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1. Pure Joy

I got to be party to pure, absolute joy this weekend. I have seen such displays on television after a big win in sports or gameshows. This time, it was my little girl who celebrated. After so many losses in the past six months, it was a much needed win.

As a parent, one of the worst things about cancer is being totally helpless. We are forced to sit and watch as one thing after another is taken away from our little girl. Ballet, plays, school, vacations, little things and big things are plucked away as she lays in bed.

Wonderful organizations are out there to give back to these kids. Groups such as the Make-a-Wish Foundation come beside them to give them something to look forward to during their treatment. A very introspective child, Kylie debated long and hard over her wish, finally deciding she wanted to see Aladdin on Broadway.

A few weeks ago, Kylie was asked to be the honored child at Make-a-Wish Georgia’s annual fund-raising Wish Gala. The chairperson of the event took her on a shopping spree for a gown. This day of shopping was unlike any that my girls have been on – especially Kylie. As a fourth child, hand-me-downs are the rule of thumb. If it isn’t obscenely high or dragging the ground, it fits.

Not this time. She was treated like a princess. After a six month hiatus, I saw her old friend, “excitement” start to creep back into her life.

The big night came. We all got dressed up for the Gala.

gala

 

She knew she was going to sing with her sister. She knew I was going to speak. She thought of herself as the entertainment and the face of wish-children for the evening. What she didn’t know was that Make-a-Wish had planned a big surprise for her. They had a video from her favorite Broadway performers who granted her wish to go to see Aladdin. Here is her reaction:

 

 

Priceless.  Pure Joy.

After so many months of seeing her disappointed, I can’t look at that video without tears.

You might be wondering if I embarrassed myself and my family in front of the trendier set. I believe the answer is no. With a stern admonition from the start, I spent the evening minding everything I did and said carefully. I paused three seconds before any word escaped my lips. I didn’t spill or break anything. My online tux-buying escapade was made unnecessary by a friend exactly my size who owns a tuxedo. I did not step on anyone’s dress or trip on my way to the stage. I didn’t try to fit in by discussing the beach chalet I own in Vermont.

It was a lovely evening. Kylie was the star…. And she deserves it.

 


Filed under: Dad stuff

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2. Writing Contest

Mark Miller's ONE is a spiritual anthology featuring true stories of faith from best-selling and critically acclaimed authors around the world.



The 2015 edition is going to be a little different. It will be written by YOU! All of the stories in the 2015 book will be by first time authors. 20 stories will be selected from all submissions.

If you have a story to tell and have NEVER been published, this is your chance. We want to hear your story.

Beginning October 1, 2014 and running through January 31, 2015, submit your story by FB message to MarkMillersOne - www.facebook.com/MarkMillersOne

Be sure to "like" the page while you are there and share it with your friends.

Now for some details:

*This contest is open to everyone 18 years and older, or 12 to 17 years with signed consent of a parent or guardian.

*The writer must NEVER have been published, either traditionally or self.

*The story must be an original work and not infringe on anyone else's copyrights.

*The story will be published by Helping Hands Press in the 2015 edition of ONE. As such, Helping Hands Press will retain all print and digital rights of the story for five (5) years from the date of publication. Selected authors will also have the opportunity to contract with Helping Hands Press for future works, but are under no obligation.



*Submissions should be in a Word-compatible document. A minimum of 1,000 words, but no more than 10,000 words. Stories must be inspirational or faith-based, preferably Non-Fiction (sorry, no poetry). Stories containing profanity, sex, or violence will be automatically disqualified.

*Winning selections will be personally edited by Mark Miller. Any and all submissions, in whole or part, may be displayed on the ONE Facebook page for promotional purposes.

*Contestants agree to donate all proceeds from the sale of ONE 2015 to a charity selected by Mark Miller, MillerWords.com or Mark Miller's ONE.

Please feel free to share this event and invite any aspiring author you know. Please post any questions to this event page.

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3. Poetry Friday: Hair

Happy Friday everyone! We’ve chosen a poem from Lend a Hand: Poems About Giving to kick off the weekend:hair poem

Hair

It took six years

to grow my hair this long.

A few quick snips

and most of it will be gone,

a ponytail

in the US Mail,

off to be part of a wavy wig

worn by someone

whose hair

sickness stole.

I don’t suppose we’ll ever meet,

but if we do,

maybe we’ll look

like sisters.

If you’re interested in donating your hair, please check out a few of these great organizations:

Locks of Love

Pantene Beautiful Lengths Campaign

Wigs for Kids

 For more poems about giving, check out Lend a Hand:

Lend a Hand


Filed under: Lee & Low Likes, Musings & Ponderings Tagged: charity, donation, hair, hair donation, locks of love, pantene pro-v, patene beautiful lengths, poetry, poetry Friday, volunteering, wigs for kids

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4. Onijoins the Humble Bundle brigade

oni humble bundle1 Onijoins the Humble Bundle brigade

And as Valiant ended, Oni has taken up the Humble Bundle comics slot. $360 worth of comics including The Sixth Gun, Letter 44 and more. And you benefit the charity Direct Relief. Here’s more:

1 Comments on Onijoins the Humble Bundle brigade, last added: 10/1/2014
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5. Emma Watson on Gender Equality

As a United Nations Women’s Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson has been hard at work promoting support for women around the world. Recently, Ms. Watson stood along side UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, to launch the UN’s “HeForShe” Campaign, at UN Headquarters in New York. The HeForShe Campaign calls for boys and men world wide to participate in the gender equality movement. The campaign hopes to have one billion boys and men become advocates for stopping women’s global inequality. Ms. Watson, giving a speech at the event, spoke at length about her experiences and what she hope to see happen through the campaign. Rappler reports:

 

“It is time that we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals. We should stop defining each other by what we are not, and start defining ourselves by who we are.”

“I want men to take up this mantle so their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice but also so their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human, too and in doing so, be a more true and complete version of themselves,” Watson said.

“How can we effect change in the world when only half of it is invited to participate in the conversation? Men, I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue, too.”

“I’ve seen my father’s role as a parent being valued less by society. I’ve seen young men suffering from illness, unable to ask for help for fear it will make them less of a man …. I’ve seen men fragile and insecure by what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality, either. We don’t want to talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that they are.”

Watson said liberating men from stereotypes ultimately benefits women.

“When they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence. If men don’t have to be aggressive, women won’t be compelled to be submissive. If men don’t need to control, women won’t have to be controlled. Both men and women should feel free to be strong,” she said.

“You might think: who is this Harry Potter girl? What is she doing at the UN? I’ve been asking myself at the same thing. All I know is that I care about this problem and I want to make this better. And having seen what I’ve seen and given the chance, I feel my responsibility to say something.”

“The more I spoke about feminism, the more I realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain is that this has to stop.”

“Why has the word become such an unpopular one? I think it is right I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decisions that affect my life. I think it is right that socially, I am afforded the same respect as men,” she said.

“My life is a sheer privilege because my parents didn’t love me less because I was born a daughter. My school did not limit me because I was a girl. These influences are the gender equality ambassadors that made me who I am today. They may not know it but they are the feminists needed in the world today. We need more of those.”

She stressed that both men and women must work together for the girls and women who are less privileged than she. She cited women who earn less than men for doing the same work, child brides, and girls who are unable to finish their education.

The full length article from Rappler and the transcript of Ms. Watson’s entire speech can be read here.

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6. What constitutes a “real” refugee?

Refugee identity is often shrouded in suspicion, speculation and rumour. Of course everyone wants to protect “real” refugees, but it often seems – upon reading the papers – that the real challenge is to find them among the interlopers: the “bogus asylum seekers”, the “queue jumpers”, the “illegals”.

Yet these distinctions and definitions shatter the moment we subject them to critical scrutiny. In Syria, no one would deny a terrible refugee crisis is unfolding. Western journalists report from camps in Jordan and Turkey documenting human misery and occasionally commenting on political manoeuvring, but never doubting the refugees’ veracity.

But once these same Syrians leave the overcrowded camps to cross the Mediterranean, a spell transforms these objects of pity into objects of fear. They are no longer “refugees”, but “illegal migrants” and “terrorists”. However data on migrants rescued in the Mediterranean show that up to 80% of those intercepted by the Italian Navy are in fact deserving of asylum, not detention.

Other myths perpetuate suspicion and xenophobia. Every year in the UK, refugee charity and advocacy groups spend precious resources trying to counter tabloid images of a Britain “swamped” by itinerant swan-eaters and Islamic extremists. The truth – that Britain is home to just 1% of refugees while 86% are hosted in developing countries, including some of the poorest on earth, and that one-third of refugees in the UK hold University degrees – is simply less convenient for politicians pushing an anti-migration agenda.

We are increasingly skilled in crafting complacent fictions intended not so much to demonise refugees as exculpate our own consciences. In Australia, for instance, ever-more restrictive asylum policies – which have seen all those arriving by boat transferred off-shore and, even when granted refugee status, refused the right to settle in Australia – have been presented by supporters as merely intended to prevent the nefarious practice of “queue-jumping”. In this universe, the border patrols become the guardians ensuring “fair” asylum hearings, while asylum-seekers are condemned for cheating the system.

That the system itself now contravenes international law is forgotten. Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan asylum-seeking mothers recently placed on suicide watch – threatening to kill themselves in the hope that their orphaned, Australian-born children might then be saved from detention – are judged guilty of “moral blackmail”.

Opening ceremony of new PNC headquarters in Goma (7134901933).jpg
Population fleeing their villages due to fighting between FARDC and rebels groups, Sake North Kivu the 30th of April 2012. © MONUSCO/Sylvain Liechti (from Opening ceremony of new PNC headquarters in Goma). Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Such stories foster complacency by encouraging an extraordinary degree of confidence in our ability to sort the deserving from the undeserving. The public remain convinced that “real” refugees wait in camps far beyond Europe’s borders, and that they do not take their fate into their own hands but wait to be rescued. But this “truth” too is hypocritical. It conveniently obscures the fact that the West will not resettle one-tenth of the refugees who have been identified by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees as in need of resettlement.

In fact, only one refugee in a hundred will ever be resettled from a camp to a third country in the West. In January 2014 the UK Government announced it would offer 500 additional refugee resettlement places for the “most vulnerable” refugees as a humanitarian gesture: but it’s better understood as political rationing.

Research shows us that undue self-congratulation when it comes to “helping” refugees is no new habit. Politicians are fond of remarking that Britain has a “long and proud” tradition of welcoming refugees, and NGOs and charities reiterate the same claim in the hope of grounding asylum in British cultural values.

But while the Huguenots found sanctuary in the seventeenth century, and Russia’s dissidents sought exile in the nineteenth, closer examination exposes the extent to which asylees’ ‘warm welcome’ has long rested upon the convictions of the few prepared to defy the popular prejudices of the many.

Poor migrants fleeing oppression have always been more feared than applauded in the UK. In 1905, the British Brothers’ League agitated for legislation to restrict (primarily Jewish) immigration from Eastern Europe because of populist fears that Britain was becoming ‘the dumping ground for the scum of Europe’. Similarly, the bravery of individual campaigners who fought to secure German Jews’ visas in the 1930s must be measured against the groundswell of public anti-semitism that resisted mass refugee admissions.

Opening ceremony of new PNC headquarters in Goma (6988913212).jpg
Population fleeing their villages due to fighting between FARDC and rebels groups, Sake North Kivu the 30th of April 2012. © MONUSCO/Sylvain Liechti (from Opening ceremony of new PNC headquarters in Goma). Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

British MPs in 1938 were insistent that ‘it is impossible for us to absorb any large number of refugees here’, and as late as August 1938 the Daily Mail warned against large number of German Jews ‘flooding’ the country. In the US, polls showed that 94% of Americans disapproved of Kristallnacht, 77% thought immigration quotas should not be raised to allow additional Jewish migration from Germany.

All this suggests that Western commitment after 1951 to uphold a new Refugee Convention should not be read as a marker of some innate Western generosity of spirit. Even in 1947, Britain was forcibly returning Soviet POWs to Stalin’s Russia. Many committed suicide en route rather than face the Gulags or execution. When in 1972, Idi Amin expelled Ugandan’s Asians – many of whom were British citizens – the UK government tried desperately to persuade other Commonwealth countries to admit the refugees, before begrudgingly agreeing to act as a refuge of “last resort”. If forty years on the 40,000 Ugandan Asians who settled in the UK are often pointed to as a model refugee success story, this is not because but in spite of the welcome they received.

Many refugee advocates and NGOs are nevertheless wary of picking apart the public belief that a “generous welcome” exists for “real” refugees. The public, after all, are much more likely to be flattered than chastised into donating much needed funds to care for those left destitute – sometime by the deliberate workings of the asylum system itself. But it is important to recognise the more complex and less complacent truths that researchers’ work reveals.

For if we scratch the surface of our asylum policies beneath a shiny humanitarian veneer lies the most cynical kind of politics. Myth making sustains false dichotomies between deserving “refugees” there and undeserving “illegal migrants” here – and conveniently lets us forget that both are fleeing the same wars in the same leaking boats.

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7. Is America generous? [infographic]

Being a generous person and donating a part of one’s income is something many people—and many religions—believe is important. In their Science of Generosity Survey, Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson took a closer look at this practice, particularly concerning Americans, to find not only how much of their income they donated, but how much they said they donated, as illustrated in this infographic.

Infographic of Smith/Paradox of Generosity

Download a jpg or PDF of the infographic.

Headline image credit: Photo by 401(k) 2012, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr.

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8. Same-sex marriage now and then

By Rachel Hope Cleves


Same-sex marriage is having a moment. The accelerating legalization of same-sex marriage at the state level since the Supreme Court’s June 2013 United States v. Windsor decision, striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, has truly been astonishing. Who is not dumbstruck by the spectacle of legal same-sex marriages performed in a state such as Utah, which criminalized same-sex sexual behavior until 2003? The historical whiplash is dizzying.

Daily headlines announcing the latest changes to the legal landscape of same-sex marriage are feeding public curiosity about the history of such unions, and several of the books that top the “Gay & Lesbian History” bestsellers lists focus on same-sex marriage. However, they tend to focus on the immediate antecedents for today’s legal decisions, rather than the historical roots of the issue.

At first consideration, it may seem anachronistic to describe a same-sex union from the early nineteenth century as a “marriage,” but this is the language that several who knew Charity Bryant (1777-1851) and Sylvia Drake (1784-1868) used at the time. As a young boy growing up in western Vermont during the antebellum era, Hiram Harvey Hurlburt Jr. paid a visit to a tailor shop run by the two women to order a suit of clothes made. Noticing something unusual about the women, Hurlburt asked around town and “heard it mentioned as if Miss Bryant and Miss Drake were married to each other.” Looking back from the vantage of old age, Hurlburt chose to include their story in a handwritten memoir he left to his descendants. Like homespun suits, the women were a relic of frontier Vermont, which was receding swiftly into the distance as the twentieth century surged forward. Once upon a time, Hurlburt recalled for his relatives, two women of unusual character could be known around town as a married couple.

There were many who agreed with Hurlburt. Charity Bryant’s sister-in-law, Sarah Snell Bryant, mother to the beloved antebellum poet and journalist William Cullen Bryant, wrote to the women “I consider you both one as man and wife are one.” The poet himself described his Aunt Sylvia as a “fond wife” to her “husband,” his Aunt Charity. And Charity called Sylvia her “helpmeet,” using one of the most common synonyms for wife in early America.

The evidence that Charity and Sylvia possessed a public reputation as a married couple in their small Vermont town, and among the members of their family, goes a long way to constituting evidence that their union should be labeled as a same-sex marriage and seen as a precedent for today’s struggle. In the legal landscape of the early nineteenth century, “common law” marriages could be verified based on two conditions: a couple’s public reputation as being married, and their sharing of a common residence. Charity and Sylvia fit both those criteria. After they met in the spring of 1807, while Charity was paying a visit to Sylvia’s hometown of Weybridge, Vermont, Charity decided to rent a room in town and invited Sylvia to come live with her. The two commenced their lives together on 3 July 1807, a date that the women regarded as their anniversary forever after. The following year they built their own cottage, initially a twelve-by-twelve foot room, which they moved into on the last day of 1808. They lived there together for the rest of their days, until Charity’s death in 1851 from heart disease. Sylvia lasted another eight years in the cottage, before moving into her older brother’s house for the final years of her life.

The grave of Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake.

The grave of Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake. Photo by Rachel Hope Cleves. Do not use without permission.

Of course, Charity and Sylvia did not fit one very important criterion for marriage, common-law or statutory: that the union be established between a man and a woman. But then, their transgression of this requirement likened their union to other transgressive marriages of the age: those between couples where one or both spouses were already married, or where one or both spouses were beneath the age of consent at the formation of the union, or where one spouse was legally enslaved. In each of these latter circumstances, courts called on to pass judgment over questions of inheritance or the division of property sometimes recognized the validity of marriages even where the spouses could not legally be married according to statute. Since Charity and Sylvia never argued over property in life, and since their inheritors did not challenge the terms of the women’s wills which split their common property between their families, the courts never had a reason to rule on the legality of the women’s marriage. Ultimately, the question of whether their union constituted a legal marriage in its time cannot be resolved.

Regardless, it is vital that the history of marriage include relationships socially understood to be marriages as well as those relationships that fit the legal definition. Although the legality of same-sex marriage has been the subject of focused attention in the past decade (and the past year especially), we cannot forget that marriage exists first and foremost as a social fact. To limit the definition of marriage entirely to those who fit within its statutory terms would, for example, exclude two and a half centuries of enslaved Americans from the history of marriage. It would confuse law’s prescriptive powers with a description of reality, and give statute even more power than its oversized claims.

Awareness of how hard-fought the last decade’s legalization battle has been makes it difficult to believe that during the early national era two same-sex partners could really and truly be married. However, a close look at Charity and Sylvia’s story compells us to re-examine our beliefs. History is not a progress narrative, we all know. What’s only just become possible now may have also been possible at points in the past. Historians of the early American republic might want to ask why Charity and Sylvia’s marriage was possible in the first decades of the nineteenth century, whether it would have been so forty years later or forty years before, and what their marriage can tell us about the possibilities for sexual revolution and women’s independence in the years following the Revolution. For historians of any age, Charity and Sylvia’s story is a reminder of the unexpected openings and foreclosures that make the past so much more interesting than our assumptions.

Rachel Hope Cleves is Associate Professor of History at the University of Victoria. She is author of Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America.

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9. Spring Into Art 2014

Here is the official press release for the upcoming event. (That guy, Mark Miller, sure talks a lot, sheesh...)


The Mount Dora event series Authors in the Park continues with its Second Annual “Spring into Art” festival, Saturday, March 29 at Long and Scott’s Farm in Mount Dora, FL., event chairman Mark Miller announced today. The Authors in the Park group celebrates literacy while promoting local and independent authors from Lake County, Central Florida and beyond. (www.authorsinthepark.com)

The event, scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., will be the first time the group has held an event at Long and Scott’s Farm at 26216 County Road 448A, Mount Dora, Miller said.

“We are extremely excited, not only to be at Long and Scott’s, but because this year’s event will feature both authors and artists,” Miller said. “Long and Scott’s is known for Zellwood Sweet Corn and their fall corn maze as well as being a great supporter of their community.” (www.longandscottfarms.com)

Spring into Art will feature over twenty authors and artists. A wide variety of books will be for sale in all genres and ages, as well as exclusive artwork. Some of the paintings are slated to be sold for charity.

In addition to great books and art, representatives for Team Jay will be on hand, Miller, an author himself, said. Team Jay is a project of the Lake County Firefighters Charity to benefit young Jay, the son of a firefighter currently battling Leukemia. (www.lakefirefightercharity.org)


The outdoor event is free to attend, Miller pointed out. Authors and artists alike will be available to discuss their writing, sign autographs and enjoy a day on the farm. Some author proceeds will be donated to Team Jay and other worthy organizations, he said. Scott’s Country Café will be open for lunch.

Visit www.Facebook.com/AuthorsInThePark for details on participating authors, artists and event updates. Join the FB event here: www.facebook.com/events/622986207772066





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10. Why the lobbying bill is a threat to the meaning of charity

By Matthew Hilton


On 30 January 2014 the UK government’s lobbying bill received the Royal Assent. Know more formally known as the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act, it seeks to curb the excesses in election campaign expenditure, as well as restricting the influence of the trade unions.

However, as various groups pointed out throughout its controversial parliamentary journey, Part 2 of the legislation will also have implications for charities, voluntary societies and non-governmental organisations once it comes into effect. Specifically, in restricting the amount of expenditure that non-party political bodies can spend ahead of a general election, it will severely curtail their lobbying, campaigning and advocacy work that has been a standard feature of their activities for some decades.

Understandably the sector has not welcomed the Act. The problem is that the legislation conflates general political lobbying with campaigning for a specific cause that is central to the charitable mission of an organisation. Sector leaders have critiqued the Bill as ‘awful’, ‘an absolute mess’ and ‘a real threat to democracy’.

It is not difficult to see why. The impact of charities on legislation in Britain has been profound and the examples run into many hundreds of specific Acts of Parliament. To mention but a few, a whole range of environmental groups successfully lobbied for the Climate Change Act 2008. Homelessness charities such as Shelter and the Child Poverty Action Group fought a battle for many years that resulted in the Housing Act 1977. The 1969 abolition of the death penalty can be partly attributed to the National Campaign for the Abolition of Capital Punishment and two pieces of legislation in 1967, the Sexual Offences Act and the Abortion Act, were very much influenced by the work of the Homosexual Law Reform Society and the Abortion Law Reform Association.

A group of campaigners from Christian Aid lobbying for Trade Justice. Photo by Kaihsu Tai. CC-BY-SA 3.0

A group of campaigners from Christian Aid lobbying for Trade Justice, Oxford, 2005. By Kaihsu Tai. CC-BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The list could run on and on, but the impact of advocacy by charities on the policy process has become far more extensive than the straightforward lobbying of MPs. Charities have been key witnesses in Royal Commissions, for instance. From the 1944 Commission on Equal Pay Act through to the 1993 Commission on Criminal Justice, voluntary organisations contributed over a 1,000 written submissions. At Whitehall, they have sought a continued presence along the corridors of power in much the same manner as commercial lobbying firms. They have achieved much through the often hidden and usually imprecise, unquantifiable and unknowable interpersonal relationships fostered with key civil servants, both senior and junior.

In more recent years, charities have taken advantage of early day motions in the House of Commons. Once infrequently employed, by the first decade of the 21st century, there were on average 1,875 early day motions in each parliamentary session. The most notable have managed to secure over 300 signatures and it is here that the influence of charities is particularly apparent. The topics that obtain such general — and cross-party — support have tended to be in the fields of disability, drugs, rights, public health, the environment, and road safety; all subjects on which charities have been particularly effective campaigners.

Not all of these lobbying activities have been successful. Leaders of charities have often expressed their frustration at being unable to influence politicians who refuse to listen, else being outgunned and out-voiced by lobbyists with greater financial muscle supporting their work. But the important point is that charities have had to engage in the political arena and it is the norm for them to do so. To restrict these activities now — even if only in the year in the run-up to a general election — actually serves to turn back a dominant trend in democratic participation that has come increasingly to the fore in contemporary Britain.

Having explored the history of charities, voluntary organisations and NGOs, tracing their growing power, influence and support, we found was that rather than there having been a decline in democracy over the last few decades there has actually been substantial shifts in how politics takes place. While trade unions, political parties and traditional forms of association life have witnessed varying rates of decline, support for environmental groups, humanitarian agencies and a whole range of single-issue campaigning groups has actually increased. Whether these groups represent a better or worse form of political engagement is not really the issue. The point is that the public has chosen to support charities — and charitable activity in the political realm — because ordinary citizens have felt these organisations are better placed to articulate their concerns, interests and values. As such, charities, often working at the frontier of social and political reform, but often alongside governments and the public sector, have become a crucial feature of modern liberal democracy.

One might have expected a government supposedly eager to embrace the ‘Big Society’ particular keen to free these organisations from the bureaucracy of the modern state. But it is quite clear that the Coalition has held a highly skewed, and rather old fashioned, view of appropriate charitable activity. The Conservatives imagined a world of geographically-specific, community self-help groups that might pick up litter on the roadside in their spare time at the weekend and who would never imagine that their role might be, for instance, to demand that local government obtains sufficient resources to ensure that the public sector — acting on the behalf of all citizens and not just a select few — would continue to maintain and beautify the world around us. There are clearly very different views on what charity is and what it should do.

Indeed, it is remarkable that when government spokespeople did comment on the nature of the charitable sector, they were quick to condemn the work of the bigger organisations. Lord Wei, the ‘Big Society tsar’, even went so far as to criticise the larger charities for being ‘bureaucratic and unresponsive to citizens’. With such attitudes it is no wonder the Big Society soon lost any pretence of adherence from the many thousands of bodies connected to the National Council of Voluntary Organisation.

It is tempting to see the particular form the Conservatives hoped the Big Society would take as part and parcel of a policy agenda that is connected to the lobbying bill. That is, there has never been an embrace of charities by Cameron and his ministers as the solution to society’s – and the state’s – ills. Rather, in viewing these developments alongside the huge cuts in public sector funding (which often trickled down to national and community-based charities), there has actually been a sustained attack on the very nature of charity, or at least it has developed as a sector in recent decades. It is no wonder that many charity leaders and CEOs, feeling cut off at the knees by the slashes to their budgets and damaged by the sustained abuse in the press for their mistakenly inflated salaries, now feel the Lobbying Act is seeking to gag their voice as well.

Matthew Hilton is Professor of Social History at the University of Birmingham, and the author of The Politics of Expertise: How NGOs Shaped Modern Britain, along with James McKay, Nicholas Crowson and Jean-François Mouhot. Together they also compiled ‘A Historical Guide to NGOs in Britain: Charities, Civil Society and the Voluntary Sector since 1945′ (Palgrave, 2012). All the data contained in these two volumes, as well as that found above, is freely available on their project website.

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11. Of the 8 million children in institutions worldwide, more than 90% are not orphans.

So says Lumos. A UK based charity dedicated to getting children out of institutions. Further to my earlier blog about Lumos – the charity chaired by J.K. Rowling – I thought I’d share more about what it is trying to … Continue reading

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12. Design vs Cancer

Design vs Cancer via #grainedit

 

 

Design by Peter Deltondo

Design vs Cancer is a new project that aims to generate awareness and support people and families fighting cancer. Over the past few months they’ve been working with talented artists to create inspiring and uplifting artwork and now they need your help. They are currently looking to raise $10,000 to launch their inaugural line of shirts & posters. To support their efforts you can help fund their Kickstarter campaign.

 

 

Design vs Cancer via #grainedit

 

Design vs Cancer via #grainedit

 

Design vs Cancer via #grainedit

 

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13. Lumos – a charity dedicated to getting children out of institutions :)

This is my most personal blog to date – and the most important. I have an agenda here. I was in the Care system in the UK – and for 21 years found myself in a range of institutions and … Continue reading

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14. Christmas Lites III Cover Reveal!

Releases Dec. 3! All proceeds donated to

Releases Dec. 3! All proceeds donated to NCADV

The Christmas season is upon us yet again. Yes, my friends, it is a time of giving, loving, and sharing. Within these pages is a way you can help many people desperately in need of love, support, and goodness: the victims of domestic crime. By purchasing this anthology, you are sending every last dime made off this book to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The NCADV is an amazing charity that saves these people and lets them know there is still hope, still goodness, and still a reason to carry on.
Twenty-one authors have joined in this year, giving their time and their stories to these people – and to you. We all hope you enjoy our holiday tales captured in bite-size pieces. Whether you read this on the bus, before bed, or snuggled by the fire, please, do read – and share.

Authors in this anthology:

Addison Moore
A.F. Stewart
Amy Eye
Angela Yuriko Smith
Ben Warden
Cassie McCown
Elizabeth Evans
J.A. Clement
JG Faherty
Jonathan Tidball
M.L. Sherwood
Monica La Porta
Ottilie Weber
Patrick Freivald
Phil Cantrill
Robert Gray
Ron C. Neito
S. Patrick Pothier
Tricia Kristufek
Vered Ehsani
*Brandon Eye bonus story

Editor/compiler: Amy Eye of The Eyes for Editing
Cover Design Kyra Smith


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15. Breaker, Breaker

The ONE series is about raising awareness and raising funds for charity. Along the way, we get a little emotional, but sometimes have some fun. The latest story has a little of both.

2013 Story Eight
The Trucker Angel
by Janet Beasley


This is where knowing the author in person becomes such a treat. Everything that Janet wrote in this story is as honest and sincere as she is in real life. Normally, the author's stories are flights of fancy and epic adventures. I jokingly say this is mature writing for her.

All kidding aside, this story is packed with emotion and faith. She speaks briefly about her mother's condition, but one can read its effect throughout the entire piece. This story is sentimental without being sobby and mystifying without being cheesy.

The big question for me is "Did she see what she says she saw?" The answer may simply be that we all see what we need to see at certain moments in our life. An element of confidence and security comes from our faith. We feel good knowing that a higher power is watching out for us. Ultimately, I feel that is the author's message and one worth sharing.

About the book: 100% of the author’s proceeds will be donated to Bridge to Ability Specialized Learning Center, a not-for-profit organization serving the educational and therapeutic needs of fragile children with severe physical and cognitive disabilities. www.BridgeToAbility.org. The authors, creator and publisher are in no other way affiliated with this organization.

Mark Miller’s One 2013 is a spiritual anthology examining True-Life experiences of Authors and their Faith. As the series evolves expect to discover what it means to have faith, no matter what that faith is and no matter where they live. Remember that we are all part of this One World.

In Story Eight, Janet Beasley tells of a supernatural experience that reaffirmed her faith. Before she was a best-selling author, she was a daughter. One of her simple pleasures has always been lunch with her mother. During one of these outings, Janet and her mother witnessed the unexplainable and believe it saved their lives.


About the author: Janet Beasley, best selling author of The Hidden Earth Series (a six novel series), is successfully carving her niche` in the inspirational epic fantasy genre for middle grades and YAs. Even the young at heart are enjoying the escape her writing style presents.

Her debut novel, Maycly the Trilogy, raised to the top 3 on the Amazon Religious Fantasy charts, and landed ahead of the Hunger Games on yet another. By appearing at local and out-of-state events, book signings, and speaking engagements, audiences are now perking up when they hear this author’s name…and it’s not just for her fantasy novels. Janet works with her sister and full time illustrator, Dar Bagby, to create more than just stories. Volume 1 Maycly the Trilogy expands by leaps and bounds with two companion books (a full color illustration book and a cook book), as well as an online memorabilia shop, and amazingly enough – gourmet dog treats.

Janet is multi-talented when it comes to her creativity. She excels in multi-media presentations, event planning, has developed a training center and its curriculum for AV technicians, and produced – directed – and served as a theater technician. She has written fiction - non-fiction – stage plays - and an autobiography. She has crafted award winning poetry, been published in anthologies, and trade specific magazines.

Janet enjoys the outdoors by kayaking and hiking with her husband, and photographing nature. She also loves animals (dogs are her favorite), spending time with her family, and baking cupcakes.

You can make a difference
by getting this story for
ONLY 99 Cents!

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16. Look At This

Story Seven of the 2013 ONE series by Alexandria Barker
Through the Eyes of a Child


When a story or another person affirms ideas that you thought were only in your head, then that is a good story. More than once while reading this, I had to pause and reflect. Ms. Barker puts into words some things that made sense to me, things that I saw at work in my own life. They may seem like simple truths, but that does not make the concepts any less true. She shares a few anecdotes about her grandson and how he saw the world through the "eyes of a child". I recommend this and then challenge you to look at your world with new, young eyes.

100% of the author’s proceeds will be donated to Bridge to Ability Specialized Learning Center, a not-for-profit organization serving the educational and therapeutic needs of fragile children with severe physical and cognitive disabilities. www.BridgeToAbility.org. The authors, creator and publisher are in no other way affiliated with this organization.

Mark Miller’s One 2013 is a spiritual anthology examining True-Life experiences of Authors and their Faith. As the series evolves expect to discover what it means to have faith, no matter what that faith is and no matter where they live. Remember that we are all part of this One World.

In Story Seven, Alexandria Barker shares her understanding of the Law of Attraction as it applies to our spiritual being. She offers some simple explanations that she learned firsthand through her grandson. We are born into this world without an instruction manual. Alexandria has a few techniques that can help shape our energy while we’re here.

Available now on Kindle
Also look for it on Nook and Kobo


You can find all of the Authors of ONE on Facebook


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17. Setting the Stakes a Little Higher

The faith driven series ONE returns with a story by Christian movie-maker De Miller.


100% of the author’s proceeds will be donated to Bridge to Ability Specialized Learning Center, a not-for-profit organization serving the educational and therapeutic needs of fragile children with severe physical and cognitive disabilities. www.BridgeToAbility.org. The authors, creator and publisher are in no other way affiliated with this organization.

Mark Miller’s One 2013 is a spiritual anthology examining True-Life experiences of Authors and their Faith. As the series evolves expect to discover what it means to have faith, no matter what that faith is and no matter where they live. Remember that we are all part of this One World.

In Story Six, author and Christian filmmaker De Miller relates some of the inspirational experiences along his cinematic journey. From his early beginnings with a secular comedy to almost twenty years later and two feature-length Christian-themed movies, Miller sees God at work in his life. This is a moving story of miracles happening in the least expected ways.

My Review: Higher Stakes refers to the title of a personal piece of shared history. My father wrote this story recounting his experiences and growth in the world of movie making. Maybe you have him to thank (or blame) for the author I am today. However, hindsight is, as they say, 20/20 and we have learned from our past. Looking back, from a spiritually higher vantage point, it is interesting how things lined up and worked out. This story brings into focus a fuzzy past and paves the way for a brighter future. Aspiring artists, be it film or book or something else, can read this story and look for those moments in their own journey.

Now available on Kindle

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18. Going Native

Happy Memorial Day!

This post seems apropos today. I have the highest respect for our nation's military. The men and women who have served and are serving our country deserve more than they will ever give and have my greatest thanks. 

But...seems like there's always a but. Not everyone who lost their lives in defense of this land swore an oath to the US Government. Murray Pura's entry to the One series opens our eyes to a different perspective. To put it simply, no matter what the lines on the map say, we are all God's Children. Of course, Murray puts it much more eloquently and shares a tale of enthusiastic youth and idealism.

Mark Miller's One
Story Five
White Man's God
by Murray Pura


100% of the author’s proceeds will be donated to Bridge to Ability Specialized Learning Center, a not-for-profit organization serving the educational and therapeutic needs of fragile children with severe physical and cognitive disabilities. www.BridgeToAbility.org. The authors, creator and publisher are in no other way affiliated with this organization.

Mark Miller’s One 2013 is a spiritual anthology examining True-Life experiences of Authors and their Faith. As the series evolves expect to discover what it means to have faith, no matter what that faith is and no matter where they live. Remember that we are all part of this One World.

In Story Five, best-selling author Murray Pura takes us to a fantastical world known as the 1970’s. As a college student in Canada, the author and some friends embark on a journey of body, mind and spirit. A road trip that begins with curiosity and idealism ends in death and self-discovery at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Sometimes, it takes great things for us to realize the simple things in our faith. For a bright-eyed, long-haired college kid, he had to re-evaluate his own beliefs when he saw the world through the eyes of Native Americans making a last stand for their beliefs. They showed him a different way to look at the White Man’s God.



About Murray Pura: Murray Pura is the award-winning author of more than a dozen books, including the novels The Rose of Lancaster County, The Wings of Morning, The Face of Heaven and the devotionals Rooted and Streams. He is published by Zondervan, Barbour, Baker, Helping Hands, Harvest House and Harper One San Francisco. Six new titles are expected in 2013.

Buy White Man's God on Kindle:

Please visit all of the Authors of One on Facebook:

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19. Book Lovers Holiday Giveaway Hop


I'm fresh off a win from NaNoWriMo with 50,000 words towards a single novel and 30,000 other words written for a personal best of 80,000 words written in one month. Congrats to all those who finished NaNoWriMo!



Another great giveaway hop where you can win some great things just in time for the holidays. Enter below on the Rafflecopter widget, and then visit the many other blogs participating. Thanks, and happy holidays!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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20. One Once Again

The idea of One started small and grew into a year's worth of amazing, thought-provoking, inspirational stories. The resulting anthology was combined into a beautiful paperback book (not unlike Chicken Soup for the Soul, and definitely nice enough for any Doctor's office).


With that success, my publisher was nice enough to ask me to do it again. So I set out to gather another twelve authors, including myself, and start a journey into 2013.


One of the things I like best about this series is that it benefits other people instead of the author. Last year, we made a nice donation to Give Kids the World (www.gktw.org) from author proceeds. This year, I found a group much closer to home. Bridge to Ability Specialized Learning Center (www.bridgetoability.org) is only about a twenty minute drive from my home. The organization helps children in my community. They are small and can use our help. So please remember, every time you download this story, 100% of my author proceeds are going to a very good cause.

2013 is also going to be a bit of a family affair. My wife, Traci Miller, will be contributing a story and my father, De Miller will return, as well. Other returning authors include: Crystal Linn, Sude Khanian and Sarah Price. We will also see new stories from some other sensational authors: Murray Pura, Alexandria Barker, Janet Beasley, R Jeffries and Missy Kennedy Adams.

This will be a great, eye-opening year!


100% of the author’s proceeds will be donated to Bridge to Ability Specialized Learning Center, a not-for-profit organization serving the educational and therapeutic needs of fragile children with severe physical and cognitive disabilities. www.BridgeToAbility.org. The authors, creator and publisher are in no other way affiliated with this organization.
Mark Miller’s One 2013 is a spiritual anthology examining True-Life experiences of Authors and their Faith. As the series evolves expect to discover what it means to have faith, no matter what that faith is and no matter where they live. Remember that we are all part of this One World.
In Story One, Mark Miller welcomes you back to the series. He has a little something to say  about forgiveness and finding his place in the world. Sometimes, we are exactly where we are supposed to be and not even realize it.

You are invited to visit the Authors of One, ask questions and start discussions on our official Facebook page:

You can get the 2012 paperback here:

2013 Story One: A Marvelous Net is available on Kindle for ONLY 99 Cents:

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21. All That Sparkles

The One series continues with a debut author.When I tell you that this debut author is my wife, I say it from the vantage of a blessed and fortunate man. Not only does she support me in my writing, I suddenly discover this new side of her. What she reveals in her story, Questions, in some ways is new to me too. We are coming up on our fourteenth anniversary and now I get this glimpse of a person filled with faith and enchanted by the simple magic around her. It truly is my privilege to present this new voice to you.

Mark Miller's One
Story Two
Questions


This one is sort of a family thing. I have always known my oldest son as a boy, and young man, to have a generous heart. He is both sympathetic and empathetic. When we lost my wife's brother late last year, my son wrote a moving piece for his mother that is included in this volume.


If that's not love...?

Questions is available on all major ebook platforms.
Get it on Kindle here:

100% of the author’s proceeds will be donated to Bridge to Ability Specialized Learning Center, a not-for-profit organization serving the educational and therapeutic needs of fragile children with severe physical and cognitive disabilities. www.BridgeToAbility.org. The authors, creator and publisher are in no other way affiliated with this organization.

Mark Miller’s One 2013 is a spiritual anthology examining True-Life experiences of Authors and their Faith. As the series evolves expect to discover what it means to have faith, no matter what that faith is and no matter where they live. Remember that we are all part of this One World.

In Story Two, debut author Traci Miller tries to find answers to some questions she has. Along the way, she explores the things that give her hope and faith as she reminisces about her grandparents and her childhood. Traci’s sixteen year old son, Zakary, commemorated the passing of his uncle in a short Afterword, entitled Chapter End.

First time author Traci Miller is a mother of four and wife of an author. Growing up in Missouri, Traci fostered a relationship with the theatre. From high school and into college, she honed her skills behind the scenes as a lighting technician and scene designer. Her behind the scenes efforts did not end there. Traci has dedicated many hours as a beta reader and editor for her husband. In real life, Traci works full time helping others decide their career paths and enrolling in college. As she says in her debut story, Questions, Traci’s goal is to improve the life of her children and ensure their success. It is unknown if Traci will continue to write, but there are a lot of crazy ideas bouncing around inside her head.


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22. Big Announcement Post...

I won't hold you all in suspense for any longer. Last year, I put together "Sing We Now of Christmas" and was very pleased at the end result of raising over $1000 for charity. This year, I wanted to do something to up the ante.

So, this year, not only am I going to release volume II, but I am going to hold a charity concert with Utah's very own...


They will be headlining the concert I'm putting together for the first Saturday in December, with all proceeds going to charity. If you'd like a taste of what to expect, please go visit them on April 20th for their Spring Concert. I went last year, and it was a blast, with a huge variety of music and excellent guest artists. 

More details to come. Stop by next Friday when I reveal the cover for Volume II...

Any guesses about what it will look like? 



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23. None for One

Volume 3 of the 2013 series of One comes from our friend Crystal Linn and Barbara Geer McCoy.


A portion of the author’s proceeds will be donated to World Concern, a Christian global relief and development organization. World Concern’s efforts reach deep into the most remote corners of the planet, where climate and geography, societal instability and scarce infrastructure create incredible challenges to the people living there, including disaster response, clean water, education, food security, child protection, microfinance and health. Visit WorldConcern.org for more information. The series creators and publisher are in no other way affiliated with this organization.

Mark Miller’s One 2013 is a spiritual anthology examining True-Life experiences of Authors and their Faith. As the series evolves expect to discover what it means to have faith, no matter what that faith is and no matter where they live. Remember that we are all part of this One World.

Story Three begins in the late 1950s as Jim McCoy, a pharmacist, and his wife, Barbara (Kenoyer) McCoy, a pharmacy technician, joined forces with several doctors and local businesses to start an organization to stop waste and to help the less fortunate.

As a team, they collected leftover pharmaceutical samples and over-the-counter drugs, along with other health related products and bundled them in large shipping barrels, cushioning the items with blankets and baby clothes. These barrels where then shipped overseas to the mission fields.

That None May Be Lost is the biographical story of Jim and Barbara McCoy’s involvement in the founding, and the early days, of Medicine for Missions before leadership was transferred and it became the world-renowned World Concern

Here is a fond retelling of the story of World Concern. A vital organization that is committed to serving the world were it is needed most. As a first time author, Ms. McCoy delivers glimpses into major and minor events of the organizations history almost as if we were looking at her memories. The gentle flow from one encounter to the next makes this a touching memoir.

Story Three: That None May Be Lost
Available on Kindle

Also on Nook and Kobo.

Please visit all of the Authors of One

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24. Guest Post: Starlight Children's Aid


Tania Elizabeth is a mother first and foremost and the author of The Tier of Eternal Grace. Book One The Moon Clearing was released earlier this year. Book Two The Mirror’s Shadow will be released about September. Book Three will then follow in the early part of 2014.


The Tier of Eternal Grace is a captivating fantasy of magic and passion, wound into the truths of reality that will enchant readers with its depiction of the faerie realm, and the exploits of the faeries themselves. Book One of the series The Moon Clearingis an immersive tale of mysticism and adventure, of spiritual and sensual intent that shall enrapture your every sense.


SUMMARY
Beyond the boundary that separates the mundane and earthly planes from the divine lies Eterna Fadas, a place ruled by extraordinary beings, lithe and human-like in appearance, yet ethereal in their grace and beauty, and sensuous in nature.
"I have existed always! Where I began I do not know, for all I know is just as I am today!"
As Queen, Tatiana was thought to have lived a life of opulence, her faith and beliefs her endearing essence. Why then was it so, that beneath the picture of perfection laid torments and terrors even she dare not explain. Being She came with its prices paid. Being She came with a deal; a contract in which she was to relinquish herself to a rogue of unmerciful fury. Would this be the end of all she know? Would this be the end of her existence?


Aside from her writing and her three angels, Tania is also an advocate for the Starlight Children’s Foundation. Being a mother herself and having seen firsthand what some of these children are dealt with on a day to day basis, and yet seeing the strength and courage they each maintain, Tania felt the need to not only donate her time, but to also help raise much needed funds.

The Starlight Children’s Foundation transforms the experience of hospitalization and treatment for seriously ill children and their families. Starlight is the only children’s charity with a permanent, physical presence in very major pediatric hospital in the country.

Every minute of every day a child is admitted to hospital in Australia. For thousands of these children what happens next is the diagnosis of a serious or chronic illness that changes their life, and the lives of their families, forever.

This is where Starlight steps in - delivering a range of innovative programs, built on the World Health Organization’s social model of health, to support the well-being and resilience of these seriously ill children and their families.

Starlight programs are integral to the total care of seriously ill children - while the health professionals focus on treating the illness, Starlight is there to lift the spirits of the child - giving them the opportunity to laugh and play and be a child again
About the Author, Tania Elizabeth
Like each and every one of us, Tania's own journey has been one of trials and tribulations, of Love and of passions; and the dissolutions of it. Heartache, sorrows, smiles and laughter always seeming. Through the writing of this book and the words of Tatiana, Tania has found a peace within and learnt the true meaning of "I LOVE ME!"

A message from Tania
STARLIGHT AUTHOR’S AID

I am asking for all’s assistance.
To give to others is to give to oneself, and 
I NEED YOUR HELP!!!
Help us to raise funds for the Starlight Children's Foundation, which supports terminally ill children and their families.
There are two ways in which people can help.
It is very simple. 

By simply hosting, reviewing or interviewing myself/my book via a blog post, amazon, newspaper, radio, TV within a 21day window frame, between the dates of Friday 12th of April and Friday the 3rd of May. For every appearance, I will be donating $1 to the Starlight Children’s Foundation. 

If any of you could help, I would be so grateful. If you could connect me with anyone else who would be happy to interview, do a short post or review on myself/my book, I would be ever so grateful more.

I am also asking for donations, even $1, which you may do direct via this link.
 http://starlightday2013bb.gofundraise.com.au/page/ElizabethT
You may also follow our progress on the Starlight Author's Aid Facebook Page.
http://www.facebook.com/StarlightAuthorsAid

We are looking at making this an annual event. This year it is based upon myself, though every year after, we will base it upon another upcoming author.
So please share and pass this along to all. Let's make this a huge affair and raise much needed funds for a very worthy cause.

My heartfelt thanks to all.
Love, Blessings and Faerie Kisses always xo

BARNES AND NOBLE  http://bit.ly/ZJwcnH


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25. What's Your Worth?

Story Four of the 2013 One series is now available.

You Are a Million $ Baby
by Sudè Khanian


My friend Sudè returns to the One series with a touching story of how we define ourselves and how we view others in our life. What we get is a tapestry of ideas flowing together with her unique way with words. If you have ever seen her paintings, the way she writes is an extension of that energy. It is easy to identify with the narrator of her story. However, as a father, I saw the conclusion a little differently. A lot of this piece is about inner strength and how we react to people in our life. Do we run away screaming or do we embrace our differences?

100% of the author’s proceeds will be donated to Bridge to Ability Specialized Learning Center, a not-for-profit organization serving the educational and therapeutic needs of fragile children with severe physical and cognitive disabilities. www.BridgeToAbility.org. The authors, creator and publisher are in no other way affiliated with this organization.

Mark Miller’s One 2013 is a spiritual anthology examining True-Life experiences of Authors and their Faith. As the series evolves expect to discover what it means to have faith, no matter what that faith is and no matter where they live. Remember that we are all part of this One World.


Story Four is a touching look at us all. This story could take place at any time and to any person. It is a story of love lost and life abandoned. The author asks us if our imperfections can be seen as beauty. She also explores where we find strength and hope?


Get Story Four on Kindle: http://amzn.to/YoOvEI
Also available on Nook and Kobo

Please visit the Authors of One on Facebook

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