Christianity · God · My Thoughts

Mary Magdalene: First Eyewitness!

Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb

So many characters take part in the Easter story. Mary Magdalene has captured my attention this Easter. Happy Easter to all and here are my thoughts:

Mary rose early this Easter morning hundreds of years ago, before anyone else did. It had been a restless night for her—she still had trouble believing that Jesus was dead. She stood at the foot of the cross and witnessed him breath his last. She wept uncontrollably and the other women surrounding her collapsed into each other in their sorrow.

For the last two nights, the disciples and followers had slept together, scattering around the room on mats where they had shared the Last Supper with Jesus, frightened with what they faced in the future. The Sabbath (Saturday) had drug out endlessly. They couldn’t return to the tomb because of the Passover celebration, so they hung out in that hollow room, wondering what they faced.

Dawn breaks for Mary Magdalene

Quietly, as the darkness faded away, she closed the door behind her and headed straight to the tomb where they had buried Jesus. Dawn crept over the horizon—even the birds seemed to be stunned by the recent events.

The disciples had told Mary that Roman soldiers would be guarding the tomb, but she desperately had to be near Jesus. Mary wondered, “What will I do when I got there?” Freely weeping as she went now, Mary had to stifle her sobs during her sleepless night because she didn’t want to keep the others awake. It felt so good to sob deeply out loud! Her heartbreak echoed through the hills. Exhausted and nerves strained, she didn’t care who heard her on this sad morning.

Stone rolled away from the tomb - Mary Magdalene

When she came around the corner and started the incline to the tomb, Mary saw no soldiers—that caught her by surprise. Where were they? The next surprise took her breath away. Someone had moved the stone covering the tomb—massive stone that had taken several to place, rolled away, and she faced a gaping hole it had covered previously.

At that point, Mary went no further. She turned on her heels and ran back to tell Peter and John about her discovery. In her confused state, she thought someone had taken Jesus’ body and told the two faithful disciples that. They quickly latched on their sandals and sprinted to the gravesite. Younger John outran older Peter, and John arrived first. They measured the situation, then returned home in a confused state. What was going on?

To her credit, Mary lingered outside the tomb, weeping about the disappearance of Jesus’ body. Curiosity urged her to look inside the tomb once more—maybe they were wrong, maybe it was an illusion. Maybe Jesus’ body was there. But what she saw again surprised her—it had been a morning of surprises.

Two angels sat where Jesus had been and questioned her about her tears. She answered their questions directly, then a third person appeared behind Mary, who she thought was a gardener. She didn’t look at him but quizzed the angels and him about where they had put Jesus.

It wasn’t until this third person simply said her name, “Mary,” that she turned around, shocked, and recognized his voice. It was the risen Jesus. After a short discourse where Jesus told her what to do, she returned to the disciples. As she ran, her hair tangled with her scarf. Mary’s heart raced. She threw open the door to their lodging and exclaimed, “I have seen the Lord!”

Source: John 20:1-18

What an amazing revelation! In her lingering at the tomb and not rushing off, Mary Magdalene became the first eyewitness to Jesus after the crucifixion. A woman—imagine that!

“In all four Gospels, she is the first to witness Jesus after his resurrection.”

https://departments.kings.edu/womens_history/marymagda.html

I just spent forty days in a Lenten study using Fr. Richard Rohr’s book, Wondrous Encounters, with four other women from all over the world. Daily we communicated on WhatsApp after reading the day’s reading, then we commented and shared our lives. I’m sure these strong, spiritual women (my sister disciples) inspired me to connect so deeply with Mary Magdalene this Easter.

Mary Magdalene’s faithfulness as a follower gave her the privilege of being that person who Jesus first appeared to. I love the fact it was in saying her name that she recognized him. Before that, he appeared and Mary focused on the two angels and her questioning them. She didn’t turn around because she knew these two angels had all the answers she needed. Jesus spoke to her, but in was in saying her name that she recognized him—how powerful our names are when said by a loved one!

Finally, Mary Magdalene, a woman, became the first eyewitness of the risen Lord. She lingered, didn’t rush off in a hurry. I wonder what encounters with Jesus I’ve missed in my life by always being in a hurry—busy, busy, busy.

To many, the Easter story is familiar and maybe has lost its luster. By focusing on one person this year, it made this wonderful story rich and alive for me differently.

Have you ever focused on one character in the Easter story? Peter? John? Jesus? Judas? If so, what was your experience?

It's OK to be a Christian - Happy Easter!

If you missed my post from last week with a New Mexico flair:

~Celebrate spring with 20% off select book bundles at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft until April 30!

~NEW PODCAST to be released Thursday, March 17, 2022, discussing my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? : Live on Purpose Podcast at https://liveonpurposeradio.com/category/podcast/

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo Easter meme

~Buy a copy of Flippo’s biography on my website: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? Easter meme

~Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

family · God · My Thoughts

Advice I’d Give the Teenage Larada

Advice

Wise advice to a receptive spirit can make all the difference! The bad news—teenagers think they know everything and rarely listen. My teenager, Larada, has a receptive spirit today and agrees to listen to the wisdom of the crone Larada. For the first time, I’m using the prompt suggested by the Ultimate Blog Challenge and feel it has lots of possibility.

First, my top advice

Be yourself! As a teenager, I got so consumed by the popular view of my friends. Our jeans had to be long enough to touch the ground in the back, and we had to wear Wranglers. Once Dad bought me Levis, and I hated them. I had to have long straight hair and wore it parted on the side. I had a little curl on one side, so mine never hung straight.

By being quiet and not being authentic, people never really knew the real me because I didn’t share her. It took years to find her, but the “me” I found is delightful, energetic and a strong leader. Trust yourself!

Second piece of advice

My social life isn’t everything! Almost every Saturday night found the Horner family at a local dance, so my normal was an active social life. Then, when a snowstorm hit and we had to stay home, I mourned the loss of not being out and about.

I continued this mindset for most of my adult life, but the coronavirus pandemic forced me to learn balance in that area. Balance provides time with others, then time alone to become acquainted with the most important person in the world, me!

Third nugget of advice

Teenager listening to advic

Not having a boyfriend is okay! AS a teenager, I obsessed about boys, boyfriends, not having one, having one but thought he was the wrong one!

After periods of being single, I realized the importance of being okay as a solo. Then when I remarried, I had lots to offer to the relationship. You are enough!

Fourth snippet of advice

Be proud of your heritage. I remember being ridiculed when we went to Trinidad, Colorado, to shop. The “towny” kids called us “Sh*t kickers” which embarrassed me. Over the last seven years, I have written six books and five of them celebrate my heritage and family. Embrace your history!

Fifth morsel of advice

Don’t sweat the small stuff! Younger Larada worried about everything, spending too much time focussing on the “what ifs?”

“Let go and let God” had become a mantra of mine today, a slogan from recovery.

Last bit of advice

Focus on your spiritual life! As a teenager, I believed in Jesus, but my faith took a backseat. Popularity and peer pressure ruled my life, causing me to make life choices not centered in my faith.

Today, I have a strong faith, seasoned over the years with lots of pain, disappointments, and struggles. As I processed all of this, I leaned in closer and closer to my God.

Finally,

Teenager thinking about advice

The teenage Larada did as well as she could with her limited knowledge. As a crone, I offer my advice, Larada, for your best!

Do you talk to the younger you? If so, what do you say?


Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Cyber Monday/Black Friday Sales

Check out Cyber Week Specials at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, on select books! 40% off of select Individual books, 40% off of select bundles and 50% off of digital copies! These books make the perfect gift for your friends and family.

Cats · Dogs · God · My Thoughts

Unconditional Love: My Pets Know How!

dog and cat - unconditional love

Unconditional love and my pets are synonymous. During my adult life, I’ve had four pets: three dogs and one cat. Each pet loved me in their own special way, and here’s how!

My First Dog, Windy

My Windy - Unconditional love
My Windy

Meet Windy! My first husband’s grandmother raised miniature poodles, so she gave us Windy as a puppy—a black-haired ten-pound ball of energy. Really, that’s the reason she gave him to us; he was too much for her to handle. What a joy he was to us, and no, he was not a “yappy poodle.”

When my husband and I divorced, we each made a list of what possessions we wanted, prioritizing them. Windy topped my list; my husband wanted our water bed as his first choice.

Windy lived seventeen years. I made the choice to put him to sleep because he had become senile and couldn’t control his bowels anymore. Mom went with me when I took him to the vet. That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. He’s buried in the backyard in Branson.

His constant companionship supported me through the rocky years after my first divorce, providing unconditional love. You know dog spelled backwards is God, and that’s no accident!

My Second Dog, Patches

My Patches - unconditional love
My Patches

While I had Windy, my second husband and I rescued an Australian Shepherd/Blue Heeler mix puppy who had one blue eye and one brown. When we got Patches, ticks covered his body, so we had our work cut out for us.

I remember a funny experience with him. Even as a pup, Patches exhibited his natural herding instinct. We had a big backyard in our home, and one afternoon, he herded Windy and a friend’s Great Pyrenees clear to the back of the yard. We watched him do the work systemically. He didn’t care he was a third the size of the Great Pyrenees!

At the end of his life, Patches faced many cancerous tumors, and we agreed to spend the money to treat him, no matter the cost. He died in April 2003 in our living room between us. I cut a piece of his multi-colored fur and still have it stashed away in an envelope in my desk. What a gorgeous dog he was!

Patches needed very little care, being an outside dog, but his loving spirit always touched me as he raced to greet me! Again, an example of unconditional love!

My Third Dog, Kita

My Kita - unconditional love
My Kita

We waited until November 2003 to look for another dog because we had a big square dance festival commitment for Labor Day that required lots of travel during that summer. After several visits to the Humane Society, we had identified three dogs as our future possible pet, but we ended up with Kita, who was supposed to be an Akita/Chow mix.

On our last visit, a volunteer noticed a yappy puppy had caught our eye and redirected us to Kita. She said, “That puppy will drive you crazy. Look at this quiet one.”

Kita laid silent and almost blended into the concrete with his coloring. With big solemn eyes, he just looked at us. We took him outside to see how he would be with us, and he attacked a leaf and entertained himself easily, so we went home with our new pet.

As Kita grew, we realized he had been mis-classified. On a trip to the wolf sanctuary in southeastern Colorado, they confirmed our suspicions. Kita was a wolf hybrid. We became aware afterwards that the Humane Society couldn’t identify him as a wolf. We took him to another wolf sanctuary in New Mexico and they agreed with the other one—we had a wolf on our hands.

Losing Kita in the divorce devastated me, but I couldn’t manage him, so I let him go. Yet I yearned for a pet.

Kita’s wild nature kept me at a distance some, but his unconditional love oozed out as he almost knocked me over with his hearty greeting.

My cat, Jesse

My Jesse Ready to Watch TV - unconditional love
My Jesse Ready to Watch TV

After my divorce, my life took a major change from having dogs my adult life to having a cat. What a life transformation!

When my ex-husband and I divorced in 2008, I couldn’t take our Kita. For the first time in my adult life, I faced life pet less, which I didn’t like. As soon as I talked about the prospect of getting a new pet, a pro-cat colleague encouraged me to get a cat, but I had never had one. She reminded me anytime I mentioned buying a dog that a cat was a better choice.

One day away from my office at a staff training, my phone rang, and my pro-cat coworker exclaimed, “I found your cat. He’s a stray. I’ve fed him outside our office. Come and see him.” So, I drove to the office and met her outside. A filthy Siamese Silver Tip cat hedged his way around us. Skeptically, he kept his distance and meowed his Siamese yowl.

“I heard him crying last night when I left the office after a training I facilitated,” I told her. It felt eerie in the dark.

“Take him home tonight!” she directed.

I refused and went home but dreamed of cats all night, so the next day she helped me gather all the cat supplies I needed and I took him home. When I scrutinized Jesse, my new pet, after a quick clean-up, he looked much better than the day before, which made me realize he probably belonged to someone.

So, I took him to a vet to see if he had a chip—he did. Then, the vet called the owners, and they turned him over to me. When I talked to them, they identified Jesse’s vet, so I had access to his total history. The vet told me Jesse’s age: he was six years old when I found him.

When I first got Jesse, he was not a “lap” cat. He kept his distance but seemed to appreciate our shared home. I quickly adjusted to having a cat, and I realized leaving him was far easier than a dog. When my Mom and I went on an extended trip to California in 2010, a colleague’s son watched him. I called home every few days and talked to him through the answering machine. Mom thought I was whacked, but I knew he’d recognize my voice and not be so lonely.

In 2012, I had shoulder surgery and Jesse instinctually knew I needed extra care and often sat in my lap. Now we both enjoy our nightly ritual.

Jesse absolutely loves Lin and responds to him with a big meow anytime Lin comes into a room. A couple years ago, Lin and Jesse started a morning ritual: meowing back and forth like they actually understood each other. I laughed at the connection they have made.

I’ve had Jesse now for eleven years, so he’s eighteen. In human years, he is 88 years old, a very Senior cat. 

In 2016, Jesse got really sick, and I found out he had feline diabetes. At first, we managed the diabetes with special food, but that didn’t work. So, we added insulin and have increased the doses over the years. I now give him shots twice a day.

Now my husband and I laugh about Jesse being senile. He sleeps most of the day, searches for that shaft of sunlight to warm his aching bones, and meows often for food or just to let us know he is still kicking. Another part of being a senior cat, Jesse can’t hear very well anymore, which surprised us because he used to have amazing hearing.

Jesse loves to join us nightly on the arm of the loveseat. First, he perches there, then he moves to my lap to spend the rest of the evening. I love his rhythmic purr, a wiggle up closer and a contented sleep—total unconditional love!

Finally,

I celebrate the unconditional love my pets have given me over the years and thank God for his furry angels!

Are you a pet person? Which do you have, a dog or a cat? Why?


Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Cyber Week Ad

Check out Cyber Week Specials at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, on select books! 40% off of select Individual books, 40% off of select bundles and 50% off of digital copies! These books make the perfect gift for your friends and family.

family · God · Gratitude · My Thoughts · Recovery · Thanksgiving

Try Gratitude—I Challenge You!

Gratitude tuns what we have into enough

Try gratitude! My challenge to you is to be grateful this week—about all the blessings of your life. Thanksgiving always makes me think of gratitude. But do you really know what gratitude is? Have we heard it connected to Thanksgiving so often, it’s lost its meaning?

Positive psychology defines gratitude in a way where scientists can measure its effects, and thus argue that gratitude is more than feeling thankful: it is a deeper appreciation for someone (or something) that produces longer lasting positivity.


https://positivepsychology.com/gratitude-appreciation/

Gratitude changes people, attitudes and just about everything it comes into contact with! In recovery, I learned the power of gratitude. I often hear people comment about making a gratitude list. We have a phrase, an Attitude of Gratitude, I’ve heard often. For many, negativity supersedes positivity or gratitude habitually, so the habit has to be changed. And how to do you do that? Practice, practice, practice!

Gratitude Log

So, I created a Gratitude log to chart three things to be grateful for each day this week. Click here to download my Gratitude Log, and start today. It is a Word document, so you can record your list on your computer or tablet. Decide whether to do it in the morning or evening, then commit yourself to that time each day. Maybe put a reminder on your calendar on your phone or tablet.

Email Family Members and/or Friends

To go along with this log, if you are listing people, shoot them off an email. I provide a sample below. If that person doesn’t do email, drop a card in the mail. That would be a shock! Just imagine the double blessing it would be—to get mail from someone other than the ridiculous junk mail vendors and then to open it to a beautiful note about your thankfulness about him/her.

To make it easy for you this week, I know you’re busy, busy—copy this email and send it to people to brighten their holidays.

My Email Example

Dear (Name),

I have deemed this week to be Gratitude Week, and I wanted you to know you are on my list. As I focus on all the good things in my life, I think of you and here’s why:

  • Add one thing reason you are grateful for this person
  • Add one thing reason you are grateful for this person
  • Add one thing reason you are grateful for this person

Just know I love you dearly and felt like I needed to let you know. (Pass this email on to anyone and bless their day!)

My Gratitude for My Recovery & My God

Gratitude is the best attitude!

So, each day this week for the Ultimate Blog Challenge, I’m going to identify people, places and things I’ve grateful for.

My recovery, which led me back to my God, tops my gratitude list. After many years, I have been given, because of recovery, a life I could never had dreamed of. Because of recovery, I came back to a God of my understanding who blesses every day. I had turned my back on the God of my childhood and young adulthood for many years, but because recovery offered me a God I could work with, it all changed.

Finally,

I often need to add something to a holiday to ground me amid the insanity of our world. Being grateful always centers me once more as I head towards Thanksgiving and then Christmas.

So, can you join me in this challenge and be grateful this week? Email or write someone a note to let them know why you are grateful for them? Try it again next week and the week afterwards? What do you think? Let me know below.


Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Check out Cyber Week Specials at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, on select books!

Christianity · God · My Thoughts · Politics

Epiphany 2021: Light & Darkness Collide

Epiphany: Light and Dark Collide
Light and Darkness Collide

On Epiphany 2021, January 6th became a day in USA history. Light and darkness collided with not many even aware of that fact. Most years this ecclesiastical day goes unnoticed except for those who celebrate it. I will never forget this year.

So, what is Epiphany to me, as an Episcopalian? “. . . the church celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany, which marks the end of the 12 days of Christmas each year on January 6. Epiphany is a Greek word meaning “manifestation” or “appearing.” At the Feast of the Epiphany we celebrate Jesus being made manifest or appearing as Christ.”

https://episcopalchurch.org/files/bi010613half.pdf

The Episcopal church says: Epiphany is “. . . the manifestation of Christ to the peoples of the earth. The day was called “The Feast of Lights.”

https://episcopalchurch.org/library/glossary/epiphany

Epiphany: The three wise men

“On the Feast of the Epiphany, the Wise Men, or Magi, arrive bearing gifts and present the Christ child with gold (recognizing him as king), frankincense (recognizing him as a priest) and myrrh (an anointing oil for burial).”

https://www.newsday.com/long-island/asking-clergy-what-does-the-epiphany-celebrate-1.25264739

Normally, I have mixed feelings with the arrival of Epiphany because it marks the end of Christmas, and I love the Christmas season and everything about it. I do love Epiphany, though, because of its focus: Jesus, the light of the world. I wait to take down my Christmas decorations until then. In its own way, Epiphany is a celebratory time.

This year, I dreaded this day for weeks ahead of time because I knew it coincided with the certification of the results of the election by Congress, and I knew protesters planned an event in Washington.

When the day came, initially I forgot it was January 6. I did my normal routine: my Quiet Time reading and writing in the morning, rousing Cribbage games with Lin, my husband, during breakfast and normal stuff. At 11:00 am, I had a Zoom meeting with my marketing agent and ten other authors.

After finishing that peaceful, supportive meeting, I headed downstairs. Lin came in the door, returning from a trip to Walmart. He had listened to a news station on Sirius, and said, “Turn on the TV. They’re storming the Capitol.”

I did; we ate lunch trying to digest the horrific activity before our eyes. Our Capitol had been breached by the protesters, no terrorists. I sat glued to the TV for the rest of the afternoon and early evening. Image after image exploded on the screen of these lawless invaders looting the Capitol. Darkness raised its ugly head.

As I watched, I cried! I posted my despair on Facebook and received massive support and one dissenter. What a dark day in our history! I realized that day stood as a turning point in my life for acceptance of the lies perpetuated over the last two months about the election and the results. It had been brewing for four years, so I set boundaries on Facebook with supporters of this sedition.

As the afternoon dimmed into night, I remembered Fr. Dan Tuton, the priest at my Episcopal church, had scheduled a Zoom Epiphany Service and I planned to attend. Should I? What new development would I miss? My hours’ long vigil had worn me out. I needed to refocus on God and love and light.

Earlier in the afternoon, I had shared with Lin I planned to attend this service, and he joined me. I want to thank Fr. Dan Tuton and Hope in the Desert Episcopal Church for a peaceful reflective Epiphany service in the midst of such a turbulent day. He read Matthew 2:1-12, recounting the Magi’s visit to the Messiah. Then he read Henry Van Dyke’s, The Story of the Other Wise Man.

How I did need that time bathed in the glory of Epiphany. God works in mysterious ways for sure. Right before we took an intermission at the mid-point in Van Dyke’s story, a dear friend messaged me with a personal prayer request, so I shared it with the group, and we prayed right then. I knew they would because my church is a healing community. Whew! My God in the middle of chaos!

The images from that infamous day whirl around in my mind still. Because I’m a historian and record keeper, I downloaded several images of the looters, the terrorists, the destruction, thinking I would use them in this blog, but no! I do not want to give them any more notoriety. Instead I want to provide a respite from the chaos.

Let’s focus on the light, the Christ Child who lights up my life. Fr. Dan helped me refocus that sad day to a commemoration of three wise men (or more or less. No one knows for sure) who traveled a long distance to confirm the birth of the Messiah as described in Matthew who witnessed the beginning of His life.

Then in Van Dyke’s story, The Story of the Other Wise Man, he revealed another possible wise man, Artaban, who touched my heart with his willingness to give his gifts intended for the Messiah to those in need. In doing that, he missed the Magi’s finding of the Christ Child but had a serendipitous meeting with Jesus later.

So, this sad day ended on a positive note, with a celebration of the Magi honoring the Christ child and the giving spirit of Artaban. I felt God’s light and love emanating from this Scripture, this tale and this service.

How can we refocus now? How can we identify the goodness of our country and its people? I would be interested in your thoughts!

Epiphany: Happy 2021 & Larada

~Visit my blog post from last week:

Just Another Square Dance Caller

~HAVE YOU ORDERED A PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   AVAILABLE NOW! Go to the homepage on my website & pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Here’s Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When Its Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW:

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me & my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

~ BEGINNING OF THE YEAR SALE: Visit my Etsy Shop for 25% off individual paperback titles & bundles. Good until JANUARY 15, 2021. https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

~VISIT A FRIEND’S BLOG: Cooking in a One-Butt Kitchen | Eating Well in Small Spaces: https://cookinginaonebuttkitchen.com/

Coronavirus · God · My Thoughts

Good bye 2020, Hello ’21!

Good bye 2020, hello 2021

Good bye 2020, yes for sure! Hello 2021, welcome here! This afternoon, I wrote a couple poems to end this tumultuous year with my eyes on the next.

Standing on the Precipice

December 31, 2020

Stepping off - good bye 2020, hello 2021
Photo by @joagbriel from Pexels

Today I stand on a precipice

            2020 here

            2021 there

My heart yearns

            For the normalcy

                        Of

                                    2019

                                                2018. . .

2020 stopped me

            in my tracks

The world stopped

            turning

Ten months shut-down

            Shelter-in-place

                        Quarantine

                                    Words I wasn’t familiar with

                                                Before 2020

The new normal

            Masks

            Social distance

            Wash your hands often

The life we live now

            To protect us

            To protect you

Good bye 2020

            With your excruciating

                        Pain and loss

            With your deep lessons

                        Of spiritual changes

            With the coronavirus

                        Taking center stage

Hello 2021

            Can you be new?

                        The same?

                                    Normal?

                                                Just a little bit!

I stand here

            On the edge

                        One foot in 2020

                                    One foot reaching

                                                Stretching

                                                            For 2021

I extend my hands

            To the future

                        To the unknown

                                    To possibility

I still believe

            God is here

                        In this moment

                                    In the midst

                                                Of life

                                    In 2020

God will be in 2021

            Also

Today, He gently grabs my hand

            To jump into this next year

            To face the uncertain future

            To know the goodness of life

Yes, 2020 is over–Good bye!

            Thank God!

2021 is here! Hello!

            I’m ready!


We Get to Start Again!

December 31, 2020

Good bye 2020, Hello 2021
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

A new year

            A new beginning

Standing on the brink

            Of 2021

I revel in its newness

A new year

            With so many possibilities

Possibly more desirable

            Because it’s 2021

Hope abounds!

            A new day dawns

                        Upon a tired citizenry!

I smell anticipation in the air

            I taste joy in each bite

                        I hear hope in cheerful voices

                                    I feel kindness unfolding worldwide

Yes, we start anew

            2021

A fresh slate  

            To write my dreams on

            To sketch out my desires

            To scrawl and doodle my ambitions

It can happen

Yes, the coronavirus is

                        Still here,

The surge continues

            The cases and deaths mount,

But the vaccine provides a possibility

I must honor

            The place where I am,

Before I can move forward

But as I stand

            On the edge

                        Of 2021

For the first time

            In months

I feel different

A sliver of hope

            A dash of optimism

                        A smidgen of return to my old life

                                    A glimmer of hope

Join me

            Right now

                        In the universal

                                    Circle of hope!


Good bye 2020, hello 2021! Do take this time to be mindful of this year behind us and one ahead!

And here’s a little humor to start the new year!

Good bye 2020, Hello 2021

~Visit my Christmas blog posts:

Just Another Square Dance Caller

~HAVE YOU ORDERED A PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY FOR A CHRISTMAS PRESENT FOR A LOVED ONE OR YOURSELF?   AVAILABLE NOW! Go to the homepage on my website & pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Here’s Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When Its Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW:

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Christianity · Dancing · God · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · poetry · Sexual Abuse · Words Matter · Writing

Honestly, Do You Know Me?

Honestly, do we know anyone, really? I know I hide part of myself from the world, afraid to expose too much of my true self, concerned about safety. Will I get burned, again? Can I be that honest? I’ve struggled with this for years.

One of my favorite books published in 1975 was Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am? by John Powell. “Why am I afraid to tell you who I really am boils down to — if I told you who I really am and you didn’t like it — it’s all I’ve got.”

That explanation resonated with me forty-five years ago and still does today. Over the years, I’ve tried to be honest but have failed often. I avoided confrontation and making waves, but is that being honest? I’ve bit my tongue and walked away from a potential argument.

So, I offer you a glance inside me with these two poems: a country carefree child and an adult sizing up me and my life today.

The Slam of a Screen Door

July 16, 2020

Slam
            A screen door
                        Not today’s version
                                    But a relic from the 50s and 60s.
 
It bounced a couple times
            When shut
                        No latch to hold it
                                    Tight
                        Mosquitoes, flies and other
                                    Bothersome pests
                                                Escaped inside
 
Sharp, resonating!
Not as protective
            As the 21st century version!
 
But the slam
            The sound
                        The bang
                                    Echoes through
                                                 My childhood!
 
Running outdoors
            Giggling
                        Afire with life
                                    My brother chasing me
                                                With a water gun
 
Summer’s sound
            Of freedom
 
Slam!
            Close with a bang!

Mom’s repeated shout,
            “Don’t the slam the door!”
            Never heeded!
We didn’t do it in anger
            Only in haste
                        In urgency
                                    To get outside
                                    To start the adventure
 
Slam
            Too active
                        And driven
                                    To catch it!
 
Focused
            On other priorities
                        Other possibilities     
                                    Outside
 
A hike to Brown Springs
            To discovery
A bicycle ride
            To freedom
A secluded time in our treehouse
            To dream
 
Slam
            Close noisily
A new day
            A new adventure
A door opened to the world
            And
                        Possibility!
 
Let’s Go!

honestly hidden
You May Think You Know Me, But. . .

August 9, 2020

 
As I pondered a topic
            Old yet new
I marveled at the thought
            Daily Honesty!
 
Honesty
            Truthfulness
            Sincerity
            Frankness
            Freedom from deceit or fraud
 
To be honest
            Is to be vulnerable
                        To risk exposure
                                    To lay bare my insides to you.
Are you safe?
            Can I trust you?
 
At this moment,
            I feel compelled
                        To do so.
 
I’m country
            You know
I grew up embarrassed
            And ashamed!
Not sophisticated
            Like the ladies on TV
            Like the ladies in town.
 
I’m religious
            A Christian to the core
                        But unorthodox!
I’ve dabbled in
            Native American
                        Savored the peaceful sweat lodge ceremony
            Buddhist beliefs
                        Became a silent observer
                                    Valuing the art of listening
            Jewish wisdom
                        Honored the roots of Christianity

I’ve divorced three times.
            One heartbroken
                        But necessary for my sanity
            One victorious
                        Because I stood up
            One heartbroken
                        But a major turning point
 
I’m a political person
            Independent for years
                        Raised Republican
                                    But moved out
                                                Caused by disillusionment
                                                            With both parties.
 
I hate arguing politics
            Remember many hurtful conversations
                        With my dad
                                    We didn’t change each other
                                                In the process
Just bitter memories!
 
Saying that,
            I’m a liberal!
That’s not a dirty word
                        Dictionary says, “tolerant, unprejudiced, unbigoted, broad-minded, open-minded, enlightened; permissive, free, free and easy, easygoing.”
                        I can live with those!
I yearn for equality
                        For all!
 
I’m a talker
            Love sharing my thoughts
            Love heart-to-heart conversations
                        On spiritual real topics,
                                    Not head stuff.
I hate gossip,
            Yet I get sucked in!
 
I love people
            All colors
                        Shapes
                                    And sizes!
            Young and old
So much to learn!
 
My heart has been broken!
            I’ve faced despair
                        Depression
                        Suicidal thoughts
                        Alcoholism
                        Promiscuity
                        Incest
                                    Yet survived.
Recovery gave me my life back!
 
I was an English major
            I have book shelves lined with
                        Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets
                        Hemingway’s short stories
                        T. S. Eliot’s poetry
                        Hillerman’s southwest novels
 
I’m a poet
            At heart
                        Words inspire me to life
                        Words create images
                        Poetry gathers words
                                    And creates life.
 
I’m a writer
            The voice of the plains
                                    Of my heart
                                                And
                                                            Marshall Flippo.
 
I’m a dancer
            When the music starts
                        It sets me free!
                                    The movement
                                    The rhythm
                                    The connection to the universe!
 
I’m a computer geek!
            The magic of technology
                        Captivates me
                                    And I want to create!
 
I’m fragile
            Sensitive
I’m strong
            Resilient
 
I’m the baby of five.
            My daddy’s little girl
            My mom’s “baby girl!”
Adored by my parents!
 
I’ve feared obesity
            My whole life
I watched my mom struggle
            And her mom
                        And many of the women
                                    On that side of the family
 
I make friends
            I keep friends!
 
I’m a paradox
            So, my honesty jumps
                        From here to
                                    There.
I’m an expansive spirit
            Today a soul on fire
                        A God-driven energy
                                    And
                                                A sleeping cat
                                                            All rolled up into one!
 
That’s me!
Photo by Ivy Son from Pexels

Honestly, a dichotomy I am, but I know I have to be honest. I will engage with you; I won’t argue. I will share the depth of my spirit; I won’t hold back, and hopefully you will get a glimpse of Larada.

Tell me what “Daily Honesty” means to you! I’d love to hear your thoughts about honesty.


~HAVE YOU ORDERED A PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   AVAILABLE NOW! Go to the homepage on my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW.

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Coronavirus · God · My Thoughts · poetry

What is the Power of Metaphor?

As a retired English teacher, I love using metaphors in my writing because they come up naturally. I also love the power of metaphor and words; therefore, metaphor ramps up my poetry with imagery and connectedness!

Words create metaphors

What in the world is a metaphor?

A figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them.”

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/metaphor

So, in two poems I compare serenity with some natural settings I love and wearing an emotional mask as a defense mechanism. Metaphors help readers connect emotionally, sensually and intellectual with the comparison.

See what you think. . .

Serenity is the beach
What Does Serenity Look Like?
 
June 21, 2020
 
In the midst
            Of the coronavirus pandemic
                        Storm,
I wondered,
            “What does serenity
                        look like?”
 
A hazy mountain scene
            Calm and quiet
                        Seated on a rock
                                    Connected to the grandeur
                                                Of Mother Nature
A lazy beach setting
            Reclining in the rhythmic waves
                        Carefree
                                    Undulating with
                                                The timeless rhythm
                                                            Of our world
Our secluded mountain home
            Nestled in piñon pine trees
                        Sweet meditative music
                                    Serenading me
                                                In the background
            Meaningful work
                        Done by Lin and me
                                    Gardening
                                    Writing
                                    Life lived together
 
Serenity’s many faces
            Some fanciful memories
                        Of better times
            One a realistic experience
                        In the here-and-now!
 
Peace reigns in my heart
            When
I stay present
            Seek God
                        Seek truth
                                    Seek myself!
 
A sweet flavor on my tongue
            An aroma of heaven
                        Come down to earth
            A beckoning sound
                        Of my God’s gentle calling
            A touch of my God
                        Through nature
                                    Peace
                                                Silence
                                                            Sound
 
Serenity lights on my shoulder
            Wraps me in a cocoon
                        Of tranquility and goodwill
            Dances my heart
                        To a new rhythm,
                                    A melody of love!
 
Then it’s gone!
            Quickly!
                        Quietly
                                    Without warning
The world roars
            And scares it away!
The coronavirus surges
            And wipes out any remembrance!
                        Cases
                                    Hospitalizations
                                                Deaths
 
Then in the quiet
            The dark
Again, serenity gently returns
            Ready to protect
                        Me once again.
 
I anticipate its return once again!

A couple days ago, I started reading Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making by John Fox. I realized my connection to wearing a mask—I did it for years but a different type. The raging mask war fueled this poem.

A smile can be a mask!
I’ve Worn a Mask for Years!

July 3, 2020

Wearing a mask
            Isn’t a new concept
                        To me
 
For years,
            I wore a mask of
                                    Deception
                                                Pretense
                                                            Illusion
 
Invisible
            Illusive
                        All-encompassing
 
A veneer of acceptance
                        Compliance
                                    Fitting in!
 
You didn’t know
            No one knew me—
                        Only me!
 
I smiled,
            when asked and replied,
I responded,                        
            “I’m fine,"
            while I covered bruises on both arms
                        From my first husband’s attention
                                   The night before!
 
Yes, I smiled a mask
           For you to see.
In my heart, I winced,
           As that invisible mask
                       Suffocated me,
                                   But I continued to smile
                                               To wear it.
I lived in quiet desperation
           Behind that mask.
 
Before recovery,
           I donned it unconsciously
                       Early in the morning
                                   A regular part of
                                                My attire
 
Each night,
            In the loneliness of
                        My room,
I ripped it off,
            Tossed in a corner with all the
                        Other defenses I had learned
                                    Over the years.
 
I hated it!
            It smothered me
                        My truth
                                    My voice
            It hindered me
                        Like fetters
                                    causing me
                                                To stumble and fall.
 
At times,
            The wise seer
                        Looked beyond the smile,
                                    The mask
                                                caught a glance
                                                            of the true Larada
                                                                        and called me forth!
 
That’s exactly what happened in recovery!
 
Today, after years of recovery and healing,
                        My God melted the piles of masks
                                   into a fine powder                 
                                                that blew away
                                                          with the slightest breeze!
 
But now, because of the coronavirus,
        I must wear a mask 
                      proudly!
No refusal
        No explanation
 
Yes, I’m familiar with
            Wearing a hidden mask
                        For years
 
Today it’s visible
            For all to see
It’s not a coping skill any longer
            An invisible shield
                        An emotional blockade
 
Now it’s vital
            lifesaving
                       controversial
                                    appropriate

It’s a message
            To anyone who sees me
That I care
            About you
                        About me
                                    About we!
 
Today I proudly
            Wear a mask
 
How about you?

Metaphors, serenity, masks—tie them all together with imagery and you have poetry. And in poetry, I have found myself. I hope you to do, too!

I’d love to hear your thoughts!


~DO YOU WANT AN PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   AVAILABLE NOW! I am experiencing a delay from the publishers on the hardback copies—sorry about that! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW.  Apple Books (US) – https://books.apple.com/us/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id151164203                        Kobo (US) –  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/just-another-square-dance-caller                                                      Apple Books (CA) – https://books.apple.com/ca/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id1511642036                     Apple Books (UK) – https://books.apple.com/gb/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id1511642036                    Apple Books (AU) – https://books.apple.com/au/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id151164(US)                   Amazon Kindle (US) – https://www.amazon.com/Just-Another-Square-Dance-Caller-ebook/dp/B088QS9RH8         Amazon Kindle (UK) – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B088QS9RH8                                                                                 Amazon Kindle (CA) – https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B088QS9RH8                                                                                       Barnes and Noble Nook (US) –https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/just%20another%20square%20dance%20caller

~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

Christianity · Coronavirus · God · My Thoughts · poetry · Recovery

Poetic View: Who Is in Control of this Mess?

I continue with a poetic view of my feelings and the coronavirus pandemic. I wrote two poems where I dealt with the question of control and prayer. As I faced these thoughts on March 28, I faced the reality of surrender which always takes me to “Let Go.” My recovery program has taught me the power of letting go of results and turning to a Power Great than myself that has everything under control. Then the next day I wondering about all my praying frenzy—who was I praying for in reality?

Let Go
Let Go—Surrender

March 27, 2020

Step three 
(Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him.)      
            encourages me
            To view this world
                        And its trials
                                    Then let go!
Let go of
            Control
            Manipulation
            Power
            Authority
            Wisdom
            Rules
            Everything
As I let go,
            My hands open up
                        Palms face up to the sky
                                    Ready to receive
As I let go,
            Tension leaves my throat
                                    My stomach
                                    My chest
As I let go,
            I give God room 
                        to moving around
                                    in my life
                        Safety
                                    A container to work in
                                                A place to bless
Often, I scrunch my eyes shut
            Hold my breath
                        Clench on tight to
                                    False security
And try to control
            Only an illusion!

This closed-off space offers
No place to receive
                        No openness
                                    No receptivity!
If I let go
            And let God
                        Power is in the right hands!
                        I’m at ease!
                        God is in the control
                                    My fight is over!
A topsy-turvy world
of Today
Coronavirus pandemic explodes

The third step remains
            The same today
                        As always
                                    And God is in control!
Let Go!

My control issues fan out into all parts of my life, so I had to look at one of my personal private times—my prayers—and wonder deeply.

For Whom Am I Praying?

March 28, 2020

Stripped bare today, I wonder
            For whom am I praying
                        REALLY?
When I utter
            My prayers to my God
                        Stand naked
                                    Before him
Where is my heart really?
Does empathy reign?
            Does compassion cover
                        Me like a mantle,
                                    Rich green velvet shawl
                                                Draped over my shoulders
                                                and the world?
            Do my words
                        Include you
                                    Your needs
                                                The world's?
Or does selfishness rule?
            Does each sentence
                        Begin with I
                                    Dotted with me
                                                Sprinkled with my and mine?
I focus where?
            Inward
                        Outward
                                    Me?
                                               You?
As I turn these thoughts
            Over
                        In my mind,
                                    I know the truth!
Interdependence
            Not me, not you
                        But we!
Not mine, not yours
            But ours!

Deeply I feel that!
            Our world needs this
                        Whole-hearted unity
                        A healing alliance
                        Life-flowing love
The imaginary wall of
            Indifference melts
                        In golden droplets
                                    On the ground
Green Irish clover pops up
            Verdant and life-giving
Dutch tulips spring into action
            With lips reaching for the sky
A multi-colored, multi-cultural garden procreates
            From those drops
                        Those tears
New life forms
            And a new world begins!

All because I prayed for us!
            You prayed for us!
            The world opened its heart
                        To our kinship
                                    Instead of our differences!

These hard times offer possibilities, spiritual opportunities to see everything differently. Pause with me and pray for our wounded world and its people! I would love to hear how you are praying during this turbulent time!


~DO YOU WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   It’s available NOW! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Whitey & Gladys Puerling, playful friends of Flippo’s, created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

God · My Thoughts

Does God Hate Anyone?

Does God hate anyone? A Jesuit priest, Fr. Tom Weston, often said in recovery retreats I attended, “We create God in our own image, and he loves who we love and hates who we hate.”

Again this week, I veer off the British Isles travelogue to address a current issue. I frequently post pictures on Facebook because I’m a visual learner and I believe a good picture says more than words. The above photo had words, too, and it elicited some reactions this week which caused some deep thoughts for me.

Searched the Scriptures

During my quiet time this morning, the reaction to this photo sent me to my digital Bible, and I searched the Scriptures and found answers like I always do.

“How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” (Psalms 82:2–4 NIV) These words should direct my actions in this world today.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NIV), so I see an invitation to any weary traveler.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16, 17 NIV) My Jesus has a world view, the whole world, not excluding anyone.

St. Paul wrote, “Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too,” (Romans 3:29 NIV)

“The term refers to a person who is not a Jew.”

https://www.gotquestions.org/what-is-a-Gentile.html

So, my God is for all men and women.

Look at the Text on the Photo

 “Jesus wasn’t neutral. He sided with the poor, sick & immigrant. Be like Jesus” posted on a church board.

My Jesus is not neutral on what many call social issues today. He loves the poor, the sinner, the immigrant. If that is political, then my suggestion is choose the side that “DWJWD” (do what Jesus would do). It shouldn’t be a political issue–it should be a person helping person issue.

“He sided with the poor, sick & immigrant.” The Scriptures above confirm that, and many today active in social action reach out to these three entities.

“Be like Jesus.” Quite a daunting task in this twenty-first century, but I must try!

My Higher Power

As a person in recovery, “my Higher Power” or “the God of my understanding” is a loving God, and to me his name is Jesus. I love the imagery of a shepherd and sheep–probably from my ranching background. The idea that my Jesus cares for me the way my cowboy Dad cared for his calves is precious!

My Jesus hates no one and invites all to His feast. God, the Father, hates no one—He hates sin.

My Jesus was a rebel in his time, ignoring what it meant to be politically correct and got in the face of those in power in the Jewish world. He rebuked the Pharisees. He questioned the establishment and hung out with notorious sinners.

My Jesus has open arms, embracing anyone in need whether they are on the border of the United States, living desperate lives on the streets of many of our cities or monetarily comfortable but living a life in quiet desperate.

Each political party says God is on their side, but really? My God doesn’t hate Republicans or Democrats or Independents or Green Party people. I think he applauds honest involvement focused in his goals: serving the poor, the needy and the immigrant.

My Father God especially doesn’t hate brown people—He sent His Only Son as a brown man.

If My Jesus Were at the Border Today

If my Jesus were at the southern border of the USA today, would He support snakes and alligators as a deterrent? Would He support separating a crying eight-month-old baby girl from her loving scared mother? Or would my Jesus be detained and imprisoned?

My Jesus had brown skin and long cobalt black hair with no possessions. His body smelled of sweat, dirt and grime. His calloused sore feet, caked with mud from his travels, needed the care of Mary Magdalene, her loving touch and her oils.

If the border patrol stopped Him, His searing stare would say, “I’m a man of this world—I claim no country. The world Is my home!”

My Conclusion

Yes, I know this photo has political overtones, but it’s time I face that head on. It is my duty as a God-fearing Christian to stand up for what I believe my God meant in the Scriptures. This controversy became religious when many like those who responded to my Facebook page twist and turn everything to support their political views!

When a Pharisee asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22: 36-40 NIV)

I must not be neutral. I must love the poor, sick & immigrant. And if I do this, I will be like Jesus. How can you argue with that?

I encourage your thoughts!


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Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

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