I was so glad to be able to share on PJNet.tv recently. Mark Prasek is a gracious host. We spent most of the time discussing my foster care and adoption experience, and we talked some about what it means to me to be a Christian Fiction author. Highlights of the interview are below, or you can watch the full interview here.
Someone who made a dramatic impact on my life passed away recently, though I’m sure he didn’t know how important he was to me, how much he’s responsible for the person I’ve become. I hope I get a chance to tell him in heaven one day.
This special man was a businessowner, hardworking, dedicated, and successful. Close to twenty-five years ago, he took a chance on hiring a teenager whom he didn’t know, to work in his office, and that opportunity helped set me on the career path I’ve followed ever since. That “afterschool job” became the foundation for the work that pays bills and helps support my family, even as I pursue my passion for writing and ministry.
I worked several jobs as a teenager, sometimes more than one at a time, while also dual-enrolled in high school and community college. I think I was seventeen when I stopped in at a jewelry store in my hometown to ask if they were hiring. The answer was no, but the nice lady behind the counter told me the insurance agency where her daughter worked might need some help. An insurance agency? What could I do at an insurance agency? But this was in the days of paper files, and there were tons of documents to be alphabetized by client name and stored in metal cabinets.
I don’t remember the interview process or how much money he offered, but I remember that David Sloan took a chance on me. Right off the bat, his hiring me taught that courage pays off, that it’s worth it to try.
Eventually, my responsibilities in the afternoon expanded to answering the telephone if everyone else in the office was busy. I couldn’t do much more than place callers on hold, due to industry restrictions. To answer policy questions, I’d have to be a licensed agent. So, David made the decision to send me to classes in the evening and then pay for the test I’d have to pass to be licensed. His investment in me gave me confidence that I can do hard things.
I was eighteen years old when I became a North Carolina Property and Casualty Insurance Agent. I was so proud of that little card. It felt like I’d accomplished something big. Because of David, I learned that accomplishing big things feels good.
David was a good boss. He was stern when he should have been—helping to shape my work ethic and sense of professionalism—but lenient when I needed grace. Though I couldn’t see all these things then, that first office job, and the commitment it required, helped me grow as a person.
But it wasn’t just about the work. David treated me with respect. Along with the two other employees there, he cared about what went on in my life outside of work. At Christmas, when he and his wife hosted a party at their home, they invited me, the teenage part-timer. He taught me the value of being part of a team.
I worked parttime at the office for around two years, I think, before I moved on to a full-time job at a bigger agency in another town, with David’s full support. Within a year at that job, I was promoted and transferred to another city, where I would eventually meet my husband. I floundered somewhat in the job world during my early twenties, still maturing, and finding my footing as an adult. But my background in insurance eventually led to employment with a company where I discovered new skills as a Business Analyst. Moving to an Information Technology position opened doors I never imagined, and even now, in my current work for a software development company, I can trace every career advancement back to my start as a filing clerk at that little office in my hometown.
So, where would I be had it not been for David Sloan? Would I have met my husband? Would I have a good job now? Would I have the ambition to pursue a writing career and an Information Technology career while raising four kids? Maybe. You see, I know it really wasn’t David, but God, Who shaped my life. God had a plan for me long before I knew it, but David is the person God used, along with many, many others—my parents, church, friends, other generous employers (two, in particular, that had a similar impact as Mr. Sloan)—to put me on this path. I’m so glad David is part of my story; I’m so thankful for his kindness; and, in his memory, I’m inspired to make a difference in another's life, should God give me the opportunity.
Who knows the impact one person can have on another? Positive. Negative. Lifechanging. It may be impossible to tell, but the effect of our decisions can extend beyond ourselves and shape the lives of others for years to come. May we all attempt to live graciously, to offer help and opportunities to those who need them. May we strive to see value in others, to take a chance on investing in someone else's life. May we all have a heart like David.
My sincere condolences to the family and close friends of David Sloan, who passed away March 13, 2022.
Click here to read more about his life and legacy.
Praising God in the Dental Chair
Please help me, Lord, I prayed. Please make this easy.
My dentist visits are times of fervent prayer. During even the simplest of procedures, I almost always end up crying from anxiety, at least a little, and it seemed the recent visit to fill two cavities would be no different. As the dentist came at me with the needle, I prayed harder in my mind. Please help me get through this. My prayer was desperate, pleading.
Then something life-changing happened. The dentist poked the needle into my gum, and I stopped praying. I quit begging God to help me. Instead, I began to thank God for being so good. I changed my prayers into praises, and the panic lifted--it dissolved and floated toward the heavens with my words of adoration. It was the most painless injection of Novocain ever. So, I kept praising, right through the drilling, and the result was nothing short of miraculous.
You are Magnificent, Marvelous, Wonderful, Worthy. Magnificent, Marvelous, Wonderful, Worthy. Over and over, I offered those words silently. At some point, I remember thanking God for a good dentist who can fix my teeth.
In a gentle voice, the dentist said, "You're doing good," as he worked. He always says that, because he's kind and genuinely empathetic about my anxiety. But for the first time, I actually felt like I was doing okay. Not just getting by. Not just managing. I was good.
Psalm 34:1 rang in my mind. I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. And though the praises weren't actually coming from my mouth--a little hard to do when your teeth are being drilled--they were there in my heart, thanks to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, Who knew what I needed to do. God heard my original request to make the visit easy, and He used my praises to accomplish it.
I've visited the dentist a lot over the past year, since I finally decided to prioritize oral health over my fear, and I've still got a few more visits left to get all the problems corrected. But if I can just remember my "secret weapon," I don't think I'll dread the next visit so much. Now to try praising the Lord on an elevator...
What makes you panic? Maybe praise is your answer, too.
The finalists for the upcoming Selah Awards were announced today, and I am so thrilled that New Wine Transportation Company made it to the final round of judging in the Novella category.
Many names of writer friends were called during the live stream of the announcement of finalists, and I literally stood in my kitchen and clapped each time I recognized a name. It's been so fun to celebrate with them today on social media.
The awards are part of Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, which I'll be attending for the fifth time in May. The awards cover several genres/categories and are for works published in the calendar year prior. New Wine Transportation Company was entered in the Novella category because the word count is just shy of the requirement for novel categories, though by different standards it is called a "novel." Last year, I was a finalist in the Historical Fiction category for Where I Was Planted. (I came in fourth place, which isn't actually a place, but it was still a thrill to be a finalist.) This year, there are two other finalists in my category, and I'll be honest, I would love to know how many entries there were for the category in total. I want to celebrate, and I do, but part of me always wonders things like, Were there only three entries? Either way, I'm grateful for that pretty gold seal, and I'm cheering on all my friends who are also finalists. Excited to find out all the winners on June 1!
Maybe a better question is, "Why not memorize them?" In an age where we can look up most anything in seconds, memorization of lists and facts has become a lost skill. But scholars suggest that memorizing information increases the brain's capacity to learn*, and when we memorize something, it becomes part of us.
Memorizing the Books isn't as important as actually reading and studying the Bible, but it is a way to affirm our commitment to making the Bible an important part of our lives. Knowing the names of the Books in order is useful for locating Scriptures easily. Many people are able to recite song lyrics, sporting event schedules, and network television lineups with little effort. What if we invested some of that same brain power in the list of sixty-six Books that make up the Holy Bible?
My nine-year-old son recently recited the thirty-nine Books of the Old Testament in front of our congregation (full disclosure: there was a monetary reward involved,) and he's working on learning the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. I learned them all when I was a child, too, but I'm having to re-learn part of the list now, and the refresher course is fun. Especially since he and I are working on memorizing them together.
What about you? Does this sound like a challenge you'd like to try? A quick internet search for "how to memorize the Books of the Bible" provides an enormous list of articles, blogs, and videos that could be helpful. If you're a visual person, a colorful poster is a great tool. (I love the one I bought for my Sunday School class, but it's no longer available.) Maybe try this free printable from www.1plus1plus1equals1.com. Or, if you memorize best through music, search the web for "Books of the Bible song." There are even videos that instruct how to pronounce the names of the Books.
Memorizing the Books of the Bible doesn't have to be accomplished in one day. If you set a goal of learning eleven names per week, you'll be able to recite them all in six weeks! Just set a goal that's right for you and stick to it. Make it a family project or challenge a friend to learn them with you.
I love having a worldwide web of data at my fingertips (and a Table of Contents in the front of my Bible,} but the internet can never replace the power of the human brain. If you haven't memorized the list of Books in order, give it a try. Why not?
*Source: Psychology Today, William Klemm, Ph.D., senior professor of Neuroscience at Texas A&M University.
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Thank you for visiting my blog. I share devotional articles and musings about life, parenting, and the writing journey, as well as important news about my books. I hope you find something of interest here!
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