Hush

Hush

This week’s blog post is by suspense writer, Leanna Sain. Her book, Hush, just released and is available on Amazon. Her bio will follow along with a link to purchase her book.

It looks so good; I can’t wait to get my copy. Please check it out!

How well I remember the day.

My dad couldn’t take care of Mama by himself anymore. Alzheimer’s had wreaked its havoc, stealing away the woman I’d always known and leaving an empty shell.

She looked like my mother, but wasn’t.

She was just as much a stranger to me as I was to her. My brother and I had convinced Daddy that Mama needed more care than he could give her, that they were trained to handle her, and that it was too dangerous for him to continue as her primary caretaker.

She had “mean” spells and we were afraid she’d hurt him and he’d unable to call for help. So we chose a Memory Care facility. It was for the best. That’s what I kept telling myself, and it was probably true, but it didn’t make the guilt go away.

I fixed her room up as pretty as I could. Homey? Yes, but not “home.” I prayed she wouldn’t notice.

The weather echoed my mood. Dense fog and dreariness. Days… no, weeks of it. The wettest February we’d had in recent history. It didn’t help that I had the flu, and that my husband would be flying to the other side of the world in a couple of days.

I was in bed, fighting the fever when my phone rang. Mama was having a meltdown. I could hear her yelling in the background.

My heart sank.

The hopes I’d had of a smooth transition swirled down the drain. They transported her to the hospital where they could manage her meds, figure out the magic balance between keeping her calm enough for them to handle, and zombie-like.

It was hard for me, but I couldn’t imagine what my daddy was going through. His sweetheart of over 60 years had been stolen away and in her place was this stranger who didn’t know him. That wasn’t even counting how she’d hurt him…emotionally, physically; scars I could see and those I couldn’t.

After two weeks of medication in the hospital, I got another phone call. This time it was my dad who informed me that Mama just fell and was complaining of pain in her hip. X-rays showed the fracture. Surgery was scheduled for the following morning. What else?

Rehab followed, such that it was. She was uncooperative with the physical therapist, and lost her ability to walk. Then her ability to talk. Then her ability to swallow. She was sliding downward to the end, and there was nothing anybody could do to stop it.

It was during this horrible time that God gave me the idea for a story. I write suspense. The edge-of-your-seat kind, but always with a good ending.

This time the story was a bit darker: a serial killer uses verses of the lullaby, “Hush, Little Baby” as the blueprint of his murders, while the protagonist is able to dream bits and pieces of the murders before they happen, but there aren’t enough clues for her to stop them. I decided to make that character’s mother have Alzheimer’s.

Not nice; I know, but that decision allowed me to use some of the things Mama said and did in the story.

It was a way to keep her memory alive… to honor her. And it also allowed a release of some of the negative emotions that came with watching her die.

I decided to take it a step further, though. I’ll be donating a portion of sales to Alzheimer’s research to help them find a cure. It’s my hope that someday soon others won’t have to go through what my family did, and that’s the best gift I can give.

From back cover of Hush – by Leanna Sain

She dreams a murder before it happens. A young woman is strangled while her killer sings the words from the lullaby, “Hush, Little Baby.”

Lacey Campbell’s life is full, but not idyllic. As head chef for a chic restaurant and primary caregiver to a mother with Alzheimer’s, she doesn’t have time for the nightmare and at first she tries to deny it. But the next day, she discovers it’s a disturbing reality. When she dreams the second heinous murder she knows it’s time to tell the police.

Detective Ford Jamison is called back to the little coastal town to help with the case and soon notices an alarming trend: the killer is using the lullaby as a “blueprint” to target women who resemble Lacey. This doesn’t slow the killings and now Lacey is afraid to fall asleep at night because the next face she sees in her dream might be her own.

As a hurricane churns ever closer to the little coastal town, danger and suspicion spin out of control. Time is running out. Can they stop the killer before the last verse of the lullaby?

Leanna Sain, earned her BA from the University of South Carolina before moving back to the NC mountains. She calls Miracle Hill Farm home, but she lives mostly in her imagination. Her Southern suspense or “GRIT-lit,” showcases her plot-driven method that successfully rolls elements of best-selling authors Mary Kay Andrews, Nicholas Sparks, and Jan Karon all together, making it her own. She loves leading discussion groups and book clubs. For more information or to contact her visit: www.LeannaSain.com

Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Hush-Leanna-Sain/dp/1645262502/ref=sr_1_1?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Leannasbooks

Twitter: https://LeannaSain@Leannasbooks

Website and blog: http://leannasain.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/LeannaSain

Fallen Heroes

Today’s post is by my friend Diane Virginia. She is a wonderful storyteller and I love to read everything she writes. This story was first used on www1.cbn.com for a Memorial Day post. Since it is Veteran’s Day, I thought is was appropriate to use it.

I hope you enjoy it.

In Ronald Reagan’s 1986 Memorial Day[1] speech given at Arlington National Cemetery, [2] the President says, “It’s the young who do the fighting and dying when a peace fails and a war begins.” He lists hero after hero, outlining through these examples why we honor our fallen military men and women.

Reagan shares, “Not far from here is the statue of the three servicemen. … Perhaps you’ve seen it—three rough boys walking together, looking ahead with a steady gaze. … The three are touching each other, as if they’re supporting each other, helping each other on.” Reagan is stirred by this artistic rendition of the three young men because it typifies the commitment and courage of the United States’ armed forces, some having given their own lives to save the lives of their loved ones at home.

What does the Bible say about celebrating fallen heroes? We don’t have to look far to see it is God’s intent to remember our valiant military men and women, and to recount their accomplishments.

King David, for example, like Reagan, makes an accounting of his military men and their achievements. First, he names Adino the Ezinite who spears eight hundred enemies in one battle. He continues his honorarium and names Shammah the Harite who stands his ground in a barley field refusing to yield it to the Philistines (see II Samuel 23:8). David mentions other heroes along with their accomplishments.

This is only one biblical example where military heroes are recognized. There are many other places in the Bible where heroes are named and honored.

If God is “The Prince of Peace” (see Isaiah 9:6), then why do we fight wars in the first place?  President Reagan answers this question towards the end of his speech by saying, “If we really care about peace, we must, through our strength, demonstrate our unwillingness to accept an ending of the peace. We must be strong enough to create peace where it does not exist and strong enough to protect it where it does.”

Sometimes peace needs to be enforced by military prowess. When godless men oppress our children, women, and elderly, it is then we must call upon the courageous amongst us, including our brave young men and women, to save us from these intruders.

Our peace is not free…. It is the gift of selfless heroes who look beyond their needs to secure ours. Jesus says,

“The thief comes only to kill and steal and destroy. I [Jesus] came that they may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10b ESV).”

Our military robs the enemy of his assignment to destroy, and secures life for us.

It is fitting for us to honor our fallen American mighty men and women, for they have paid the ultimate price to secure our freedom, because their love is like our Lord’s. When Jesus faces death on Calvary’s cross to save humanity, He says,

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13 ESV).”

Jesus leads the spiritual army, and conquers the ultimate battle—and in the process, secures for us eternal life.

It is worthy of a national pause to thank God for the United States’ armed forces, who have followed in the footsteps of Commander Jesus by giving their lives to save ours.

Thank You Lord, for our fallen heroes, for they have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep America free.

[1]Memorial Day was first called Decoration Day, and established as a national observance by General John A. Logan in May 1868.

[2]https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwiF6ZTh55jhAhVpUN8KHVNEBmUQzPwBegQIARAC&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.dailysignal.com%2F2011%2F05%2F30%2Fpresident-reagans-1986-memorial-day-speech-at-arlington-national-cemetery%2F&psig=AOvVaw2q4PjeRAlKocp

Copyright © 2019: All rights reserved: VineWords Stories and Devotions Inspired by the Vine: Author Diane Virginia Cunio; Pen Name, Diane Virginia: Fallen Heroes: Our American Mighty Menwww.vinewords.net

About the Author

Diane Virginia Cunio is the author of The Kiss of Peace: An Intimate Exploration into Song of Solomon (awaiting publication). She is passionate about sharing Beloved Jesus’ divine love for you, His bride, as allegorically portrayed in the vignette, Song of Solomon.

She has developed the model for motion-activated musical prayer-stations for use in the garden retreat, themed to the places you as Beloved’s bride travel to in Song of Solomon.

Diane is a regular contributor for Christian Broadcasting Network. She has written for Faith Beyond Fear, Pentecostal Publishing House, The Secret Place, and other ministries.

To schedule Diane as a speaker, please contact her via her website: Stories and Devotions Inspired by the Vine. You may find her on Facebook or contact her via email at email@vinewords.net.

Approaching God

Approaching God

I am almost finished writing my Bible study called The Jewels of Hebrews. It is a study covering the New Testament book of Hebrews while helping Christians understand the Hebraic roots of our faith.

It’s called The Jewels of Hebrews (JOH for short) because each chapter is named after a gemstone such as a sapphire, ruby, pearl, opal, or diamond which have a biblical meaning based on their color. These colors correspond to the theme of each chapter.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 8 of my study which correlates to Hebrews 8:

In his book, The Jewish Gospel of John, Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg explains the Greek word for “his own people” from John 1:11, is better translated to mean Yeshua’s tribe, or the Judeans. [i] It was the tribe of Judah who did not receive him. Overall, many Israelites accepted Yeshua. He came first for the Jews. In Matthew 15:24, Yeshua told the Canaanite woman, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” He came for Israel, and he sent Israel to the Gentile world (Matt 28:19-20).

Yeshua may have come first for the Jew, but he came for the entire world. The Jewish people were the first evangelists. Just think what would have happened had they not shared the good news of the Messiah with the world.

In Joshua 13-21, God had Joshua place the twelve Tribes throughout Israel. Judah was south of Jerusalem, between the Dead and Mediterranean Seas. If you lived at the time of Yeshua, you entered the Temple from the land of Judah.

As you crossed the threshold, you came to the square, bronze altar where the priest waited to offer your lamb as a sacrifice. He laid it on the altar, and you “crushed” its head with your hands to transfer your sin to the perfect, white lamb.

We can now see this altar as our sacrifice of praise, or where we surrender our hopes, dreams, future, spouse, children, or job to God in prayer.

Next, you came to the bronze basin for washing. Before entering the Holy Place, you washed your hands and feet; you must be clean. Exodus 30:21 says, “They shall wash their hands and their feet, so they may not die. It shall be a statute forever to them, even to him [Aaron] and his offspring throughout their generations.” Yeshua washed us clean once and for all as our Lamb.

As we enter this place in our imperfection, we wash by confessing and repenting for our sin each day as we spend time with the Father. Now we are clean to enter the Holy Place.

As you walked through the veil into the Holy Place, you saw the menorah on your left with its seven lamps lighting your way to the Holy of Holies. We will never again walk in darkness because Yeshua is the Light of the World (John 8:12).

On your right, the gold table held the steaming bread of the Presence. The warm, moist air from the fresh, baked artisan bread surrounded you. It’s the true Bread from Heaven; the Bread of Life. You will never hunger once you have eaten this Bread (John 7:32-35).

Ahead was the altar of incense before the veil which led to the Holy of Holies. This golden table held a fragrance of sweet and spicy licorice. We are a sweet aroma to the Lord as Yeshua leads us into God’s presence.

A thick veil made of blue, purple and scarlet yarn with cherubim woven into it separated all but the high priest from the Most Holy Place. YHWH (YaHWeY) descended onto the gold-plated Ark of the Covenant and mercy seat. Never to be closed again, God ripped this veil from top to bottom so we have access to him (Luke 23:45).

Our High Priest allows us to approach his throne with boldness to find grace and receive mercy in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

When we pray, we approach God starting from the outside courts making our way to the innermost Holy of Holies. When God deals with us, he starts in our Holy of Holies out to our courts. When God addresses our needs, desires, or problems, he goes straight to our Holy of Holies (our heart and spirit) then out to our courts (physical body). But, we approach God starting from the outside (praise and worship) to his intimate presence, (his desires and will for us).

In prayer, I take my time getting to the heart of God. I worship the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by reciting scriptural descriptions of them: You are a good Father, worthy of praise, Faithful and True, rich in mercy, loving, kind, compassionate, my Savior, Redeemer, teacher, Helper… I praise him, reminding and thanking him for answered prayers. Next, I confess and repent for my sins, as Yeshua washes off the grime of my sin so I can move toward intimacy with him.

As I step closer into his presence, I lift loved ones, my needs, my questions, my desires. I ask for truth, discernment, wisdom, and peace to know his will. I seek his heart for me and for those I love.

When God responds he goes right to my spirit. He takes care of my heart problems first. Sometimes, he reveals a motive behind my questions or hurt. The Lord may bring Scripture to my mind to answer my need or fill me with his love. He fills me with peace, calming my fears or distress. God cares for my physical needs (or my court).

What ways can you add to or change how you approach God in prayer? Ask him to inspire you to come to him daily. Renew your commitment to seek him.

That’s all for now.

Please share your thoughts about this short excerpt. I would love to know what you think! Thank you.


[i] Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg, The Jewish Gospel of John, (Tel Mond, Israel: Israel Study Center, 2015) xi-xiii

Picture is from my trip to Israel. It was a microscale representation of the city of Jerusalem and the Temple at the time of Jesus.