TIME

Julie's Dad
TIME

You hear people say , “Take time to smell the roses.”—I wonder about this phrase.

TIME

We never have enough of it.

We lose track of it.

We rarely spend it doing the things we really want to.

We will never know how precious it is until we get “that call.”

My dad was one of those guys who salvaged everything; (to call him “frugal” is a vast understatement!). He would duct tape things together to get a few more uses out of it. He would even re-use duct tape!  He lived down the street from a greenhouse.  He would go to the back of the greenhouse after hours and salvage through the plants that they threw out. He planted two gardens using this method. His garden, his patio and his plant room were filled with these salvaged beauties that bloomed under  his care. He was the busiest man I knew. He always had a “to do” list; actually he had like five or six of these lists.  It was when he got “that call” that I believe  he understood the phrase about the roses.

Jesus is referred to as many things: wise counselor, the good shepherd, savior, fisher of men, friend, and so on…I think Jesus is also a gardener. He finds us when the world has tossed us on the heap of things “not good enough.” He salvages us and we blossom like a rose under His care.

As Easter approaches and coming up on the anniversary of my father’s passing, I take more time to smell the roses—they are a reminder to me of all things precious.

In memory of Lawrence M. Stoddard 12/5/1941-3/30/2008

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Behind the cover of “grace”

The RiverOne of my favorite stories about my first fiction novel “grace” is about the cover. I had completed the manuscript and was struggling through the cover images for it.  A few years prior, I moved to the Scottsdale condo community where I currently reside. All my neighbors and community pointed out that I was closest neighbor to Heidi Rosner, the artist.  I knew nothing about her except that she was very well liked in the community and was an artist.

For the record, I don’t believe in coincidences and I am a somewhat private person. Yet, God kept nagging at me to talk with her about the cover.  Up to this point, we had only brief conversations and interaction as she spends much of her time at her other home in California and I was working three jobs at the time. Nonetheless, opportunities kept presenting this one particular day when I should have asked her, but I chickened out.

I was returning from getting my mail and Heidi approached me!  We began a light conversation: “What have you been up to?” “Not too much.  You?”  blah-de-blah–I mentioned to her I was self-publishing a book in the near future and sure enough, the chance came up for me to ask her what medium of art she worked with. When she told me she was a painter mostly focusing on landscapes and florals, I was urged to question her if she would be interested about doing a book cover.

“Well, tell me about your book.” Heidi asked.

I stammered on about the southern Oregon setting, the four friends that it centers around and their struggles with life, death, forgiveness, faith, etc.

“So what’s it called?” She asks.

“Grace,” and when I answered with this, I was not expecting her response.  Her lips quivered, jaw clenched and tears filled her eyes. “Are you okay?” I was stupified. What had I said???

“Julie, I have been feeling my mom’s presence with me today.  Really.  All day just feeling her talking with me.  She passed away just a few weeks ago. I recently returned from her funeral. Her name was Grace.” (this is a paraphrase but pretty darn accurate!)

Now it was my turn to have the lips quiver, eyes fill with tears, etc.

And that was how “the Heidi Rosner” agreed to do the cover of “grace” with her amazing painting of THE RIVER.

PLEASE COME AND JOIN IN THE “CELEBRATION OF GRACE” AT A FREE COMMUNITY EVENT!
JUNE 1ST AT ASU’S SKYSONG CONVERGENCE ROOM (SE corner of McDowell Rd and Scottsdale Rd)
Enjoy a free continental breakfast and hear a reading from “grace”
A book signing and Raffle will follow.
Event is FROM 10 AM TO NOON
(for more info check details at AZCentral.com, Phoenix New Times.com and on the events page at K-LOVE.com)
“grace” will be available at the event ($15.20 for SC, $33.75 HC and $5.00 for the e-book) and also at Amazon.com and other online retailers.

Transformations

I am always amazed at how a day can start great and then turn ugly.  Also how a day can start on the wrong side of the bed and turn glorious. In our day and in our lives, transformation is possible.  I am no theologian or biblical scholar, but just look at David– he went from shepherd to slayer of giants.  Daily, in his Psalms he goes from triumphant to humble, from victorious to hated and hunted, from being in the pits and wishing for death, to being in the shelter of God’s wings and the peaks of His mountaintops. Also, he went from king and faithful servant, to murderer and adulteress. Transformation is a choice.  He could’ve stayed the murderer and adulteress but he chose to again move from that to repentant heart and to understanding the need for redemption.  In this, I know he was a man after God’s heart. He was a man who truly saw the need to daily take up the cross and, if given the chance, could understand the price that Christ paid for us.