Books put focus on spiritual and devotional issues

by: RAY PITZ - Bill Young wasn't around when his friend took his life. It was only later that something occured that helped him understand.Just in time for the holidays, two Sherwood residents are featured in recent editions of the popular “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series with spiritual stories that involve both a message from a tiny bird that helps a man better understand a friend’s death and another about a husband who came up with what he thought was the ultimate complement for his wife.

Bill Young, whose day job is that of roofer, has a story in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven,” while Jeni Bullis, a stay-at-home mom and noted blogger, is featured in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Wives.”

Bill Young

Young, encouraged by his mother, said he was a little surprised when he heard that he had been selected for inclusion in the “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven” book.

A Chicago native, Young had a harrowing experience that sent him off to live with his mother in Newport, a change in lifestyle that resulted in what he called “cultural shock.”

But once settled down in the coastal town, he met Ronnie, and the two became instant SUBMITTED GRAPHIC - Chicken Soup's 'Miraculous Messages from Heaven'

“He was basically the first friend I met when I moved to Oregon,” he said. “We became pretty tight in that small group of friends.”

In his story, Young describes Ronnie as a “genuinely kind person with a smile that lit up a room and a crazy sense of humor.”

Young writes: “Whenever we met we picked up right where we left off, no matter how much time had passed.”

That friendship would last for a dozen years until Ronnie suddenly took his life while in California. Young would wrestle with the grief of never getting to say good-bye and trying to understand what happened.

Without giving away the full story, Young finds peace one day when a small bird lights on his car’s windshield while Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” blares in the background.

“At this point I’m in tears thinking about Ronnie,” said Young, 37.

The coincidences are something he can’t explain, saying he considers the incident from a spiritual as opposed to a religious perspective.

“It felt like Ronnie coming to tell me it’s O.K.,” he said.

Young recorded his experiences in his journal, something he’s done periodically throughout his life.

This isn’t the only time Young has felt that something or someone has intervened in his life while he was having problems. Once after being laid off from his job as a roofer while living in Sherwood, a knock came at his back door. A brief time later, he and a friend were on their way to Clancy’s where his friend offered him a roofing job for a home on Brickyard Drive. One job led to another and soon he had five other roofing jobs set up with enough work lined up that he began his own roofing business.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Jeni Bullis was surprised but pleased when she found out her story would be included in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book.

Jeni Bullis

Meanwhile, Jeni Bullis said she was very surprised that her story was selected for the “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Wives” series.

“That was my first submission for any of my writing to be published so I was not expecting my story to make it through!” she said.

The book focuses on the joys and difficulties of being a Christian wife through a collection of 101 devotionals, which include a scripture verse, a story and a custom-written prayer.

A Sherwood resident for the last three years, Bullis and her husband Dan attend Sherwood Presbyterian Church where he’s the music director and she serves with the women’s ministries program.

Her story, “Falling in Like,” chronicles a marriage conference she and her husband attended several years ago.

“At one session, we were asked to stand and share our favorite thing about our spouse,” writes Bullis. “Each person described some trait or characteristic about their beloved that they liked the most.”

The story focuses on her husband’s response and the subsequent fallout.

Initially written for her “On My Heart” blog, a friend made her aware that the Chicken Soup editors were looking for a devotional stories.

“For years I had been researching the way men think and how husbands interpret their wives' words and actions,” said Bullis.  “In the process I grew more and more passionate to help women see how powerful they are in the lives of people around them; how much influence they have.”

That led her to start her Women of Influence organization, whose mission is encouraging every woman in her unique influence, she said. The group will hold its first conference on Jan. 24 and 25 at Horizon Community Church in Tualatin, which will feature nationally known authors and speakers. by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Chicken Soup's 'Devotional Stories for Wives'

Visit her website here

 For now, Bullis has a manuscript that is a memoir involving the unique births of her children, ages 9 and 10.

“What I enjoy most about writing is the ability to take my time and get my sentiment just right,” said Bullis.  “It's definitely one of the most challenging endeavors I've ever undertaken!”

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