“Selah of the Desert” Chapter One

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These are 5 of my 7 books on Amazon.  The one to the far right is my fantasy novel, “Selah of the Summit.”  On the cover, I am Selah, posing in an outfit I wore to the Big Bear Renaissance Faire.  Selah is a slave girl trapped in a desert prison.  One day, a stranger appears at a banquet where she must serve her cruel Master.  He gives her a snowflake, and everything changes.  Follow Selah’s journey to the top of the Summit, as she finds freedom, friends, enemies, and love–along the way.

Now I am writing a new Selah book, set in the California High Desert (which I call the Apocalypse Desert).  A thousand years after the first Selah lived, a new Selah works in a desert prison.  Five days a week, she drives across the Apocalypse Desert to teach inmates.  At Christmas, one of her students gives her a sweet Christmas card, and everything changes.

“You can be walking down the same hallway you have trod for years.  Then, one day, you turn the corner, and everything changes,” is my favorite quote from my Selah books.  Do you think you are stuck on a sad, never-ending, doomed old road?  Do miracles still happen in our modern world as they did in the old days?  May you find help from The Maker, as Selah did!

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Here is Chapter One from “Selah of the Desert”

A Prison in the Desert

           The sun was not up yet.  Faint wisps of pink and orange clouds like feathers drifted above the eastern horizon. Selah looked up at them as she stepped out of the house and braced herself for cold air.  Wind blew down from snow-covered mountains that surrounded the High Desert.  Selah wrapped her jacket around her and pulled on her gloves as she balanced 2 bags, a travel coffee mug, and the scarf she had not yet wound around her neck. Her red-gold hair, annoyingly curly, peeked out beneath a black knit cap.

“It might snow today,” she mumbled to no one as she locked the door behind her and approached a white car that was covered with ice.  “Funny that they call this a desert when it snows sometimes!” she exclaimed, as if the silent auto could hear.  “Now I’ve got to warm you up and melt off all that ice so that we can drive to work.”

She unlocked the door and pushed her bags and coffee mug inside—then sat down on the cold driver’s seat, placed the key in the ignition, and started the engine.

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Christmas in a Hotel

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My family is my daughter Jessica, the only one of my 4 children who wants me in their lives.  She is having a baby soon, the only grandchild I will see–unless things change.  Jessica spent Christmas with me in a nice (but inexpensive) hotel in Ontario, California. We stayed there before–during the Miss California competition and Thanksgiving.  The hotel has a cheerful, red-hued lobby; a pool; and walkways with a gazebo and rose gardens.  It reminds me of hotels I stayed in throughout China.  We gave away some of my books to curious staff members and enjoyed green tea, butter cookies, and a few wrapped gifts.  I am thankful that, though I do not own my own home, this year I was not homeless.  I have a good job and can afford a hotel near to where Jessica lives.

Jessica read the story of the first Christmas as written in the Bible’s Gospel of Luke.  As a Messianic Jew and a Christian, I could be criticized for celebrating Christmas, a holiday not well steeped in valid history.  However, I love Christmas for the songs whose words I memorized when I was a child, the tiny blinking lights, angels, and evergreens.  Jesus came as the “light of the world.”  He died on a tree, our sacrifice to wash away our crimson sins, and rose again to bring new life.  Somehow these ideas do not erase older traditions of Hanukah, but fulfill.

How was your Christmas?

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Christmas Book Tea

Lonna Christmas 2018

You are invited to drink tea, eat cookies, and get one of my books for free!  This Sunday, December 23, from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m., I will be in the lovely lobby of the Ontario Airport Hotel in Ontario, California.  Stop by.  Everyone who shows up gets a free book!  I have 7 books (my true cancer survival story, travel adventure, fantasy, science fiction, and journalistic-style coverage of the country of Turkey–with color photos, links, and interviews).

Instead of “bestsellers,” may my books be “bestgivers.”

Merry Christmas!

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Turkish Tea (in a seaside cafe near Istanbul, Turkey)

Remembering Nick (and the December 2, 2015 Terrorist Attack in San Bernardino)

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It has been 3 years since the terrorist attack in San Bernardino that left 14 dead, shot many times by their own coworker and his Islamist extremist immigrant wife at their company Christmas party.  The main target was my friend Nick, a Messianic Jew like me.  We attended Shiloh Messianic Congregation together, in the San Bernardino mountains.  I was just down the street from the scene of this attack when it happened, watching it unfold on the TV news in a restaurant.  I had just returned from teaching English for 5 years in Turkey, Russia, and China.

Oddly, I have stood in the exact spot of terrorist attacks in all 3 of those countries.  Two were in airports in Russia and Turkey, and one was in Tiananmin Square in Beijing.  My timing was good–before the attacks occurred–but I could have been a victim like Nick.  Any of us could be victims–as could any of our children.

May we, in the new year of 2019, stand against anti-Semitism and terrorism.  May we truly promote the peace that Yeshua–Messiah–came to give.  Shabbat Shalom.

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Jennifer Thalasinos with our Pastor’s wife Kathleen

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Woman Down

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I watched the most life-changing film, “Man Down.”  Not only veterans get PTSD   I have had it since I was not yet 5 years old, when my father shot himself in the head–in front of me–on Christmas Day.  Through abusive men, cancer, and near-fatal car accidents, trauma has returned repeatedly.  Jesus help veterans and all of us who have PTSD.  Woman Down.

You can read all about my journey with PTSD in my 3 nonfiction books which I call my “Survival Series.”  Start with “Crossing the Chemo Room,” then go through “I Saw You in the Moon.”  Realize that I do not tell the whole truth until “Fire and Ice.”

May our 2018 be a year less affected by trauma.  Sadly, I cannot help but feel that everyone on Earth is in danger of PTSD the way things are headed.  Like my Selah fantasy character, may we overcome!

Christmas Poems

Do you also feel that this may be the last Christmas this earth will know?  Here are some poems I posted on Instagram, with photos:

thumbnailStuck on a hostile planet, supplies running out, signal weak, tapping SOS (Save Our Souls), we look to a light and wait for dawn. Hope of Messiah, Jesus.

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Watching the 1945 film “Christmas in Connecticut,” I realize how far America has fallen. We used to dine on real food and live in nice homes. Now we eat protein bars and rent rooms–if we are the lucky ones and not homeless. A rose for remembrance.

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In your virtual reality, imagine Holocaust victims herded into dark, windowless train wagons with no toilet. Imagine that inhumanity meeting humanity, that flesh needing spirit–and why we need a savior, miracle, baby Jesus.
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I want to fly, spirit-like above the earth, like a Christmas angel unbound by flesh. How did God’s son become a baby for us? To walk the dust and heal and die upon a tree, blood to wash us–so broke the victory of resurrection, without which no angel flies or human lingers.

Motherhood: The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done

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Harder than carrying a child for 9 months, giving birth in the most intense pain I’ve ever felt, keeping them safe for 18 years by guiding them, holding their hands, and telling them what to avoid–is watching them struggle in their 20s to survive in this world with all its hidden traps.  I pray for my sons and daughters as the sunset falls, wondering why no one warned me how my heart would be torn out of my chest by seeing them hurt as time goes by.  I remember their perfect skin, their tiny fingers, their dark eyes yet unfilled.  Jesus, help them.  Help me to stand here for them as long as I can, walking outside my desert home in the light of the moon.  Touch them; pull them out of darkness; fill them with your resurrection power, your Light of the World–this Christmas.

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The Liberal and the Immigrant

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It’s easy to say, “Let all immigrants come to America.”  It’s harder living with one.  I have been living with my Armenian/Turkish husband “Jack” for 5 years and 3 months.  We survived Turkey and then China and are now attempting America.  Because of language, cultural, and belief differences, our marriage has been difficult.  He can’t drive a car in the U.S., and a Green Card costs about $2000 plus proof of bank savings, home, job, etc.  We haven’t been able to afford one yet, especially since we used up all our savings when my Mazda 5 minivan was totaled in Houston, and I ended up in Texas Medical Center ICU with a subdural hematoma (bleeding in my brain from slamming into metal, no airbag deployed, seat belt bruising my ribs and pushing the air out of me).  Texas sheriffs blamed me for the accident, though I was the one hit by a speeding Houston driver.

We went back to California after that, in an American car with a high-interest loan, high payments, and increased driving insurance.  We slept in that car in the desert, then headed back toward the mountains where I lived before jumping overseas.  Jack got 3 manual labor jobs in a small town.  He quit one and was fired from the other 2, though his English now is pretty good.  After 5 years of teaching English and Journalism for universities, high schools, and private language schools in Russia, Turkey, and China, I have not been able to find a good job in America.  Nobody really needs an older, experienced English teacher in a country where the first language is English.

I found a job driving delivery for Uber Eats in Los Angeles, but with the one-hour commute from the truck stop where we live in the Inland Valley, I make no profits after gas and bill-paying (and my husband’s share, of course).  Uber pays drivers too little, though we wear out our cars, pay auto insurance, and risk our lives on steep, dark roads in the rain.

Turks love to talk, yell, fight.  Centuries of this aggression genetically infuse my husband.  My American friends don’t understand how much of a cultural difference this is and simply don’t like Jack for yelling too much.  Or maybe they question the high rate of abuse to women that Turkey records each year.

Then we lived with a Liberal couple in our small mountain town about 2.5 hours’ drive from Los Angeles. Continue reading

Christmas Lights in China

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My daughter Jessica was born in September, so by her first Christmas she was old enough for me to carry around and look at Christmas lights.  Her small blue eyes widened at the amazing colors and brightness.  Now she is 22 and lives in California.  I am teaching English in China.  This is my 5th Christmas away from home.  I went out last night to a colorful, cobblestoned street by the river in my Chinese city near Shanghai and was amazed at how the lights lit up like a fairly-land.  I thought, “Jessica could see this.” Continue reading

My Christmas Adventures Overseas

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My first Christmas away from America was spent in snowy Russia, 2010

Some of you may have read about my tragic childhood experiences of Christmas.  On a lighter note, you may enjoy reading about my recent Christmas adventures in Russia, Turkey, and China.  See how my life has progressed!

Still, as I spend my 4th Christmas teaching English overseas, I miss my children in California and wish I could get back to them.  Let’s all hope for a Christmas miracle and reunion with our families!

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Saint Anthony’s cathedral in Istanbul, Turkey, 2012

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A mall in Beijing, China, 2013

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