Release of Debut Novel – October 19, 2017

My debut novel is now released! Release! Ahhh what a great word. Excitement abounds as I announce that my new novel is now available. It was released on October, 19. This date is special to me because it is the birth date of my maternal grandmother. She was a reader and the one grandparent who I would talk to about reading.

It took forever to come up with a blurb. I told my friends that it was easier to write the entire novel than to try and write the small blurb that would get another interested in reading the book.

In Robin’s debut novel, the characters search for meaning in life and a place where all belong. A  story that is a reminiscent mixture of Fried Green Tomatoes and At Home in Mitford, this novel portrays a loving sense of community and home. The rural North Carolina town of Pleasant Quarry becomes a place where all belong.

Readers of the book need to know that I am a country loving person. I grew up in the country around some of the best folk you can ever imagine. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t hard things going on in the South then, because I grew up during the Civil Rights Movement. The only thing I knew growing up was that I wanted to be a hippie because they focused on peace and love.

We grew up around people who told the truth and loved music. It was only later that I began to see and understand the greater struggles around me.

©JRobin Whitley – Rural Haywood County, NC

The community where I grew up focused on loving each other and protecting their children.

I’m sure this is one of the reasons I love rural settings so much. When you live in a rural setting, there is no need to be fake or put on airs. If someone did that growing up, it was always because they were “gettin’ too big for their britches.”

There were gays and lesbians in our community although I didn’t know them personally. I did not know of anyone being mean or unkind to those people. As a result, it was only natural that I wanted to grow up and live in a rural place. Later, I learned that the KKK was still active and that people in the area could hate many kinds of different people, I moved to the city for a time.

Still, my heart belongs to a more rural place. My love of nature and quiet is central to my well-being. For those of you who live in a city, I hope you will catch a glimpse of a place (maybe a time) that gives you pause from the busy-ness. For those who live in the countryside, I hope you recognize your neighbors and way of living. Most of all, my hope in writing this is to tell a good story.

Used with permission

 

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Missing Links

Missing links is not a blog post about evolution. Um…nor is it a political post (though many of us might wonder at the missing links in the politician’s evolutionary chain). As I update my website I know that there may be some missing links here. As I was making changes, it reminds me of how easy it is to disconnect accidentally from the ones we love too.

We forget to phone as often to our loved one. Or we spend too much time on the laptop, iPad, or other gadgets that can draw us away from the beloved. Perhaps we are trying to protect one another from hard things. It could be we are just tired. Perhaps we are afraid to make the other person angry or perhaps the other person is often angry. Sometimes we merely don’t know how to talk to each other or where to begin.

The truth is, communication is hard. Being human is hard. Trying to maintain connections when one’s life feels frazzled seems impossible. Humans were not meant to exist in a vacuum…or on Facebook. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the ability to see long-lost friends on Facebook. I appreciate vacuums…especially when someone else vacuums regularly (though I don’t mind really). Even more so however, I appreciate my loved ones. My wife is a treasure. My church community vital. Family and friends make the circle whole.

One of the things I hope to do as I go through this website redesign is remember to check all my links. Is there a link in my life that I have neglected, or overlooked. I am going to check in with some friends and family to make sure there’s no oversight there either. It’s a process. Building a website is a continual process of checking to make things work. Why would we not do the same with the valued relationships in our lives?

 

Need guidance? Check out Life is Messy, Life is Marvelous

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Brave enough to say “Queer”

A video posted by JRobin Whitley (@robinsradio) on

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Stepping Up to Love

Lutherrose-rainbow-thumb-250x250-1
Love one another.

Love is a tricky word and also a word we use too casually. Time and again, I will use Frederick Beuchner’s definition of love to explain what I mean when I use the word separately from romantic love. Beuchner explains it this way:

“In the Christian sense, love is not primarily an emotion but an act of the will. When Jesus tells us to love our neighbors, he is not telling us to love them in the sense of responding to them with a cozy emotional feeling.

You can as well produce a cozy emotional feeling as you can a cough or sneeze. On the contrary, he is telling us to love our neighbors in the sense of being willing to work for their well-being even if it means sacrificing our well-being to that end.”  

                              from his book Wishful Thinking

 

We are one
We are one

This morning on NPR, a teacher talked about why she thought our country is going backwards. The story told was of a tow truck driver who wouldn’t town a car with a Bernie sticker on it. She explained that both people were white, so it wasn’t a racial issue. The story upset me, not for political reasons, but to hear that our basic sense of respect for one another is waning. We all need one another whether we want to face that limitation or not.

Jesus would tell us to love one another, or perhaps tell the story again of the Good Samaritan. Our scripture is filled with stories of the importance of seeing the “stranger” as a guest.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.   Hebrews 13:2 (NRSV)

We are strangers in an alien world and it is only through being kind to one another and respecting one another that we can survive. Yes, death comes to each of us. That doesn’t mean we have to be miserable until that end. It doesn’t mean we have to constantly fight each other in words. Our world has come a long way since I was born in the 1960s. I never thought that I would be able to marry in my lifetime. The conversations we are having, I never thought I would hear about them and read about them in public. The conversations are hard, but they are worthwhile.

I’m struggling this morning as the rain falls. How can I express my concern? What does it mean to “love” or “respect” someone we may not even like? I’ve always believed that each person, each creation, is a gift to the earth. As such, how can we view the differences in opinions and ways of getting through life that each of us struggle with in the day to day? I wish I could say I have an answer. My hope in this particular writing is begin a discussion. Perhaps you’ll write me. If not, perhaps you will talk to your best friend about it or your Pastor or Lama. Maybe it means sitting on a park bench and watching all the diverse people walk by as you eat your lunch.

 “Have a big enough heart to love unconditionally, and a broad enough mind to embrace the differences that make each of us unique.”      ― D.B. Harrop

As I wrote this blog, a Joy Williams song started playing. Over and again, she sings “We can never go back” and all I want to sing to the world is that same phrase. Let’s go forward in love. Let us work together to serve and uplift those in need. What does it mean to STEP UP TO LOVE? All I know is that I don’t want us to go back. Let us go forward in respect and kindness for one another. Let us work together to conquer the world of hatred by respect, compassion, and love for one another. It’s not a pipe dream. It can happen even if it’s only in my little space of time. Even if it only starts with your family. Even if it means only taking time to breathe before we say something hurtful. One breath at a time, we can love.

 

 

“The love for the more fortunate is a rare thing–to love those who succeed where we fail, to rejoice without envy with those who rejoice, the love of the poor for the rich, of the black man for the white man. The world is always bewildered by its saints. And then there is the love for the enemy–love for the one who does not love you but mocks, threatens, and inflicts pain. The tortured’s love for the torturer. This is God’s love. It conquers the world.”
― Frederick Buechner from  The Magnificent Defeat

 

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