Monday, May 2, 2016
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Last week when I went to Starbucks, I had something unusual to happen. When I pulled up to the drive through window, the cashier said, “You don't owe anything. The person in front of you paid for your drink.”
I watched as the car pulled out onto Newberry Road. I couldn’t see who it was, and I will never know. As a broadcast captioner, I had heard about such stories. They call it “paying it forward.”
As I sipped on my latte on the way home, I asked God, “How could I pay it forward for someone else?”
I awoke early this morning at four a.m. and couldn’t go back to sleep. Sometimes that happens because of the crazy hours I work. At six a.m., I decided to get up and make the most of the day. I have updated two of my books, Children of Dreams and Seventh Dimension – The Door, and I wanted to donate the few remaining first editions I had, but I didn’t want to give them to just anybody.
Immediately the Ronald McDonald House came to mind. I’m not sure why—after all, I haven’t been to the House in over thirty years. I volunteered there from 1983 to 1987. The House had a small library of donated books, and families would often take books with them to the hospital to read.
As I approached the entrance to the Ronald McDonald House, my anticipation grew. When I walked in, Carla Sly greeted me and took me into her office. As I shared with her my experiences from many years ago, fond memories returned of the families who were at the house during that time.
I soon realized my involvement with the House ran deeper than just being a volunteer. The House was like a sanctuary to me. While I was a volunteer, my husband, a physician at Shands Hospital, had left me for another woman. Fay and Pete Armes, the managers, took me in with open arms that night—just as they had done for hundreds of other families. I spent a lot of time at the Ronald McDonald House over the next few months, and the families at the House became like extended family. I had no other family in Gainesville.
That Thanksgiving, as the families gathered in the dining room, thankfulness filled the House. How could I be depressed about my marriage when others were dealing with things so much worse? Knowing I was not alone was like a taste of heaven. In the Ronald McDonald House, love overflows, poured out in abundance.
Through the years, the volunteers have changed and the staff is different, but the goal and purpose of the House remains the same. When you walk through the front doors, you feel it. The Ronald McDonald House is a House built by love.
Many families come from faraway places. While I was a volunteer, one family came from South America. A little girl about seven had a large tumor on her chin. She went home a different child than when she arrived. Doctors can do miracles for children in the medical arena, but if families are worried about where they are going to stay in a city where they have no friends or family, the crisis becomes even more magnified.
No one is immune from unforeseen medical emergencies. Faye and Pete Armes lost their daughter to a rare blood disease while they were the managers. Pete died about a year later. Through all of this, Faye stayed on as the manager—strong, courageous, and steadfast. I probably learned more from Faye and Pete about how to live than I've learned from anyone else.
Life goes on, and there came a time when I was no longer able to be a volunteer. A few years later, I became a single mother by choice and adopted two daughters, the first one from Nepal and the second one from Vietnam.
When I received a letter from Faye that she was retiring from the House, I knew I wanted to attend her going away party. We brought balloons and celebrated with the extended Ronald McDonald House family this new season in her life as she made plans to return to her home in Jacksonville.
What I didn't know is one week later (see the photos), my 7‑year‑old daughter from Nepal would be rushed to Shands after becoming unconscious from a partial complex epileptic seizure.
I spent nine days in the hospital with an inconclusive diagnosis. I remembered the families who had gone before me, families I had comforted, families like me who were overwhelmed with anxiety and fear. Even though I had been a volunteer, now I knew personally the real depth of their pain. I don’t think there is any pain deeper than seeing your child suffer, especially when you aren’t sure they are going to make it.
I didn’t go home the first seven days of Manisha’s hospitalization. Even though I live in Gainesville, it was too far to travel. I wanted to be within walking distance of the hospital in case she needed me or if something happened.
During Manisha’s hospitalization, I met other families with sick children. For those from out of town, the Ronald McDonald House was everything. I saw once again how much the House meant to those families.
Because the doctors at Shands were unable to come to a definitive diagnosis for my daughter’s medical emergency, I took Manisha to Yale for a second opinion. I knew there must be a Ronald McDonald House near the hospital, and upon doing a little research, I found one. We booked our reservations to stay at the House. Upon arriving, the House put us up in a hotel because of renovations, so we didn’t stay at the House, but they paid the costs for us to stay at a motel across from the hospital.
Life is like a merry‑go‑round, isn't it? When I arrived to deliver my books to the Ronald McDonald House, I had no idea I was going to share my story with the House staff. Sheri Houston, the executive director, said I was her Godwink. The House is in the process of raising donations to expand. Too many families must wait on a waiting list because the House is always full. Ms. Houston asked me if I would be willing to be an ambassador and share my story of how much the Ronald McDonald House meant to me. I didn’t tell her this, but I knew this was my opportunity to pay it forward, as I had asked God to show me. My trip that morning wasn’t just to deliver books. It was to share my heart.
I’m thankful to say that Manisha, who is twenty-five now, is healthy and seizure-free. The doctors determined she did not have a tumor and diagnosed her with neurocysticercosis—a parasitic infection of the brain caused by a tapeworm lavae, something she contracted before I adopted her from Nepal.
I am convinced life is full of Godwinks and divine appointments. If I have piqued your interest, I hope you will take this opportunity to learn more about the Ronald McDonald House. Many opportunities abound, including volunteering, cooking a meal, donating money that will go toward the expansion—even learning more about how the Gainesville community is helping families and children from around the world.
The storms of unforeseen medical crises hit hard and when least expected, but at the Ronald McDonald House, families don't have to walk that road alone. A volunteer, staff member, or friend is always nearby ready to help and offer hope.
Do you think you could make a difference? You bet. Click here to learn more about the Amazing Give 24-hour Fundraising Campaign.
FEEL FREE TO MAKE COPIES OF THIS ARTICLE!
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
The City is an incredible adventure set during the end of days. The fourth book in the Seventh Dimension Series will have readers on their toes as Shale and Daniel set out to rescue Daniel’s father. Lorilyn has done an excellent job in creating a YA series that while entertaining, presents a solid foundation of the Gospel message. With a little bit of fantasy, mixed with science, conspiracy theories and Christianity, the book culminates with a superbly written, yet horrifying look at what awaits those who reject God. YA readers will find this one hard to put down without thinking long and hard about their future.
- best-selling author Laura Davis
Monday, March 28, 2016
|Reviewed By Paula Tran for Readers’ Favorite, Five Stars|
The Castle by Lorilyn Roberts describes a Jewish man, Daniel, who has been sucked into a seventh dimension. Traveling between different time periods, he is a wanted man by the Roman soldiers. In order to escape persecution and live in peace, Daniel must flee to Jerusalem, but not without complications. He constantly has to look behind his back for Roman soldiers, and has lost God's gifts and many of his possessions. Most of all, he is being tormented by a demon, who tries to make his life as miserable as possible.
This novel will definitely be a treasure for readers of all ages. While it has a bit of a fantasy element to it, time travel and dimension traveling is always a classic page turner. However, this book is written in a more serious tone, dealing with some adult issues, problems, and ideas. The Castle also puts a whole new spin on time travel and dimension travel, with religious and cultural aspects to make it more dramatic and emotional. This book has elements that children and adults will love equally.
I also like the way the author portrays the setting, action, and characters throughout the novel. Even in the beginning of the novel, the details are enough to allow readers to paint a picture in their minds, but not too much to bog them down. The characters are also realistic, dealing with problems that readers are able to relate to. In addition, the amount of suspense in the writing is amazing, which keeps the reader interested and turning the pages.
I just entered "The Castle" in the Readers' Favorite 2016 Contest for Christian Historical Fiction and Supernatural. If you are interested in purchasing from Amazon, click here for the print copy and Kindle version.
Thursday, March 24, 2016
Monday, March 21, 2016
Half of "The Castle" takes place during Passover week in 33 A.D. Here is an excerpt from "The Castle" that readers familiar with the Bible will recognize.
WHEN DARKNESS RULES
WHEN DARKNESS RULES
Soon we were on the road. Stars covered the night sky against a full moon. The air felt unexpectedly nippy for Pesach. I asked Mark if he noticed anything unusual when Yeshua and his disciples emerged from the Upper Room.
“I’ve never seen Yeshua look so somber,” Mark remarked.
“Did he say anything?”
Mark shook his head. “He and the disciples only sang a song as they left.”
I wanted to ask which one but I let it go. “How do you know where they went?”
“They always go to the same place—the Garden of Gethsemane, to pray, on the Mount of Olives.”
Have you ever gone with them?”
“No. Occasionally the women go, but not tonight. He said only the disciples.”
“So how do you know where they go?”
“I’ve secretly followed them many times. Yeshua doesn’t mind. The disciples think I’m too young.”
We continued for a while in silence, following the familiar path from Bethphage. Once on the Mount of Olives, Mark took me to the olive grove on the lower western slope. The barren Judean Wilderness faced the Garden of Gethsemane to the east. Shadows wrapped the garden in darkness.
Mark started to point.
I held up my hand to stop him. “I don’t want them to see us.”
The olive trees in the grove provided good coverage. We could move in a little closer. I counted nine disciples. “Where are Yeshua and the others?”
Mark peered through the olive branches. “I don’t see Peter, James, and John.”
“I don’t know the disciples that well,” I confessed, “except for John, who introduced himself to me.”
“James is the brother of John. Peter is the outspoken fisherman. Peter, James, and John are Yeshua’s closest friends.”
“Surely he wouldn’t have come without them.”
“Come. Let’s see if they are on the other side.”
We made a wide arc and circled around to the back of the garden. I tried to filter out the indistinct voices from the nighttime insect chatter.
“That must be them,” Mark said.
We crept closer. A limb snapped.
I raised my hand. “Wait.”
“They didn’t hear it,” Mark whispered. “I see three of the disciples with Yeshua.”
What would Yeshua think if he found us here eavesdropping? This was an intimate moment between the rabbi and his disciples. Yeshua paced. The others appeared tired.
“Did you see Judas on the other side?” I asked.
Mark shook his head.
Yeshua dropped to his knees in front of his inner circle and cried out, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. I feel as if I am dying. Wait here and stay awake with me.”
I clinched my eyes.
Yeshua left his inner circle and collapsed on the ground a short distance away. His words pierced my heart.
“My Father, if it is possible, don’t make me drink from this cup. But let it be as you want, not as I want.”
Yeshua knew. He knew.
|Wilderness of Judea|
I glanced across the Kidron Valley at the Wilderness of Judea. The barren land was only steps away from the garden and a large enough area that he could hide from his pursuers. No one would ever find the rabbi in the desolate mountains. Why didn’t he flee?
I studied Mark, so young and innocent. He didn’t know what was about to happen. I reached out and hugged him, as much for my benefit as his.
A few minutes later, Yeshua walked back to his followers who had fallen asleep. He shook Peter on the shoulder. “Could you not stay alert with me for one hour? Stay awake and pray for strength against temptation. Your spirit wants to do what is right, but your body is weak.”
James and John watched sleepily as Yeshua attempted to awaken Peter.
Yeshua returned to the same spot and prayed again.
Mark turned to me and whispered, “Something bad is about to happen.”
Yeshua knelt in front of a rock and leaned his head on it. “My Father, if I must do this and it is not possible for me to escape it, then I pray that what you want will be done.”
I lamented. If only Yeshua were the son of David, the promised one.
Yeshua arose and went back to his disciples. They had fallen asleep. Again. He didn’t awaken them this time, but left them and wandered in the darkness back to the same spot.
He threw himself on the ground and prayed a third time. His sorrowful cries became more urgent. They were deep, mournful, human, and frail.
When he lifted his head, red tears in the moonlight streaked his face. I wanted to approach him, to offer solace. I glanced at Mark. Tears glistened in the boy’s eyes.
Mark leaned into me and whispered. “He’s going to die, isn’t he? I remember some of the things he said—”
I covered my mouth with my finger, signaling for him to be quiet.
Someone approached Yeshua as he lay prostrate on the ground; a large figure, perhaps eight feet tall.
“Who is that?” whispered Mark.
“I don’t know.”
The white translucent being embraced Yeshua. He wrapped himself around the prophet and prayed in words I didn’t understand. No more than a couple of minutes passed, and then the visitor was gone.
Yeshua’s demeanor outwardly changed. He now appeared resolute and determined, strengthened by the strange visitor. He immediately stood and hurried back to Peter, James, and John.
“Are you still sleeping?” he asked the men. “The time has come for the Son of Man to be handed over to the control of sinful men. We must go.”
|Garden of Gethsemane|
Yeshua and his three closest friends returned to the other disciples, who were also asleep. Yeshua shook them awake.
I peered across the Kidron Valley. Dozens of flickering lights formed a procession from the temple all the way to the garden. Did it require so many to arrest one man? Heartbeats filled the darkness and marching feet stomped the ground. The long-anticipated confrontation neared. The darkness of the night deepened.
Suddenly, the disciples seemed to become aware of something amiss. They quickly rose from their slumber and stared at the quivering lights. Tension saturated the air as the disciples drew near their master. I could sense the mounting terror as they peered through the grove at the hundreds of approaching men.
“Here comes the one who will hand me over,” Yeshua said.
Mark unexpectedly moved closer.
I blocked him. “Are you crazy?”
“They are coming for Yeshua. We must stop them.”
“No, Mark, You can’t. You can’t do anything.”
His petrified eyes implored me, “Why not?”
I peered beyond the garden to the wilderness, a stone’s throw away. The rugged canyons, caves, and mountains would have provided cover for Yeshua, as it did for David when he hid from Saul, but Yeshua made no effort to flee.
The shuddering light shone on the faces of Yeshua and his followers, but a brief moment of indecision passed. The soldiers appeared not to know which one was the teacher.
Yeshua stepped in front of his frightened followers to shield them from the soldiers. Resolute and firm, reminding me of Commander Goren, my hero from World War II, his bravery caught the guards by surprise. They jumped backwards, intimidated by his valor.
Judas spoke up. “The one I kiss will be Yeshua. Arrest him.”
Judas approached. “Hello, Teacher.”
Yeshua answered, “Friend, do the thing you came to do.”
Judas kissed Yeshua on the cheek.
Several of the temple soldiers seized Yeshua and arrested him. The rabbi offered no resistance. Unexpectedly Peter grabbed his sword and swung it at a servant.
Cries pierced the garden as the servant gripped the side of his head. Blood gushed between his fingers and dripped on the ground.
Yeshua shouted, “Stop!”
No one moved.
Yeshua picked up the servant’s ear and reattached it. Then he turned to Peter and said, “Put your sword back in its place. People who use swords will die by the sword. I could ask my father and he would send twelve legions of angels. But everything must happen as it is written and according to the prophets.”
Peter and the disciples trembled. They were unprepared for this—they never saw it coming.
Yeshua turned to face the chief priests and elders of the people who came to arrest him. In addition to the temple guards, the multitude included priests and scribes—almost everybody who was anybody connected with the temple.
I had anticipated it would be the Romans to arrest Yeshua, but the contingent was made up of his own people—the temple aristocracy.
Where would they take him?
The rabbi addressed the crowd. “Why did you come out here with swords and clubs? Am I criminal? Every day I was with you in the temple area. Why didn’t you arrest me there?”
Yeshua dropped his head. “But this is your time—the time when darkness rules.”
The soldiers handled Yeshua roughly, tying his hands behind his back. Upon seeing the brutality of the highly trained soldiers, Yeshua’s disciples fled. The guards let them go. They had Yeshua, the one for whom they came. Satisfied, they hauled the rabbi away into the darkness.
Suddenly, I heard rustling behind us.
“Who are you?” a voice demanded.
Mark and I turned and faced another group of soldiers who held torches and clubs.
I tried to step in front of Mark to protect him, but he ran in between the guards.
One reached out to seize the boy, but only caught him by his clothes. Mark kept running, leaving his garment in the soldier’s hand.
I was glad he got away, although butt naked. The guard threw the boy’s robe on the ground in disgust.
Now it was only me.
“Who are you?” one of the soldiers asked.
“Daniel, Son of Aviv.”
One of the guards whispered, “He’s the Jewish charioteer, the one the Romans are searching for.”
|The King, Book 2 in the Seventh Dimension Series|
“Should we take him in?”
The two guards exchanged glances.
The second one replied, “What have the Romans done for us lately?”
The first one shrugged. “Leave him be. We got the one we wanted.”
But the second one hesitated. “Suppose he’s one of the followers?”
“He’s not one of them. He was racing chariots in Caesarea.”
With that, they left me behind. I watched as their torches disappeared in the darkness. Mark was gone. The disciples were gone. Yeshua—I didn’t know where they were taking him, but I could see the long line of quavering lights covering the mountain. I ran through the garden to catch up.
Surely, they weren’t going to do anything to the rabbi over Pesach. Maybe I was wrong—maybe it wasn’t too late. Maybe history could still be rewritten.
Seventh Dimension - The Castle, Book 3, A Young Adult Fantasy, is on sale for 99 cents on Amazon Kindle through Passover. Click here to purchase