Friday, August 15, 2014

What’s In a Name?

Sherry Carter's first bible study "Storms of Life" won the Award of Excellence in Christian Literature at the 2007 Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.
For several years, she worked as an engineer in NASA’s Shuttle Program. After a series of agonizing crises, culminating in a layoff, God brought about an abrupt career change: Sherry, the engineer, became Sherry the Christian author.
She lives with her husband in west Texas. They have two daughters and two perfect grandchildren.

 Have you ever tried to agree on a name?

Even naming our pets can be an issue!

Watch someone who’s getting ready to have a baby.

The parents, with a great amount of outside help, scour the earth for a suitable name for the most precious baby ever born.

No page in a baby-name book is left unturned.

There are arguments over which traditional family name will be used.

Obviously names are important.

If you’re a man, you’ve probably heard, “You’re carrying on our family name – do it proud.”

Teenage girls look up the meanings for their names and brag if their names have a royal meaning.

When I was in high school, I knew a guy named George.

For some reason, I had preconceived ideas about the name George.

Poor guy didn’t have a chance.

Now I have a friend named Bubba.

Admit it, stereotypes come to mind, don’t they?

We’ve all got names.

First names, middle names, last names.

Mother, father, names that reflect our beliefs, names that represent our occupations.

Your personality, your character, your beliefs are all tied up in your names.

I heard R.C. Spruill tell this story several years ago and it’s stayed in my mind.

During a military operation, when enemy troops crept around a camp in the darkness, a young, inexperienced guard hid.

When found, the captain dragged him before the commander, Alexander the Great.

He insisted that the soldier be executed for his cowardice.

Alexander told the captain to leave and sat, looking at the young man.

After a moment, he asked the soldier his name.

“Alexander,” he whispered.

Alexander the Great said, “Young man, either change your behavior or change your name.”

Then, with grace and mercy, he told the soldier to return to duty.

We all carry many names.

How do our lives reflect on these names?

What does our behavior say about the value we give to those names?

When people learn that you’re a Christian, do they nod or act surprised?

When someone learns that you’re a doctor, do they recognize your care and skill?

As parents, does everyone see how deeply you love your children and how committed you are to raising them to have values and a sense of responsibility?

At the end of the day, did your life reflect your names?

Photo Credit: Best Baby Name Book
What's in a name?  Nicole Singer




Friday, August 8, 2014

A bite of the Golden Apple...

For two weeks last month, I was in a creative paradise.

I ate delicious, homemade, regional specialties at the communal dinner each night (with breakfast and lunch brought down to our studios' common area earlier in the day). I slept in my private, cozy cottage, complete with a mini kitchen and ocean view. I enjoyed the companionship and camaraderie of like-minded, professional artists and writers (four of us in all) who were all there to work--and work hard. One other, like me, was an author. The other two were artists--one painted in acrylics and the other in mixed media. They were all lovely people (all women, as it turned out) and while we enjoyed one another's company, we also respected the privacy of our individual studios and the priceless opportunity we had to work for those precious two weeks far from our other jobs and the pressing responsibilities found in the everyday world.

I was at the Golden Apple Art Residency in Harrington, Maine, located on nine and a half acres of thick pine forest and fringed by the rocky coastline of the Atlantic Ocean. Early each weekday morning, lobster boats motored their way to the lobster pots, one of which (the Mandy T.) brought home lobsters for an authentic lobster boil prepared by our hostess and co-owner of the Golden Apple, Shelley Newman Stevens. Her meals are legendary and nutritious, though you'd never guess they were good for you judging by their decadent tastiness. Her hostess skills are surpassed only by her artistic credits. Her own work is shown around the country (and even featured on an Australian television documentary). She attended Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she earned both her undergraduate and Master of Fine Arts degrees. After that, she worked at KCAD as an admissions officer, then as an art professor at Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan--all that, an active studio in their Mt. Pleasant home, and administrating the Golden Apple. My head hurts just thinking about her schedule.

Greg, her husband and successful businessman in his own right, works tirelessly on the grounds and does all sorts of maintenance work, as well as lobster runs to pick out the best from the day's catch for their guests. While we were there, he was cutting up two dozen trees felled by the unexpected and thoughtlessly uninvited Hurricane Arthur just before the residency began. Even with the loss of so many trees, the loss was negligible when compared to the number of others populating their acreage. The boulder-studded grounds, though natural, are manicured just enough to provide easy access for those of us who wanted to visit the shoreline, a short walk from the back of the main building which housed the studios and their beautiful home.

My goals were three-fold: I wanted to work on my current novel, take photographs, and get closer to God. I was successful. I wrote thousands of words and reached the 3/4 point in my manuscript, took over 1500 photos, many of which will find themselves in my blogs and other printed material, and spent time praising and talking to God while sitting in His glorious creation.

If you or anyone you know is a working professional in the arts and would like to apply for a residency at Golden Apple, you can visit and click on the residency tab. For more insight into the overall experience, check out the comments of previous residents. This once-in-a-lifetime experience not only allowed me the opportunity to work exclusively on my current projects, but introduced me to five wonderful artists--Yvonne, Erin, Anne, Shelley, and Greg. I won't forget my friendships and I won't ever be able to duplicate my experiences.

Thank you, Shelley and Greg. The Golden Apple Art Residency was a fairytale come true.

The beautiful entrance to the
Golden Apple Art Residency in Harrington, Maine...
Delicious meals, great conversation, and lots of laughter
were served up at this dining table...
Incredible view from the grounds of the Golden Apple...