I’m facing major surgery on December 4th. That’s just three days short of the anniversary of the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Whenever this time of year approaches, I jump into full Christmas mode beginning on November 1. But, this year will be different. Christmas celebration for us will be dialed back a bit.
So, I have already put up our “Homecoming Tree”. It is not yet decorated and sits in our living room waiting for its mantle of shiny decorations. This year, Sherry has decided to dig out all of our vintage Precious Moments decorations. Some of these date back 40 years! Decorating the tree will be quite nostalgic!
I guess it is fitting that this is the year I release my novelization of “The Homecoming Tree”, a play I wrote and directed at Brookwood Baptist Church in 2005. In looking back through my photographs of that play, I found one of my father. Sean, my son, took those photos on black and white film and when we developed them, yes, developed them — not digital, the developing process left artifacts on the photographs. These artifacts resembled what you would see on a genuine old film. Here is the photograph of my father as he is looking up at the set for the play.Read the rest of this entry
Plan on coming to our Conquering Depression Seminar at Brookwood Baptist Church on Saturday, November 17th from 8:30 to Noon. I and Mark Sutton will be talking about depression based on our book “Hope Again: A 30 Day Plan for Conquering Depression”. You can go to this link for information and registrations: Link
Summer is here along with the heat and humidity. I wrote in my last post that soon I will launching a website dedicated to depression and our new upcoming book, “Hope Again: A 30 Day Plan For Conquering Depression”. So, I dug through my previous posts and found this little story I wrote for the now defunct website, Posterous. It is set in the dead of winter, a reflection of the cold, dead feeling one can experience with depression. But, it is a story of hope!
Awake My Soul
I do not move.
I am quiescent and still.
Movement for me is pain. Life is pain.
The trees outside are harsh and bare. Winter has stripped them of vigor and life. Gray fingers claw at the even grayer sky. Even the clouds do not move. The air is still. No wind. No breeze. No life.
My daughter has placed me here on the porch. I feel the sting of cold on my cheeks but I can ignore it. I have ignored all feeling for months now. Since Tom died, I have had no reason to move.
My daughter has wrapped a scarf around my neck and tucked it into the woolen sweater Tom gave me last year for Christmas. I can still smell him on it when I choose to acknowledge my sense of smell.
The air is so cold, it numbs my face. The numbed is numbed even more.
“Why is she out there on the porch?” That is my son-in-law inside the warm house.
“I’m tired of her, Richard. I can’t take this anymore.” My daughter has tears in her voice. I cannot feel them. I cannot touch them. The tears mean nothing to me.
“She’ll freeze to death.” Richard says.
“That’s the idea.”
There is a profound silence. And then, subdued sobbing; quiet, subtle.
A white flake shimmies down the still air and lands on my nose. I choose not to feel it melt. So intricate, so beautiful in its design — one of a kind — it dies on my cold skin. It dies on the already dead. For, she has left me to die out here alone; cold; still; frozen.
The sliding door opens behind me and a waft of warm air bathes the back of my head. I cannot feel it on my neck for the scarf. Richard’s shadow falls over me from the lights inside the house; lights that try in vain to chase away the gray.
“You’ll have to forgive your daughter, Mom.” He says behind me. “She is very frustrated and wants to leave you out here to die.”
“I’m already frozen.” I whisper and he leans over me. His breath touches my forehead.
“Did you say something?”
“I’m already frozen.” I said more strongly. “Let me finish dying.”
My lips pull apart and I realize they have frozen together. I feel the pain as the first real sensation I have experienced in months.
Richard squats beside my wheelchair and for a second, I choose to notice the strong profile of his face; his angular cheekbones; his gently stubbled chin; his clear eyes. He is watching the trees.
“Winter is hard for all of us, Mom. Spring is coming. I want to tell you a secret. It is a deep and abiding secret that no one can know.”
More flakes are falling now and caressing my cheeks. I choose not to feel their gently touch. One lands on my cornea and I blink involuntarily. I must not do that again. But, try as a I might to ignore his statement, the attraction is there. What secret is he talking about?
“What secret?” My voice is a bare whisper.
“Virginia is stressed out because we have chosen to take a journey. It is a long and tedious journey and we will be gone for weeks. She doesn’t know what to do with you during that time. She can’t leave you alone. And, she isn’t going to leave you out here to die.” His breath streams away from him, a living thing full of warmth and moisture and the snowflakes eddy and swirl.
“Rawanda. In Africa. There is a little girl. She needs a family.” He turns his head to me and his gaze is full and hot on my face. Tears mingle with the snowflakes. “She needs to know her grandfather. She needs to know what he was like. Only you can tell her that.”
Another snowflake hits my eye and melts. The moisture runs along my eyelid and I feel a hot tear trickle down my cheek. No! I cannot let this happen! I cannot feel!
“Will you come with us to Rawanda? Will you come with us to get your granddaughter?” His eyes are full and round and wet and the snow is covering his bare head, peppering his shoulders.
I feel something deep within stir from a slumber of unforgiving anger and frustration. The black dregs of my depression begin to drift away as the warmth stokes itself in my heart. No! I want to scream. No! I want to hold onto the stillness; the inertia; the coming of winter’s death. I try to ignore Richard’s gleaming eyes and his warm breath and when I subtly avert my gaze a flash of bright red burns my retinas. A lone flower dares to challenge the grayness from my camellia bush. The snow flakes are covering it now and it wants to be seen; it wants to look upward to the hidden sun for life and warmth; it wants to live.
The chair creaks; the ice breaks across my knees and I push, push, push up and out of the heaviness of my crypt of sorrow and I stumble to the flower. I brush away the snow with shaking hands and my tears anoint the petals with life. With life!
Awake my soul!
I turn to my son-in-law who is standing with his mouth wide open and the snow covering his head and my daughter stumbles through the open door with her hands pressed to her tear streaked face and I feel the ice crack as I smile. “When do we leave?”
There is a moment in a published author’s life that is akin to seeing your unborn child for the first time by ultrasound. As a radiologist, I am fully aware of the excitement parents feel when they see that gray and white blob moving on the ultrasound screen and begin to catch glimpses of what the finished “product” will look like. They gasp when they see fingers. They laugh when they see arms and legs. And, they cry when they see the face even though it is such a poor reflection of the beautiful child they will hold in their hands in just a few months.
Friday, I had such an experience. A package waited for me by my front door when I got home from a long, hard day at the hospital. To say I was tired and frustrated and disillusioned by the direction health care is going is to say the least. Soon, I will weigh in on this issue because I can no longer keep my silence after the horrific events with the VA scandal. But, for today, I want to share something bright and happy and encouraging. I picked up the package and noted it was quite heavy for such a small box. When I got the thing inside and ripped off the tab, guess what I found inside?
What? What are galley proofs, you ask? In the days before electronic media prevailed, an upcoming book was printed out on rough sheets of paper to approximate what the final product would look like. Since 2006, I’ve been involved in the publishing of five of my books and each galley proof was presented to me as a PDF. My excitement was no less at receiving these electronic documents. But, here was a throw back to old school publishing. Why? Because this book required a careful review of the actual printed appearance, not just an electronic approximation. For, this book would have illustrations and break out text boxes and Lifefilters. . .
What is a Lifefilter? More on that later.
In the summer of 2012, as I have shared in the past, God did something truly miraculous and literally dropped a book project into the laps of yours truly and my co-author and best friend (and former pastor) Mark Sutton. We wrote a book on depression in 2001 (which is still an excellent book, by the way!) But, over the intervening years, things changed and we wanted to update the book. Our publisher was not interested. But, a new team took over the editorial direction at B&H Publishing and they wanted us to write a new updated version of the book.
Mark and I went to work immediately in the fall of 2012 and now, before me was the galley proofs of a book we are hoping will help millions. Did you see that word? Millions! Not because we want money. No, it is because we are in the midst of an epidemic of depression unprecedented in American history since the Great Depression.
So, I will grab a cup of coffee. I wish I could teleport myself to New Zealand and have one of those luscious “flat whites” as you can see my friend Alex drinking. Yes, that is a cup as big as a cereal bowl! They love their coffee in New Zealand. So, I will hunker down with my galley proofs and drinks lots of coffee and check this manuscript out.
When will you be able to get your hands on “Hope Again: A 30 Day Plan for Conquering Depression”? Stay connected to my site as Mark and I will be launching a new website this summer to keep you informed of the arrival of this important tool. For now, you can check out our rather static site for information on the current book here. And, don’t forget to pick up some copies of “The Chronicles of Jonathan Steel” for your summer reading!
Got to get to work!
This Friday night from 6 to 8 PM come by the Well, the coffee shop of Brookwood Baptist Church (corner of I-49 and Bert Kouns) and have a free cup of coffee and a snack. I know that many of you have Christmas parties and such, so the event is a come and go affair. I’ll be giving away some gift cards and I will email them to the winner so you don’t have to be present to win.
My latest book, “The 11th Demon: The Ark of Chaos” will be available at a low price of only $10.
In fact, I will have all four books there. My first two books in the Chronicles of Jonathan Steel and my book, “Conquering Depression” — a timely book for this time of year and for this time in history!
So, here is the deal.
Each book individually is $10.
Or, you can buy three books for $25!
Or, you can buy four books for $30!
If you are in a hurry, I’ll have some pre signed books so you don’t have to wait in line. Just grab the book, pay for it, and grab a snack before you leave.
I appreciate all of my readers and I am hoping to make this third book a real success for the Jonathan Steel series to continue. If you don’t live in the Shreveport area, I am planning on asking the local LifeWays in Shreveport, Austin, and Abilene to have a book signing. I held a book signing in Austin and Shreveport before but my son, Sean and his wife, Jenn now live in Abilene and I’d love to show up there for a book signing. You might want to mention this to your local LifeWay!
Also, I am planning on contacting the book store at First Baptist Church Orlando for a book signing sometime in January – February, 2014. They have been so good and faithful to let me sign books and I can’t wait to return to the area!
Hope to see you Friday night. Oh, and yes, the Ark of Chaos will be on the premises along with a creature from the depths of well . . . let’s just say, it’s beastly on the inside!
(A free tee shirt for each buying customer!)
Bruce Hennigan debuts his third book,
“The 11th Demon: The Ark of Chaos”
Friday evening, December 6, 2013
from 6 to 8 PM at The Well, the coffee shop of Brookwood Baptist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Brookwood Baptist Church is at the corner of I-49 and Bert Kouns. (www.brookwoodbaptist.com)
Books are $10 each at the book launch only (This is a saving of up to $5 per book).
Book Launch Special:
3 Books for $25
4 Books for $30
Sign up for free giveaways!
There will be a special announcement about a new, upcoming book!
Come and enjoy free drinks and snacks!
Friday, December 6th, 2013 at the Well (coffee shop) at Brookwood Baptist Church (corner of I49 and Bert Kouns) is the OFFICIAL launch of “The 11th Demon: The Ark of Chaos”!
Details will follow but basically I will be signing the new book and my three other books from 6 to 8 PM. I know Christmas parties will be in full swing by then so I am making this a come and go event. Come have some coffee in the Well and some Christmas snacks. I’ll be giving away some prizes (no need to wait for them — I will email them or mail them if you win!). So, make it a demony Christmas!
“Dad, I feel normal for the first time in years.”
This one statement drove me to tears. My daughter feels normal. My daughter acts normal!
I haven’t posted in weeks. My family has been in survival mode for so long. Life happens and it is not always good. My son and his wife made a major move to a new town and new job situation. My daughter finally agreed to have some testing performed thanks to her two best friends who agreed to accompany her. The stress level has been beyond 10 for so long I don’t know what it feels like to be normal. But, I will try and become familiar with the feeling again.
My daughter, Casey, in her long protracted battle with migraines and seizures has finally found the perfect medication combination and over the past three weeks my wife and I have watched her blossom and bloom. We have our daughter back! Sorry, but I have to keep the tears off the keyboard. I’ll be back in a moment.
Okay, so I want to thank my blog readers for their thoughts and prayers during this time. Casey is back to her normal self, something we haven’t seen in years.
Through all of this, I have continued to work on my next two books. For the readers of the Chronicles of Jonathan Steel (both books are great summer reads if you haven’t tried them!) I will have the third book available by the end of October, first of November. I am keeping my promise to you, my readers, of having a book out once a year in this story arc.
I am also finishing the final manuscript chapters for the update to “Conquering Depression” with my co-author, Mark Sutton. More on that in the near future, but I am so excited about the opportunity B&H Publishing is giving us to update this book and bring it into the 21st century!
That’s all for now. I’ll be blogging again very soon. I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers. God is so good!
Just a teaser:
The 11th Demon: The Ark of Chaos
Just when Jonathan Steel thought he would get a break, he discovers that his mentor, Cephas Lawrence has purchased the house once owned by the evil Robert Ketrick, once in league with the thirteenth demon. And, trapped within the walls of the house’s basement is a dark secret that threatens their existence. When Vivian Darbonne Ketrick arrives in Shreveport to locate the Ark of the Demon Rose, a new evil organization appears to rival the Council of Darkness. Soon, Jonathan, Josh Knight, Cephas, and Theophilus King find themselves involved in government conspiracies, evil powers, and in the clutches of not one, but two powerful demons! What is in the Ark of the Demon Rose? Why is Vivian looking for it? And, who are the mysterious white eyed minions of evil who make Vivian look like a Girl Scout? Find out in the latest installment of the Chronicles of Jonathan Steel in “The 11th Demon: The Ark of Chaos”. Available this fall.
In 1964, a cartoon premiered on Friday NIGHT called Jonny Quest. I was only 9 years old but I was instantly hooked. I can still recall sitting on our green Naugahyde* couch with a glass of chocolate milk and a miracle whip and mustard sandwich, eyes wide open watching a boy not too much older than me fighting lizard men in the middle of the haunted Sargasso Sea. Those images of rotting hulks of lost and abandoned ships covered with mold and sargassum seaweed still haunt my memories. Here is what Wikipedia says about this area:
The Sargasso Sea is a region in the gyre in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. It is bounded on the west by the Gulf Stream; on the north, by the North Atlantic Current; on the east, by the Canary Current; and on the south, by the North Atlantic Equatorial Current. This system of ocean currents forms the North Atlantic Gyre. All the currents deposit the marine plants and refuse they carry into this sea.
A gyre of refuse and rotting hulks; the ultimate graveyard of ships unwarily trapped in the doldrums; ships and sailors who drifted into the Sargasso Sea and were trapped forever! Here is a perfect description of a maelstrom of misery; a whirlpool of weariness; a prison for those who lose their wind; let their sails luff helplessly, rudderless — lost forever!
Well, I have been trapped in the Sargasso Sea for months now. And, there is no laser wielding boy scientist and his father on the horizon to save me. “What do you do when you have writer’s block?” I have been asked. Always, I have been able to answer this question by claiming that writer’s block has NEVER been my problem. But, what about life block? What happens when everything grinds to a halt and you can’t seem to get anywhere? What happens when crisis after crisis throws roadblocks and speed bumps before you? Life happens. Writer’s block is a symptom far down the line from a life that has been drawn slowly, inexorably into the Sargasso Sea!
It is no coincidence that in the midst of this time in my life, I am trying to finish a new manuscript on depression. I can officially announce that Mark Sutton and I have signed a new contract for an update to our depression book, “Conquering Depression”. Our hope is to launch a new website by July 1 showcasing our current book and helping those who are deep in the doldrums of depression. I guess I need to read my own book!
But, where I am right now is far more complex than depression. I once thought idealistically that there was a point in my adult life when my children would be grown up and on their own and my wife and I would have time for all of that traveling together; golden years of maturity and joy as a reward for a lifetime lived well and fully. I thought of this “golden” time as the years before retirement when we would still have the health and the energy to do whatever we wanted and the freedom to pursue decades of postponed dreams.
Instead, life has grown increasingly more demanding and complex. Aging parents demand more attention than our young children every did! Our grown children face challenges of their own my wife and I never had to deal with at that age. Life continues to happen, unrolling before us as a road with potholes and unexpected detours and roadblocks. How naive I was to think that life would ever be truly uncomplicated and simple. Life is not.
Here is why. Life is change. Life is growth. Life is pain. Life is joy. Life is NOT static. Life is dynamic. The only time when there will be no change; no growth; no pain is when we are dead. This is a startling revelation for me. To live is to face pain AND joy. The two cannot be separated. For, it is in the triumph over these challenges that we find the sweetest joy; the greatest contentment.
As my family journeys forward into the unknowable future, we have to cling to the concept that the Sargasso Sea can trap us, but there is a Navigator, a Pilot, a Captain who can lead us out of the doldrums. His breath is our wind; filling our sails with life and movement and joy.
I cannot even begin to imagine what life would be like trapped in the Sargasso Sea on a rotting hulk of a broken life totally alone without God. In the deepest, darkest moments of despair, God is still there. I may not be able to see Him but the defect is mine, not His. My glasses are clouded by the smears of angrily swiped tears. My eyes are closed against the pain I see in my life. But, if I open them; if I dare to look UP and away from the maelstrom of misery around me, I will see my Redemption is drawing nigh. My sails, though tattered and torn, can still fill with the breath of life and my ship can move out of the dead water into the living Water of life.
As my wife tells me, “Breathe!”. Yes, breathe; inspire; pause and let the breath of God renew you. Today, right now, this moment stilled and frozen in time — reach up with open hands, open arms, open heart to God. His warmth, His breath, His life will renew you as it renews me with each drawn breath.
Today, I choose to sail my broken, scarred ship out of the Sargasso Sea; out of the rotting hulks of depression and despair and defeat. I set my sight on a far shore with a fair sunrise and a promise of unconditional love! Join me and leave the Sargasso Sea behind!
*A marketing campaign of the 1960s and 1970s asserted that Naugahyde was obtained from the skin of an animal called a “Nauga”. The campaign emphasized that, unlike other animals, which must typically be slaughtered to obtain their hides, Naugas can shed their skin without harm to themselves. Naugahyde also was known as plastic leather or “pleather”.
For fun, check out this ‘redo’ of the intro to Jonny Quest in stop motion animation: