Spirit Sword

By Sam Ford

“The End came too soon.”
“There had better be a sequel!”

These were my first two thoughts as I finished the last page of Spirit Sword. My third thought was that people had better buy and read this book so the author will hurry up and start the next in the series if he hasn’t already.

Take one unlikely hero, a child, and rip his life away from him. Then introduce him to a sentient sword who knows the true history of the world (and a whole lot more), and off you go on a grand adventure.

Spirit Sword is the type of book that more than entertains you. It engages you. You become part of the adventure.

I would say that this is an admirable first offering for an aspiring author, but it doesn’t read like a first book at all. The well-developed characters fit into their excellently-crafted storyline perfectly. It’s intended for a young adult, male audience, but this almost-60-year old female couldn’t put it down.

Spirit Sword, you had me at, “Hello.”

Changing Language

One song in Kanye West’s new album raises a question: Is “damn” no longer a curse word? Has it ceased being considered profanity?


I was shocked to learn that many younger people, including one particular friend whom I truly respect, do not consider damn to be a curse word. I was shocked and appalled, but then I remembered… 


As a word nerd, I was flabbergasted when I realized that, according to the dictionary, the word “literally” can now be used figuratively. Today, you can say, “I was literally dying laughing,” and be speaking correctly. 


You can. I can’t. 


But it gets worse. One of my pet peeves, for years, has been Christians using the words “incredible” and “unbelievable” in reference to God and His acts. I mean, come on, do you really want to say that what God has done can’t be believed when your point as a Christian is to help others believe?!


But, according to my recent venture into one of the newer dictionaries, this usage is now perfectly acceptable.


For others, of course. I can’t do it. 


And finally, I remembered a point at which an older friend proofed a book I was writing. I had used the word… hm… maybe it was “geez.” I honestly don’t remember what it was, but he took time to gently explain to me that people from his generation saw it as a euphemism for an unacceptable word. I didn’t know it had been used that way, had that connotation, but because I respect his generation I took it out. 


Which brings me back to the original question. Has the word “damn” been overused to such an extent that it, literally, is no longer only a curse word, no longer considered profane?


For me, never, but I’m forced to admit that language changes as time passes and, though it’s hard for me to accept, it may very well be so. 


Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Looking for Ever After

Debra Clopton is a current favorite of mine. I’ve just realized I already own about half of her books. This is not good; she needs to write faster.

Seriously, I’ve been anxiously awaiting this book since I finished its predecessor, Longing for Love, with Jonah left standing there…alone. I like Jonah, and I’ve been waiting for him to find his gal. Clopton hasn’t disappointed. Her storytelling is always a delight, and the way she has her characters grow in their relationship with God is a continual encouragement. In Longing for Ever After, she’s introduced some new characters who fit into Sunset Bay perfectly, and I look forward to seeing how they help develop the story of the Sinclair clan.

She also introduced some new conflicts and challenges, which is something she excels at. One of the things she excels at is helping her characters learn to cope. As a “Polly,” who had to get past things, I am very happy with the way she had Jonah handle developments – all of the developments. In fact, I was so caught up in the story that it was rather a disappointing shock to realize I’d reached the end. It didn’t feel like I’d been reading for hours.

I’m an experienced reviewer, but I’ve never really handled fiction before; this is a challenge, telling you that you want to read the book without giving any real hints about what will happen. So…just take my word for it. You want this one.

Old-fashioned Fun

Sterling Municipal Library, Baytown, TX

I have some awesome grandkids, and I love doing things with them. In fact, when it comes to things like birthdays, I prefer doing things with them to buying things for them. So when Connor’s birthday rolled around, we settled on an old-fashioned scavenger hunt.

Our city has been working on adding public art for the past several years, so we got a list of addresses and a map and took off. Well, we took off after mapping the locations of the art installations we were looking for. This made for a great impromptu lesson in map reading. We don’t think about how much we rely on Siri for directions!

Our initial goal was to track down all of the decorated boxes. We met that goal; the cat box is only one of many we found that day. But they’ve been REALLY art busy in Baytown, so we were far from done. If I were an Instagrammer, I’d have had a ball!

This book sculpture at the Sterling Municipal Library is fabulous!

Umbrella Alley, Texas Avenue, Baytown, TX
Art League of Baytown

Connor got REALLY excited when we found this…

Because it meant we’d also found…

…and what felt like a hundred other classic cars. His passion for classic cars, sports cars, etc., is… Wow. According to him, I had officially given him one of the best birthdays ever.

In fact, in the midst of a recent discussion about all of the new decorated boxes that are popping up around town, he said, “It sounds like we need to get back in the van and go hunting!”

Yes. That is what we call success.

If you’re in or near Baytown, you should really check out our public art – this is only the smallest sampling. I’ve lived here most of my life and am only now learning just how much there is to do within just a few miles of my house.

https://www.visitbaytown.com

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Girl, That’s Sin

I got a ticket recently, my first in nearly 40 years. I never even noticed that stop sign and blew right through it. My stomach still turns when I think about it.

I immediately started beating up on myself.

Hard

Yes, everyone makes mistakes and accidents happen. Yes, pretty much every adult driver out there gets a ticket at least once every twenty years or so.

Not. Me.

I hold myself to a higher standard than that. I’m a good driver, a careful driver, and getting that ticket, even being pulled over, sent me over the edge into flaming self-hatred.

I’m not even kidding here. I tend to expect a lot out of myself in most things, and if I blow it in pretty much any area I’m going to hate on myself worse than anyone else will ever hate on me.

I asked God’s forgiveness right away, but I absolutely, infuriatingly, could not forgive myself. I continued the self-abuse until I had a Come-to-Jesus meeting with God. The brief conversation went something like this.

God: What would I tell you if you were beating up on someone else the way you’re beating up on yourself?

Me: Tammy, that’s sin.

God: Tammy, the rules don’t change just because it’s you. Girl, that’s sin.

He’s told me this before, in various ways, but this time it hit almost like a glass of cold water in the face. Refusing to forgive myself is as wrong as refusing to forgive anyone else, and every bit as destructive.

It wasn’t easy to do. It took work on my part, but I stepped up and did it. I still hate the fact that I blew it, but at least that gut-churning self-hatred is gone.

We cannot afford to walk around in unforgiveness, my friends – towards anyone.

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

My Fear

It’s strange…the places you can stumble across revelation. I was registering on a website when the security question asked me, “What is your greatest fear?” Without hesitation, I typed my answer.

FAILURE

Then I sat staring at it, wondering where THAT had come from. It wasn’t long before I admitted to myself, for perhaps the first time, that this has been the truest answer to that question from the time I was a small child. While others went out and did things that looked fun, I sat on the sidelines.

I never tried because I was afraid to fail.

As an adult, I’ve learned better. I understand that failure is part of the learning process. At least…I understand it on a superficial level. My instant answer to the question, though, shows that I still have some very real issues.

So it’s time to self-assess. I’ve conquered this fear in so many areas, but I’ve got to move forward and eliminate it in more. I mean, really, at this point in my life how bad can failure be?

I’ve already raised my kids; any failures I had there are over and the damage done. That’s one of the biggest potential problem areas I can think of in this life. Well, other than failing where your relationship with God is concerned, and I work in building that all the time.

It’s time to kick my fear to the curb, to realize that it’s STUPID. Yes, I said stupid. Me failing at something might lead to my embarrassment, but it won’t result in WW3. Besides, how many times did Jesus issue the encouragement, “Fear not!”?

What about you?

What is your biggest fear?

And what are you going to do about it?

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C

Fighting the Darkness

As a church employee and, I believe, trusted friend, I often have people tell me about their struggles, their pain, their darkness. As I looked around the church this morning, I realized once again that most of us think we’re the only ones fighting the darkness. “Yes,” we think, “other people may have their challenges, but their challenges aren’t as bad, as agonizing, as life-altering as mine.”

But they are.

This is an important fact to remember. Unless my neighbor has told me about her struggles, I have no idea what’s hiding behind her smile. Is she wondering if she dares trust that her husband will never have another affair? Is her mother dying of cancer, leaving her feeling like an abandoned child? Did she just lose her job right after buying a new car?

I don’t know. So…

I won’t judge her when she upsets me, because I DON’T know.

I won’t assume that her life is hunky dorey and no one is living through a hell as bad as mine, because lots of people ARE.

AND I WON’T GIVE UP HOPE.

As I looked around the sanctuary this morning, I saw many people who are even now fighting the darkness, but I also saw a room full of conquerors who have battled time and time again and, with God’s help, WON.

Philippians 4:13

Celebrating Jesus!

Tammy C