Monthly Archives: July 2017

Sh**in’ Bricks–OOPS!–Sh**in’ Rocks

So, I have Hieu Tran’s paperwork–Yep! The original documents–the very papers he brought from Vietnam when he was twelve, the papers from when he was adopted, from when he became an American citizen–THE ORIGINAL PAPERS!

Am I nervous to be in possession of such valuable documents?

For the answer, please play the above “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” clip.

I went to a professional place to have copies made, impressing upon them the value of the documents. They came back to me unharmed.

If something does happen to the papers, I do have contingency plans:

This pic actually goes with #2, but I don’t have a pic for #1, so I put it here.
  1. I keep the papers with me in a fire-proof lock-box at all times. If the house catches fire, I will throw the box with the papers out the window and yell to the firemen, “If I don’t make it, give this to Hieu Tran!”

 

2. If my dog, or my friend’s dog (See pic.), gets the papers and destroys them, I will blame my brother John. Here is the story. We were at a birthday party.  When the candles were lit, my brother decided to do his version of St. Elmo’s Fire. He shot hairspray across the flames. The resulting fireball caught Hieu’s papers on fire, and they burned.

 

3. I can always use the classic “Alien Abduction” excuse. I was abducted. Space Aliens took the papers. Now, they are coming after Hieu.

I am in the process of arranging a hand-off of the papers at an undisclosed location. Until then, just refer to the “Christmas Vacation” video–that about sums it up.

Thank you for reading! Please “Like” my Facebook author page by clicking on the link in the margin. Please also visit Hieu Tran’s memoir page, comingtoamericaajourneyhome.com , and join Hieu Tran’s Facebook memoir group.

See Ya!

A (Not Perfect) Parable About Tithing

There once were two brothers whose parents amassed a fortune through a series of business ventures and investments. When the youngest turned 21, they turned the entire fortune, including the business ventures and investments, over to the brothers. They gave the older son 2/3 of the fortune and the younger son 1/3 of the fortune because that was just the way they wanted to do it. Both sons respected their wishes.

Before the parents turned the fortune over to their sons, they gave them each a book with guidelines about how to manage the money. Then, they told them about an assisted living home they had built. This facility had hair salons, bus services, restaurants, nursing staff, housekeeping staff, all of the amenities. After they gave their sons the fortune, they planned to move into this home. Each son was to contribute 10% of his yearly wages from the fortune to the upkeep of the home. Any leftover was to be invested for years when their 10% didn’t cover the costs.

The sons also had a sister who was disabled. The parents had established a separate trust for her, but asked the sons to provide for her needs should the trust not cover all of her expenses.

The sons agreed to the above conditions and took over management of the fortune.

The older son looked at all of the money he had, and he spent it on things he and his wife and children wanted, but didn’t need, like fancy homes, expensive vacations, name brand clothes, the latest technology. He didn’t give the 10% as he had agreed to do, but at first that was alright. The amount he gave covered enough of the expenses that the younger brother’s 10% covered the rest. His sister’s caregivers left messages about things she needed, but he erased the messages. As the years went on, the home’s upkeep and sister’s care became more expensive. The man grew to resent even the small amount he was giving. He stopped visiting his parents and sister because he was angry that they wanted some of his money.

The younger son looked at all of the money he had and knew he had to spend it wisely. He read the book carefully, underlining what he felt were the important tips. He decided to live in a nice, but less expensive house. His family took some vacations, but not every year. They didn’t always have all of the latest gadgets, but they had what they needed to live in today’s society. He gave the 10% to his parents’ estate. When the sister’s caregiver called, he always took care of her needs out of a savings he had established. He enjoyed visiting his parents, and often brought them gifts. He was excited to share the wealth they had given him with his parents to make their home nicer and their lives more fulfilling. He also enjoyed visiting his sister and liked to see how she thrived on what he gave her.

Neither brother knew what amount the other gave to the care of the home and sister. Eventually, the home’s expenses drained the 10% the younger brother was contributing and everything he had kept in reserve for the upkeep of the home. He gave even more, but eventually, the income from his 1/3 of the estate couldn’t support his family, the home, and the sister. The home had to be sold, and the parents were put into an inferior place with inadequate care. His contributions also did not meet his sister’s needs, so she had to go into a State home where she was not treated well and lived in bad conditions.

The younger son still visited the parents and sister. He did his best to take care of them. The older brother knew that his parents would know that he spent the money intended for them and his sister, but he didn’t want to give up his money, so he put his parents and sister out of his mind and tried to forget about them.

I probs don’t have to explain it to you, but, the the brothers are the church members (Some have more money than others.), the assisted living home is the church supported by our tithes, and the sister is the mission work–i.e. the people of Mexico, Haiti, Africa, etc.,–which we give to out of what we have left after the tithe. The sister is also the people in our church who fall on hard times and need our help, just as when we are in need we would like others to help us. God has given each of us enough–unless we have to go on welfare or have some tragic circumstance that drains all of our money–that we can donate 10% if we want to. If we have to go on welfare or some tragic circumstance happens to us, He has given other members of the church enough that they can help us through difficult times.

If we don’t give to the church, we won’t be able to afford our pastors and other church staff, our church will fall into disrepair, and when hard times come to the members, we will not have a reserve to fall back upon.

This is not a perfect illustration because God Himself isn’t affected as the parents in the parable are, but our relationship with God is really affected by how much we give. People give 10% because they are excited to share with God out of what He has given them. They also trust Him to provide for them if they fall on hard times. You can decide for yourself what you think of the actions of the older and younger brother.

Please leave any comments below. I will only post the ones which are worded in a respectful manner.

Thank you for reading. See ya!

I Love A Mystery–First Post on Hieu’s Website

Plot Holes

This post is linked to my first post on Hieu Tran’s Website. It involves plot holes and solving the Great Mysteries of Hieu’s Past.

Click on the following link, or copy and paste it into your browser. http://comingtoamericaajourneyhome.com/i-love-a-mystery/

 

As always, please “Like” my Facebook page and subscribe to this blog. Please do the same for Hieu when you visit his site.

Thank you for reading!

See ya!

Reedsy

What is the Theme of Your Story? A Guide for Authors

If you click on the words above^, they will take you to an article and quiz on “Theme.” Since Hieu’s memoir has multiple themes, sharing this post is quite appropriate. Plus, I hired the editor for my Old Testament Romance through Reedsy, ( reedsy.com)  so if you need professional editing, check it out.

The Secrets

This contains spoilers, so please watch the film before reading this if you don’t want to know what happens.

I am working on an Old Testament romance. In researching this story, I am hoping to watch some Jewish movies to learn more about the Jewish culture. The Secrets is a movie I hoped would help me. It is entirely in Hebrew with English subtitles.

Although I watched the entire movie, I am disappointed in this film for several reasons.

1. It never tells how the woman killed the man.

2. It portrays the Jewish religion as a cold and uncaring society run by harsh, unmerciful men.  When the murderess approaches the rabbi to ask him to help her seek God’s forgiveness, we see him hollering at her and driving her away. Later, when the girls try to help this woman, they are threatened with expulsion.

What we don’t see, but find out later in the movie, is that the woman is not truly sorry for sinning against God, even though at the beginning she says she is. Some people may argue that what she did wasn’t sinful. If a person does something and believes it is sinful, then it is sinful because the person is deliberately going against what s/he believes God does not want. The woman thought what she did was sinful because she talks about it and says she cannot regret it. Also, earlier in the movie, the woman states that the very same things were sinful.

In our society, we may have difficulty understanding that the girls face expulsion, not for trying to help the woman, but for doing what the Jewish religion specifically states (in the movie) to be a man’s job. “Well, that’s not right,” our society might say. That is truly not ours to judge unless we are Jewish.

3.  The girl who “snitches” on the other girls, is actually in the right, not for snitching, but for telling the girls that their ceremony is blasphemy and for trying to stop the ceremony. This girl is portrayed as a cruel, tattling hypocrite who does not care for the woman or for the girls. She actually cares a lot and wants to prevent all of them from sinning against God. And, she is right, a person cannot be forgiven if s/he isn’t sorry for what s/he did.

On a separate note, I do admire the courage of the main characters. They risked expulsion to give the woman some measure of peace before she died. I feel the lady in charge of the girls’ school would have been more lenient toward the girls, and even approved of the girls’ actions, if the rabbi had not become so angry and threatened to shut down the school.

For updates on my progress on the OldTestament romance, please “Like” my Facebook page and/or subscribe to my website.

I welcome any positive or negative feedback on the above review as long as it is stated in a respectful way, so let me know what you think.

Thank you for reading, and See Ya!

Project Memoir: Interviews

Hieu and Me Working on the Memoir Over Coffee

Hieu and I get together regularly to do interviews for his memoir. This generally includes me turning on a digital recorder to record his answers to my prepared questions.

Hieu has also given me a list of people to interview. I also include them.

So far, I have interviewed his former teacher, Mike. (I am only using first names unless the person is a public figure.)

One of the first teachers to have Hieu in class when Hieu started school after being adopted.

One of his best friends, David.

David and Hieu became friends when Hieu first started school, and they are still friends today.

And another former teacher/guidance counselor, Mayor Brenda Stadholt.

Mayor Brenda Stadsholt was Hieu’s guidance counselor and teacher.

Some people remember a lot about Hieu, some don’t remember as much. Sometimes one sentence, one memory, opens doors to topics which HIeu and I have not considered.

When I interview these people, I set the recorder on the table, turn it on, and say, “Tell me about Hieu.” Inevitably, all of the people touch on the themes of Hieu’s book, which, according to them, he lives out in his everyday life. They talk about these themes without me mentioning them, which tells me Hieu is the genuine article.

After the interview, I transcribe the person’s dialogue into my computer. Later, I will weave them into Hieu’s memoir: a story everyone will benefit from reading.

Please “Like” my Facebook page by clicking on the link in the margin. Also, please visit Hieu’s website: www.comingtoamericaajourneyhome.com and join his Facebook group for the latest news about the memoir.

Thank you for reading, and See Ya!

Daeney

I have a “talking” cat. Her official name is Daneryus Stormborn Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains. We just call her Daeney. Whenever we turn on the water, she comes running over, “talking,” telling us she wants a drink. She also “talks” when she is hungry, wants out of a room, or greets us when we arrive at home. Let me know if you have a “talking” cat, and what your cat says.

Please take time to “Like” my Facebook page. Please subscribe to this blog for emails about future posts.

Three Shades of Midnight by Hargrove Perth

Three Shades of Midnight by Hargrove Perth

My author/friend Hargrove Perth has a new book out called “Three Shades of Midnight.” If you have some time, please go to the following link to vote for her book to be chosen by kindlescout.

Link:   https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/W1K7YRV5ON6X

 

 

Sand Storm (Sufat Chol-Original Title)

 

As part of my research for the Old Testament romance I am writing, I am watching foreign films located in places similar to the Sinai Desert. These films reflect the lives of women in a patriarchal society where females have little or no perceivable power. Living this way is especially painful for the women who have been exposed to a society where women have opportunities to decide the directions of their lives for themselves.

Sand Storm is about a young woman, Layla, caught in the tangle of choices this knowledge affords. Throughout the film, she struggles with the choice of whether to leave her family-forever-, and their ages old traditions and laws, to strike out in a new direction or to stay with her family whom she loves and abide by the rules and restrictions of their society.

Layla’s mother, Jalila, has struggles of her own. Her husband has just taken a second, younger and more beautiful wife, and her oldest daughter, Layla, appears to be striking out in a direction which both fascinates and terrifies Jalila. Jalila’s smoldering anger at her husband’s indifference and neglect make the movie difficult to watch.

One overriding theme of this movie is the potential women have if they join together and the pain caused by women’s failure to do so. So many times, women are overcome by jealousy and bitterness toward other women that has nothing to do with those women. For example: a woman may be jealous because another woman has a loving relationship with her husband while the first woman’s marriage lacks the intimacy she craves. Another example: a woman may be jealous because she perceives another woman to be more beautiful than she is. Like women everywhere, if the women in this movie: Layla, Jalila, and the second wife, would band together, they could make positive changes that would benefit all of them. If the women in this movie choose to project their insecurities and unhappiness on each other, they will remain mired in the muck that is their lives. You will have to watch the movie to see which these three women choose.

I really liked this movie, and I plan to watch it again. It is a Netflix original and won awards from the Sundance Film Festival, the Seattle International Film Festival, and the Israeli Film Academy among many others.

Please “Like” my Facebook page and subscribe to this blog for updates about future posts.