…the kindness of God leads you to repentance… Romans 2:4b
It is funny, once a child of God experiences the personal joy of God’s kindness in his or her life, that joy is shared with someone else by acts of kindness in return. In sharing the joy of God by acts of kindness, God’s purpose is realized. Only His children can receive His joy, and only His children can share His joy with others through sincere acts of kindness…that is how God works through us to reach those in the greatest need of receiving His joy. Once those in need of God’s joy in their life receive joy from one of God’s children through some act of kindness and they recognize the source of that joy there can be but one response: repentance, or turning from a life of sorrow and strife towards a life of hope, optimism, and peace only found through receiving God’s joy in their life.
Right now in our community, there is a lot of bad news touching lives, and families are struggling as parents are at risk of losing jobs and homes. Our community needs to sense of joy through many acts of kindness that leads them to have a real sense of hope, optimism, and peace. The only stimulus plan that will last is the plan God has for us not what man can deliver. God’s resources are unlimited whereas man’s are certainly limited and cannot last. Share with someone today the hope of God through an act of kindness and see how it can stimulate joy in others.
(This devotion was originally written to a host of students, teachers, and friends caught up in the financial crisis of 2009. Our current crisis is not the same but the challenges and fears of uncertainty are the same as before. Kindness remains a gift of God that will save lives from despair and destruction. Whose life will you impact by your acts of compassion and kindness today and tomorrow?)
Visit TMBrownAuthor.com for stories that reflect the value of kindness in times of crisis in the Shiloh stories.
“Have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.” — Exodus 25:8, NIV
Until three years ago, the former Adams County Courthouse had proudly stood since the Civil War as the landmark in Shiloh. After the powers-to-be transferred the county seat to Alexandria during the Depression, the majestic edifice underwent renovation to appease the folks in Shiloh and became the town’s city hall. The elegant lady had worn her nostalgic brick and stone exterior well, but the makeover had been superficial.
Questions have lingered since city officials reported the fire as accidental, cause unknown.
A prolonged Indian summer gripped Georgia. Though already the first Sunday of November, hot and humid weather more suitable for early September caused sweat to trickle unabated down my neck dampening the collar of the fresh cotton polo I had just yanked over my head. The moving truck had pulled away while Liddy patiently watched from her passenger window. I walked up the sidewalk one last time and locked the front door of the colonial brick suburban house we had called home for the past seven years.
I jumped into the driver’s seat, buckled up, squeezed the hand of my wife of forty years, and then reached for the gear shift. “Any regrets?”
Liddy raised her window and turned her gaze straight ahead as a silly smirk appeared. “Nope, Let’s roll! We’ve got a moving truck to meet in Shiloh tomorrow.”
My foot slid from the brake to the accelerator, and our Expedition jolted forward with the packed trailer in tow. Liddy stared straight ahead for the first few minutes. She caressed the manila envelope stuffed with photos, brochures, and paperwork about the house we contracted to purchase for our retirement, but soon dozed off after we turned south onto US Highway 19. I settled in for the long afternoon drive to our destination an hour below Albany.
The all-too-familiar gated communities and shopping centers under Atlanta’s ever-present shadow faded in my rearview mirror. I snapped a farewell salute as we passed Cornerstone Books where I served as chief publishing editor until one week ago. The historic highway narrowed as the scenic panorama of autumn colors revealed more and more farms, fields and forests along the landmark route.
Liddy stirred long enough to adjust her position and place a small pillow between her head and the window. Glancing at her as she fell back to sleep jogged my memory of the first day my eyes fell upon her on the Athens campus forty years ago. My smile over the memory faded when I glanced at the stranger in the rearview mirror. Gray had infiltrated my dirty blonde hair, and crow’s feet pointed to sagging eyelids. After an extended sigh, I reminded myself that I no longer was that spirited undergrad Liddy first met, but a second glance at Liddy returned a grin to my wrinkled face.
When Liddy first suggested early retirement, I turned a deaf ear. Undeterred, she persisted. “Theo Phillips, it’s high time you realized that you can afford to do what you’ve always wanted. Walk away from that job you’ve grown to resent and invest the time to write your own stories as you’ve always envisioned?”
Once my hard head embraced the idea, Liddy wasted little time. She arranged the sale of our home, scoured a mountain of listings, made countless phone calls, and endured long day trips, while I fulfilled my promise to my boss and worked until the end of October. Liddy strutted about the day our home landed an eager buyer, and the following evening methodically spread a collection of photos on the kitchen table of a picturesque, historic home located in a South Georgia town aptly named Shiloh. Not far from our childhood hometowns, the pictures brought back fond memories for both of us. We both felt God had answered our prayers when a day later we received acceptance of our cash offer.
On the outskirts of Albany, Liddy stirred and wiped her eyes as the late afternoon sunlight glistened between the treetops. She cleared her throat and lowered her sunglasses from the top of her head. Surveying the passing scenery, she asked with a drawn-out sigh. “Where are we?”
I pointed to a well-timed road sign. “Albany’s 30 more miles. Reckon we’ll arrive in Shiloh a little before six.” The news earned a smile as she stared back out the window.
Liddy soon turned with a curious grin. “What were you thinking about while I was asleep?”
Without losing my focus on the road, I said, “How lucky I was to have stolen the heart of the prettiest girl that ever graced the Athens campus.”
Liddy giggled. “I feel the same about you.”
We soon turned onto the Flint River Highway, the homestretch leg of our journey. The amber glow grew darker as the sun disappeared below the distant treetops.
Liddy bit her lower lip and clenched my hand. “Do you think we did right? I mean… buying this house and leaving Peachtree?”
A chuckle erupted first. “Hun, I’ve no doubt that the vetting process you orchestrated selecting this house removed any reservations I might have clung onto about my retirement or our decision to pack up and move to Shiloh.”
Her cheeks glowed. “Me neither, but I wanted to be certain you weren’t merely trying to appease me. I’m truly looking forward to sinking deep roots and making a slew of friends.”
My wink brought a smile to Liddy’s relieved lower lip. “You’re right,” she said. “But how well do you think we’ll fit in?”
“Trust me. A town like Shiloh won’t allow us to remain anonymous long.”
Liddy laughed and agreed that Shiloh would be like the small towns we remembered growing up, where even strangers passing through town were addressed as “friend” or “neighbor,” and names were exchanged during a hearty handshake or hug.
Liddy eyed a distant weathered barn donning a rusted tin roof. “We must be getting close.”
She begged me to stop when we passed an abandoned mansion with discolored columns and rickety shutters no longer protecting shattered windows. With critters and termites likely the only tenants, I convinced her we should save a close-up inspection for another day. Plantation oaks with dangling moss lined the rest of the way into Shiloh. The Expedition’s automatic headlamps attacked the growing dark shadows and distant lights welcomed us into town.
On Main Street, Liddy urged me to slow well below the speed limit as we drove into the center of town. She pointed out the quaint drugstore, barbershop, and the other storefronts surrounding the town square. We reminisced about fifty-cent Saturday matinees as we rolled past the movie theater with its illuminated marquee. In fact, Shiloh revealed family-owned shops and businesses, a fading memory in most small towns throughout the South.
The Chamber of Commerce brochure depicted a majestic, antebellum, red-brick courthouse anchoring the center of Shiloh. Instead, we discovered a newly constructed brick and granite city hall with a grand portico and well-lit main entrance. Decorative red-brick walkways cut through manicured lawn and meticulous gardens. As we crept along, Liddy pointed to an illuminated, life-like bronze statue of a young man at one corner of the town square.
“I wonder who he was?” Liddy asked. “He looks so young. There’s nothing in the literature about it.”
I managed a shrug as I searched for the street that led to our house. The word SOLD stood out on the Arians Real Estate sign in the front yard of our corner property. Liddy left little doubt about her eagerness to show me more of the house, but darkness, the growl of our stomachs and fatigue begged otherwise. A couple of blocks further into the quiet neighborhood, Liddy exchanged smiles with two red-haired girls playing out front of one of the elegant mansions among other comparable homes at that end of Calvary Street.
Shiloh’s unified school complex at the southern end of town brought back memories of our school days. The buildings and grounds appeared recently renovated. The football stadium and athletic fields behind the school appeared larger than one would expect for a town of Shiloh’s size.
Once I turned back onto Main Street, flickering yellow and blue neon lights identified our destination for the night, the Shiloh Motel. “Thank goodness! I’m so ready to crawl out from under this steering wheel. Not to mention, I’m famished.”
Liddy lowered her window. “Hey, look next door, Bubba’s BBQ. Sure smells good too.”
Inside the motel office, a silver-haired woman dressed in a blue and white flowered frock eyed us as she slurped down the last of her drink, managing a warm smile at the same time. She yanked off her makeshift paper towel bib, dabbed her cheeks, moments before she wriggled out of her armchair. A sauce-stained, white porcelain platter next to her chair held remnants of her dinner, a couple of ketchup ladened fries alongside a neat stack of sucked-clean rib bones. With a flick of her remote, she muted Aunt Bea from Andy of Mayberry. She adjusted her dress as she approached with contagious smile that made us respond likewise, but her shrill greeting we’d never forget.
“Welcome, folks to Shiloh. Y’all mus’ be Mista an’ Missus Phillips. We’ve been expectin’ y’all.”
Liddy froze but managed an abbreviated nod. I continued up to the counter, choking off an escalating chuckle. Instead, I feigned a cough before greeting the jovial hostess with a suitable grin.
“I’m Barb, Barb Patterson. Me and my husband Bubba are the proud owners of the best motel and barbecue restaurant in Shiloh.” Her cheeks flushed as her fingers sought to stifle her cackle.“Oh, me. Oh, my. The truth is, we own the only motel and barbecue restaurant in town.” A burst of self-indulgent belly laughter followed.
“Well, Barb, thanks for such a pleasant greeting,” I managed to say after snickering at first. “We’re glad to be here after our long drive.” I nudged Liddy. “I’m Theo, Theo Phillips, and this is Liddy, my wife. I believe the two of you spoke this morning.”
“Y’all mus’ be plum tuckered out.” Her fingers flitted in the direction of my hand reaching for my wallet. “You can keep your wallet in your pants pocket for now.” She slid a registration form and pen in front of me. “Please sign right here. We’ve got our best room reserved for you. We’ll deal with the formalities in the morning.”
I pointed to our name and new address already filled in as I slid the signed form back to her. “Thanks, but how’d you know?”
Barb muffled another high-pitched cackle. “Honey, Mista Nick is not just the realtor in town but also a dear friend and regular customer. He stopped by for lunch and told us all about you and that y’all are buying Miss Betty Priestly’s old home.” She stared at Liddy’s raised brow. “Hun, everyone in Shiloh knows the Priestly house. Y’all sure are getting a mighty special home.” She pulled the form from the counter. “Will you need one or two keys.”
I showed her one finger and received a brass key with the number 10 stamped on it.
Liddy’s composure returned. She reached out to thank our capricious but jovial hostess. Barb received Liddy’s hand. “Hun, if you need anything, just dial the desk. It’s a genuine pleasure to be the first to welcome y’all to Shiloh.”
“Thank you, Miss Barb. We’re glad to be here too.” After Barb released Liddy’s hand, Liddy asked, “How late is the restaurant open?”
“Just hold one second.” Barb lifted the receiver of her yellow rotary phone, dialed and tapped her cherry red fingernails on the counter. “Cecil? The Phillips just checked in, and they’s mighty hungry. Will you take special care of ‘em? Maybe seat ‘em at one of the winda’ tables? …Thanks, Ceec. You’re a doll.” Barb hung up and looked at Liddy. “Miss Liddy, y’all are all set. Hope y’all are hungry. Bubba’s ribs are ‘specially good tonight.”
Liddy smiled and glanced at Barb’s empty platter. “Thank you, Barb. We’ll be sure to give those ribs a try. We haven’t eaten since we left Peachtree.”
A tall, silver-haired African-American gentleman approached us with a broad, toothy grin as soon as we walked into Bubba’s BBQ. His white bib apron wrapped comfortably around his slim frame allowing him to tie it in the front. A damp towel draped over his shoulder and provided clear evidence of his busy day.
“Y’all mus’ be the Phillips. Welcome to Bubba’s. My name’s Cecil, and that’s Bubba over there.”
Cecil then turned his head and yelled. “Bob, say hello to the newest folks in town, the couple Mista’ Nick spoke about this afta’noon.”
Bubba, a rotund man with graying dark hair, raised his free hand and shared a sweaty smile but returned to tending the carousel of meat rotating over the smoke pit.
The table Cecil offered us provided a clear view of Main Street. Liddy and I handed the menus right back without opening them.
“Barb recommended Bubba’s ribs. How about two platters with sweet tea?”
Cecil affirmed our choice with an appreciative nod before he headed towards the kitchen and yelled, “Two more ribs.”
Liddy and I soon were ready to bust and shoved our near empty plates aside. When Cecil inquired about dessert, Liddy raised her hands and shook her head.
After we paid for the meal and expressed our appreciation to Cecil and Bubba, we decided to stretch our legs and walked into the center of town. Liddy found a bench next to the brick walkway and admired the unique architecture of Shiloh Baptist Church across the street. My interest fell upon the illuminated bronze statue we saw earlier.
JESSIE MASTERSON, BELOVED COACH AND TEACHER, SACRIFICED HIS LIFE SAVING THE LIVES OF TWO OTHERS THE NIGHT OUR HISTORIC COURTHOUSE BURNED TO THE GROUND, DECEMBER 8, 2010.
I stood arms crossed allowing my thoughts to conjure the possible bigger story that earned this young hero such recognition. Liddy walked up and clutched my elbow, disrupting my thoughts. Her weary eyes told me it was time to head back to the motel. Before we left, I peered over my shoulder at Jessie Masterson and then said, “I was thinking… what a tragic tale that memorial represents. My instincts tell me I should try to learn more about that young man. What do you think?”
Liddy squeezed my hand and winked.
Begin the journey to Shiloh with Theo & Liddy; get your copy of Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories, go to: T. M. Brown’s Bookstore
Let us not become weary when doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
When things are going well we should feel like nothing can stop us from continuing to do good. But, what happens when doing what is right and good becomes hard, and others are watching? Will you remain steadfast and NEVER NEVER NEVER QUIT or buckle under the burden?
What happens to our enthusiasm when we receive the recognition we feel we deserve for doing good?
What about when choosing to do good means you may be the only one doing it?
No matter what, we are encouraged to stay the course, choosing to do what is right and good. There is a promise connected to staying the course, but the reward may be merely getting to see the fruit of our efforts – a changed life although nothing materially changes for us.
If such is our reward, will you continue to choose to do good? That is the test that God may place before you. Will you stay the course no matter what?
Please know doing what is right and good can be a challenge, taxing our willpower, but we also have a stronger power than our willpower — God’s spiritual power within us. Make sure God’s spiritual power empowers our willpower. Then you will NEVER NEVER NEVER QUIT doing what is right and good!
My Shiloh Mystery Series carries this message. The first two books in the series are currently celebrating their anniversary. They are both available in paperback and Kindle, and Audible (coming this Summer).
Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories (2018) T. M. Brown (9781641110730)
Testament, An Unexpected Return (2018) T. M. Brown (9781641110846)
Purgatory, A Progeny’s Quest (Coming 2020) T. M. Brown
Visit the T. M. Brown Author page for more about my fiction stories and quick links to upcoming author events and how to order.
The paperback editions can be purchased through your local bookstore. For your convenience follow the link to IndieBound.org to locate your nearest bookstore.
The memorable characters in Shiloh will make you ask these two questions:
Would you trust God when the choice you have to make conflicts with what may be in our personal best interest and cost more than we think we can afford?
What price do you place on doing what is right and good?
Will you post your comments on my author webpage after you have read one or both books? Leaving a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or my Facebook Author Page appreciated. You can also find me on Instagram.
The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem. “Absolute futility,” says the Teacher. “Absolute futility. Everything is futile.”
What does a man gain for all his efforts he labors at under the sun? A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets; panting, [it returns] to its place where it rises. Gusting to the south, turning to the north, turning, turning, goes the wind, and the wind returns in its cycles. All the streams flow to the sea, yet the sea is never full. The streams are flowing to the place, and they flow there again.
All things are wearisome; man is unable to speak. The eye is not satisfied by seeing or the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.
Can one say about anything, “Look, this is new”? It has already existed in the ages before us. There is no memory of those who came before, and of those who will come after there will also be no memory among those who follow [them]. Eccl 1:1-11 (HCSB)
We all want to be different, or uniquely special. However, though we may be unique in many ways, we all travel the road of life that is well-traveled and well-marked by many before us, and many more will follow us on this same road. The choice you get to make is how you walk this road of life among all the others on it with you. Yet, let it be clear, there are no new paths to take, just dead-ends should you choose to wander onto your own ways. God has clearly stated that there is but one way to follow Him, and all other ways are futile and paths of destruction for those who decide to walk in their own ways.
Are there genuinely unique new ways?
Just look at the world around us and see how His creation is marked in a similar way. The winds blow and waters flow certain ways, and the stars, planets, and heavens above all guide their ways through the evening sky the same way for centuries without change either. The creatures in the forests and oceans and in the sky migrate and roam the planet in the never-ending cycle of life as well.
However, God has given man the inquisitive mind, and pursuing the unknown and the new is an instinct of challenge that we have, but when we do not check with the Creator first along the way, we allow our eyes and ears to be filled with the prospects of things we perceive as new, but in consulting God we learn that what is new to us is not new to Him. Nothing new can be created outside the will, ways and wisdom of the Creator God.
So what must we do?
A new understanding is a part of our maturity, but we should realize just because it is new to us, an astounding revelation of eternal truth and magnitude, it is not new to God. The moment we assume something to be of original thought, a revelation of our own mind, we assume the role of God.
Our life is to be a life in pursuit of new thoughts and revelations that flow from the Creator, and He alone knows what we are capable of understanding and benefiting from for His greater purposes. Therefore, as we walk along the road of life, seek daily to uncover and comprehend God’s will, God’s ways, and God’s wisdom according to God’s Word! Trust in Him alone, and never unto our own understanding – because its destination is a dead-end! Life eternal is God’s purpose for us. Which do you choose?
If you are a creative writer, how can this understanding influence your work? Do we really write unique stories?
A Cradle, Cross, and Crown: Christmas Gifts from Heaven
For as many of you, having been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise (God’s Covenant). Now I say that as long as the heir is a child, he differs in no way from a slave, though he is the owner of everything. Instead, he is under guardians and stewards until the time set by his father. In the same way, we also, when we were children, were in slavery under the elemental forces of the world. But when the completion of the time came, God sent His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying Abba, Father! So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. But in the past, when you didn’t know God, you were enslaved to things that by nature are not gods. But now, since you know God, or rather have become known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and bankrupt elemental forces? Do you want to be enslaved to them all over again? You observe special days, months, seasons, and years. I am fearful for you, that perhaps my labor for you has been wasted. Galatians 4:1-11
The origin of Christmas: Just over 2000 years ago, on this day – 2 days before Jesus was born – a young girl, in the fullness of her time to give birth to her child, and her husband, in the midst of a long, endured an uphill journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, a trip of 100 miles or so. The way was difficult, but there was little to fear along the way since Roman legions were stationed throughout the land to keep the peace, and to police the highways against robbers and thieves. However, imagine the fear of a young teenage girl expecting her first child, having to handle the long walk, knowing any day she would give birth to what God had promised was to be the Son of God, the long-awaited Messiah – the Christ.
Their journey was orchestrated by God through history. Caesar Augustus wanted to take a census registration for tax purposes, and King Herod and the Roman governor decided to have everyone to register in their family hometown, which was Bethlehem for both Mary and Joseph. Both of them, though common people of the day, had royal blood in their veins. They both were from the lineage of King David, who was also from Bethlehem. It is also interesting to note, Bethlehem means “house of bread”, and it is there God had chosen long before that His Son, the Messiah would be born there – and during in His ministry, He would proclaim that He is the Bread of Life!
Why did God choose to become incarnate through the womb of a woman as a defenseless newborn child? Why not just arrive into history as a manifestation of God before men? How would a cradle serve as an appropriate throne for the promised Prince of Peace? There would be no royal processions with heralds announcing their arrival into Bethlehem. Rather, God chose to have the mother of His Son walk in the footsteps of common man, sharing the same dust along the way with her husband, Joseph, whom God had hand-picked to be the step-father to His Son. However, through the drudgery of the journey, the echoes of Gabriel’s (God’s messenger angel) message to both Mary and Joseph kept them at peace. Mary certainly would have sensed that God would not have His Son born at just any time, but rather at His chosen, right time – in a place selected for His Son to be born – of God’s choosing, not man’s.
The people had long-awaited the arrival of the Messiah, but they were looking in all the wrong places. They sought a royal birth in a royal palace to a royal family. They expected a worldly prince to come and be born, and to rise up to become the Savior King of His people. They looked to a Savior who would carry a sword and ride a great stead into battle against the enemies that ruled over them. But, God had another plan, because beyond the Cradle there would have to be a Cross to bear long before the Crown could be worn and He assume His rightful place as the King of kings, Lord of Lords, the Savior of the World. Any one aspect without the other would not provide a complete picture of who Christ was: the Son of God.
The Cradle represented the incarnation of God – Jesus was born of a woman and became a man to share God’s love message to mankind.
The Cross represented the presentation of God of the perfect, only sacrifice that would save men from his sinful nature. No sacrifice presented by man could ever live up to standards of holiness that God demanded – therefore, God offered His own Son, perfect as God is perfect to make the sacrifice acceptable to God, according to the Covenant that God made with Abraham centuries before.
Likewise, the Crown represented the coronation of God, which symbolized the source of power and authority that no kingdom or empire on earth could overcome. Despite their best efforts, even the Great King Herod could stop His birth; not even the Roman Empire and its legions could prevent Christ from fulfilling His purpose – they even were unknowing participants and pawns of God’s divine plan for man.
Christ through His death and resurrection ascended to the right hand of the Father as our perfect advocate, so that our sinful life would not have to face the divine judgment of God. If we were to stand before God on our judgment day all alone, having to present our life to Him and give our own account for all we did or failed to do, then we would have no hope. But, through the Cradle, Cross, and Crown stages of Christ’s life, death and resurrection, we can know by faith that our sins are forgiven, and He will be there when we stand in judgment before God and will be welcomed as joint heirs into His kingdom.
When we think about the next few days as each of us prepares for Christmas, consider how the story might have turned out if Mary and Joseph were not obedient to God, and their storied-faith in His promises had wavered. Would they have traveled on that difficult journey knowing Mary was about to give birth? But their story unfolded with God mounted upon the wings of history dispatching heavenly and worldly heralds onto the stage announcing the birth of a child that would reshape the world…
More coming about the night before His birth in Bethlehem.
My daily prayer: Lord Jesus, it is in Your holy name that we can now enter into the throne of grace in our prayers, and share our heartfelt praises and petitions before God. It is through Your name that we know we have the Spirit of God residing within us to communicate our utterances to a Holy, Almighty Creator God. My faith is anchored in You, Your birth, Your death, and Your Resurrection – all orchestrated by God so that we may walk in the newness of life as He intended since Creation. Thank You, my Lord, and my Savior… Amen.
In Chapter 21 of the Book of Revelation, God defines a Sanctuary.
The foundations of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone; the first foundation jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. The 12 gates are 12 pearls; each gate made of a single pearl. The broad street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. I did not see a sanctuary in it because the Lord God the Almighty is its sanctuary.
What defines a sanctuary? Is it what people take pride in – their wealth in gold and precious stones? However, God declares such things will be nothing more than building materials where he resides? The most valuable thing will be who not what is revered. There the Lord’s light surrounds those who seek sanctuary in him (a clear metaphor for the revelation of wisdom and truth).
Where do you invest your hope in life? Where do you invest your time and energy? Your retirement portfolio might be the envy of your peers, but what good is your grand portfolio at the end of your days?
Unlike Disney and Universal Studios where fantasies are promised to come true, there is a cost to enter their gates. However, God’s sanctuary requires only an affirming, sincere smile to enter and discover God’s invaluable, immeasurable grace.
What is the focus of your life? What relationships are more important, financial or spiritual ones? Remember, Jesus declared, You cannot serve God and money equally? One will influence your interest in the other.
This message rests within the pages of Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories. Discover how the notion of Sanctuary galvanized the folks in lil’ ol’ Shiloh after Theo Phillips arrives in town and sheds light upon the dark secrets, scandal, and tragedy for all to confront. TMBrownAuthor.com
Three things are stately in their stride; even four are stately in their walk: a lion, which is mightiest among beasts and doesn’t retreat before anything, a strutting rooster, a goat, and a king at the head of his army. If you have been foolish by exalting yourself, or if you’ve been scheming, put your hand over your mouth. For the churning of milk produces butter, and twisting a nose draws blood, and stirring up anger produces strife. Prov 30:29-33 (HCSB)
There is a difference between “strutting your stuff” before the victory and after the victory. In one case you are standing tall in confidence after the convincing victory has been won. The other is cocky swagger attempting to ward off any challenges that you may not be able to overcome. This passage has the imagery of the animal kingdom whereby confidence comes from experience, not from fear or intimidation.
To be “stately” means to be walk majestically in full confidence knowing who you are and what you truly are capable of achieving in life. You have been crowned the champion and are recognized and acknowledged as such because of your accomplishments. Such confidence comes also when you know you have worked hard and walk onto the field of competition with the best trainer and coach also on your side. In life, we can realize that confidence when we allow God to guide and direct our lives, because he promises us the crown of victory, if we do not give up and persevere in the struggles we face.
In stark contrast, there are those who “strut their stuff” only to pretend to be what they know deep inside they are not. They may dress the part, and may even appear intimidating, however their strut is founded upon their fear of failure; their fear of being exposed for what they really are! Their bark is loud; their threats fierce, but they will do about anything to not actually engage in the contest. They are more of the fool exalting one’s self and the schemer trying to get away with more than they are capable of actually accomplishing. However, all they manage to accomplish is to agitate and stir up others and to create strife.
A real champion walks in humble confidence because he or she has nothing to prove, and their reputation precedes them. All the challengers know who is on his or her side, and little needs to be said – no boasting, bragging; scheming or deception. A Christian anchored in God’s will, ways, and wisdom can realize the same confidence in life. As Paul said to Timothy:
But have nothing to do with irreverent and silly myths. Rather, train yourself in godliness, for, the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance. In fact, we labor and strive for this, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of everyone, especially of those who believe. 1 Tim 4:7-10 (HCSB)
Exude the confidence of the Lion of Judah! When we have total faith, all fear is gone; our faith contributes to our confidence as we persevere through this life wearing the crown of victory which God promised. Do not be deceived by those who strut their own stuff, even within the Church. There are some who claim to be Christians; they openly boast and brag, even foolishly scheme in hopes they will be seen to be what they are not. But, strife and anger usually follow in their wake. Time adn trials reveal their fear, not their brandished faith.
Which are you? Humbly confident or foolishly arrogant? In the end, it matters only that God knows who the real victors are!
Four things on earth are small, yet they are extremely wise: the ants are not a strong people, yet they store up their food in the summer; hyraxes are not a mighty people, yet they make their homes in the cliffs; locusts have no king, yet all of them march in ranks; a lizard can be caught in your hands, yet it lives in kings’ palaces. Prov 30:24-28 (HCSB)
Around my house one can find an ant, a rabbit (cousin to the hyrax), a locust, and no doubt a lizard. Each one on their own is but an amusement or curiosity, but one fact of interest is that each is a member of a larger group that can demonstrate how they find safety and security in their numbers. All four of these creatures that God has placed upon our earth has demonstrated their propensity for survival that is more independent than that of man. Even when they are not obvious to us, they thrive because they understand how to survive in even the harshest environments.
Ants understand the importance of saving and storing food for the period of the year when they disappear deep into the ground during the extended cold days of winter. Long after man has been removed from the land, the ant will scurry across the landscape, because God created them with their instinct to survive by planning ahead and taking nothing for granted.
Hyraxes are rabbit-like rodents, actually more akin to the elephant, because they are hooved-animals that burrow in the cliffs of the Middle-Eastern world. They are common;y found in colonies of 50 or more. Yet, they understand for their security that they must find a safe place, a refuge from predators and the elements. The hyrax knows that to wander from the safety of the cliffs or their burrows means almost certain death. No matter how curious they become, they remain ever vigilant and close to the safety of their homes.
Locusts move in huge groups foraging for food. A single locust is a novelty, but when a horde of locusts appears, watch out! Unlike other groups of insects that have a queen or king, locusts travel in mutual cooperation with one another. Their survival rests solely upon their numbers working together for their common good.
Lizard are survivors. They adapt to their environment, changing colors, blending into the rocks or foiliage they call home. They are easy prey when found; harmless when caught, yet they thrive in many out of the way places; anywhere they can camoflage themselves to survive through adaptability. They attempt not to stand out or make themselves obvious to predators or their prey.
Each of these creatures is almost insignificant in of themselves but when we take the time to learn about their ways, God has sent us a message about our own survival. There is a lesson from each about how to live our lives successfully. And, the most important difference between them and us is this: We can know our Creator by seeking His will, ways, and wisdom, and discover a relationship that secures our life far safer than any man-made or natural scheme we may devise on our own.
God is our faithful Rock, Refuge, and Shield.
Why do you call Me “Lord, Lord,” and don’t do the things I say? I will show you what someone is like who comes to Me, hears My words, and acts on them: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. When the flood came, the river crashed against that house and couldn’t shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The river crashed against it, and immediately it collapsed. And the destruction of that house was great! Luke 6:46-49 (HCSB)
In my Shiloh Mystery series, Theo clings to time with God with uncertainty envelops him as he and his wife Liddy realize thay must expose the scandals and dark secrets haunting their new community. TMBrownAuthor.com
Family memories inspire the most believable stories…
T. M. Brown, Southern & Inspirational Author
Folks have asked about my Christmas in Shiloh backstory timeline and how family plays such a key role in the story of Sanctuary. Here’s a kernel of inspiration that came from one of my grandsons performing in front of the Christmas tree when he was but five. These are the moments to be treasured and worthy of inclusion in my stories of Theo and Liddy Phillips overcoming their fears as they unravel mysteries in Shiloh. Their love of family is the fiber that binds their courage as they confront scandals and uncover dark secrets in their new small-town community.
Click the book cover images below to order your copy of Sanctuary or Testament today. Buy an extra copy or two as gifts for your book-loving family or friends.
Don’t forget to share this with your friends and family.
A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of one’s death than the day of one’s birth. It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, since that is the end of all mankind, and the living should take it to heart. Grief is better than laughter, for when a face is sad, a heart may be glad. The heart of the wise is in a house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in a house of pleasure. Eccl 7:1-4 (HCSB)
Being told you have a lot of promise to run the race doesn’t make it so. Being told you come from a great family does guarantee victory in the race either. Until we have competed in life and put forth the effort, we have not earned the right to claim honor for our name, nor the victory for a race we have not run.
Success and fame are not something you can claim – they must be earned and are received. Success and fame arrive after the crown has been placed upon you by those you have impacted and gained favor from during the race of life because no one attains success or fame while still at the start line of the race. What accomplishment can you claim before the race has even begun? You may certainly look good in your fancy track shoes and your uniform may make you look like a winner, but it is in the running of the race that earns the accolades once you cross the finish line.
The Teacher in this passage clearly makes the point that one’s lifetime of achievements become worth remembering after the results of the race are posted, and thus far more valuable and rewarding than the applause and back-slapping during the race.
I have been a part of many funerals that have turned into a celebration of memories, a genuine testimony of a person’s positive impact on the lives of others. From another perspective, how sad would it be if no one attended your funeral? The tragedy in the Christmas Carol story is that Ebeneezer Scrooge gets to foresee that without a change in his miserly, lonely ways, no one will mourn his death. No one will miss him after he is gone except as the brunt of jokes and ridicule. What a legacy of a life wasted on selfish ambition and values that took from others and never shared with others. Scrooge became too enamored by his own idea of success and fame, he forgot to even compete in the race. He never lined up at the starting line. He chose only to compete with himself.
Consider which stage of the race you are running in this lifetime? Remember, the race of life is a marathon, not a sprint. In fact, the course to run may not be clearly marked, but there will be plenty of others running the course with you. At every crossroad during the race, your life can be affected for good or for bad by the choices you make, so choose wisely. Just remember, there’s never a shortcut to the finish line. A moment to consult God’s will, ways and wisdom is always a good investment to avoid disastrous, hasty choices. And, never trust the crowd to always choose wisely either, because most often the crowd are like sheep and follow the herd, only to learn they have blindly been drawn down the hazardous and dangerous path at the crossroads.
Run the race that is set before you, knowing someone who loves you more than anyone is standing at the finish line, calling you by name, urging you to not quit and finish strong. He knows the way because he has run the race and knows the challenges and obstacles you will face along the way. But, he also knows the reward at the end! There’s the roar of all who finished the race before you encouraging you toward the finish line. Do not give up or give in, because eternal success and fame adorn the crown waiting for you.
For those, like myself, who are still running their race, there is plenty of encouragement along the journey. You will be encouraged and rewarded by those you have helped along the way as well. Run the race set before you and seek along the way to celebrate life with friends and family until you break the finish line.
In Sanctuary, my premier Southern mystery, readers are introduced to the quaint, time-lost South Georgia town of Shiloh. The story begins as Theo and his wife Liddy desire to relocate and retire back to their country roots, after investing four decades of their lives in the shadows of Atlanta. According to the story, it is Liddy who discovers an advertisement for a quaint Craftsman home that convinced her Shiloh would be a perfect fit for them.
But, it’s what readers sense early on as they arrive in Shiloh that draws them into the story? First of all, Shiloh’s reputation paints a serene picture about this time-lost town, but like its namesake from biblical lore, reputation and present reality are subject to the whims and shortcomings of men.
Like the Shiloh of old, Sanctuary reveals that the once proud Shiloh had lost its luster and position as the county seat decades earlier. Alexandria, like Jerusalem in biblical lore, surpassed Shiloh as the center of power and influence, leaving the proud people in Shiloh with their beautiful, antebellum courthouse on the town square a victim of progress. According to the story, Alexandria blossomed during the post-WWII boom and expansion in Georgia, while Shiloh stagnated and struggled, like many real-life small towns in South Georgia. Shiloh’s conciliation came in the preserving of its beloved courthouse as it received a facelift and became reconfigured into the town’s city hall. However, the facelift and remodeling of their sesquicentenary courthouse left the edifice’s skeleton of 19th Century hewn timbers and ornate woodwork intact. Decades later, their beloved historical courthouse would be razed to the ground and steal away the life of a town hero, who rescued others from the growing inferno.
Biblical Shiloh became the first seat of governance once Joshua and the nation of Israel completed their conquest of the Promised Land. The ark of the covenant and tabernacle that had traveled for forty years found a seemingly permanent resting place in Shiloh. Israel’s priests and judges (leaders) established Shiloh as the central seat in the Promised Land until Israel felt unsettled about the way Israel was governed, and desired to be like the other nations. Not long after Israel turned to the rule of king’s, rather than priests acting on God’s behalf, Shiloh fell victim to King David’s selection of Jerusalem as his site for his palace and the building of the new temple. A rival army burned and ransacked Shiloh not long before David ascended the throne as the second king of Israel. However, he turned his back on Shiloh and chose Jerusalem for his palace.
The name Shiloh to this day still paints a different picture than the historical reality which its namesakes have experienced. One of the bloodiest and decisive battles fought during the Civil War became known as the Battle of Shiloh, in Tennessee.
Even the Hebrew origin of the name Shiloh means “place of peace,” but as history revealed, “peace” requires the cooperation of men to live up to the expectation of maintaining peace in their community. Sanctuary and its sequel play on the dichotomy of Shiloh’s reputation and the reality of its present state as Theo and Liddy soon discover upon their arrival to Shiloh that there’s a rift in the tranquility of the community.
I’d love to connect with you and offer the latest on my book tour schedule and insight into this Southern author.
Please leave any comments or questions you may have about Sanctuary or about me. Also, feel free to ask other questions concerning the upcoming sequel, Testament, An Unexpected Return, coming out March 29, 2018.
All good fiction is deeply planted and nourished in the soil of truth and reality. The settings and characters in our novels do not spring up ex-nihilo (out of nothingness). Good novels blur the lines between what is fact and fiction allowing the reader to enjoy the totality of the story as though it is real. Nothing brings a smile quicker than to be asked, “Where is Shiloh, I want to go there.”
Love is patient; love is kind; love does not envy; is not boastful; is not conceited; does not act improperly; is not selfish; is not provoked; does not keep a record of wrongs; finds no joy in unrighteousness, but rejoices in truth; bears all things; hopes in all things; endures all things. Love never ends… Now, these three things remain faith, hope, love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13
Lovedesires to be free and separated from all worldly attachments so that its inward sight will not be obstructed and it will not be entangled by any temporal prosperity or conquered by any adversity. Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing more courageous, nothing higher, nothing wider, nothing more pleasant, nothing fuller or better in heaven or earth, for love is of God and can rest only in God, who is above all created things.
Those who love, fly, run and rejoice – are free and cannot be restrained. Those who lovegive all and have all in all because they rest in the one who is highest above and, from all good comes. Those who love do not esteem gifts but turn themselves above all things to the giver.
Love knows no limit and is fervent beyond measure. Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of trouble, attempts what is above its strength, does not complain about impossibility, for it thinks all things lawful for itself, and all things possible.
Loveis able to undertake all things and complete many of them and cause them to take effect – where the person who does not love would faint and give up.
Love is watchful and alert even when it is dormant. When weary it is not tired, when pressured it is not stressed, when alarmed it is not confused, but like a living flame and burning torch it forces its way upward and securely passes through everything.
Anyone who loves knows the cry of the voice. For the ardent affection of the soul is a loud cry in the ears of God when it says, “My God, mylove, you are all mine and I am all yours.!”
Love is swift, sincere, affectionate, pleasant, amiable, courageous, patient, faithful, prudent, long-suffering, and never seeks its own. For in whatever circumstances when we seek ourselves (our own interests) there we fall from love.
Love is circumspect, humble and upright. It does not give in easily, act frivolous, or pay attention to meaningless things, but it is sober, chaste, steady, quiet, and guard all its senses.
Love submits to its superiors and obeys them, but is unkind and contemptuous toward itself. It is devoted and thankful to God, and trusts and hopes always in Him – even when God does not impart sweetness to it, for without sorrow no one lives in love.
Those who are not prepared to suffer all things, and to submit to the will of their beloved are not worthy to be called lovers of God. A lover should willingly embrace all that is hard and distasteful for the sake of God, and not turn away from Him because of adversities.
My daily prayer: Lord God, my Savior, my Salvation, my Strength, the Spirit of Truth and Life that dwells within me, I humbly come before you to share that I love you with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I am completely yours, and I believe in my heart you love me, and nothing else in this life I live matters otherwise. I pray likewise that I am able to love others, beginning in my family with the kind of love that you exemplify within me, so that they may discover your love for themselves and surrender their lives to you as well. Thank you, my Lord and Savior, my Heavenly Father for the greatest gift of love that defines what love truly is: Yourself for me so that I can share that love with you. You are truly an awesome God, you are my God, and if all other things in my life were lost, I know your love will remain.
Lord, as Thomas a’ Kempis prayed, so do I pray these words and thoughts to you as well: Increase my love so that with the inward mouth of my heart, I may taste how sweet it is to love, to meet and bathe myself in your love. Let love possess me so that I rise up above myself in exceeding fervor and admiration. Let me sing the song of love; let my soul lose itself in your praise, rejoicing in love. Let me love you more than myself and not love myself but for your sake, and in you let me love all those who truly love you as the law of love that shines out you’re your commands. Amen
For additional reading: Romans 8:19; 1 Corinthians 10:33; Mark 12:30
In January, an updated edition of SANCTUARY – A Legacy of Memories will be available – featuring a revised introduction, an epilogue, and the addition of a sub-title. (Palmetto Publishing Group, Charleston, SC has partnered to provide some needed edits and revisions to improve the first edition of Sanctuary, and provide a bridge in the storyline to its upcoming sequel.)
TESTAMENT – An Unexpected Return, arrives in March. The sequel picks up the story at the beginning of the following July. There’s a noticeable change in Pete’s and Harold’s characters. Mary’s got a life-altering decision to make. Liddy weighs a position that will get her out of the house. The Archer family face more challenges as events unfold. Wedding bells ring while more than one unexpected return keeps you turning page after page. All the while, foreboding, ominous storms from Shiloh’s past rattle its present and reshape its future.
Visit my new Author Website or my Facebook Author page for more news on the book front from Shiloh in the coming days. In the meantime. enjoy family, food, football, and of course, reading a good novel beside the fireplace as we celebrate New Years 2018. Think y’all will like what the sequel has in store for you…
May God grant you and yours a safe and prosperous 2018!
The holiday season has crept up upon us, and the number of shopping days are whittling down faster with each setting sun. May I remind you, the days are gettin’ shorter and shorter too. Simply put, the pressure is rising to get goin’ on fillin’ your Christmas shopping list for your friends, family members, and co-workers, ‘specially them that are booklovers.
So how do you know which book is best suited as a gift this holiday season? Will you simply judge the bookcover or a couple of well-scripted blurbs meant to grab your dollar before you’ve actually checked out the book?
I’d like to help you. First, checkout the LATEST Amazon reviews for Sanctuary, a Southern flavored small-town mystery that introduces Shiloh preparing for Christmas throughout the story, while the main characters are digging up the truth about scandals and dark secrets haunting their community. However, nothing can deter Shiloh from thier busy preparations for their annual slate of “Christmas in Shiloh” festivities, including the lighting of the town’s giant Christmas tree and festive parade.
How about a taste of a “Christmas in Shiloh” portion of the story? Follow the link to a video preview of Theo and Liddy busying themselves as they prepare for their family’s arrival for Christmas in Shiloh. Click the picture of Jolly Old St. Nick and me…
Otherwise, here’s my LIMITED TIME OFFER: Send me your name and email address by commenting at the bottom of this post or email me directly at email@example.com, and I’ll send you by return email right away a 33-page preview of Sanctuary. See for yourself if it’ll make a good Chrisitmas gift for your loved ones and friends this season, or possibly you’ll order a copy for yourself too. Hundreds have invested in Sanctuary – how about you for yourself and the book-lovers on your holiday list?
I’m wagering, between taking a minute to see what others have said about Sanctuary, and reading the opening chapters, you’ll get hooked and will order one or more copies for your bookloving family and friends, and of course your own reading pleasure.
Although I am a huge supporter of all my independent book retailers, read about Sanctuary on Amazon and peruse all the reviews.
Paperback and Kindle!
Merry Christmas! From my family to yours.
T. M. “Mike” Brown
You can also reach me on Facebook @TMBrownauthor
Remember, Testament, the sequel to Sanctuary will be out in early 2018 too! Stay connected for details on its launch date. T. M. Brown’s Shiloh stories continue…
Y’all Southern mystery lovers, Sanctuary is the holiday read you’ll enjoy this year. Here is a sneak-peek to whet your appetite so you’ll be sure to get your copy.
Click on my photo and I will present some images that reflect Theo’s and Liddy’s first morning in Shiloh, a time-lost South Georgia town they have chosen to reconnect with their roots. However, they end up wrestling with far more excitement and adventures than they bargained for after they arrive.
In Chapter 2 they awaken to the new sounds and sights that draw them back to their earlier days before college, marriage, and a career that kept them in the shadows of Atlanta for the past forty years.
Get your copy of Sanctuary. Checkout the links on the sidebar of my page, or contact me directly for your own personalized, signed edition.
NOTE: Testament, the sequel due out early 2018! Stay tuned for more details soon.
Enjoy this short sneak-peek into Sanctuary’s story, then click on the video links on the side panel to learn even more.
After [enjoying our first meal in Shiloh], we decided to stretch our legs and venture into the center of town. On the town square, Liddy found a bench next to the walkway and admired the unique architecture of Shiloh Baptist Church across the street. My interest fell upon the bronze statue we saw earlier.
Spotlights highlighted the young man’s chiseled face. He wore a collared polo shirt with a “SHS” monogram above a fleur-de-lis over his heart. A coach’s whistle hung from his neck, and a Bible rested in one hand while the other pointed upward. The life-like detail monopolized my attention until my eyes drifted to the plaque at the base:
JESSIE MASTERSON, BELOVED COACH AND TEACHER, SACRIFICED HIS LIFE SAVING THE LIVES OF TWO OTHERS THE NIGHT THE ORIGINAL COURTHOUSE BURNED DOWN, DECEMBER 8, 2010.
I stood with my arms crossed while my instincts conjured the possible story behind those two dozen words.
Here’s the first of several “Sneak peeks” at Sanctuary. In this scene, Theo and Liddy have packed up and left the shadows of Atlanta in their rearview mirror. They in the midst of their drive south to their new home in Shiloh…
On the outskirts of Albany, Liddy stirred and wiped her eyes as the late afternoon sunlight glistened between the tree tops. She cleared her throat, lowered her sunglasses from the top of her head, and surveyed the passing scenery before she asked with a drawn-out sigh, “Where are we?” I pointed to a well-timed road sign. “Albany’s 30 more miles. Looks like we’ll arrive in Shiloh a little before six.”
We soon turned onto the Flint River Highway, the homestretch leg of our journey. The amber glow grew darker as the sun disappeared below the distant treetops. Liddy bit her lower lip and clenched my hand. “Do you think we did right? I mean … buying this house and leaving Peachtree?”
My wink and affirming grin brought a smile to Liddy’s relieved lower lip. “You’re right,” she said. “But how well do you think we’ll fit in?” My smiling face bobbed up and down. “Trust me. A town like Shiloh won’t allow us to remain anonymous long.”
Liddy’s attention diverted to weathered barns and sheds with rusted tin roofs along the side of the road. “We must be getting close.”
* * * *
Though a contemporary mystery, its colorful characters are timeless and reflect values and traditions governed by their reluctance toward change.
Come join Theo and Liddy Phillips as their story unfolds after they arrive in lil’ ol’ Shiloh expecting a peaceful retirement in a town much like they grew up in decades beforehand, only to discover Theo’s curiosity about a tragic event does not receive a warm and welcome response by everyone in their new rustic town.
Click the image below and visit Amazon to purchase your copy of Sanctuary. Available in paperback or Kindle editions.
Would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or question.
Enjoy this short video that my wife took during my opening as I shared insights and a reading from the beginning chapter of Sanctuary. Sorry it cuts out as Theo and Liddy arrive into Shiloh, but guess you’ll need to get your own copy of Sanctuary for the rest of the story…
Please support your local independent bookstore. Walk in and ask them for a copy of Sanctuary by T. M. Brown. If they don’t have it on the shelf, they can easily order you a copy. (Yes, you can get your Kindle or paperback from Amazon too, but why not support the bricks and mortar retailer investing in their community?)
Sanctuary covers a specific timeline as Theo and Liddy’s story unfolds in the late Fall and ends on Christmas Eve in Shiloh. This makes this heartwarming small-town Southern mystery a wonderful holiday gift for family and friends.
Nothing changes about the original book cover, however the promo images infuse the “Christmas in Shiloh” imagery.
As a proud author-member of Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA), I personally encourage you to contact your local independent bookstore to purchase your copy of Sanctuary.
For those in the Greater Atlanta area, visit Horton’s Books and Gifts in Carrollton, GA. I’ll be there on Saturday, September 23rd. They already have Sanctuary conveniently available on their online shopping page… Horton’s Online Book store
REMEMBER: There are two current noteworthy promotions underway.
(1) From all the reviewers of Sanctuary, twenty-five will be selected after December 31st to receive advance copies of Testament, the sequel due to release early 2018.
TESTAMENT, available 2018 – “Shiloh wrestles with an unexpected visitor from its past…”
(2) On a first come first serve basis, there are four (4) Kindle versions of Sanctuary available. Just go to my Facebook Author Page and comment why you love Southern mysteries or what you find intriguing about Sanctuary. Remember this is a limited offer so don’t hesitate to respond.
For schedule of all my author events in the coming weeks please go to my Facebook author page. As the holidays approach, do you think Sanctuary might make a convenient holiday gift for your book loving friends and family members on your Christmas list.
Within this novel suited for the holidays you will meet some very unique and interesting people that live in the small town of Shiloh as they look forward to celebrating “Christmas in Shiloh”, a normally special time in this time-lost community. A serious fire that caused a well-known landmark to burn down in this town took the life of Jessie Masterson before his time. Although he saved many from the same fate, no one could save him. But there is much more. John Priestly, the well-respected head coach of the football team – a team that rose to fame and glory under his and Jessie’s leadership. Both men were respected and revered by so many of the young adults, teens and others as they created not only harmony among team members but within the community too. Establishing a place called Sanctuary where young people and anyone else could come to talk, listen, understand and worship in a different way helped foster friendships that can never be severed.
Your sanctuary can be a sacred part of a religious building as in a Christian church in which the altar is placed. It is sometimes a consecrated place or the room in which general worship is held. In this book you might say it is more of a place of protection, refuge, understanding, hope and tolerance where everyone could meet, listen, talk and find solace in their own way.
But, let’s back up for a minute and meet Theo and Liddy Phillips who moved to the South Georgia town of Shiloh were welcomed and greeted upon arriving by a group of congenial and wonderful people who opened their arms and doors to them. A town that appears to be friendly and warm, yet as you gather round the many dinner, lunch and outdoor events you will learn something lurks beneath some of their congenial smiles. Theo, formerly the chief editor of a publishing company, may have retred but of course does not want his journalistic instincts to get stale or rusty. Meeting the owners of the only newspaper in town, Larry and Martha are thrilled that he agrees to do a special, investigative feature story on the life of two members of the community: Jessie Masterson who lost his life in the fire and John Priestly who is sitting in prison for supposedly embezzling school funds.
Living in the home previously owned by Betty Masterson, John’s mother who passed not long after John was convicted, and taking this part-time assignment with the paper, he falls into an interesting daily rhythm as Liddy, Theo’s wife joins in many activities with the Pastor’s wife, Martha, and other prominent women in this small town, which happens to be in the midst of preparing for their annual Christmas in Shiloh event.
Theo dives into the archives of the newspaper with the help of the publisher’s daughter, and he realizes that there is much more to this mystery and the cause of the fire. When he questions the young people in the town, the Mayor, the Pastor, Larry the owner of the paper and others he learns that there is some doubt of John’s guilt, and that John refused to defend himself in court. Eventually everyone will learn why.
Harold Archer is the Mayor and his oldest son is Hank whose wife works for Harold at City Hall. Everyone warns Theo of Hank’s volatile personality and advises him never to deal with him alone.
What I really enjoyed reading about were the interactions between Theo and the younger people that are so polite, job oriented and have their own roots within this small town and how they interacted with Theo and the respect shown to him and Liddy is heartwarming and encouraging. I think that young adults, teens and younger children can learn some real lessons in manners, morals and family traditions and dedication.
Harold Archer’s family owns the construction company in town and profited from some of the projects by over 12 million dollars due to extras and add-ons. When John Priestly challenged the quality and rising costs of the construction work hard feelings festered. Theo visits John in prison, thanks to Joe Arians, John’s lawyer and new friend of Theo and Liddy, hopeful John will shed some light on why he did not fight the charges in court.
(You will need to read this engaging Southern mystery for the rest of the story, which climaxes during Shiloh’s grand Christmas in Shiloh holidays celebration.)
This is a town where nearly everyone opened their arms and hearts to Theo and Liddy, cusing you to wonder if God did not send them there to reunite the town and rid it of its sorrows and secrets.
Author T. M. Brown brings us inside a town filled with love, warmth and most of all heartfelt love for each other. So many lessons for young people to learn about respect, understanding, family values and most of all faith and forgiveness.
Fran Lewis: Just Reviews/MJ magazine
To order your copy, visit your local independent book retailer, Amazon or request a signed copy directly at @TMBrownauthor.
The greatest threat to any Sanctuary, where hope, peace and the presence of God’s embrace reside, is the pervasive cancer of sex, violence and vulgarity.
According to recent statistics, novels replete with explicit sex, violence, and vulgarity continue to thrive as the flavor of the month in book sales. However, should authors kowtow to earthy content to increase book numbers?
Good writers engage their audience so well, scenes calling for sex, violence, or vulgarity communicate through the actions and attitudes of the characters. Thus, allowing the story to unfold without explicitly necessitating every sordid detail.
I believe an author’s responsibility is not only to entertain but also engage readers, so they sense they are witnessing the story as it unfolds.
What images race through your mind that depicts anger and rage? Do you picture contorted faces and threatening gestures, or do you need to be explicitly told? Consider this scene from my book Sanctuary:
Hank gritted his teeth as the veins on his neck swelled, and his eyes glared through me. “Well, I think you’re putting your nose into places you’ve no business being.” He uncrossed his arms and pointed at my chest. “I’m warning you. Stay away from me and my wife!”
“Hank, I’m sorry if I’ve said or done anything to upset you. Have you spoken to your father?”
“This is between you and me. Stay out of our lives.” Hank’s effort to be more composed fell apart.
… Hank pressed his finger into my sternum. “This is all I’m going to say to you about Jessie or John…” He thumped his finger against my chest adding emphasis to each word. “I’m truly sorry about what happened to Jessie, but John got what he deserved. And you can quote me on that. Now back off! I’m warning you.”
Pete stepped out from the shadows, unceremoniously interrupting Hank’s exchange with me.
“Mister P, is everything okay?” Pete asked as he glared at Hank. “Hank, who’re you warning about what?”
Hank surveyed Pete and the four remaining shadows just out of the light. His finger fell to his side, but his distended veins on his neck swelled even more. “Pete, this has nothing to do with you or any of you guys!”
…Pete extended his finger just shy of Hank’s chest. “How in the blue blazes do you know it don’t involve us? If you think you can flex your muscles and intimidate one of my friends, you just made it my business.” His stern warning and unflinching stare froze Hank.
Granted a few expletives could’ve been exchanged, but did the scene work anyway?
John Grisham achieved his decades-long success capitalizing on his uncanny knack of drawing his audience’s attention upon his colorful characters and settings. Doing so, he exited scenes involving sex, violence or vulgarity using innuendo. In fact, Grisham’s Theodore Boone YA mysteries found a broad new audience without much of an adjustment in his storytelling to do so. Neither should we to reach a wider audience to sell more books.
Sanctuary, a Southern mystery novel that celebrates small-town life dealing with 21st Century challenges while trying to move beyond scandal and dark secrets holding the idyllic, time-lost town of Shiloh hostage as Theo Phillips and his wife, Liddy arrive in town to retire. For more information – TM Brown FB Author Page or CoachBrown.org
The Write Spirit: Man pens a book for his grandchildren
THE NEWNAN TIMES-HERALD, Jun. 24, 2017 – 6:30 AM
By JUSTON LEWIS – firstname.lastname@example.org
(T.M.) Mike Brown had traveled parts of the United States for more than 30 years before deciding to settle in Grantville.
Brown has worn many hats over his lifetime – businessman, coach, teacher, preacher, inspirational speaker. Recently he took up the mantle of author.
According to Brown, he was eating at Redneck Gourmet with his family when first hit with the idea to draft a story. He stepped outside into the square and had a conversation with his wife, Connie.
It started with a what-if question. He asked himself, what if he could write a story about a small town to share with his grandchildren.
“I wasn’t really sure where the story would go,” Brown said. “I just wanted to do a story to my grandkids that would involve my grandkids.”
From there it was a process that took two years. Brown drafted a titleless story that was relatable to his very own life and that his grandchildren would be able to read and understand as they got older. Once all the writing and editing was completed Brown said he felt relieved.
“I was ecstatic, I felt like I accomplished something,” Brown said.
Little did he know he was just getting started with his writing journey.
During peer review the name “Sanctuary” was suggested as a title. Brown said he knew immediately that was the perfect title.
Once the story had a title, he had to find a picture, and he did such stumbling upon a picture of a burning courthouse. Brown did research on the picture and found the backstory to the picture and eventually visited Hancock County where the picture was from.
They had rebuilt the courthouse, and it was in a “timelost town” as Brown put it. The town of Sparta, Hancock’s county seat, was very similar to the fictional town of Shiloh that was the setting in Brown’s book.
Seeing this Brown, said it all had come to culmination. He finally had completed his book. He faced a few minor setbacks with the promotional period, but now he is back on schedule and is doing book signings across Georgia.
He will be hosting an author meet and greet at for Sanctuary at Corner Arts Gallery in downtown Newnan on July 1 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and July 6 and 13 from 6-8 p.m.
Brown says that his second book, “Testament,” is in the editing stage, and he is hoping for a fall release date.
+ + + + + +
Go to https://www.facebook.com/TMBrownauthor/ or to discover more about my Southern novel, Sanctuary, a small-town mystery with a message of family and community inspired by Newnan, GA, just up the road from my home.
What can be more inspirational than our family? If you live near Atlanta, especially Coweta County, come checkout Newnan’s historic Court Square. There you will discover a quaint shop, Corner Arts Gallery in the shadows of the “Old County Courthouse” and the setting that inspired the setting of Shiloh, the small-town in my premier Southern novel, Sanctuary. There’s where Jenny Jones and her staff will gladly offer you a signed copy of Sanctuary.
I will be onhand to answer questions and sign more books Saturday, July 1st -10am-2pm; Thursdays, July 6 & 13 from 6-8pm for NewnaNights Mid-Summer Entertainment evenings. I also would love to celebrate the Fourth of July with you at Crossroads Church on Hwy 16, Sharpsburg, GA from 6:30 until Fireworks go off. I will be among the other vendors offering refreshments, food, games, and crafts on the church grounds.
Sometimes a short video clip says much more than a wordy response. Click on the image above to view a brief clip of a prelaunch interview conducted prior to Sanctuary’s April launch date. Then head over to Amazon to checkout the recent reviews and then order either the paperback or ebook version.
Have you added Sanctuary to your ‘Must Read’ Summer list of books?
Would you be interested in receiving a free advance copy of Testament, the sequel due out early 2018? Send an email or leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.
A 5 Star Review by Linda Pifer
‘Time crept while I stirred and tossed in futile attempts to capture any semblance of actual sleep. Capitulation arrived shortly after four when I poured a cup of coffee and sat down in the living room…Okay Lord what are you trying to share with me?’ Theo Phillips, Main character Ch 20, pg. 169
When the author used the descriptor, ‘a couple of southern minutes’, I knew I was in for a treat as main characters Theo Phillips and his wife Liddy started retirement in their new hometown of Shiloh, Georgia.
Thank-you for this inspiring, funny and heart-warming journey with Theo and Liddy as they accept the challenge presented them and become part of the town of Shiloh.
Another 5 Star Review by Jedwin Smith
Here’s a mystery almost all of us can dig our teeth into, especially those born and bred in Small Southern Town, USA.
Well, as those good-ol’-boys like to say, pull up a chair and settle back for the type of old-fashioned whodunit that kept the Andy Griffin Show community spellbound for years. And while you’re at it, give ol’ T.M. Brown a well-deserved round of applause for giving the literary world a rousing mystery suitable for all audiences.
As we like to say in the South: “Well done, son!”
You can check all the other reviews on Amazon, Goodreads or visit T. M. Brown’s Facebook Author Page. While visiting take a moment to hit the “liked” button to stay informed about news on the sequel’s release and author events and specials.
With Testament, Book 2 of my Shiloh series, currently in the hands of Deeds Publishing, I am enlisting those who have read my premier Southern mystery novel, Sanctuary, to become pre-launch ARC reviewers for the sequel. Those selected will receive a free “Advance Reader Copy” to read and offer a review prior to the official launch of Testament in early 2018.
If you have read or plan to read Sanctuary, please let me know if you’d like to be considered as an ARC Participant for Testament. Simply comment below or email your interest in becoming an eligible ARC prelaunch participant.
Please include your answers to these simple questions to be considered:
What was your takeaway from reading Sanctuary? What does the title Testament suggest about the sequel’s story? Which characters intrigue you the most and why?
What does the title Testament suggest about the sequel’s story? Which characters intrigue you the most and why?
Which characters intrigue you the most and why?
There’s still plenty of time for you to order and read a copy of Sanctuary to be included in this offer. Click the image below to order either the paperback or eBook version, or email me for a signed hardcopy to be mailed directly to you – postage free – a limited time offer.
ARC readers will be notified shortly after the Labor Day deadline for submitting your responses.
Whether you prefer reading the Kindle version or the paperback, Sanctuary will draw you into time-lost Shiloh. you’ll mosey alongside newcomers Theo and Liddy Phillips seeking to quietly retire near their country roots. But, God has other plans! Before they can kick back and relax on their porch, happenstance becomes God’s harbinger of past secrets, impacting their plans through unexpected providential encounters.
discover for yourself why Sanctuary has become a must read for “all audiences” this summer. Visit T. M. Brown’s Author Facebook Page. check out the latest reviews and purchase a copy for your upcoming summer vacation. quick links help you order your Kindle (free to Kindle Unlimited Subscribers) or the paperback versions. make sure to “like” the page before you leave!
For a limited time, why not request a personalized copy shipped postage-free to you. Email “Mike” at email@example.com to request your signed copy – $18.95 delivered to your mailbox.
NOTE: Special Book Club offer available for orders of 6+ books. Email for details.