Sunday, March 23, 2014

Strings of Kindness

Recently I stumbled across a talk by a woman named Chieko Okazaki calle Cat's Cradle of Kindness. In it, Chieko relates a story of a woman who touched her life when she was a young girl living in Hawaii, and how she and this woman had the serendipitous occasion to cross paths two other times in her life--each time being a life-changing moment for Chieko.

Here's what she concludes from this:

"Our lives weave together in ways we cannot guess or plan."

"We never know how far the effects of our service will reach. We can never afford to be cruel or indifferent or ungenerous, because we are all connected, even if it is in a pattern that only God sees."

I absolutely love that image. That we are all interconnected.

I've rediscovered this countless times.

*

Once on a plane I started talking to the man beside me (because I'm THAT person. I love talking to my row-mates on planes). He asked where I was from, I told him my hometown, and he mentioned that his girlfriend was from there. Would I by any chance know her? And I did! It was like we were immediately friends because of the connection we had to a woman I hadn't seen or thought about it years.

Did this random encounter affect my life in a way that changed me forever? Actually, it did. 

Through our talking, he told me that his girlfriend was a member of my church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) and that he was meeting with the missionaries. He said: "I've read the Book of Mormon and I can buy that it's the word of God, but I just can't believe that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. Do you believe it?"

I had never had anyone ask me that question in that way before...like what I said would really factor into his internal debate. I was kind of feeling the pressure, but I took a deep breath and told him that I absolutely believed it.

Even now, ten years later, I remember how much the truth of my statement filled me up inside with a feeling I had never felt before: Pure conviction. Here's the thing. I'd always figured that I believed the Book of Mormon to be another testament of Jesus Christ and that Joseph Smith had been a prophet.

But until that very moment, I had never had that knowledge burned deep into my soul.

I will never see this plane-mate again most likely, and my words may have had no effect on him. But they had changed me.

*

I can think of many other stories like this, where small encounters have reaped significant rewards, and I'm sure that you can think of several in your own life as well. This is why when Rachael came up with the concept for our Ripples Effect series, I was immediately in love with it. I knew how relatable it was.

My book, Silver Linings, is available as of today! In it, my main characters have faced their share of problems and their lives are about to be woven together with those of many others who help get them together.

I hope you go forward today knowing that your life is being woven together with others, in beautiful patterns that cannot be imagined with our limited perspective!



Monday, March 10, 2014

Some Ripples Effect Backstory and Home Matters Fun!

Several months ago, me, Rachael Anderson, and Karey White started throwing around the idea of doing a novella series together. We had a lot of ideas, but inspiration struck Rachael one day (I think it was actually at church) and she came up with the Ripples Effect idea--where the characters in one book would effect the lives of the characters in the next, setting them on their course to finding love.
Karey and I immediately LOVED it and we wanted to make it a six-novella series. 

In came Julie N. Ford. I'd recently read Replacing Gentry (a modern twist on Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier) and of course had read Count Down to Love, which was a Whitney Award Finalist a few years ago. I love her writing and the way she can make her characters so real to me. Both were books that, once I started, I could not put down. I wanted her in on this with us, and Rachael and Karey agreed.

Julie enthusiastically agreed to write a novella for the series. When I read her blurb for Home Matters, I was thrilled. It sounded like an amazing, fun, atmospheric novella that I wanted her to hurry and write so that I could read it. 

When she sent it to me to read, I dropped everything so that I could jump right into it.

I absolutely loved Home Matters. It's the story of Olivia Pembroke, a twenty-seven year old woman from a small, southern town who is living in California, trying to get her big break in Hollywood. She's desperate for money, desperate to get noticed before she hits the big 3-0, but mostly desperate not to let her mom (and dad and pretty much her whole hometown) down by failing. 

Her break comes in the form of a reality television show--Home Matters. She'll star alongside heartthrob, William Blaine as they battle to convince their shared client to keep their renovated home or buy a new one. If she could just ignore Pete, the contractor with a special talent for getting under her skin, life would be perfect. But, she soon learns that everything (and everyone) on the show is not what they seem and has to ask herself what her real dreams are after all.

Once again, Julie made me fall in love with her characters. The whole time I was rooting for Olivia--for her to find herself and to find love as well. This is such a well-written story that was so much fun to read and left me with a good, happy feeling inside when I was done. 

I recommend Home Matters to anyone who loves a sweet romance and needs something to put a smile on their face today. 

Home Matters is available on Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble.

If you're interested in learning more about Julie N. Ford, check out her website.