Monday, November 16, 2015

Riding The Tide

Do you ever feel like you can't do one more thing? That life is just too much? It's too hard? You're too busy? You're overwhelmed? You truly can't do one more thing? 

Yeah, me too.  At least some of the time.

I've been thinking on this a lot lately, mostly how to make a positive change. Last Sunday's sermon was helpful.

The pastor talked about family and how God designed us to work together. A church can't function if the pastor is the one who does everything. We need to live like family. After all, God created families and they are good. More about that in a moment.

Writing books is a solitary endeavor, mostly. I'd like to share a little about what being a novelist means in today's publishing world.

Did you know that novelists used to "just" write? (Well mostly)

I think I can almost remember this. 

Alas, so much has changed.

Writers are now advertising experts, bloggers, publishers, researchers, secretaries, bookkeepers ... and they are also mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, caretakers. They work other jobs and serve in their churches. They have family's that need them and long to-do lists that have nothing to do with writing. 

Yet, we are supposed to have minds that can think creatively (after fulfilling all the other tasks in our lives) and if we hope to create a novel we need the energy to labor through the hours that make up the months required to get to the place where we write The End.

I'm pretty darn sure God called me to write and I'm also pretty sure he didn't expect me to kill myself doing it. 

I long to write great novels, to lose myself in unique and interesting tales and to get caught up in the lives of characters that I care about. But that doesn't always happen. The blaring horn of the world distracts me.

The difficulty is that the distractions matter too. The diversions, mysteries, heartache, and fun is part of what life is all about. If we skip those we really aren't living. We need time of quiet to listen to the hush of the forest or the humming noise of the city, time with friends and family, time to take in the moments with a child that will never come again - laughter and tears - we need to live it all.

I marvel at those who seem to live quietly in the ebb and flow of life. They don't fight the tide, but allow it to carry them out to sea and then rest when washed into a quiet pool. I long to find my way to such a place. And I am convinced that I will discover it in the quiet presence of the Lord. Or in the friend who comes alongside to help. And in the confidence to just let something go - to learn not to strive so hard.

And what about all the writerly things I need to do? I'm still sorting that out. I can't do it all and instinctively know that I should focus on what comes naturally and do the things I enjoy and to write about what I am passionate about. If I do that the tasks are not a chore but an opportunity to create and creating fulfills and sustains those who love it.  

And what about family? We were created to love and help one another, to carry burdens and to pray for each other. Writers, need to encourage and uplift other writers. And readers you are part of the family too. Writers need to hear from you, words of encouragement can brighten a dark day. And if you find a book you love help an overworked writer by telling others about their work.

Above all, we need to be content and grateful that we get to share this planet in whatever place the Lord has planted us. He knows our hearts like no other ... and in this knowledge we can rest in his great ocean of love.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Cross Country Adventure Winners

I had so much fun reliving the cross country trip my husband and I made in 2006 when we did research for a book. We left with high expectations and we were not disappointed.

Thank you all for following along and sharing the journey. I'm so thankful Greg and I went and I'm love the results - To Dance With Dolphins, which recently released. It took several years before I was able to write the story, but it was worth the wait. I couldn't have written it without making the trip.

On my blog journey each day a gift was offered to those who posted a message answering the question of the day. You were all such good sports and I loved hearing about your experiences.

The winners, listed from day 1 - 8 are:

Day One - Chris Granville

A copy of my novel, The Heart of Thornton Creek.

Day Two - Lynette Cooper

One pound of Christmas Hershey Kisses

Day Three - Sue Bakken

Two movies -- The Ultimate Gift & Miracle on 34th Street

Day Four - Sara Derscheid

Nightscape Poster - Imagination

Day Five - Kim Amundsen

The Day by Day Devotional Jesus Calling

Day Six - Patti Iverson

Tropical Dolphin Abalone Shell Earrings

Day Seven - Naomi
Mara Collectible Dinner Mugs

Day Eight - Garrett Nichols
The novel To Dance With Dolphins & Mannheim Steamroller CD.

Congratulations to you all! Please contact me at and leave your name and address so I can send you your gift. 

Grace and peace to you from God,


Sunday, November 01, 2015

Cross Country Adventure - Day Eight

And so we come to my final entry. Three weeks - 8,000 miles. I can't  believe we drove so far and discovered so much in such a short period of time. I'm sad the reliving is done, just as I was nine years ago.

Time to see how it all turned out.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

We maneuvered the winding highway through the Shasta National Forest and anticipation filled me. When we stopped in the small mountain town of Weed my eagerness intensified. We were almost home!

While high in the Siskiyou Mountains we passed a sign that said, "Welcome to Oregon." We'd arrived in our home state and it felt good. Yet, the best was yet to come. We descended into a valley north of the Siskiyou Mountains where golden hills cast in shadows and surrounded by forests welcomed us.

We continued north,, navigating familiar mountains. The evergreens were taller, their girth greater, and the forests were dense with Douglas Fir and Cedar. The final few miles we traveled from Roseburg to Glide were a balm to my need for home. Sheep and cattle grazed on honey-colored hills and the colorful oak and dark thick forests shouted, HOME!

In spite of all the grandeur, beauty, and fascinating people and sites we've encountered the last three weeks, there's just no place like home. Fall arrived while we were gone. The air is cool and the smells of evergreen and overripe blackberries welcome me. Before leaving for church today, I stepped onto my front porch and savored the morning crispness and the mists hanging over the meadow in front of my house.

As I contemplate our journey it's clear that God favored us with His presence and His mercy throughout our adventure. He revealed to us so much of Himself and His creation. We felt His protection and took comfort in the prayers of our friends.

A cross country trip may seem a small thing to some (after all we didn't travel to the other side of the planet), but I'm changed. Travel isn't easy for me. My body sometimes betrays me and I can't push it too far. But every ache and pain was worth the insight, wonderment, pleasure and knowledge that I gained. God's hand is truly upon this country, and we are blessed too live here.

I learned many lessons on this trip and praise God for allowing me to go. I know better how much He loves me, just as I am. And my confidence in Him is greater than ever.

May you know the joy and wonderment our glorious God offers to each of us."

It's been fun to relive the journey. I had no idea then that it would take me nine years to find the time and the heart to write the book I traveled so far to research. But God's timing is perfect and I trust Him.

Of course only a little of what we saw could be posted this week, and I hope you'll read the book To Dance With Dolphins to experience more of our incredible journey and how it affected my characters and their story.

Today's Question:  What place to you call home?

Today's Gift:  I'm going to give away two gifts - a copy of my book, To Dance With Dolphins. After all, it is the reason for our journey. 

And with Christmas so close I want to include the beautiful holiday sounds of Mannheim Steamroller. There are no Christmas sounds quite like theirs.  

You still have time to visit the last eight blog entries and leave an answer and win gifts! I'll be drawing the winners names this Wednesday.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Cross Country Adventure - Day Seven

Only one more entry after today. The adventure is nearing a close, but not without some tense moments.

Let's have a look at what happened.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Tonight we are sleeping in Las Vegas, but yesterday we set out across New Mexico and Arizona ... after a harrowing day in Texas. The weather was ominous so we got on the highway early. Reports of dozens of tornadoes in the states we'd passed through the day before buzzed across the radio stations. And there were reports of continuing severe weather. We were nearly through Texas when a tornado warning blasted over the radio. A tornado on the ground in the county we were in and the clouds looked pretty scary. The landscape offered no hiding places, and I wondered what we would do if faced with a damaging twister.

We managed to reach Fort Stockton without incident and settled down for the night while warnings of severe weather continued. There were still no real safe places in the small town, but God's peace surrounded us and we slept soundly.

(In my book To Dance With Dolphins,it is Willow who helps hold our group together when tragedy strikes just outside Fort Stockton.)

Tonight we are sleeping in Las Vegas, but yesterday we set out across New Mexico and Arizona. The morning began with clear skies, but soon the winds picked up and dark clouds appeared on the horizon. We were in for it, or so we thought. Although strong winds buffeted our truck, the storms remained north and south of us and we made our way across the prairies and deserts bathed in sunshine. God has done this for us from our first day of travel.

There was so much to see and savor as we moved through the dry lands in the middle of the country. New Mexico was a mix of  broad prairies, rocky mountains, and red rock formations. I loved the colors of the landscape and Greg and I decided to incorporate many of them into our new family room. We picked up a few pieces of pottery and art work that will remind us of our time here.

 (This typical of what we saw in New Mexico)

It was all so interesting I wanted to stay and explore our history and the unique sites and to study what God had made, but we were forced by time constraints to keep moving.

We stopped briefly at the Petrified Forest in New Mexico. It is an amazing place, where centuries of history have been laid down. What a privilege to revisit our past. I could have spent days there.

Yesterday we arrived at the Grand Canyon. There are no words to describe the canyon, but I will make an attempt - magnificent, majestic, frightening, humbling, breathtaking. It is a place layered with colors and textures. A place where I felt God's presence, a place only He could have created. And a place that made me feel small and at the same time significant because the God who created this wonder also created me. Even now when I think about it tears well up.

I wanted so badly to spend more time. I needed to find a quiet place overlooking the grandeur where I could be quiet and contemplate God and what He must have been thinking when He created this glorious place.
Instead, I had to move on. This is a working trip, after all,  and I'm nearly out of time. So, we packed up and hit the road. Tomorrow we will begin the last leg of this adventure.

My next message will be from my office at my home up on my mountain in Oregon."

Tomorrow I will wrap up my trip across our great country. There are still many wonders to come.

Today's Question:  Have you ever been caught in a dangerous storm. What did you do?

Today's Gift:  Willow loved her tea. So, I'm excited to give away a set of Mara collectible dinner mugs (coffee or tea).  

One day to go. I'll see you tomorrow.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Friday, October 30, 2015

Cross Country Adventure - Day Six

Welcome back. Our journey across the country was so much fun and I found my story, To Dance With Dolphins, and I love sharing those wonderful days with you. I hope you've read the first five entries and entered the drawings for each day's gift. 

When I checked out the post for October 13th I discovered I failed to mention our stay in Savannah Georgia. I just can't overlook this incredible city. It is a mix of old and new with beautiful colonial homes with broad front porches, a profusion of flowers, and trees draped in Spanish moss. 

We spent a day at a small beach resort on the Atlantic. The ocean waters were quiet with open, broad beaches. And the locals do their best to protect the turtles.  :-) 

The next stop is the place we (and my characters) drove all this way to discover and we weren't disappointed. Back to our journey.

Friday, October 13, 2006

"It's our last day in Panama City Beach, Florida. We splurged and stayed three days. The only word to describe our time here - AMAZING! My characters are going to love it. 

Our daughter Kristi and her son, Gabe, joined us in Hinesville, Georgia and will be making the rest of the trip with us. Kristi's been living in Hinesville, but she's a west coast kind of gal so she's moving back to Oregon. We're happy about that and it's fun having them with us and so good to get better acquainted with our grandson, Gabe.

Panama City Beach has been a surprise to me. I made reservations at what I thought was an "ordinary" Holiday Inn on the Gulf Coast. To my surprise it turned out to be a fabulous resort with white-sand beaches, stunning sunsets, aqua waters, hot tubs, waterfalls, tiki lamps, palm trees, entertainment, and a disc jockey playing fun tunes much of the day. If you're ever in Panama City Beach this is the place to stay.

Yesterday Greg and I traveled by pontoon boat to an uninhabited island called Shell Island. 

It was a perfect day with temperatures in the 80's, soft breezes and blue skies. We walked a quiet beach and after cooling off in the Gulf waters, we settled into our chairs, sipped drinks, had a snack and thought about how incredible it was that we were in such an incredible place.

 Feeling adventurous, we donned our snorkeling gear and headed back into the water. What great fun - flloating in a warm sea, watching for wildlife and sea creatures. It was a new experience for us. Greg spotted a very large raspberry-colored jellyfish and managed to get some photos. Me ... I kept my distance.

One of the highlights of the day was a dolphin encounter. While on the boat, we watched a blue fish swim for its life, leaping out of the water and then swimming as hard and fast as he could. Although he fiercely tried to evade a hungry dolphin he ended up as lunch anyway. The dolphin gave us quite a show, diving, surfacing and hunting for something more to eat. We've had several dolphin sightings since arriving here. Our first day, we watched three of the beautiful creatures play in the waters just off the beach in front of our hotel.

Shell Island had some special surprises for my characters.

After our adventure on Shell Island, we returned to our room thinking a nap might be nice, but when we looked out our window and saw someone parasailing our energy was renewed. My husband made a quick phone call and before I knew it we were heading for the beach to meet the parasailing boat.

While Greg sailed, I took photos from a safe spot on the beach. My husband's always up for an adventure.

Tomorrow, we move on and once more the miles will be rolling beneath our tires as we travel through Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana heading for Texas. The weather forecast is for rain (lots of it) and thunderstorms so keep us in your prayers."

More fun to come as we head west. 

Today's Question:  Do you have a favorite vacation spot? What do you love about it?

Today's Gift:  

Tropical Beach Dolphin Abalone Shell Earrings

I'll be back tomorrow. Grace and peace to you from God,


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Cross Country Adventure - Day Five


Greg and I are getting the RV ready to head out tomorrow. We're making a short trip to Central Oregon to see our kids and grand-kids. I can't wait. We may run into snow later in the week ... so we're not sure when we'll be heading back home.

When we made our cross-country trip in 2006 we first spent time with family in Central Oregon and then set out. If only we were doing that again. Ah well, at least I get to relive some of the memories written in my blog journal while I worked on my book To Dance With Dolphins. Are you ready for the next leg of our research trip? 

Tuesday, Octoer 10, 2006

"Tonight we're sleeping in Hinesville, Georgia. We've logged more than 4,00 miles on our truck and still haven't put our feet in the Atlantic. Tomorrow is the day. We're heading into Savannah to have a good look at the historic city and then plan to walk on an Atlantic beach.

On October 7th, when we drove into Nashville, I felt a bit discouraged. It was too late to go downtown and stop in at some of the honky tonks. Plus Loretta Lynn was performing at the Grand Ole Opry and there was no way to get tickets. *Sigh* So instead, we had a late dinner at a very nice restaurant and had a fun chat with a sweet gal who served our meal. It turned out to be a good evening in spite of MY unfulfilled plans.

The morning of the 8th, we decided a trip to the Country Music Hall of Fame would be something my characters would do and so we went. It's an amazing place. Three floors, each more than a block long and a block wide are filled with country music history, videos, music and all kinds of instruments, stage costumes and stories about the stars. There were even some of the well-known performer's cars.

I learned a great deal and gained new respect for the country music industry and its celebrated musicians. Being there gave me insights that will help me better understand one of my characters (the infamous Taylor) and her passion for music.

I had a mishap while there. My husband and I took seats in a small theater and waited for a showing of country greats. I asked Greg, "Do you have the camera?" He said, "No." A thud went off in my chest. I looked around my seat to see where I'd put it. I couldn't find it. Panic set in. There were more than 200 photos on the card in the camera, all taken since leaving Oregon.

Greg and I set out in different directions. We had to find that camera! I was near tears and praying. Retracing my steps, I checked all the places I'd sat to watch and listen to videos. I couldn't find the camera anywhere.

And then I saw Greg. Triumphantly he held the camera above his head. Yay! I started breathing again.

I'd left the camera on a bench where I'd sat down to rest. This was not the first time I'd left something behind. Greg is now in charge of the camera, except for picture-taking. 

God is so good.

It was nearly time to head down the road and I still needed to get inside the legendary honky tonk, Tootsies. An important scene takes place there. Claire will know Sean much better before they head to Savannah, Georgia.

We were told there'd be no parking anywhere close to Tootsies and by this time my back was hurting too badly to walk several blocks so we drove to the corner where Legends (another honky tonk) and Tootsies are located. Greg parked on the street and said he'd try to stay put while I went in. I hurried inside, clicked a few photos, tried to get a feel for the place and then hurried outside. Greg was gone. I figured he'd driven around the block and would be back any minute.

And then all of a sudden, there he was in front of me, wearing a big grin. The truck was parked right across the street. A parking spot "just happened to open up." God is sooo good.

We went in, found a seat at the bar and ordered a couple of Cokes. It was great! I was tempted to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming.

A country singer, getting experience and hoping too be discovered was on stage playing her guitar and singing an original tune. She was good. I hope she makes it. It was fabulous to be there, soaking in the history and character of the place. I am SO ready to write the scene!

We left Nashville and headed south down Interstate 75. Driving through Atlanta was a thrill - huge freeways and wild drivers. We stayed in Jonesboro that night and then headed for Hinesville the next day.

While driving down Highway 16, my husband spotted a Dodge dealership in Macon. Our brakes had been acting funny, so we stopped to get them checked. One of the mechanics said it might take up to three hours to look them over and fix them. I was not thrilled. I wanted to get to Hinesville. But God's timing is always perfect.

We settled into chairs in the customer waiting room and chatted with another customer who was waiting, Anthony Butler. He turned out to be a terrific guy and as the time passed he shared some of his life with us. What he said impacted me, and his knowledge and experiences will make my story richer. We plan to stay in touch.

I have to mention my hero - my husband. While I've been taking notes, talking into my tape recorder, and typing scenes on my laptop, he's been driving. And every night when we stop and I'm resting my back he unloads all our stuff, which includes my writing paraphernalia and everything I need to make me more comfortable. And the next morning, while I'm giving my back time to unkink, he loads everything back into the truck. And tonight while I'm working on this, he's doing laundry. Thank you, Greg. I love you.

Tomorrow, we plan to make a trip to Savannah and to the beach where we will dip our toes in the Atlantic. It promises to be a special day."

More of our journey tomorrow.

Today's Question:   Do you have a hero or heroine in your life?

Today's Prize:         

A beautiful daily devotional
about a true hero.

I'll see you tomorrow. Grace and peace to you from God,


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Cross-Country Adventure Continues - Day Four!

I'm so excited to share the next leg of our journey. These were some of my favorite days. If you've missed the first three days make sure to go back and check them out and don't forget to leave comments so you can be eligible for the prizes.

All Righty - here we go.

Saturday, October 7, 2006

Sadly, we left Branson Missouri yesterday. I wish we could have stayed longer, but "work" calls. We covered a lot of miles, driving throough Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. After fourteen hoours on the road we finally stopped to sleep in Lexington, Kentucky.

In Illinois I could feel and see signs of winter. The leaves had turned, fields lay fallow, and the air felt chill. It seemed as if the land were waiting for winter.

In spite of the long hours on the road I truly enjoyed our time as we passed through three states in one day and moved on to a fourth. The countryside was colorful, expansive, and restorative.

The landscape changed as we approached Kentucky. There were more hills and they were steeper and demanded Greg's attention as he drove. The reds, oranges, and yellows on the trees and foliage seemed to vibrate with life. And I don't know that I've ever seen fields as green, not even in Oregon during the spring. Horses and cows, confined by white fences, grazed in lush pastures. The forests changed too. They became dense, the trees were crushed against each other fighting for space.

After a night's sleep in a very comfy bed (Praise God!) we set out again, crossing the mountains and traveling through the Daniel Boone National Forest. I could feel the history all around me.

We stopped at a place called Paintsville Lake. One day I'll return. It is one of the most tranquil spots I've ever seen. 

Hoping to find a town called Van Lear, we wound our way through country roads where small farms rested in green meadows. It was quite isolated and sometimes the forest closed out the light and I must admit that my mind returned to an old movie called Deliverance. I was thankful for GPS.

It took a bit of doing, but we managed to locate Van Lear. It's a small town in the Appalachians and we felt as if we'd stepped back in time. Our ultimate destination was Butcher Holler, Loretta Lynn's birthplace.

We got lost a few times, but managed to find her home. We drove back roads, some only wide enough for one car and some areas weren't even paved, although that's not so unusual for us - we're Oregonians, after all. We weren't sure we were even in the right place and considered turning back but then we came upon a boulder with Butcher Holler and an arrow painted on it showing the way. We finally made it!

Loretta's brother, Herman, a real friendly fellow, was there and happily showed us around his childhood home. The simple old house was much as it had been when Loretta and her family lived there. There were few luxuries for the "Coal Miner's Daughter" and her siblings.

The original furnishings had been preserved and Loretta's grandfather's guitar rested on one of the beds. Herman told us stories about the old days, including Loretta playing that old guitar. He proudly showed us photographs of his family and many of the famous people who've visited there.

My visit was a moving experience, reminding me of the strength of the human spirit. So much can be accomplished if we will only believe in the One who can do all things.

Tonight we're in Nashville and plan to do some exploring tomorrow before heading south into Georgia. I'll be writing again soon."

Nashville was so fun! I can't wait to tell you about it tomorrow. In the meantime I have another question and another prize.

Today's Question:
In the book, To Dance With Dolphins, Taylor has aspirations of becoming a country singer, but the rest of the group doesn't much like country (at least not at first). What is your favorite music style and if you have a favorite artist, I'd love to know.

Today's prize - A poster I happen to love because I believe in using our imaginations and allowing ourselves to believe our hopes ad dreams can come true.

I'll be back tomorrow with  more of my journey. 

Grace and peace to you from God,