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 It’s the time of Thanksgiving! 

and 

 We are THANKFUL

Thanksgiving should be a special event, one of the most special events of our year.

But for many it’s been reduced to eating turkey, watching football games  and ‘black’ Friday (or is it Thursday and Wednesday or the entire month now?)

Thanksgiving should be much more than food, football and shopping. But  then, that was how it started – right?
A legal day of food, football and shopping by an act of Congress –  wasn’t it?

Everyone knows the story of the 1st Thanksgiving…the Pilgrims…starvation… the Native Americans… salvation.

Today it’s popular to belittle that event – that time – and those extraordinary   times and people. Some would like to claim it never happened.

 But there was a man who believed it did happen.

October 3, 1789 was an especially cold day, when the country’s newly elected  President, a man by the name of George Washington, stood in the new nation’s  capital of New York City, and issued a Proclamation of Thanksgiving.

    

I wonder how many Americans have ever read it.

Have you? Want to?
Here – take a look…

He proclaimed a national day of food – football and shopping for everyone to applaud their good fortune and self-indulgence of material things…

…not.

Actually, it says some pretty amazing things, like:

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of  Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly   to implore his protection and favor…” 
And
“… to the People of the United States a day of public thanks-giving and  prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many  signal favors of Almighty God…”
And
“… I assign Thursday the 26th. Day of November next to be devoted by  the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious  Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or  that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our   sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this country…”
And
“…And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our                 prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations              and beseech him to pardon our national and other                       transgressions…”

Wow! So much for separation of church and state. I wonder how  many schools teach this.

Almost a hundred years later, in 1864, another President thought that having a day set aside for food, football and shopping was so  important he made it into an annual National Holiday.
Take a look at what Abraham Lincoln said about it:

It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year,  defending us with His guardian care…”
And
“…It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to favor as well our citizens  in their homes as our soldiers in their camps and our sailors on the  rivers and seas with unusual health. He has largely augmented our free population by emancipation and by immigration, while He has opened to  use new sources of wealth and has crowned the labor of our workingmen in every department of industry with abundant rewards…”
And
“…Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do  hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day  which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may  then be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the                             beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe…”
And – here where the shopping cart comes in…
“… And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on  that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the Great Disposer of Events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.”

These are the words of our Presidents – Our Leaders! It would do us well today to listen.

Now – am I some kind of miserable, scrooge – being negative and having somekind of hatred against football – shopping and ‘black Friday’?

No No No

Let it not be said!

I love football (yes I’m a Buffalo Bills fan)

Shopping is good – Greed is bad.

Do you know what’s the unspoken secret of  Thankfulness?

Thankfulness is not one-directional. It’s not only a ‘giving’ event –    it’s as much if not more of a receiving event. It’s a benefit to those  who are thankful. 

Giving thanks transforms us. By nature we like to complain.            Whining and griping comes naturally – but are unproductive and         unattractive. Expressing gratitude is attractive and productive. Giving  thanks transforms us from complainers into people of                gratitude. 

Giving thanks changes our perspective about the Creator-creature relationship. It causes us to acknowledge that God is the source of every  good thing. When we thank God, we have to realize that our health, our  family, our food, our shelter, our job, our talents – any abundance we  may have – come from Him.

Giving thanks teaches us grace. It’s human nature to take credit for  our accomplishments. Thankfulness teaches us that we have not earned  anything – all we do is by the Lord’s grace. Each gift, whether it’s a job  or a friend or family, or place to live or a freedom we enjoy or a spiritual  blessing we have received, shows the grace of God.

Giving thanks humbles us. We walk through life selfish and self-absorbed.   We are proud and self-centered. We think we deserve a lot. The world owes  us. When we are truly thankful, we see we have much more than we  deserve.  Pride fades when we understand that every good thing comes  from God. Thankful people are humble people – for they know they can  do nothing on their own.

It’s easy to give thanks when things are going well.It’s harder when  things are not going so well. We want to come to the place where we  can give thanks for all things.

After suffering numerous “bad” things – Joseph said                            “What you meant for evil, God meant for good.”

Paul said, all things work together for good for those who love God.

I am “Thankful” to the Pilgrims – and to President George       Washington and to President Abraham Lincoln –  thankful for the ‘commitment’ they made.

There is so so much we have to be thankful for – I’m not even going to attempt to start naming them – the list is way, way too long.

Actually, Thanksgiving should be a time of commitment renewal and  strengthening.

Thanksgiving should be an occasion to remind us of our commitments  and to strengthen those commitments. Lacking that – it’s little more than spending time with family and shopping.

“Commitment.” you say?  “Commitment to what?”

Commitment to those things for which we’re thankful.

Things like life – liberty – family – food in our stomachs – a roof over our heads – a pillow – a bed – friends and loved ones.

I am thankful.

Thankful to God for His Goodness and Blessings.

Thankful for the ‘Light’ He brought into the darkness. 

And no matter what happens in this world – I will always be thankful that God remains in control.

Always giving thanks for all  things (Ephesians 5:20).

Let us never forget those who simply have nothing – to be thankful for.

Those millions upon millions of helpless victims of darkness and inhuman treatment by their fellow man.

Those countless children born into misery – born into death – having no hope for joy in life.

We must never forget them –   for they only have –                           those who remember.

It is only through our compassion and love that we bring joy to others and also find that inner joy that comes with bringing joy to others.

                                       Until Next Time:

Embrace Life’s Bridges – For they Define Who You Are

DK LeVick

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All my life I’ve had trouble with clocks…

…Trying to keep them running – wound up – on time – not stopping… seems like clocks and me… well…kinda like oil and water.

broken-clock

It’s been an ongoing battle. One I don’t think I’ve ever won for more than a few minutes (hmm… with out having a working clock I’m not sure how long actually…).

I tried the wind-up ones that I could never “wind-up” quite properly. They were always in need of winding or I was over-winding.

Electric? Every time I had one of them and set it right – there’d be a power failure.

Going digital didn’t help – I’d come home to a house full of flashing digits! Not only ‘clock – clocks’ – but television clocks – radio clocks – microwave oven clocks – dryer – washer clocks you know what I mean – you’ve been there.

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Going battery-powered didn’t help – clocks either ran slow or stopped, and I never had the right battery on hand. When I did…well changing the battery was usually the end of the watch…

Broken-Clock-320x220

I don’t know about you, but personally, I don’t like wristwatches – they always seemed confining and heavy (I know, I know – they only weigh a couple of ounces, but when you don’t want or like something – doesn’t it always get heavier and heavier?) They have those tiny little knurled knobs to pull out and spin around in your fingers making the hour and minute hands dance across the face (I always have trouble with those little knobs. They seem to get lost in my fat fingers all the time.) The digital ones weren’t any better – I don’t know about you but I need a pin to push those little buttons!) I use a watch that clips onto my pants. Yeah – same knurled knobs – but bigger. Have a hard time keeping them – I think my Dry Cleaner has a collection of them.

Anyway – trying to keep one working – and staying within +/- 24 hours of actual time – has been a losing battle for me.

Well the other day – I was given an…

ATOMIC CLOCK

You ever see one of this things?

There is a battery – but it’s charged by solar power – and there are no adjustment knobs – only one switch (a big one too!) on the back, that says “ON” and “OFF”. Hey I like this already!

Well – getting it home, I flipped that switch to “ON” and hung it on the wall.

WOW! It was something to watch (pun intended). 

At first it didn’t do anything.  Then it moved around in a half circle – stopped – moved backwards a quarter circle – then stopped again. I shrugged my shoulders and began walking away thinking “yeah, just like all the rest”, when I heard a whirring sound and turned back. The minute hand was moving around the face of the clock – fast – then faster and faster. The hour hand followed trying to catch up.

The darn thing is demon possessed!

It traveled around covering every hour of the day, until it came to the hour it was and the hour hand stopped like it hit a brick wall. The minute hand began slowing down, slower and slower until it ticked its way to the actual minute it was! (How do I know, you ask? Well, I turned on my trusty cell phone and -Yup! Right on the money!)

The giant, solar-powered computer in the sky was keeping it on track!

yhst-37697109791737_2270_138419586

Amazing.

I went around the house and set every clock to it.

“Okay, so what?” you say?

Well, I got to thinking – it’s kinda like me, isn’t it?

I try to keep myself powered up and adjusted to the place I think I should be, and I either ‘forget to wind’ myself, ‘overwind‘ myself, can’t manage those little knobs and buttons of my life and personality and end up broken. Inaccuratestalled – or experiencing a power failure, ending out of control, flashing mindlessly and useless to anyone needing me!

I found that I’m not good at being my own power source – can’t really wind my own controls or set myself.

But, by allowing the ‘solar-power’ in the sky to power me and to adjust me – spinning my hands around – clearing out all the inaccuracies in my heart and mind – until I’m powered up, accurate and running “like a clock”.

The Master Clock is in control and I get the proper instruction and after spinning my gears round and round, I run precisely and perfectly.

Amazing.

I just needed the right power source and the right master clock and I’m running in sync with life.

atomic-clock-02

Kinda feels cool to be in sync with the master clock – wouldn’t you think?  Give it a try – you may like it.

Until Next Time:

Embrace Life’s Bridges – For they Define Who You Are

DK LeVick

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As the saying goes “the devil’s in the details”.

When, writers of historical fiction, put words to paper, they bear the responsibility to transpose their readers to the time period their story relates to. This doesn’t mean telling them it’s 1776 – it means transporting them to 1776, making them feel it, live it, and be a part of it – having them jump up and march along with the fyfe and drum.

If only done on the macro level, the characters are superficial and transparent. The reader doesn’t feel authenticity and sees through the ruse. To lift the characters off the pages and bring them into the minds and hearts of the reader, the writer must work on the micro level—down in the trenches – with the details. And, here he must tread carefully, for it can easily be overdone. Too many details are overpowering and will bog a story down quicker than a hippo wallowing in molasses. Inserting a few carefully selected details, in a natural way, so as not recognizable as being inserted, will unconsciously, allow the reader to live them.  This is where the writer’s art comes in to play, weaving the facts and substance of the era into the spirit and essence of the story, putting the reader into the story’s setting as witness to the action.

For every word of detail the writer puts to paper, a hundred words were researched, reviewed and revised. Each sentence represents hours of background investigation, study and learning about the times, people, environment and cultures of the era.

If a writer’s passion is the blood flowing through his veins – then research is the muscle that forms his flesh.

During the writing of ‘Journeys across Niagara’ (formerly ‘Bridges – a Tale of Niagara’),  I traveled down many roads of research. Not so much for the main story line of Kevin and his friends living in Niagara Falls during the ‘60s, (having lived that era myself – I was my own research), but for the historical stories embedded in the novel. Encompassing four actual events, covering over 200 years of history in the Niagara Region, and crossing lines of culture, nations and habitat, each story required separate journeys of research and investigation. The stories are separated by many decades, in a rapidly developing part of the New World, undergoing major political, societal and cultural change. The world of the English drummer boy and the Iroquois brave in 1763 was a different world from the world of slavery and abolition found in Lizzie’s story of 1859. Conversely, The Hermit of Niagara lived on top of Niagara Falls in 1831, while the only instance of Niagara Falls stopping was in 1848, a mere 17 years apart, yet significant changes had occurred in the Niagara Frontier, due to the advent of the Erie Canal and the introduction of the railroads along with a spreading population, radically affecting the culture of the people. (See “Was there a Hermit of Niagara?” post on the right hand side.)

Research is the mantra of the historical fiction writer. It is hard work and takes considerable time but it’s as crucial to success as the reentry heat shields are to the space shuttle. I often wonder how earlier writers researched their subjects and eras. (hmm, could be a story there in the making.)

“To where do we go?” the writers asked. They went to the libraries and to building personal acquisitions of books and writings. Yes, long, hard, tedious work, not to mention, costly but worth the effort and cost.

Today, all that’s changed, writers have the advantage of the internet. Call up any subject or key word and information is immediately at your fingertips. Images, words, histories, background, essays and opinions—lots of opinions. This is a huge advantage for the modern writer, but I also see a snare lying in wait for us. As wide and as deep as the internet is, it only coughs up what someone has put in it. And those things are repeated – over and over. The internet fools us into thinking we can click on any subject and then, magically and instantly, we are ‘well informed’ and ‘all knowing’ about that subject. It has the potential to ‘Wikipedia’ an entire population, on a global scale, with a ‘one-click’ mentality, regarding any particular subject.

That’s one scary thought! The same, singular knowledge and information is put out and repeated to all who punch in a keyword or subject and most inquiries stop at that level. Much of this information has already been filtered and is steeped in ‘opinions’, before we ‘surf’ through it, filtering and discarding along the way. We, too easily, fail to genuinely dive into the heart of the matter, as true research demands. With enough repetitions and enough people reading the same things without rebuttal and opposing views and insights, we begin forming a global community of keyboard punchers who think along the same lines. And we then put our faith in it – “I read it on the internet, so it must be true.”   There is a great risk of an unconscious ‘dumbing down’ of the entire world concerning any given subject of history – like-minded regurgitating with like-minded. Understandings about people and events can easily become condensed down to a singular ‘common’ or ‘general’ opinion, and we all know, there is nothing ‘common’ or ‘general’ concerning people. People are unique, diverse and always at emotional states with one another, whether loving or hating one another. And history is nothing more than a reflection of those people and those emotions. And make no mistake about it, we must fully understand and know all the details of history or the past will overtake the future.

Think for a second, what power true censorship would have over this medium. The world’s understanding of history would be revised and reshaped to conform to the political or social designs of those doing the censoring. This isn’t fantasy or paranoia talk, for we know all too well that such things have happened down through history by governments, religions and organizations burning, rewriting and revising history for their own purposes and agendas. It’s not inconceivable or preposterous to think it could happen with the internet and we mustn’t be complacent– for there are governments, around the globe, imposing censorship and monitoring the internet as I write.

True research goes beyond the internet and dives into the heart, fiber and cellular DNA of the matter. We, as writers, owe it to our readers and to those who went before us, to embrace research with both arms wide open, welcoming the joy of bringing history to life.

“To where do we go?” the writers ask. We go to the libraries and to building personal acquisitions of books and writings.  Yes, long, hard, tedious work, not to mention costly but worth the effort and cost.

Gee – I guess not all that much has changed after all.

Until Next Time:

 Embrace Life’s Bridges – For they Define Who You Are

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“Come” He Said.

With those words, Peter climbed over the side of a boat, tossing and turning in rough seas, and walked on water!

A fascinating story.  Here – let’s read it together:

 22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

 25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

   29 “Come,” he said. 

   Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said,“why did you doubt?”  

Matthew 14:22 (NIV)

It was a new beginning for Peter.

Peter was a fisherman. Uneducated, rough – living a hard life in a hard country at a hard time. His life changed and he became one of the most honored men in Christian (world?) history.  Why? Because he dared to step out of the boat – to take a step that defied logic – nature and life itself.

True – he faltered and began sinking, but with the help of his Lord – he survived. The point is – he took the step. The others didn’t – they remained inside the boat not having the strength or faith to step out. They seen Jesus and thought he was a ghost. Peter seen Jesus and said “me too!”

In today’s world of the shifting paradigm within the publishing and writing world – Indie authors are Peters.  They’re stepping out of the boat – they’re walking on water!

The publishing world is sitting in the boat saying it’s not possible – you can’t do that – you’ll sink and perish!  Then when they see it happening, they say “It’s not real! It’s a ghost – an apparition – a mirage.” And they tremble with fear.

Hello all my fellow Indie authors!  “Come on, don’t be afraid.”  Let’s step out of the boat.  “Ya wanna walk on water?”  Fun, huh?

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Check out my latest short story on Smashwords and Amazon:

“The Man in the Painting”

What is peace? and from where does it come?

Until Next Time:

Embrace Life’s Bridges – For they Define Who You Are

dk Levick

 

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Hello Friends –

Buried among the hundred plus emails I received yesterday was one that brightened up the room, made this old wrinkled face break into a huge smile and , how do they say it it? – Made my day.

It was an email from Reader’s Favorites, the international book review organization and they were announcing the 2011 award winners.

It’s with a great deal of pleasure, happiness and humility that I can tell you that “Bridges – a Tale of Niagara” has won the Silver Metal for Young Adult General Fiction!

YOUNG ADULT GENERAL FICTION

To share this celebration with you, use this code “Bridgesone” and buy the book on Amazon at a reduced cost.

I want to thank everyone who has help to support ‘Bridges’ and especially all those who have written reviews on Amazon and Goodreads – they are greatly appreciated.

I’ve been working hard on a couple of projects. Will have a new short story “The Man in the Painting” coming out next week on Amazon and Smashwords and another is in the mill.

Mostly, I’ve been working on a new novel that I plan on releasing the first part of by November. Will be something different.

Until Next Time:

Embrace Life’s Bridges – For they Define Who You Are

dk Levick

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Hello all –

I trust everyone is well and working diligently on reading good things and writing better things.

That’s exactly what I’ve been doing. In the midst of a lot of turmoil in my life right now, I’ve started a new project and it’s taking me and my writing into some new territory. The research on the subject has been extensive and seems to spread faster and further than a summer thunderstorm. But it’s been exciting and I like the thunder and lightning.

The project started out as a joke (you’re already in on it, you just don’t know it yet) and is growing into a novel – a big novel. I plan on releasing it in parts on a serial basis.

As a result of the research, I’ve been buying quite a pile of books and gaining an impressive library on the subject. Some are e-books and some are book-books.

You know I love my Kindle and also my Kindle for PC, but when doing research they just don’t compare to working with the real McCoy. Being able to thumb through a book from cover to cover, searching for a phrase or picture and spreading books out all over the table or floor (whatever works) and jumping back and forth from one to the other with ease brings back warm memories of years in school and at study with my love affair for real, paper, marked up, musty smelling books, for it truly is a love affair. After using e-book media for a while, you tend to forget that part of it and you lose the ‘feel‘ of the book. I don’t mean the actual feel of paper in your hands, (if you miss that then wrap paper around your Kindle) but I mean the internal ‘feel’ of holding a book.  I know – it’s all mental, but then, isn’t everything? Trust me on this, hold a favorite book in your hands and the memories start to flood back in. You never forget them. You find yourself cradling it, stroking it and holding it with affection and at times your emotions for the memories inside cause you to smile and squeeze it tight. Pick up your Kindle and it’s not there. I have to conjure up a ‘book‘ from the ‘library’ first and then what do I visualize?   (I’m afraid to squeeze my Kindle anyway – don’t know what pressing all those buttons would do and who knows what I’ll be reading in the next instant – if anything.)

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Hello everyone – welcome to the Thursday post of Writing in the Woods….

There’s been a lot of serious writing floating around the past few days. And for good reason too – with Borders closing and agents and publishers attacking John Locke’s book “How I sold a million books in Five Months” (sour grapes and fear is all that is, I’m waiting for his new book to come out “How I sold a million books about selling a million books”). Not to mention finding Rudolph Murdock in our breakfast cereal. Everyone seems to be in on edge a little. Isn’t it Great living in the information age? We’re in the midst of a writing revolution and the formula is changing – constantly. There are no sacred cows any longer.

But, let’s get off that for a bit and take a detour from all these weighty issues. Let’s lighten it up a little, if only for a few minutes.

Let’s go on a ‘mission from God’ – okay? Let’s build Noah’s Ark in 2011.

Follow me…

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Did you ever wonder why Noah built the ark?

You know the story, right?

God was a little upset with the folks down below and decided it was time for them to take a bath – a long permanent bath. But He didn’t want to throw away the baby with the bath water so he figured He’d start over and give it another go. So He found a good man hanging out down below and made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

And that offer wasn’t as easy to accept as we might want to think. Keep in mind – there wasn’t any rain in those days. It’s true, it hadn’t been invented yet.

Read it for yourself in Genesis 2:5 & 6 “…for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth….but a mist came up from the ground and watered the surface.”

Take a lot of mist to float that boat,  ya think?

Okay, no rain, so I guess that means floods hadn’t been invented yet neither. There were lakes and seas so they did take baths I suppose (I hope). But, it had to take a lot of faith for Noah to go ahead and build a giant boat on dry land because of rain and global flooding he’d never heard of before. But, when the Big Guy talks to you – what are you going to do?

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