Category Archives: Christian faith

Youth and Age: Better With God

I’ve been reading through the book of Ecclesiastes. What a great book.

The poetry is amazing. I love the author’s metaphors in chapter 12 for the aging process (something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately).

How about this?:

“When the keepers of the house tremble and the the strong men stoop.” Yes, at the age of 63 I’m beginning to understand this. It annoys me that I can’t bounce up the stairs like I used to. It bothers me that my back hurts after an hour of yard work.

My dad had been a strong, capable Army Air Corps pilot during World War two. But the years (here he is at the age of 92 at our daughter’s wedding) stole his vitality.

WK-564

“When men rise up at the sound of birds.” Yep, I awake at about 4:30. I remember my grandmother getting up at the crack of dawn, and I wondered, how does she do that?

“When men are afraid of heights.” As a child, I used to climb trees and perform gymnastic feats. Now, my balance isn’t as good as it used to be, and I worry that I’ll trip and fall down my own steps (like I did last year and almost broke my knees.)

Here’s me, going carefully down the steps near Lake Evergreen, CO. Bruce is holding Little Kira’s hand. I’m gripping the handrail.

IMG_0584

Age continues to surprise me. With every new ache or strain, I have to remind myself, “Oh, yes, you’re an older woman now.”

I bristle at the thought. In my mind I’m still 22, even though the mirror and the camera shock me with their harsh reality.

But I wouldn’t go back to that age. Even though I was in the thick of performing in shows, singing concerts and recitals, learning opera roles, finishing up my music degree, with wattage to burn at both ends of the day, I wouldn’t go back.

At that age, I hardly gave God a nod. Life was too much about me all the time.

I had a vague feeling that I was missing out spiritually, but I couldn’t jump off the merry-go-round. It was going too fast.

IMG_3139

Ecclesiastes says, “Remember your creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come…”

Oh, how well the author understood our frailty, our brief days of vitality.

Thank God, He intervened and communicated this message to me: Don’t waste your years only thinking about acquiring wealth, knowledge, degrees, fame. It only lasts a very short time.

Let Me order your days. Then what I call you to do will be something that will last beyond your brief time on earth.

Youth and age: better with God.

Where’d That Come From?

IMG_1226

“Where’d you ever come up with the idea for your book?”

I get asked that question at least once a week.

Why would a sweet little old lady write about an evil, delusional man who thinks he has met the re-incarnation of the girl he loved, but murdered?

My answer: I came up with my story idea years and years ago after I read a news article about a teenaged girl who had been abducted by a crazy guy, and taken into the wilderness.

At the time, I was about the same age as this girl, and I kept thinking, “What would I do if this happened to me? How would I survive? Would I be able to keep my wits about me even if I were terrified?

Gradually, over the years, a suspenseful but adventurous story began to percolate through my mind. Bits of my own experiences, scary imaginings, dark dreams, things I have read, suspenseful movies I’ve seen: these all contributed to the formulation of Haven’s Flight.

Can you imagine being lost in the densely forested Cascade Mountains, being injured, running from a man with murder on his mind? He’s got all the odds in his favor. He knows the woods, he’s an expert hunter and tracker, he’s big and strong, and he never seems to tire.

But Haven has more in her favor than she thinks.

She’s got a big, strong God who has promised never to leave her or forsake her.

Find out more about Haven here:

Have you ever doubted God’s ability, or willingness to come to your rescue?

Remember this: “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me and I will answer him.” (Psalm 91:14, 15)

 

 

 

 

 

When Failure Is Success

I’be been reading in the book of Acts.

This account of the early Church provides us 21st century readers a comfortable opportunity to analyze and see the big picture of God’s dealings.

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to read our own story and recognize how God—in spite of our lack of faith, or because of it—is operating to accomplish His plan?

Bruce and I sometimes wonder about decisions we’ve made in the past:

  • Should we have taken the job in New York?
  • Why didn’t we buy a used car instead of that brand new car that turned out to be a lemon?
  • What if I never picked up that gargantuan box, herniating the disks in my neck? Would I have continued on my path toward being a full-time singer?
  • What if Bruce hadn’t accepted the telecom job  in California right before the telecom bust of 2002?

I’m sure you have your own speculations. Most of them involve failures that you can’t forget.

When viewed from above, are my apparent failures something more?

Does my chronic pain, and my struggle to conquer bitterness, make me more compassionate? Did our job loss so many years ago help us to empathize with and counsel others? Did our marital spats help us recognize our own individual patterns of wrong-thinking, leading to a better marriage…and opportunities to teach younger couples what we’ve learned?

Now, I’m not suggesting a cavalier attitude to failure. It’s painful, and it ripples outward and affects those around us, too.

However, like the book of Acts, our own Christian redemptive stories should become part of the larger picture of unity within the Body.

It is within the Body that God has designed our successes and failures to interweave in a narrative of faith.

Think of Peter’s Denial of Christ. This man became the head of the early Church.

Think of Paul, the murderer, who became an Apostle.

Think of the persecuted Church who dispersed to other nations.

Failure becomes success when viewed from this perspective: In Christ, my story is His story. My failures belong to Him, not me. He can do with them what He wills.

 

 

 

 

Slugs and Motivation

I don’t know about you, but what frequently motivates me is…

Dis-satisfaction.

It could come from looking in the mirror

or reading my latest medical lab reports

or catching myself doing one of my pet sins.

Lots of Christians say it’s not good to be dis-satisfied. It leads to focusing on negative things. For the most part I agree.

But not when it comes to things that can or should be changed. My dis-satisfaction does not take my joy away. It’s merely an impetus.IMG_0682

I took a long walk the other day. It’s my time to talk to the Lord, to reflect, to enjoy God’s creation, and to let my mind get creative.

I crossed this critter:

IMG_1254

and wondered what made this slug decide to brave the wide, wide, gravelly expanse that separates one lovely, wet, arboreal area, from the other lovely, wet arboreal area across the path. The path is only about six feet wide. But to the slug, who neither comprehends human measures of distance, nor circumscribes his movements according to my perception of boundaries, his journey across the rocky wasteland is “what you do.”

To me, the woods on either side of the trail look identical.

There’s a stream on one side.

But there’s a pond on the other.

On each side, there are plenty of plants and other delectable things for a slug.

So why expend so much energy crossing over?

Because the slug wants something more.

And I do, too.

This is what motivates me:

Professionally, I’m not satisfied that I’ve published three books this year. What good is that if no one knows my books are out there? So I’m currently seeking friends who will review my book, and researching on-line promotional sites that will help me get the word out about Haven’s Flight, and the sweet love story, coming out in June: High Country Dilemma.

Physically, I’m not satisfied with the numbers mocking me on my glucometer each morning. They’re a mite too high. Which motivates me to get on my hiking boots and head for the trails. And eschew donuts and pasta and grains and soy and potatoes and ice cream, and anything else that tastes good.

Spiritually, I’m not satisfied about the sin that hangs on, making me want to self-flagellate. Oh, how I long for the day when I will be freed from my flesh. It’s almost painful to read Paul’s words in Romans: “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do…What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”

In the meantime, I recognize that “it is God who works within both to will and to work for his good purposes.” (Philippians) And I keep slogging (slugging?) toward the goal of conquering the “sin that entangles.”

Like the slug, my progress is slow, on all three aspects.

The slug is driven by his God-given instincts, whatever they are.

And I am driven by my God-given need to push on, not content to stay in an imperfect place.

 

 

Newness

The Northwest is positively gorgeous in the spring.

Right now, the daffodils and tulips of various colors glorify the fields in Burlington, Washington.

IMG_1201

Dramatic clouds hover over mountains to the east, which still sport a cap of white.

The air is cool, and the sun even peaks through the clouds from time to time.

The day before Easter, Bruce and I drove down to Burlington to view the magnificent fields. Believe me, my photos do not do it justice.

IMG_1202

The next day, we celebrated Easter at a friend’s house. They had just gotten two baby ducks, which were an absolute hit with the kids.

IMG_0930

And on Monday, I prepared a new manuscript for my publisher, the sequel to Haven’s Flight, which launched on Amazon two weeks ago. That, too is a wonderful beginning…at least for me.

IMG_1213

I love beginnings. I love to watched crocus’s and daffodils and tulips poke through the dirt: the promise of beauty after coldness, and an end to the monotony of gray, gray, gray.

I love the peep, peep, peep of baby chicks and ducks…

Baby horses, baby cows, beautiful children: God’s provision for the future.

In a week or so, we’ll open our doors and windows and let the house expel its staleness, to be replaced by wind-purified, rain-washed air.

I wonder what the morning was like when Jesus began his life anew. When the stone rolled away by an invisible hand and the Lord stepped out. Did heavenly air rush out of the tomb, or did earthly air flow in?

I love the way His resurrected life, and the new life of crocuses and tulips and ducklings coincide.

It’s a reminder each spring that death is vanquished, and that God is the giver of life.

IMG_1164

 

 

Yippee! My Book

IMG_1168

I just got my book in the mail!

Wow, what a feeling. To see my words transformed from a manuscript on my computer to an actual physical book.

I did not begin writing with a dream to make myself famous or to make money. Ha, ha! My goal was to make a story— which had been percolating in my mind for decades—take shape as words, and eventually, pages. And I hoped someone would read it and take something of value from the story.

Haven’s Flight began with an image that popped into my head when I was just a teen. An image that wouldn’t leave my head until I sketched it on a sheet of artist paper.

I had no concept yet, just the suspenseful drawing of a young woman standing alone in a snowy field, surrounded by dark forest, looking nervously over her shoulder.

Some of my readers have found similarities between my protagonist, Haven, and me, the author. That wasn’t my intent. But authors imbue their characters with things they feel and know, and have experienced. I knew Haven would have to be a musician because that’s what I have known intimately for nearly fifty years.

I also knew she had to have her adventure in the wet, rugged, and mysterious Cascade Mountains.

The book I’m confident you’re soon going to order from Amazon wasn’t even on my mental back-burner originally. (By the way, Haven’s Flight is discounted by forty percent if you order it before April 4th.) Book 2, coming out in the fall was the original story. But when I started to write it, I realized that story needed to begin with another story.

Haven’s Flight is a redemptive story about a young woman who has lost her faith, but comes to realize, after facing extreme danger and adventure in the Cascade Mountains, that God never leaves us or forsakes us. Don’t expect this Christian novel to be all sweetness and light. After all, Haven spends half the book hiding from a crazy guy!

I hope you love it.

 

 

Haven’s Flight Finally Flies

I remember talking to published authors a few years back at a writer’s conference.

Most of them advised me: Take your time. Don’t be in such a hurry to get published. You’ll never be as free with your writing time as you are now, not yet published.

Of course I smirked at this advice, although not visibly. Easy for you to say, published author, looking down from your high perch as an author with credence in the publishing world.

I was in a hurry. I bristled at the thought of all the things an aspiring writer has to do to prepare for a career (or even a partial career) in writing. Why can’t I just write?

Why do I have to have a platform? Why do I have to join all these writer groups and have critique partners?

Why do I have to submit my excerpts to contests and get stinging criticism from judges? Why do I have to read and study all these books on the craft of writing?

And why does it all take so much time?

I wrote my first book nine years ago. Man, was I ever ignorant of the publishing process. I thought I’d just take my baby down to the nearest agent and get a contract the same day.

Wrong!

My first critique at my first writer’s conference pulled me up short. The critiquer, a seasoned author said, “Before we go over your excerpt, let’s pray.”

We have to pray because it’s so bad? Not an auspicious start to our meeting.

She handed my printed excerpt to me and my stomach went sour at all the red ink on the pages.

 

A couple of years later, I attended another conference. This time I interviewed authors during our meal-times. My question, “What is the most important advice you could give me as an unpublished writer?” got the biggest response.

“Don’t give up.” Without exception, each author had said nothing was more essential than the will to keep going.

God reminded me of that bit of advice over and over during the next few years as I slowly began to get small articles and stories published.

My first full-sized novel releases in three weeks: Haven’s Flight is the story of a young woman, a pianist, who has witnessed the violent death of her mother during a robbery and suffers from Post Traumatic Stress. She enrolls in a wilderness therapy camp, hoping that the program will help her heal so that she can perform on stage again. But, while at camp, someone is following her, leaving her threatening notes.

If you click on “my books” you can read a little bit more about the story.

Haven’s Flight is a Christian story, a redemptive story. It’s got some dark themes in it. I wouldn’t recommend this story to anyone younger than sixteen.

But the biggest spiritual message in the story is the one God gives to each of His children:

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Haven’s Flight releases April 4th as an ebook, (Write Integrity Press is the publisher)) and can also be ordered as a print book from Amazon.com. I hope you enjoy it!