Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday Photographs

Here's this week's 365 Project photographs. If you missed any from previous weeks and would like to catch up, visit my Photobucket.

Day 174, Lynx Spider
Day 174 photo 500-DSC_7250_zps51653dbf.jpg

Day 175, Limpkin
Day 175 photo 500-DSC_7262_zps801856bc.jpg

Day 176, Monarch Butterfly
Day 176 photo 500-DSC_7267_zps4e200830.jpg

Day 177, Gulf Fritillary Butterfly
Day 177 photo 500-DSC_7280_zpsd7db061a.jpg

Day 178, Crinum
Day 178 photo 500-DSC_7294_zps184f9d5f.jpg

Day 179, White Ibis
Day 179 photo 500-DSC_7306_zps57142fb6.jpg

Day 180, Blackberry Lily
Day 180 photo 500-DSC_7324_zps5c24adcd.jpg

Ginger
Ginger 6/22/2013 photo 500-DSC_7218_zpse4b7157d.jpg

Wasp
Wasp 6/23/2013 photo 500-DSC_7234_zps42414106.jpg

Crepe Myrtle
Crepe Myrtle 6/29/2013 photo 500-DSC_7314_zps3f0554f1.jpg


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Suzanne D. Williams  
Suzanne Williams Photography  
Florida, USA 

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Story Saturdays - Something Italian

Last weekend, I shared the first in my ITALIAN SERIES of novellas, FLIGHT RISK. Flight Risk is now available for only 99 cents at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


This week, I thought I'd share another in the series, SOMETHING ITALIAN. This story is still in progress, so no blurb yet, though I will set up the story for you.

Dr. Marco Bottari only wanted to get through his day's case load and spend an evening relaxing, looking forward to the weekend. But the last patient of the day, Patricia Fanning, would change all that when she finds a dead body in her trunk.

In this scene, she's there for her exam, but he finds his heartstrings tugged.

EXCERPT:

“I’ll write you a prescription, but you have to take all of it,” Marco said, keeping one eye on Loretta’s flushed face. “No refills.”
No refills because if she didn’t go right out and sell every one of these pills, he’d be surprised.
“Yes, Doc. I appreciate your seeing me.”
I’ll bet. That she saw his doubts written clearly on his face didn’t bother him at all. She needed to know he was on to her game and not about to give into it anymore. Neither could he ignore her persistent infection. Persistent because she didn’t take the pills.
He punched two keys on the computer keyboard at the small desk in the corner and stood to his feet. Opening the door, he waved her out into the hall. “The receptionist will give you the prescription up front.”
He widened his route, giving Loretta plenty of space to wander down the hall, and suppressed a shiver skating up his spine. Jennifer eyed him from her stance outside.
Her expression said what his did. He nodded sharp. Whatever beauty Loretta had on the outside was greatly diminished by the ugliness on the inside, and she knew how to hide the ugliness to pick up a man. She’d tried as much on him when she’d first come here.
She wasn’t the first. Word had spread quickly about the young doc. He’d ignored much of it. He didn’t approach any of his patients as potential dates. That was inherently wrong.
Though his mother was always after him to get serious about someone. He smiled at that thought. That’d never been his priority. Surviving medical school was, followed by establishing his practice, and now paying his bills. Sure, he was lonely sometimes, but never so much he was desperate. The way he figured it, God would send him the right woman, and he’d know when she arrived.
God was a very important part of his life. He opened and closed his days with prayer, attended services regularly, and read his Bible. But most of all, he lived by its principles, trying his best to love the unlovely; and he saw plenty of those every day.
Yet women like Loretta tried his patience. She’d never find what she was looking for in a bottle of pills or a new relationship. No one could tell her that though.  She wouldn’t listen. It wasn’t his job anyhow.
“Your four thirty’s here,” Jennifer said. “Exam two.”
He nodded and snagged the clipboard from the plastic wall slot outside the door. One to go and he was home free. He flipped the top paper over, scanning the woman’s basic info and Jennifer’s notes on vitals, then opened the door.
The woman’s appearance struck him in the chest. Golden blonde hair cascaded over sloped shoulders and framed an oval face set with two crystalline blue eyes. He’d seen beautiful women before, but wow, this one took the cake. Plus, she appeared to be toned and in very good shape, slim-fitting jeans sitting low on her hips to accommodate the slight paunch barely visible beneath a free-flowing blouse.
Her lashes were moist. She’d been crying. The fact she was alone and the last appointment told him part of the reason why. He fastened a smile on his face. “Dr. Bottari,” he said. He consulted the clipboard. “Patricia Fanning?”
She nodded. Her eyes had taken on a curious gaze, perceptive, despite her obvious tears. She moistened two very nice pink lips. “They warned me,” she said.
This brought his eyebrows into an arch. “Warned you?”
“But I wasn’t prepared.”
He seated himself, calling up the computer screen to input some of the patient information, but he glanced at her as he did it. “What weren’t you prepared for?”
“Well, maybe I shouldn’t say since you are the doctor and that is what I’m here for.”
His fingers moving across the keys, he looked away for a minute. He turned his stool around after. “Why don’t you take a seat on the table?” he asked.
She paused. “I said it didn’t matter.”
Confused, he ran his thumb over his forehead. “What didn’t matter?” He stood to his feet and moved to the table. She obeyed then, seating herself on the end, the paper crinkling beneath her bottom.
“That you’re so cute.”
He crooked a smile. “I guess we can eliminate the need for a pregnancy test,” he said.
She gazed down at herself. “They pay you for this?”
He laughed once. “I’m going to palpate your belly, let me know if any of it bothers you.” He raised the tail of her shirt and pressed his palms to her skin, working them gently around and downward. “Feels good.”
Her face turned strange, emotions flickering across it. Then it cleared. “I’ve decided it does matter. You should be old and ugly.”
He paused and exchanged a look with her. “Even the old, ugly ones were young once. Maybe I’ll be old and ugly one day.”
The first sign of a smile trembled on her lips and faded. “I doubt that.”
He opened a drawer and withdrew a gown from the top of the stack. “Here’s the fun part. You put this on and I’ll be back.”
She stared at the gown for a moment before taking it in her hands, then wadded it into a ball. He took hold of the door knob and cracked it open, but her next words pulled him short.
“You promise?” she asked.

***

Dr. Bottari was an eyeful of dark, handsomeness, and a woman in her condition should not notice that. That he’d smiled slightly at her remarks indicated he’d taken her comments with some humor. That he’d not responded indicated his professionalism. That was good on his part because she wasn’t flirting. A pregnant woman did not flirt, single or not.
Patricia put on the gown, more aware of her new shape than ever before and sucked in a breath to steady her nerves. The doctor returned, the nurse who’d shown her to the room at his heels.
“This is Jennifer,” he said. “She’s here so you don’t feel uncomfortable.”
Humor. Professional. And considerate. The good doctor was ratcheting himself up there on the scale of gentlemanliness.
“Need to do a Pap smear, which will be mildly uncomfortable. Lay back and look at her.”
Smart, too. Why hadn’t she found a guy like him instead of Ray? That question pushed a sob onto her tongue. She swallowed it.
Jennifer, the nurse, had a nice face. She smiled, her full lips pulling back smooth, dark skin, and took her hand and squeezed.
Dr. Bottari made no remark during the exam. Patricia suspected to prevent her from thinking of what he was doing. Again, his being thoughtful. He covered her legs with a paper sheet afterward and snapped his gloves off, tossing them in a medical disposal can.
“You can sit up,” he said.
The nurse tightened her grip, helping her rise, and patted her hand. She left the room, and the doctor turned his back. He seated himself, typing into the computer before rising again and standing before her.
“I’ll have your results in a week or so, and we’ll call you.”
“We? But not you,” she said. Why did she pressure him?
He smiled again. “Would you prefer I called you?”
“Why do I think you don’t do the calling and so I have no choice in the matter?”
He crossed his arms over his chest, his lab coat sleeves riding up his arms. “I trust you have an obstetrician,” he said.
She glanced down at her belly. “No. I haven’t done anything past berating myself mentally and wondering why me.”
“I can have the receptionist give you a list.”
Patricia curved her fingers over the edge of the exam table, her back chilled by the air vent breathing on her the entire time. A list. More doctors. More poking and prodding. And this one not giving her any direct responses.
“I can’t use you?” she asked, though she knew the answer. He was only the first step in the process.
“You need someone to track your pregnancy, the rate of growth of the fetus …”
“Do you ever get tired of calling things by medical terms?” she asked, cutting into his speech. “Or can you not talk to me like a human being, a girl scared half to death?”
His expression softened, and he gazed back at her, as if contemplating his next actions. He lowered his arms to his sides and moved to the stool. “Patricia?” he asked.
She nodded.
“Permission to speak frank,” he said.
“Granted.” She waved him on.
“We’re told to always keep a pleasant demeanor, to never become familiar with our patients, and in my field, never to give any impression other than a businesslike one. But I’ve found that sometimes that’s hard to do. Women come in here in all walks of life with all sorts of problems, and often they simply need someone who’ll listen.”
“So I’m not the first unwed, pregnant woman you’ve talked to.” She was being facetious. Obviously, she wasn’t.
He didn’t comment. She took another tact. “Let me try it this way,” she said. “Since you’ve found women need to be listened to, this one needs some advice. What does a single girl who didn’t ask to be pregnant do when she has no family to lean on and the father of the baby is a loser?”
She sounded spiteful, and the pain on the doctor’s face said he’d heard it as such. Why she poured all this out right now was a mystery, except this was the longest she’d looked her future in the eye so far.
“Forget it,” she said. “You can’t tell me, so I’m sorry for putting you in a difficult spot.” She looked away. Now’s when he left, told her to have a nice day, and went back to his great life.
His hand on her chin made her jump. He tilted it upward, holding it briefly before releasing it. “As a doctor, yes, I’ve seen women like you before, in dire straits, needing answers. As a doctor, no I can’t comment, shouldn’t comment. But as a man with eyes in my head and a heart in my chest it’s an entirely different matter.”
Her heart took up an uneven pitter-patter, knocking almost reckless at the steadiness of his gaze. She dug her nails into the crinkled paper beneath her bottom, and her voice emerged a whisper. “Why couldn’t he have been you?”
Dr. Bottari’s forehead wrinkled, then smoothed. He tilted his head slightly left. “I don’t know, but I would never have walked away.”

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Suzanne D. Williams  
Suzanne Williams Photography  
Florida, USA 

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Whole Lot Of Lukewarm

I know everything you have done, and you are not cold or hot. I wish you were either one or the other. But since you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of my mouth. (Rev 3:15-16 CEV)


I heard the words in my ear and couldn't believe them. Words of compromise. Words tepid, apathetic, indifferent.

"I think this is where correct is subjective."

Subjective? When did flawless, faultless, and perfect become personal opinion? When did the best, the highest, the greatest get replaced by the acceptable, the good enough, the mundane?

When did it matter what I thought, what you thought, what they decided about the rules of the game? Has anyone who's ever truly radically succeeded done so because they sat back and allowed half-good, half-baked, half-done philosphy to make their decisions?

No. Because correct is never subjective. Correct is black and white. Oil and water. Correct is opposite and antithesis to fifty-fifty, middle ground, mousy gray. Correct is toeing the line, paying attention, following the rules because without rules we're all so much paste.

The apostle Paul said so. "It is the straight-edge of the Law that shows us how crooked we are." (Rm 3:20 Phillips) In other words, having the rules, tells us how to walk right by showing us when we've walked wrong.

Think of children. Put a group of them in a room, turn them loose for a day, remove all supervision, and what do you get? Chaos. Riot. Lawlessness. Pandemonium. All brought on by the desire to conform to unschooled opinions. 

My way. My method. My formula, recipe, technique.

"You do it how you want. I'll do it how I want." When maybe both are in error and the line is painted stark between the two. Because despite what we think, what we decide, what we choose on our own, there is a correct method. One ruled by obedience and ambition. One that looks at the standard and says, "I'm going to do my best to reach it, and if I can't, I'll admit I need help. But I am never going to set the bar lower and accept middle ground just to make myself feel better."

Because middle ground is only halfway there. Yes, you've left where you started, but you've not reached the top because you accepted partial. Some of this mixed with some of that. A dab of their faith, a bit of this religion, a rewriting of the rules for my benefit, so I don't feel so bad. You do your thing, and I'll do mine. And in the process, we both fall far short.

But friend, there's only one way to do things. One correct. One method. One standard. The best is the best because it's the best, not because we adjusted it to fit us. Not one size fits all. But raising our all to the highest level. Expecting more.

Think of it this way. We can all bake a cake, but what kind of cake is it? A box cake? Or was it from scratch? Was it one layer or two? Or can you bake a wedding cake, decorate it to the nines, sell it for a grand, and put it out for the world to see? 

"But that's too hard. I'll never get there."

That's what God sent Jesus for, to help you obtain perfection in everything you do. And He gave you the rules to go by and the directions to get there, then handed you the power to make it possible, saying, "Don't compromise, but set your eyes on the goal and never give up on reaching it. Never turn back. Never think that lukewarm is ever good enough.


I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (Jn 14:6)


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Suzanne D. Williams  
Suzanne Williams Photography  
Florida, USA 

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday Photographs

Here's this week's 365 photographs. If you missed any and would like to view them, visit my Photobucket album.

Day 167, Mexican Lasagna
Day 167 http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/marcela-valladolid/corn-and-poblano-lasagna-recipe/index.html photo 500-DSC_7107_zpsc0d68be3.jpg

Day 168, Hairstreak Butterfly
Day 168 photo 500-DSC_7130_zps7a7e4219.jpg

Day 169, Magnolia
Day 169 photo 500-DSC_7145_zps68a76f6d.jpg

Day 170, Grasshopper
Day 170 photo 500-DSC_7162_zps21719d43.jpg

Day 171, Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Day 171 photo 500-DSC_7167_zpsf3d475a1.jpg

Day 172, Male Eastern Pondhawk
Day 172 photo 500-DSC_7208_zps70fbf6f3.jpg

Day 173, Pole Beans
Day 173 photo 500-DSC_7211_zps3e5c6d65.jpg

Lily
6/19/2013 Lily photo 500-DSC_7148_zps886bf64a.jpg

Sunset
Sunset 6/19/2013 photo 500-DSC_7165_zps8aed5f06.jpg

Rainbow
Rainbow 6/20/2013 photo 500-SC_7168_zps8fbb0e89.jpg

Black-eyed Susans
Black-eyed Susans 6/22/2013 photo 500-DSC_7215_zps03296ab7.jpg


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Suzanne D. Williams  
Suzanne Williams Photography  
Florida, USA 

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Story Saturdays - Flight Risk

On sale this week for 99 CENTS, OF ALL THE WAYS HE LOVES ME, my latest YA Romance, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

And MISSING, my first historical fiction novel, is now available at Barnes & Noble for the first time since publication and at Amazon for only 99 cents.

ME & TIMOTHY COOPER has received nice 5-star reviews this week. This one is my favorite. Love hearing from teens.

★★★★★ "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!! I was holding in a scream the whole time I wrote this review. You know why?? Because it is 12 in the morning people are asleep but this book was just too good I couldn't help myself... I started reading and didn't stop until I reached the happy ending!!! Great book!!"

Also, in my writing news, all four of my YA stories will be released soon in audiobook format (for sale at Audible, Amazon, and itunes). LOVE & REDEMPTION, The Florida Irish #1, will also be in audiobook. I'm particularly excited about that because the narrator has a great grasp of Michael's Irish accent and a willingness to speak some Gaelic as well as sing. Yes, I said sing.

Today's excerpt is from my newest, FLIGHT RISK, the first novella in "The Italian Series", now available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I wrote this story after having asked a friend for a crazy romance plot. It was the most fun to write and will be joined by two other novellas in the series.

In this scene, Giovanni Cavatelli finds himself reluctantly piloting a hot air balloon with a girl who drives him crazy.

Gio twisted his shoulders, jerking himself upright, and hooked a foot around the door frame. One last try. There had to be a way out. “Sergeant,” he shouted. “Stay strong. Don’t give up.”

Don’t give up. God, help me. God. He would answer. Somewhere there was a purpose in this. But his doubts rose higher each time Sergeant screamed his name.

---

Giovanni Cavatelli simply wants to survive this one hour balloon flight. Never mind the girl he’s flying is antagonistic, overbearing, and stubborn. Never mind it’s her birthday. So they don’t get along. He can survive one hour.

But when bad weather sends them crashing into the rural mountainside, one hour turns into three days and a dangerous game with a group of anti-government activists out to destroy them both.
Will her courage and skills be enough to save them? Or will something as simple as true love prove far stronger?

 
EXCERPT:

Why she antagonized him so much, he couldn’t figure out. Was it her confidence, her stupid name, or that he found her attractive in some basic way? The last bothered him the most because watching her walk toward the balloon reinforced her strength.
Her stride told him she was used to getting her way, the swing of her arms that she knew how to handle herself, and the set of her shoulders that she could take a lot of mental weight. Those were the last things he liked in a girl.
They approached the balloon, and Bruno shot him a curious look, his eyes crinkled at the corners. Gio dared him with a glance to say anything about the shirt. He didn’t, but what he would have said was displayed there anyhow.
Gio climbed in the basket and took control of the burner, not at all surprised when Sergeant hopped in without asking for help. Bruno’s gaze moved from him to the girl.
“This is Sergeant Hayes,” Gio said.
Bruno’s face developed an additional crease, running left to right across his forehead.
“Today is her birthday,” he added. He glanced at the propane tanks, checking the valves and then looked upward into the inflated envelope. The balloon bobbed from the ground. “Hour’s flight. See you at the end.”
He didn’t watch for Bruno’s nod, but waved his radio instead. Not that it’d work well near the mountain. Why wouldn’t his uncle ever upgrade anything?
The balloon climbed into the morning sky, and for a few minutes no sound came but the rush of the burner and creak of the basket. The girl looked the opposite direction, her head held high and chin up, her feet at a shoulder’s width stance. She exuded confidence.
The breeze of their movements across the sky fluttered the red fabric of her shirt against her spine.
They’d climbed a couple hundred feet when she spoke. “You know, I’m a pretty good judge of character. Your problem is you’re attracted to me, and you don’t like it.” She made no effort to turn around.
“You’re not my type.” He stated plainly. Forget she was right; he wouldn’t ever admit it.
“And what’s your type? No, don’t tell me. I’m thinking buxom bimbo.”
He restrained a laugh. She would say that.
“Okay, you want to play this game,” he said. “I know what your problem is.”
She turned around then and licked her lips, and Gio’s gaze was drawn to the action. A sly smile played on her face. He snapped out of it.
“Well?” she said.
“Well, your problem is you’re afraid to be a girl.”
That his point hit home she demonstrated by flipping to the side. She gripped the side of the basket with white-knuckled fingers. “My friend, Cindy, said that last night. I believe her words were, ‘Show some cleavage.’” She glanced at him.
“So why don’t you?”
This made her cross her arms over her chest, a protective gesture.
“That’s not what I’m about.”
What was she about then? Being tough? Showing up any guy that came near her? Even her name suggested she could kick your butt.
“A little goes a long way,” he said.
She stepped forward, and he inhaled the mingled scent of lotion and shampoo.
“Tell me,” she said, an inch from his face. “This little enough?”
He recognized what she was doing. Make him uncomfortable. Make him squirm. Because she was right, she fired up his blood in some primal way. But that didn’t mean he’d pursue it. Granted they were in a confined space, but this was only for an hour, and then she’d be gone on her way. He could last that long.
He flicked at the top button of her blouse with his forefinger and it easily popped free. A thin trail of creamy flesh revealed a hint of cleavage. “Better,” he said.
She curved up one corner of her lips and stepped back. “I’m sorry about the pasta comment.”
He nodded. Growing up with Cavatelli as his last name, he’d heard all the jokes young boys could make and had survived them all. He used to tell them to be careful or he’d send the mob after them. But that was all for show. Young boys would believe such things, and there wasn’t any truth to it. Not every Italian carried around a gun and a bowl of noodles.
“Aren’t you going to apologize to me?” she asked.
His eyes spread wide. “Apologize? For what?”
“For trivializing this trip. For saying it doesn’t matter.”
So she was female after all; she wanted him to say something. A guy would have grunted once and gone on his way, but not a girl. No, they were all about apologies. Fine, he’d give her one.
“I’m sorry for saying the trip doesn’t matter because every dime you put in my uncle’s pocket does matter.”
Her face wadded into ball. “You’re a jerk. You know that? How’d I manage to pick the one company with the biggest a––”
Her colorful language surprised him. Then again, it didn’t.
Her face changed, her eyes growing bright, and her cheeks flushed. “Oh, I get it,” she said. “You’re going to make this hour completely miserable, so how ‘bout I figure out why I bug you so much and why you’re mad at your uncle?”
“My uncle is an old fool. I can answer you that one.”
“I thought you Italians were all about the family.”
He laughed. “You’ve been watching television too long. You think I wanted to be named Giovanni Cavatelli? I’d have settled for John Smith.”
Her next remark surprised him. “I like your name. I’d be more inclined to look at you twice as Giovanni than John Smith.”
That was a first. He couldn’t recall any girl ever saying that.
“What about you?” he asked. “People call you Sergeant all day? That doesn’t get old?”
She shrugged. “Sometimes I’d rather have a girl’s name.”
“Like what?” What would a tough-as-nails female pick for herself?
“Heather?” she asked.
He chuckled. “Heather? No, I dated a Heather once and you do not look like a Heather.”
“Jennifer?”
“Too ditzy.” He shook his head.
She gazed out over the basket toward the horizon. “I met a girl named Journey once. I thought that was cute.”
“Journey?” he said. “What kind of name is that? Then people will sing your name your entire life.”
“I do have a middle name,” she said, “but I hate it. It was my mom’s choice. Sergeant was my dad’s. She disliked it, but they’d made some sort of first-child promise to each other.”
He didn’t remark at first, but concentrated instead on the drift of the balloon.
Ten minutes passed and he’d still not replied, so she straightened and moved toward him. “You’re not going to ask?”
“Ask what?” Why did she care about his opinion? She didn’t like him, and he didn’t like her. Both were evident.
“My middle name. You don’t want to know?”
“You said you didn’t like it, so why would I ask?”
Her nearness to him warmed his skin, her soapy fragrance somehow enticing. Why was she driving him wild like this?
“Giovanni,” she said softly.
God, help him. His name on her lips said like that made this worse. He did not want to like this female.
“Ask me my name,” she said.
He swallowed hard. A ray of sunlight struck her face and her eyes shone, not brown like he’d thought, but green and gold. A thought shook him awake. She was playing him again, testing his resolve. He leaned toward her on one hip, halving the distance.
“You’re missing the view.”


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Suzanne D. Williams  
Suzanne Williams Photography  
Florida, USA 

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

God's Playing Pinball

And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job. (Job 1:8)



God's Playing PinballReady. Set. Go.

Lights flashing, bumpers jigging, the flippers beneath His thumbs, God's started a game of pinball, seeing who He can bump back into the game of life and who falls, oops, through the hole.Five minutes of play, and this one's still bouncing around up there, but that one's gotten stuck between bumpers. And gee whiz, look at her over there scoring points.

Friends, there's no truth to that. God isn't haphazardly rearranging things for His own entertainment. No way. God had it all planned out from the beginning. When the Word was with God and was God. (Jn 1:1) Right then, He knew what He'd have to do.

He knew Adam and Eve would sin. Cain would kill Abel. Noah would survive the flood on a boat. He new Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Samuel, Elisha, Isaiah, King David, and Hagar, Rachel, Mary, Joseph, Anna the prophetess, all twelve disciples, and the one who'd betray him, as well as Paul, and you and me and every other person who's ever been born, lived, loved, and died.

He had a plan, a plan He executed to the finest detail, a plan He succeeded at, was victorious over, pulled off. Even better, afterward, He gave that plan to you and me.

"Here's what we're gonna do," He said. "You go left, but watch for that field of thorns. You go right, be prepared for some flak. You hold steady, I'll carry you over the tough places." He was not a simple game player, left to the whim of the other team. He's the coach. He's the coach of the coach.

He's the ultimate strategist. He knows all the figures, the stats, the how-things-ought-to-be's. He's got it all stored up here in the old noggin' and better yet, the power to pull it off. That's where He's different. He's bigger and stronger and higher and faster and way, way smarter than some scrawny know-nothing, conquered devil.

He can enforce the rules and generate the strength needed to carry it all through. Without teams or leagues, handlers or bouncers. He wrote the playbook. He designed the board. But not chess, or pinball, or baseball, or soccer. More boxing, only the enemy's got his hands tied and we're wearing the gloves. Plus, he's about an inch high and under our feet. (Eph 1:22)

He tried to tell Satan that in the first chapter of Job. We've had it all wrong. That wasn't, "Have you considered how weak and puny, how vulnerable Job is? Maybe you should go after him." 

That was, "Have you looked at Job? There's no one like him. Perfect. Upright. You lose, Satan, he loves me. He fears me. He worships me."

That was Satan saying, "Yeah, and You've protected him and blessed him and multiplied him. I've noticed. I can see."

That wasn't God replying, "Yeah, but you take him. He's yours." But instead, "Despite all that I've done, his fear has put him in your hands."

And God, thirty-eight chapters later saying, "Job, you don't know what you're talking about." (Job 38:2)

And Job replying, "I'm an idiot. I'm shuttin' up." (Job 42:3)

God having the last say, the last laugh, the final countdown and blessing Job with twice as much as he had before. Blessing! Not taking. Not removing. Not putting him through something so he'll see what life is like at the bottom. (Job 42:12)

Because none of that is in God's plan. God sent Jesus to die, not to stay dead, but to resurrect. Jesus Himself was looking toward that. Jesus knew by dying, we'd live, and we'd have the upper hand and all the plans for our future laid out before us. (Heb 12:2)

God knew exactly what He was starting when He breathed life into Adam. He knew what bringing Eve into the mix would create. He saw the future laid out with all our choices, our missteps, our losses and our gains, and He held steady over eons of time, always faithful, always helpful, always hands open, arms extended, ready to take us the next step forward.

No matter sometimes we don't understand it. No matter, because God's the same as He's always been, the same as He'll always be, with the best of the best for us now and then and hereafter.



No greater love than this
That you should lay down your life
For someone such as me
I'd spend a life time wondering why
The beauty of heaven is here in my heart
And I know there can be
No greater love
Than this


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Suzanne D. Williams  
Suzanne Williams Photography  
Florida, USA 

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sunday Photographs

Here's this week's 365 Project photographs. If you missed any of them, you can view the entire album at my Photobucket.

Day 160, The Obligatory Dog Shot
Day 160 photo 500-DSC_6987_zpsc2be8d68.jpg

Day 161, Juvenile Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Day 161 photo 500-DSC_7031_zps1ea99bb8.jpg

Day 162, Sunrise
Day 162 photo 500-DSC_7038_zps0e415aca.jpg

Day 163, Society Garlic
Day 163 photo 500-DSC_7042_zpsca53bf33.jpg

Day 164, Young Alligator
Day 164 photo 500-DSC_7055_zpsbcb6afcf.jpg

Day 165, Gulf Fritillary on Plumbago
Day 165 photo 500-DSC_7083_zpsb66c0921.jpg

Day 166, Sunrise
Day 166 photo 500-DSC_7097_zps9f123978.jpg


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Suzanne D. Williams  
Suzanne Williams Photography  
Florida, USA 

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Story Saturdays - The Quarter

Usually I post an excerpt of whatever I'm promoting, and this week I have new two books out for purchase - FOR ETERNITY (A Time-Travel Romance #1) and OF ALL THE WAYS HE LOVES ME, a YA Romance novella. Links to those are below. Both are 99 cents for this first month.


FOR ETERNITY 
 
OF ALL THE WAYS HE LOVES ME  

(On a side note, my books will no longer be available through Smashwords. This is in an effort to protect myself from copyright infringement.)

However, the book that has been working in me for a while now is called THE QUARTER. I give you the Prologue today and the first bit of Chapter 1. No release date on this story yet.
“I’ve always loved you, Colton Ryder, but I’m not sure that’s enough. I hate this town. I hate these memories. And just because you kiss me and my mind blanks doesn’t mean I can overcome them, doesn’t mean I can simply pick up my life as it is and return to Richland. All I have here is turmoil, and all I want to do is forget.”

Rylie Shepherd’s come home to Richland, a town she never thought to see again. To a flood of bad memories and broken dreams. A family splintered and reassembled by death. To pain and heartache and years of poverty and loss.

To Colton Ryder, town war hero, old boyfriend, resurrected man. But in dying, he’s changed. From the inside he says. And this power he’s found is strong enough to heal all that’s between them and recreate the love they had. Love which he never let go. He’s sure of it, he says.

Yet maybe it can’t. Maybe his presence will only further the wounds that never healed in the first place, and maybe afterward all she’ll have is a hole in her heart the shape of a baby that died in her arms.

EXCERPT: 
PROLOGUE

August 1967
Always the ever-present dust, clouds of it swirling in desiccated air over soil exhausted from effort to produce life. Dust as a layer on each trailer in the park, on the dinged and dented metal, on faded paint and rickety rod iron, on the few withered flowers left to stand sentinel over empty beds and piles of rocks. Dust that whooshed up your nose and flittered into your eyes, sandy and grainy, blinding sight, taking breath.
Dust on the feet of the little girl, age seven, bent over in the lane to pick up the shiny new quarter. A quarter, a whole quarter. She dug her round toes into the sandy lane, leaving curved imprints, and curled the quarter in her fingers tight ‘til it warmed and glued to her skin.
Then tucking it to her chest, she sensed the circle of it through the thin fabric of her dress. Her only dress. Pink flowers faded to gray, the hem unstrung and trailing down her slender calves, a hole in the seam at the waist.
Her daddy could use that quarter. Daddy who worked hard – ten, eleven, sometimes fifteen hours a day, for the boiled cabbage and bacon grease they had for supper. For molded cheese, scraped clean and made fit for eatin’. For chicken, boiled and re-boiled, and if they were lucky, really lucky, maybe a fried egg.
The little girl’s heart pattered hard in her chest, and she turned around, her eyes scanning the emptiness for the tattered singlewide that was theirs and the limp black flag with white letters Daddy refused to ever take down. She paused beneath it and scanned it again.
“Pee, oh, dubya,” she said, proud of herself for knowing her letters. P.O.W. for Daddy’s brother lost in the jungle somewhere on the other side of the earth.
“The bad men got him,” her daddy said. “So we fly the flag and we pray every night.”
“God keep Cleavis,” the little girl said. “And bringed him home safe.”
Homage to the flag done, she dashed up the steps and through the worn door, its metal knob banging hard on the siding.
“Mama. Mama,” she called.
Four faces looked up at her from the narrow living room. Her three siblings, crowded together on the couch and her mama nestled beside them.
“What is it, Rylie?” her mama asked. Strings of blonde, straggly hair, escaped from the bun on her neck, waved greeting around her face.
“I found a quarter, a whole quarter.” Rylie unfolded her palm, her eyes bright. “Think that can buy us an egg?”
Her mama laid a soft palm on her daughter’s smooth cheek, running her thumb down Rylie’s jaw. “That’s wonderful, sweetheart. It might do that; it just might do that.”
And so Rylie released the quarter, watching it fall and land, plop, atop her mama’s extended hand.

CHAPTER 1

June 1983
A twenty dollar meal and a ride into town, then he left me … standing … standing ….
The strains of the country tune reverberated in Rylie’s brain overtop the gritty grind of her truck’s tires and the spit of gravel pinging the bed, and her frustrations boiled up and over.
“Sh … eesh.” She changed the word midstream. She wouldn’t talk like that, not anymore, and she had to get out of the habit anyway because her mother’d have her eating soap if she heard it. If she was still here.
Her fingers strayed through her long blonde hair, flipping it backwards over her scalp where it sloped again around her face.
Left me … left me … standing. The song continued.
“Depressing,” she grumbled. But fitting for her mood and her task, so she let the song be.
The jar of a pothole sent the truck slamming to the earth and weaving sideways. She gripped the wheel tighter, tapping the brakes, and braced herself for impact with the door. Her elbow clanged the driver’s side window and the word she’d held in fell out.
“Freakin’ country roads. Freakin’ poorly maintained backwoods shed paths,” she said afterward. And whiny bluegrass music. And godforsaken uninhabited miles of nothing.
She thought she’d gotten out of this place, out and away from the poverty that kept you locked in its grip, away from having nothing, not getting anything, and never going anyplace. Away from the memories. The persistent tenacious memories.
Those most of all.
Yet just like always, the suction that was this place, these fields, these woods, dragged her kicking and screaming all the way back. She couldn’t escape it, couldn’t find peace, not even with thousands of miles between them.
It was a cancer, this town, an affliction placed in her from birth. One cut out again and again but never fully excised. It was depression, melancholy, and despair.
And greater than all of those, it was home.
She pulled the truck up to the trailer pressed tight to the trees and shifted into park. But even with the motor silenced and the keys in her hand, she didn’t alight, instead soaking in the current image with the one formed in her brain, the one of a girl longing, begging, somehow to escape.
The creak of the door and patter of feet brought her awake. She forced a smile to her lips, finding a natural one at the sight of a small blonde head popped up over the window. Two blue eyes shining like the ocean gazed in at her and ten strong fingers gripped the door frame tight.
“Aunt Rylie! Aunt Rylie! You came.”
“I did, butternut,” she said, tousling the head.
“Did you bring me something?” The young girl tilted her head left to reveal a length of unwashed neck.
“Only the bestest present ever.”
The girl’s eyes grew wide, and she twisted herself this way and that, as if the object in question would suddenly appear in her view. “I don’t see nothing.”
“Well, that’s because you don’t know the secret. Now, how ‘bout you give me space to exit, and maybe I’ll think about givin’ it to you.”
The face disappeared, and the truck door yawned, expelling a groan. Rylie reached for her purse. Hooking it over her arm, she stepped out onto the littered soil.
 “Hey, sis.”
Rylie turned her gaze toward the voice at the door. “Benji. You look fabulous.” Tall and tanned and buff. Florida had done him favors.
“Back at ya,” he said. “Much too pretty for the likes of here.”
A hand tugged at her sleeve, and she looked back downward. “Where is it?” the girl whispered.
Rylie laughed. “You make ‘em impatient, Benj.”
“Don’t I know it. She won’t wait for the end of the prayer at night without fallin’ asleep.”
Stooping over, Rylie hoisted the girl onto her hip and made her way through the tangled maze of detritus. Crab grass, Spanish needles, and all manner of weeds sprouted here and there around the remains of car parts, tired bed frames, shattered concrete, and warped, decaying plastic. Her boot hit a rusted can, sending it sideways six feet.
“We need to clean this up,” she said, more to herself than her brother.
But he replied. “Already in the works. Got a crew coming out Saturday.”
“Good. Any familiar faces?” Her heels scrubbed the sagging steps on her way up the porch. She leaned in for her brother’s kiss, inhaling cologne, aftershave, and liniment.
“One you’ll want to see,” he said.
She straightened and shifted the weight growing heavy on her side.
“Colton Ryder.”
That name shot sparks along her spine, around her shoulders, and into her limbs. She sucked in her breath.
“Holy cow, ain’t you red?” Benji said.
She tossed her head, wishing for something cool, anything. An iceberg would do.
“Aunt Rylie, you look like a beet.”
Rylie plopped her niece down at Ben’s feet and laid a hand on either side of her face. “I am not red,” she said.
Benji laughed. “Okay, tell yourself that, and tell yourself again when I tell you he asked about you.”
Her fingers shaking, she curled them into fists. “He … he did?”
“Mmmhmm. I believe his words were, ‘How’s Rylie? Is she coming?’”
One. Two. Three. Four. She counted the rise and fall of her own chest. Ridiculous for her to act this way.
“Maybe I should sit,” she said.
Her brother reversed in the doorway, allowing her inside.
The worn furniture stared back at her, each piece in the same place it had always been. The couch straight ahead, faded cushions slightly askew. A square end table with weathered veneer to its left. A blue armchair, foot rest removed.
Her purse slipped from her fingers to the floor, and knees bent, she crumpled. Colton Ryder. Alive and in Richland? Colton Ryder asking for her? Pictures again flashed past, and she closed her eyes, jumping in place at the touch of a small hand.
“Aunt Rylie?”
The room returned, tired and fatigued. Rylie reached for her niece and pulled her into her lap.
“You okay, Sis? I didn’t think …”
Rylie raised her chin and met Benji’s gaze. “I’m fine. I just didn’t expect ... I mean, they said … I thought …”
Benji exhaled. “I know, so did all of us. But he’s not. Mama told you that.”
She nodded, haphazard. Knowing and seeing were two entirely different things. Plus, given the circumstances, how much harder would it be?
“Tell me I’ve got a few days to get used to the idea,” she said. And to decide how to react because fainting at his feet would not be good.
“‘Til Saturday,” Benji said.
Saturday. Two days. Two blasted days. It wasn’t long enough. It wasn’t quick enough. Which was it? Was she happy or upset? Overjoyed or fearful? Maybe all of those.
She stretched her fingers for her purse, snagging the strap and lifting it to her lap. Move on, Rylie Ann. Fall apart later in the privacy of your room, not here with them.
“Now, let’s see,” she said. “Exactly where did I put it?”


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Suzanne D. Williams  
Suzanne Williams Photography  
Florida, USA 

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

Story Saturdays

The BIG CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY is coming! This means FREE BOOKS ! Both Kindle and epub versions will be provided. This is the ONLY place...