighter. Two or three readers will make the job a delight.

In this world where it is increasingly difficult to discover material that doesn’t offend before you read it, having a dedicated church library staff to search out the best material will be your greatest joy.

John 12:26b (NKJV) “If anyone serves me, him my Father will honor.”

To my librarians, I say, “Thanks!”

In red, white and blue, the church library crew

To Sing–A Sign of Spring

A sea of green will become an array of color

One of the special events that mark the advent of spring for me is the annual “Fuchsia Saturday” a local retailer hosts, either in late March or early April. All of the Fred Meyer stores, part of the larger Kroger chain, invite the public to bring their potting containers from home, buy plant seedlings, and line up while employees proceed to fill the various baskets and pots with soil and plants. I don’t know if this event is confined to the Northwest, but the day is celebrated with a sense of anticipation—winter is over and spring may be on the horizon.

 Customers can be seen driving into the parking lot, grabbing a shopping cart, and after popping their trunks open, lifting containers of every size and shape imaginable from their vehicles. They push their carts to the garden area for seedlings and then on to the checkout stand for the free soil.

The event is social in nature. People swarm the racks of flower offerings, looking for a certain fuchsia start or a geranium color. Reading the tiny tags on the two-inch pots can be tedious. Gardeners wander from rack to rack, matching colors or varieties, often noting loudly when they find a plant of a certain name, drawing other shoppers to the trays.

 One husband I saw in the garden center appeared to have been designated the tray holder for his wife. He stood in the center of the plant racks, balancing a cardboard flat while his wife carried the flower starts to him. He called  her, “I found some more Miss California starts over here.” Three women, plus  his wife, zeroed in on the tray and within minutes emptied the flat of its flowers.

When the purchases are completed and the pots filled, the customers push their shopping carts back to their waiting vehicles and reload the trunks with their treasures. With them they carry hope, not only of bright blossoms, but of a renewal of life in the coming growing season.

 In the book of Song of Solomon, chapter 2:11-13, the writer speaks of the change of seasons. (NKJV) “For lo, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, The time of singing has come.”

Thinking of spring makes me want to sing. Does it you?

Now watch 'em grow!

Book Pick–Middle East Thriller by Writer Davis Bunn

A good read that promises to deliver

Few books I read are thrillers, but Lion of Babylon by Davis Bunn took my breath away. Set in war-torn Iraq, the hero Marc Royce is called out of forced retirement from his position for the State Department to rescue his best friend Alex Baird who has vanished, along with three women and a handful of children. Marc must transport into Iraq, uncover the whereabouts of the missing, and escape not only with his life, but the lives of  those he has come to save. What transpires is a journey laced with intrigue, danger, and heart warming loyalty.

What gives the story such a unique flavor is Bunn’s personal knowledge of the Middle East. Before he began writing, Bunn worked in the international community and traveled extensively for his job. Reading this novel I felt as if I were in the middle of the desert with the hero, watching alongside him for clues to uncover the missing man’s whereabouts. I felt the heat, the sand, the explosions of gunfire.  That point of view only comes when the writer intimately knows his setting.

Bunn also sheds light on the mix of faiths in the region and spotlights why there is continuing unrest among the Sunni, Shia, and Christians. Tastefully explored, Bunn leaves the reader with hope that one day the conflict between the religious sects may be resolved. But he doesn’t tiptoe around the topic and the clashes between devout Muslims and faithful Christians are painfully real. I found myself holding my breath in many scenes where lives were at stake because of a personal belief.

With Father’s Day not far in the future, I would recommend this work for men as well as women. Many of the books I read are written by women, with a female protagonist and point of view. Not so, this book. The protagonist is male, the writer is male, and the story has a decidedly male strength to it. But whether you are male or female, the tale is one you won’t want to put down.

Wild Horses Roam Western States

 

While conducting research for a story I plan to write set in eastern Oregon, I came across information about the numbers of wild horses that exist in many of the western states. Unknown to me, wild horse herds are a constant source of worry for law officials, both local and at the federal level. 

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages the herds, rounding up the animals on a periodic basis to maintain a consistent level of forage in order to prevent their starvation. Drought and overgrazing are a never-ending problem and increasing numbers of horses add to the lack of natural pasturelands. The agency has not only culled the herds, but have introduced birth control agents into the horses’ food supply to help limit reproduction. 

Coupled with the agency’s oversight of wild herds is the recent trend among horse owners who can no longer maintain their domestic animals and who decide to turn them loose, adding competition for food among the feral horses. Articles in recent newspapers decry the need for people to step in and help horse herds in various parts of the West—animals starving in bitter winter conditions.  

One of my critique partners—Tammy Bowers—sent me pictures of wild horses taken near the ranch where her best friend lives in Bend, Oregon. One of those shots is featured at the bottom of my blog.  

In future blogs I’ll share more information about the plight of these animals as well as other horse surprises I’ve discovered along the way. I’m excited about this new book. Such great stories will live within its pages.  

Psalm 147:7-9a (NKJV) says: “Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving. Sing praises on the harp to our God, Who covers the heavens with clouds, Who prepares rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains, He gives to the beast his food.”  Amazing, isn’t it, that even wild horses find places in His care.