Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Why the hard stuff?

I recently spoke at a women's retreat at the Oregon coast. I stayed in a condo right on the beach. It was fabulous! An aqua blue sky contrasted the deep blue of the ocean, and foaming waves crashed against rocks tossing their spray into the air. When I stepped onto my deck I could feel a sharp breeze and smell the unique aroma that only comes from the sea. It was gorgeous and inspiring!

And yet, it wasn't enough.

I wanted more--to walk on the beach, to feel the frigid ocean water suck the sand from beneath my feet. I wished I could hunt for seashells and special rocks and sea creatures. Instead I remained in my room, resting, reading and praying. Occasionally I'd step onto my deck. I didn't mope, but I thought about it.

Years ago there was a truck . . . on a corner . . . and it hit my van and changed my life. Now, instead of being the first one on the beach I have to be careful. Too much doing brings on too much pain. Sometimes I throw a pity party but there are special moments when I get a God view of my life and I can praise him for the new me. But this weekend I wanted to be like everyone else.

I was speaking Saturday night and Sunday morning so I had to be careful not to overdo. I couldn't let the ladies down. Giving a speech from a bed isn't very effective.

Interestingly enough the topic for the retreat just happend to be Embracing Life's Disappointments. And it was exactly what I needed to be studying. In recent months life had thrown stones at me and my world seemed filled with disappointment--God had something to say to me.

As I prepared for the retreat He took me to stories of His people and revealed details of their lives that I'd never really seen before. In the midst of their disappointments God was always there. And it was clear the difficulties were God orchestrated. When Joseph was sold into slavery God had a plan. Moses missed out on the Promised Land, but God gave him so much more--Moses got to see God face-to-face. Paul suffered devastating consequences for his faithful service, yet while in prison he sang praises to his Lord.

If I were in control of the world around me, I probably wouldn't have allowed that truck to hit me. But I'm short-sighted. I can't see the big picure--not the way God does. He sees it all. And His Word says that nothing touches me without His permission. So, I've got to trust Him. He knows what He's doing. When that truck hit my van, God knew that "life as usual" wasn't the way for me.

Because of Him I can say, "Thank you for adversity."

Only in weakness can we learn to rely on Him. Only in our trials do we exercise faith. When we need more than we possess, God gives the power and courage to overcome.

Trust Him. He wants to bless your life.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Carol wrote to say,

"Hi there, I'm now almost through the Northern Lights series. I was surprised to read you have Aleut ancestry and figure you use some of the old stories as a basis of what your ancestors lives were like.

You're right, Carol. I've written seven novels that take place in Alaska and each book contains information and insights from my Aleut ancestors. I've logged hours and hours of research. A lot of that time was spent looking into Alaskan culture, history, geography, etc. but many of the scenes in my books are taken directly from family stories.

I especially loved doing personal interviews. A lot of them were with family members(especially my mom) but I also talked to lots of other folks who are presently living in Alaska or have lived there.

Each new project felt like a treasure hunt. I found gold! I discovered some exceptional stories and special people in my family, real Alaskan Sourdoughs. It's been great fun writing about real places in history and real people who were willing to risk everything to fulfill dreams.

When I started writing about Alaska I'd counted on having fun and making new discoveries, but I hadn't planned on unearthing my heritage. I remember feeling wonderment when I got the first glimpse of me--where I came from. How exceptional it was to "feel" native.

I'd always known Aleut blood ran in my veins, but I never felt a connection. I grew up in the state of Washington far from my ancestral roots and I just never really got it. Writing about Alaska and its people turned out to be an unexpected gift. I'm grateful for the experience.

As a young woman, my mother left her family in Alaska and moved to Seattle. Her memories of growing up there are sweet ones and she loves to share them. I have hours and hours of tape recorded stories. My brother, Bruce, lives in Cordova. He's an adventurer and so many of his stories have contributed to mine. I just hope he lives through his next adventure. :-) I pray for him a lot.

Everyone's family histories are important. If you've not looked into yours please do--you may be surprised and pleased. So much of who we are comes from who we were and where we came from.

There's treasure to be found.