A Little Girl’s Dream

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Hi! This is my daughter, Bella; she’s a Daisy Scout. This is her, and our, first year involved with scouts. We’re heading into cookie season, a fun time for the girls (and their families). Cookie sales fund a number of scout programs, such as camp, troop activities, etc.

Ours being a brand new troop, expectations aren’t very high for sales. Even so, her mother and I always try to encourage Bella to dream big.

You have a dream; you might be pursuing it now. Or maybe you had a dream, and have forgotten how. You remember what it is dream–what it feels like to see it out there, shimmering on the horizon before you. It’s so sweet, you can almost taste it.

It’s right there at your fingertips.

You didn’t get there alone. You had a lot of help, a lot of encouragement, along the way.

My little girl has a dream, too:

She wants to sell 1500 boxes of Girl Scout cookies.

If she can, she’ll earn a one-day trip to Disneyland (one of her favorite places). 'Take that, Girl Scouts!!' photo (c) 2012, An Mai - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

From the Girl Scout’s website:

“When a Girl Scout sells you cookies, she’s building a lifetime of skills and confidence. She learns goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics—aspects essential to leadership, success, and life.

By putting her mind and energies to something, a Girl Scout can overcome any challenge. There are no limits. She can be anything. She can do anything. Help her build a lifetime of skills and confidence.”

The Cookies

Can I count on you to order cookies, and help a little girl’s dream come true? They’re only $4.00 per box. Contact me at: Chad Jones, and we’ll work out the details.

Dean Koontz Google Hangout

Folks, following is the archive of the video hangout with I was privileged to take part in:

Thanks for your for both your support, and for watching!

See you later,

Chad

Gimme Shelter

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I had the privilege last month of conducting a telephone interview with Kathy DiFiore, founder of Several Sources Shelters, and Ronald Krauss, director/producer of Gimme Shelter (a new motion picture starring Vanessa Hudgens, Rosario Dawson, Brendan Fraser, and James Earl Jones). I had hoped to provide you, my faithful readers, with a transcript of the interview, but my voice recording software didn’t play nice. What follows are my recollections of the conversation.

According to Ms. DiFiore, after going through a painful divorce, and after getting her life back on track she wanted to do something to give back. So she started a shelter for teen girls with unplanned pregnancies in her own home.

That is not a typo:

Ms. DiFiore opened her home to girls who, through circumstance, and happenstance had nowhere else to go. Where they had received rejection at the hands of family and friends, they were now to be received with open arms. The movie’s tagline is: “Sometimes you have to leave home to find your family.”

And that is what Kathy provided: a home. In that home, the girls found something more: grace. They were given, despite perhaps poor life choices, hard circumstances, difficult upbringings, countless rejections, a safe environment where they could feel loved, accepted, human.

Over the course of decades, Several Sources Shelters was born. It went from one home to many. It was while visiting family back east, that Mr. Krauss first heard of Several Sources, told that he should very much check into them. As a socially conscious filmmaker, it was something that he was very much prepared to do.

After some careful investigation, Mr. Krauss was convinced that Kathy DiFiore was the “real deal,” and he would make a documentary. It was as he got to know the girls (he lived in one of the shelters for a year as he wrote the screenplay) that the idea of a documentary morphed into a narrative.

He could reach more people with this amazing story through a motion picture.

And that is what Gimme Shelter is: the story of one girl, Agnes ‘Apple’ Bailey, who stands in for all of the real girls whom Ron got to know during his time in the shelter. I’m told that Miss Hudgens, in preparing for the role, also lived in one of the shelters for several weeks, getting know the girls.

According to both interviewees, making the film was a transformative experience for them. That is indeed what the film is all about: transformation. Taking lives which have been written off, and giving them a home.

A shelter.

And hope… for now, and for the future.

I hope you will see Gimme Shelter in theaters. It opens this Friday, January 24th.

Thank-you for reading!

If you have any questions for Ms. DiFiore, you may click the following Kathy DiFiore to contact her. To find out about and/or support Several Sources, go here: Several Sources

Hope to see you at the movies!

The Post About Me & Dean Koontz Hanging Out

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 11.20.12 PM This is Dean Koontz. You may have heard of him. ;-) He is one of the biggest bestselling novelists in the world. After starting as a science fiction writer, he broadened the scope of his work to encompass multiple genres: thrillers, mystery, horror, humor, etc. He is now more of a cross-genre writer, as his work encompasses all of these elements–and all within the pages of a single book!

He can take us to the darkest depths, make us weep with despair, and then raise us to the highest heights. For no matter how dark his stories skew, there is always a ray of sunshine. Hope somehow not only survives, but thrives. As in our own lives, this doesn’t happen without cost. There are sacrifices to be made, lives are lost on the way.

But the journey! The icy shock of confronting the blackest of evils, the good guys–misunderstood, and on the run. Koontz’s books are like literary crack! One wants to put them down, but cannot! There is always the next page, chapter… until the final one is turned, and stumbles to bed, bleary-eyed, at three A.M., fallen into a fitful sleep.

Like all the best writers, Koontz often writes himself (and his characters) into a corner, and one just keeps reading to see how he is going to get himself (and them) out whatever outrageous pickle he has imagined. For my money, the best writing does this: posits impossible scenarios–creates problems–and then finds a plausible way out.

Koontz does it time and time again.

I share my exuberance for his work here because I would be honored if you would join the on Thursday, January 23rd at 5:00 P.M. EST. Dean will be chatting with his publicist, a Vice President of Random House publishers, and three lucky fans. Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 11.36.39 PM

I’m inviting you, my readers, to this event because, out of all of the people that applied for one of those three spots, I was chosen.

It feels a little like winning the lottery. It felt a little clandestine: there were emails, sample questions, and a phone call from New York to “triple confirm” my availability. I was like, Are you kidding me? Of course I’m there!

This is where you come in. Not only can you watch me blubber like an idiot (if you like), it’s also your chance to be heard! It may be my face being seen, and the sound of my voice being heard, during the hangout, but it could also be yours. In addition to, of course, taking questions via chat during the hangout, I would like for you ask any questions you may have for Mr. Koontz here in response to this post.

If you have questions about writing, about research, about the creative process, please ask them below, and I will do my best to get them answered on air during the hangout.

Thanks much for your support! I couldn’t do what I do here without you.

–Chad

Happy Endings/Hope

'Happy Ending' photo (c) 2012, HarshLight - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Sometimes, there are no happy endings. Scratch that. Many times, there are no happy endings. We need look no further than the world around us: that car accident we may have passed on the way to work, the cat’s corpse laying dead in the street (some would say this isn’t a bad thing. Tell that to the child whose cat this was), the death of a spouse, parent, grandparent, friend… a marriage’s end. These are not happy tidings. No, this is more par for the course in this place the Scriptures term a “vale of tears.” Life isn’t fair, things don’t work out the way we want.

In this, we find ourselves in august company:

Abraham, who looked forward to the promise, yet died before it was fulfilled.

Righteous Lot, whose soul was vexed, living there in Sodom.

Moses, who through anger, lost the Promised Land.

David, whose hands were too blood-soaked to build the temple he longed to erect as testament to his love of God.

Solomon, who despite his much-vaunted wisdom, piddled away his kingdom via compromise.

————————————-

Yesterday, I wrote of being disappointed in the movie Oblivion. This stems, I think, from its kitschy, tacked-on happy ending. I understand why Hollywood is in love with the happy ending–it’s embedded deep within us. Somewhere, buried down deep in our marrow, we know the world as it is is not how it’s always been. Call it Eden–call it what you will–we know there was once something better, instinctively that we are something more. Hence our love of fairy tales, of happy endings. Thing is, as John Eldredge says, we live in the Third Act of history. The in-between. There’s no going back to what once was, but the Fourth Act has not yet begun. We’re stuck between the now, and the not-yet. Every happy ending we posit is a kind of wish fulfillment–either a looking back, or a questing ahead. We try to regain what we’ve lost, or grab hold of what’s not here yet.

But it never quite works out.

Truth be told, God has a way of shattering our illusions. The truth is: life is hard, and then we die.

But in dying we find life.

That is the truth of the Gospel. It has the quality of fairy tale, but it is no mere wish fulfillment. Christ had to die, else there would be no resurrection.

Likewise, sometimes (oftentimes) our hopes, dreams, all that we have lived for, given our lives to has to die as well… For God to bring new life.

Yet we fight Him, wanting our happy ending now–without putting in the hard work. Lest we forget: Christ emptied Himself of divinity, became a cluster of cells, a zygote, an embryo, and squalling shitting baby (no matter what Martin Luther tells us about “no crying He makes.” He lied). From infant to toddler, toddler to child, child to young man–all the while learning from, and being obedient to, His parents. By all accounts, He learned the trade of carpenter from his stepfather, Joseph. By all accounts, though not included in Holy Writ, He lost Joseph sometime before His earthly ministry began. Think on it! The Holy One, God the Son, born in ignominy, toiling in obscurity: He emptied Himself of all divinity.

And eventually humbled Himself to become obedient to death on the cross!

“Who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame.” And He “learned obedience through those things which He suffered. ”

Think on that! Christ, God the Son, learning obedience! That is the crux:

Sometimes (oftentimes), happy endings have to die, privations must be endured, for joy’s sake.

Make no mistake: there will be a consolation of history. But we are not there yet. Like Job–like Jesus before us–we must patiently endure.

Until…

Until the faith shall become sight.

Sacrifices must be made, hopes will fade, and dreams will die. But “unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone.” The trick is, in this vale of tears, to keep the true light alive:

HOPE.

'Hope' photo (c) 2007, *USB* - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Fan the embers into flames, my friends. Go with God, and walk in the light.

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