A little about Bryan the Writer: Service is critical to … someone.

I know someone who legitimately would not lift a finger to help anyone, or so he says. In reality, I think he does many things to help people, but if you ask him, he will tell you he doesn’t do anything. I believe in service. Those of you who have talked with me know I am a proud veteran and spent seventeen years in the military. I really enjoyed it and sometimes I miss it. I am way too old, and fat, to do that kind of thing today.

What you probably don’t know is that I actually served on the Fire Department in our little town of Excelsior, Minnesota for three years. I was a fire fighter and basic life support provider. Lots of calls answered and I had a great time. Service is important to me.

I am a Christian and serve with my church in a couple of different capacities and I want to share one particular story with you that really had an impact on me recently.

One of the things I do is take communion to our shut-in members. It doesn’t take much time. We take a small communion kit (already prepped for us) to the nursing/retirement home where the shut-in is and give them communion. I am a Lutheran and we treat communion as one of the sacraments so it is really an important thing to us. But, that is not the point of this blog. It is what happened afterward.

Getting old is hard and I really feel sad when I see some of these retirement homes. People are essentially confined to a small world. Granted, they are surrounded by people their own age, but they really lose the freedom that comes with being able to take their cars out to the surrounding world or even move the way they want. So, getting a visit from someone is really a treat.

I always do the same thing, I sit with them and talk a little before getting down to communion. I let them talk about whatever they want. They tell me about their kids, their husbands or wives, and one lady proudly told me about their dogs. I tell them a little about me and why I am there.

After providing communion to one woman and finishing up with prayers, I put my kit together to leave and she said something that stopped me in my tracks.

“Thank you so much, I needed this.”

It was such a shocking thing to hear that I had to take time to process what she said. She ‘needed this’. I am not sure if she specifically meant communion, the visit, the prayers or all of it but to her it was something she ‘needed’.

We equate ‘needing’ to the idea of food and water, but not normally to other things. She wasn’t using the phrase the same way someone talks about needing to charge their cell phone or needing to take a shower. In her eyes, it was clear that she gave our visit the same valuation as the things you need to sustain human life. To her, that interaction was as necessary as breathing.

Upon leaving the little apartment she shared with another woman, she looked different to me. Less stressed, happier than when we came in. Who are we to say what is and what isn’t truly life sustaining? Again, I make no claim as to what it was that she needed, but she found something in us that day. There was something in our visit that provided exactly the thing she was in greatest need of. As if the visit itself breathed sustaining life into her.

Service can be anything from helping a neighbor to collecting food for the food pantry. The simplest of acts can lead to the biggest of rewards. Who was the recipient of the reward? I’ll let you judge for yourself.

-Your Humble Servant,

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Review: Death is Long Overdue

Death is Long Overdue (Phee Jefferson #1)Death is Long Overdue by Amy E. Lilly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There are times when you want what I call an Airplane Book. This is the kind of read that is not emotionally so entangling you stress over reading it and you have to put it down on occasion because it weighs you down like a brick. I call them Airplane Books because they are the kind of book you want on a prolonged airline flight. Death is Long Overdue, by Amy E Lilly is definitely an Airplane Book.

Ophelia, Phee to her friends, is the quintessential librarian. She loves her books and the building built to house them. She loves reading, old movies, and her cat. Mostly, she likes her predictable life. A predictable life, which turns upside-down when she decides to break into the home of a patron who refuses to return his overdue library books. She discovers him dead.

Phee is joined by a host of likable characters, two of whom are potential suitors, in a quest to uncover who has undertaken a murder spree in her little town.

I found the writing to be good, the characters to be relatable, and the story line moved along at a good pace. I actually read the entire book in one day.

It is definitely a cozy mystery in every sense of the word. Low on violence and gore, there are a couple of adult references, but they were mild. The character does have sex, but wasn’t overly graphic and it is well done. I would have no problem handing this to a young adult to read.

I was entertained and that is one of the best compliments I can pay any author.

If there is one criticism (and it is minor), I felt like Amy was rolling out characters in too quick a succession for my mind to really grasp their relevance. But that’s it … literally the only thing I saw that could have been improved.

I can highly recommend Death is Long Overdue by Amy E. Lilly.

-Your Humble Servant,

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Review: The Elephants of Style

The Elephants of Style: A Trunkload of Tips on the Big Issues and Gray Areas of Contemporary American EnglishThe Elephants of Style: A Trunkload of Tips on the Big Issues and Gray Areas of Contemporary American English by Bill Walsh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am a fiction writer who loves the paranormal thriller genera. While I read widely in my own genera, sometimes I have to step out of my regular fare and read something else. I picked up “The Elephants of Style” because it was recommended in an article I was reading about editing.

Bill Walsh is a masterful, and humorously opinionated, writer/editor. He tells you where he is stating fact, opinion, and also his way of viewing things. It is fascinating how we take certain aspects of the English language for granted and then we come across a situation where suddenly what we thought was true really isn’t.

This book is well written and fun. There are a few places where the editor speak is way above my head (that is why I hire an editor), but I plunged through it till the bitter end.

For those interested reading more about the stylistic wold that is the English language, I highly recommend it. It is one of those books you can pick up and put down in between reading projects. I also thing it is one of those things worth tabbing at points and maybe adding a few of your own highlights here and there when you find things interesting.

Again, well worth the read for those who make a living on the written word.

-Bryan the Writer

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