Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas to all!

One Christmas night so long ago,
A star shown down so all would know ~
That in a manger on that night,
A Savior was born,
Our guiding light.

Another year has passed, too quickly for us adults, but not fast enough for kids who look forward to the excitement of Christmas.

We  want to take this time to thank you for all you do for the Thornton family.  You help provide them with a home to live in, clothes to wear, books to read and even a few toys to play with.  We think often of where they would be if it wasn’t for all the people who love them and care for them. 

Because of your example they are  learning to be bright and shining lights to those around them as well.

We send our wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family.  

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Marquel, Annie, Charlie and Chip
Mr. Thornton
Randy and Stephanie

Monday, December 13, 2010

Books - the Gift We Take for Granted

For Charlie's 3rd grade class Christmas party, the flier said "bring a wrapped book, new or used, to exchange with your classmates".  What an awesome idea, I thought!

Every night I read to Charlie before he goes to sleep.  Since February, we have read quite a stack of books that he insists we pile up on the stand beside his bed, alongside the stack of books that he has lined up to read in the future.  I explained that he could pick a book that we had already read as a class gift and his response surprised me.  "But I LIKE all my books", he said emphatically with a very worried look on his face.  He then surprised me further by stating that he wanted to re-read several of the books.  This is the boy who doesn't like to watch a movie twice because he has such an amazing memory that seeing it again is too boring.

"Our kids" have been given many boxes of books over the past five years, and those who give them probably want to clean out their bookshelves, not realizing what an awesome gift they are giving.  When Charlie objected to giving away a book, it nearly brought tears to my eyes.  I saw where his mom lived in the Projects of New Orleans, I knew that books were not a part of their chaotic life.

Books - reading to our babies, toddlers and kids, reading magazines, books, newspapers, the list goes on and on - and we take it so for granted.  Can you imagine life without them?  That is the way people in poverty live.

When writing my own book, I met an "internet friend" who has written a series of books, aimed mostly at youth, and I highly recommend checking them out.  Darryl has become one of my biggest fans and supporters - please check out his website  "The Faithwalker Series".

I have had the opportunity to read two new books this last week and I would love to share them with you.  Both of them were written by people we know, which makes them more special.

At church there is a young lady, Makayla, who is so adorable.  She has beautiful dark skin, curly hair that is always arranged so cute, and the most gorgeous smile.  She stands tall and self-assured and we would notice Marquel watching her intently.  Makayla asked Marquel to help her with the Pre-Kinder kids at Vacation Bible School last summer, and while Marquel decided she definitely was not interested in teaching, she enjoyed getting to know Makayla better.

A few weeks ago Makayla gave Marquel and Annie one of the first copies of a book she had written.  In the front she inscribed it "With love to two beautiful girls".  Marquel and Annie were so thrilled, they took it home and brought it back the next weekend;  both had read it.

When I finally had time to sit down and read it, it was if the book was written for them!  Makayla is an awesome young author, and if you have a young person in your life, please consider getting this book for them.  You can find it at - the title is "Voice of the Unborn" by Makayla Cook.  It was inspired by her own life, being adopted by loving and supportive parents.

Last spring Makayla was compelled to do something after the earthquake in Haiti.  She and her dad made a trip to volunteer at an orphanage, and they came home with a new little brother, a precocious little guy who is just adorable.  They recently made another trip to help rebuild the orphanage, and today they are stranded in Haiti as the airports have been closed due to political unrest and rioting.  Keep Makayla and her dad in your prayers for a safe return home.

The 2nd book I had the privilege or reading is quite different.  When I was getting ready to publish my own book, a lady at church offered me some very good advice.  Her husband was a retired pastor and had published a book, and she was well versed in the process.  I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with Mrs. Markwald, she was so friendly and helpful.  Last spring her husband passed away, and we became aware of his incredible life, growing up in prewar Germany and his service to his country.

Mrs. Markwald had spent many years accumulating notes as her husband would tell his memories in bits and pieces.  She finally convinced him that other people might be interested in his life story, and as she worked on the book, he would be by her side.  He did not live to see the book published, but I think he would be proud.  It is a very well written book, one that is hard to put down once you get started.  It is titled "Victory over Defeat: Memoirs of a German Soldier" by Marilyn Markwald, and I highly recommend it!

This weekend at church I couldn't wait to see Mrs. Markwald and tell her how much I enjoyed her book.  As we talked, she asked how "our kids" were doing.  I explained that it has been a very hard year.  Marquel, now 13, has had a very difficult time coming to terms with losing her mother, but we think we are making progress.  "I always keep you in my prayers", she said.  "I don't always know what specific things to ask for, but I ask for God to be with you."

I was so choked up, I couldn't respond expect to say "Thank you".  God knows the specifics.

When I was writing my book I knew it was not a great work of literature, it was simply a story that I felt needed to be told.  A stranger offered to read my book and write a review.  Her review wasn't exactly kind, and in the course of talking to her, she made the comment that her aunt was a librarian and that in her opinion, most books should never be written.  How sad for her, I thought to myself!

I hope you will consider getting these books as Christmas presents for someone special in your life.  If nothing else, do it in honor of 4 little kids who would never have had books to read or the opportunity to receive one inscribed to them personally!

Remind someone you know of the great gift of books that we take so for granted.
Merry Christmas!

Until next time . . .

From my friend, CS - she wrote:
Dear Stephanie-
I always enjoy reading your blogs but this one I especially enjoyed!
I LOVE to read and this blog brought tears to my eyes as I realized it is truly a gift I take for granted
and that there are people in the world that are not blessed with this amazing gift.
How WONDERFUL that Charlie loves his books!
Also, I am going to check out your friend's book "Victory over Defeat".
Thank you so much for sharing your blog with me.
I had to share this - I love hearing from all of you!