BENCHES

bench

You see them in parks. You see them in playgrounds. They are found on front porches and in the front of the grocery store.
Besides a place to sit, what is it about benches?

When I asked Heidi Rosner, the artist behind the cover of my book “grace,” to add in a bench at the river scene, she said, “No problem. I do it all the time in my artwork. People love ‘em!”

A gentle man in his 80’s had finished “grace” and told me the bench was one of his favorite scenes because of what it meant to him. “In my marriage,” he said with a glimmer in his eye, “Oh yeah… Connie and I have had our ‘benches.’”
In the scene, and apparently for his relationship, the bench is a place of reconciliation; a place of confession; a place of releasing fears, finding comfort and new beginnings.
When I picked out the bench (and I never knew there were so many choices!), I chose the simple wood slats with iron bolts keeping the posts together. The bench was special for the characters in the book; it represented vulnerability and risk. But this bench represented all these things and more.

There are similarities that I hoped the reader would find there.

There is a “place” made of wood and iron that we can go to find a new beginning; a place of hope, confession, healing and rest. A place that we can lay our burdens, place our trust and release our grip of things we hold tightly.

“Lead me to the Cross where you love poured out
Bring me to my knees, Lord, and rid me of myself” (Hillsong United)

“At the Cross you beckon me
You draw me gently to my knees,
And I am lost for words so lost in love
I am sweetly broken…” (Jeremy Riddle)

So, the next time you see a bench, take some time, bend at the knee and take a seat. Rub your hands along the splintery wood. Thumb over the iron bolts holding it together and know that there is a place you can come to pour it all out, a place you can find peace, a place of healing and a place to release.

“…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross…3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” (Hebrews 12)

The Cross is the place is where you find the One who can hold it all together for you.

TRUTH or FICTION?

TRUTH OR FICTION?Image

Having dinner with friends last week, the launch party for my first book “grace” was brought up.

“Okay,” my friend’s husband leans back from the table. He straightens out his spectacles and says, “About your book…I don’t want to sound stupid, but which one’s real? Fiction or non-fiction?”

His wife nods her head, “I always get those confused!”

“That’s not uncommon,” I reply. “Non-fiction is the real stuff, like auto biographies.” I nod at them and try to help them with the trick I used to learn this. “Fiction is false. EF-Fake.”

“Okay, I think I got it. So your book ‘grace’ is…?” Both of them look at me.

The restaurant is a flurry of activity; families enjoying dinner, couples conversing, mugs of margaritas and the sizzles of fajitas swarming all around us.

“Grace is fiction, but many parts of the book are taken from real life–from my life or lives of those around me. So some of it, you could say, is non-fiction.”

I say, “Take for example, the four main characters. They are totally made up people. False. Fiction. But the part in there with the hunting dog, that story is true. My uncle’s hunting dog Corky really did that.”

My two confused friends lean in closer and look at me with eyebrows raised. “Okay, so why did you choose to write ‘grace’ as fiction?”

I look at them. I think they are tracking with me now just as the waitress arrives with our steaming plates of cheesy, beany deliciousness.

As we settle in with our food, my friend’s husband resumes, “I have only gotten to the acknowledgements section, so don’t say too much! Okay, so let me get this straight. Your book is non-fiction?”

His wife chuckles, “No, its fiction!” Then she looks at me, “Right?”

We’re all laughing.

The conversation above really happened. Non-fiction. True.

The book I wrote is a fiction novel with characters I made up.  The location in southern Oregon exists and has been molded by me (fiction) to fit the made- up (fictional) action of the story, which in turn is loosely based on some life events I’ve witnessed and sprinkled with pieces and parts of reality and truth (non-fiction).

Crystal clear as mud?

As many people I know read it, I am certain they will see parts of themselves and events that we’ve shared in life, but the reality is – fiction provides a beautiful freedom to express a reality or truth that is shared.

This happens all the time in literature. Even in The Bible, Jesus often taught his disciples with “parables” or stories in order to point out a truth.

Sooo–

SPOILER ALERT!!! I thought it would be helpful to share some tid-bits from my “fiction” book that are the non-fiction (TRUE) parts. (If you haven’t yet read “grace” beware of the following information):

Robbery at grandparent’s house right after Easter by escaped, convicted child molesters – True

My parents’ bright orange Vega was stolen in the robbery – True

My “grampy” was a championship trap shooter who battled with lung cancer – True

My uncle’s hunting dog Corky and the event in the book – True

My friend floated down a different river much to her hatred and fear of snakes – True

Ashland creek flooded in 1997 – True

I know someone who basically subsisted on Skittles – True

The story about “The River” on the cover of the book of by Heidi Rosner (see prior blog “Behind the Cover” on juleseddy1.wordpress.com) – True

“Grace” is currently available from WestBowPress.com, Amazon.com & Barnesandnoble.com – True

Friends have sprinkled seeds of the truth of Jesus Christ in my life, forever changing me – True

The undying, relentless, unfathomable, all consuming love of a Savior who never gives up on us, even to the death – TRUE!

(This list is not exhaustive—you’ll have to ask me about the rest! 8)

If you are in the Valley of the Sun, save the morning of Saturday, JUNE 1st for a FREE Launch Party/book signing/raffle at ASU’s Sky Song’s Convergence room from 10am – 12pm.  “Grace” is available at the party!

I hope to see you there! True!