Thursday, December 31, 2009

The New Year

My sister lives three time zones away, which is altogether too far. We can't meet for lunch or go shopping together, so we find other ways to stay close. Of course, there's the phone, but we have to time our calls just right, because one of us might be sleeping. We e-mail and send each other hilarious photos of questionable taste. It helps that the men in our lives hit it off last summer and now are friends, too. But the best way we stay close is by sending each other crazy gifts, a tradition that started when we were in college.

A few years back, she gave me a Jesus Action Figure. (She gave me Moses, too, but he's not nearly as much fun. Tom says, "Moses only divides the water. Jesus makes wine!") Jesus has jointed, bendable arms and little wheels under his feet so he can move quickly to help the helpless and bless those who are wavering in faith, unsure of what they really need.

My Jesus Action Figure has been the visual for any number of sermons (which only works because I have preached in many different places.) Imagine, me seriously preaching about "be what God made you to be, do what God calls you to do" then reaching into the pulpit, and whipping out my favorite toy: "Be a Jesus Action Figure!" I love the surprise, the giggles and then the laughter.

As I write this in my time zone, we have only about five and a half hours of the old year remaining. 2009 has been good and bad for us. Job uncertainty, no jobs, our son needing surgery (and, oh, by the way, since he had no health insurance, we had to pay thousands of dollars up front). Then there was the failing health of our parents and the loss of my father in law, a traumatic move for my mother, worry for her well being and for that of my brother, many trips to visit them in the next time zone east... But then "Eddie's Wake" was published after all those years of work and the book itself looks fantastic, I left my last interim-pastor job feeling pretty good about how things went, our son went back to work, then back to college and got A's and B's his first semester... Our needs have been met often miraculously - more than once - just when we were about to panic.

What will '010 bring? Probably another mixed bag. Sometimes I'm afraid about what's ahead, sometimes I can't wait (will I be able to write a whole first draft of book two by the end of the new year? I hope I've learned enough about writing fiction to be able to do that.)

The thing is... the true, real, live Jesus Action Figure is already there in 2010... and beyond, ready and waiting to move quickly to help the helpless and bless those who are wavering in faith, unsure of what they really need.

Happy New Year, friends. May 2010 be for you a time of joy and blessing upon blessing! Thanks for reading.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Huddle

When I felt that our boys were old enough to “be very careful” with breakable things, we set up our nativity set on a low shelf so they could see it. We remembered the story of Jesus’ birth as we placed the angel, then Mary and Joseph, then the baby in the manger, then the shepherd and sheep and finally the kings. With Christmas lights all around, it was a beautiful sight.

But the next morning as I walked through the room, I noticed that the figures were all bunched up in a tight little wad around the manger. Hmmm... I was a little annoyed that I had to put it back in order, along with everything else I was picking up and putting back in order.

Not too long after that, it happened again. Who was doing this? As I recall, the dog got blamed for it. Once more, I fixed it up and went back to chasing my two little boys.

But the next time I looked, Mary and Joseph and their baby were again being suffocated by sheep, shepherd and wise men. What on earth? “Does everything in this house always have to be so messy?” I thought.

Then it dawned on me. We had been singing about the Baby Jesus, things like, "I love thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky, and stay by my cradle till morning is nigh." We’d been lighting candles on our Advent wreath and had been talking about Jesus’ birthday. To this day, I can’t get either boy to admit that he was the one who did it, but whoever it was understood this Christmas stuff way better than his Mom did.

Who doesn’t love a new baby? Who wouldn’t want to get close to this wondrous Babe, who’d come to bring healing to a hurting world?

My wish for all of you, my friends, is that you huddle close around the manger this year, for herein lies your hope and salvation.

A Blessed, Merry Christmas to all!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A New Day

This morning when I went into the kitchen to fix my oatmeal, I looked across the living room and out the picture windows and was stunned by the beauty of the sunrise. The house was dark, and the "automatic on-off LED Christmas candles" still shone brightly on the window sills... but outside and across the yard, I could see the deep night brighten to blues, then rose, then burning orange; the silhouettes of bare trees fancying it up, even though there was no need.

It didn't last long. By the time I'd finished my oatmeal,it was gone. But it made a difference that I was able to behold such a spectacular sight at the start of my day.

Like many others, our household has been hit by the bad economy. (I get really sick of hearing the term "touch economic times." I think it was coined by someone who's had little if any first hand experience, someone who wanted to package up the uncertainty of being able to pay all of next month's bills into a nice p.c. phrase when there's really nothing nice about it!) As I was saying - we've been hit here, too, and there are moments of high panic, moments of hope, moments of impatience.

But seeing a sight like I did this morning makes me thankful I had a reason to get out of bed. (Supply preaching that pays!) One way or another, things will work out. They always do.

It was worth getting up for. Try it sometime.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

November Changes

Two weeks ago today, I said good-bye to the congregation (CLC) I'd been serving as interim pastor for nearly two years. "Bittersweet" is the only word to describe the day; "bitter" because I knew I would no longer be kept in the loop about this parishioner's illness or that parishioner's family troubles; because I would not be there to watch and perhaps guide the growth of some exceptional young people I'd come to know and love. "Bitter" because it meant I would no longer have day to day contact with the dear friends who made my time there so much better than I'd expected it to be. The day was "sweet" because by the grace of God and with a lot of help from others, I was able to leave the congregation in better shape than when I'd arrived, "sweet" because of the love that was palpable as I said "farewell."

With little time to relax in between, we set out to visit my mother and my brother, and help close the sale of the house she'd lived in for nearly 20 years, the last seven without my Dad. I didn't go over to Meadowbrook Drive for "one last look," wanting to remember the good times we had there instead of the sad emptiness that was sure meet me if I ventured in. Now my mother lives in an independent living apartment building for seniors, which doesn't really feel like home for her, except for the familiar furniture and pictures on the walls. She participates in some of the planned group outings, but is more forgetful than the last time we saw her. Which is another change...

(We are somewhat humbled to realize that we - my husband and I - have reached the age when we are eligible to live in that same building!)

All this while, we knew that the return to our own home meant coming back to the same old worries about our own lives, not sure at all as to what the future holds for either of us. We need at least one, regular, good sized paycheck coming in if we are to continue to pay our bills and live in this wonderful home.

"Trust and be patient," "the Lord will provide..." "And be thankful, for that is the will of God for you..."

Through the window of our hotel lobby in Michigan, as we ate our free breakfast every morning, we could see one red rose blooming at the tip of a long stem in the neighbor's yard. Although the daytime temperatures were fairly warm for November, the nights had been very cold and frosty; even so, that rose still bloomed. Maybe it flourished because it had been planted so close to the house... so close to the house that I didn't dare go traipsing across the lawn to take a picture of it. With or without a photo to show you - that rose was a thing of beauty and a sign of hope for every day we saw it.

I remember the saying I used to see on posters: "Bloom where you are planted." This rosebush grew in sandy soil, surrounded by needles from the white pines in that yard. Now, I don't grow roses, but I think that's hardly an ideal place for such a tender plant. "Bloom where you are planted," indeed, but I think you do a whole lot better if you're nourished with just the right plant food and planted in a warm place, like the sheltered spot next to the house. If you were going to bloom where you are planted - and flourish - who or what would be your warm place, your sheltered spot? And what would nourish you?

Alas, (does anyone use that word anymore???) when we came to breakfast on our last day in Michigan, we saw that the rose had shed its petals. Another change. I could have grieved such a loss, but instead am very thankful for the promise and hope it represented at a time of upheaval and sadness.

The embroidered cross in the photo above is from the back of my new green stole, lovingly created by a friend on the occasion of my departure from CLC, and lovingly, thankfully, received by me. The stole is a patchwork of greens - my favorite color and the color of "ordinary time" in the Church. All of our joys and sorrows and changes and thanksgivings are woven and pieced together by the Master Weaver/ Seamstress to become the one piece of life we are given. Treasure yours... and give thanks for it. Peace be with you!

P.S. I tell you this so I'm accountable: this is the week Karl and Maggie and Jacob will all come together again in my writing. On to new adventures with these good friends.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Oh, What a Beautiful Morning!

What a difference eighteen hours makes! No wonder it's called the "Theatre of Seasons."
Hope the sun is shining where you are.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I'm not ready for this!

I am amazed at how quickly time passes. Is it really time to start thinking about Thanksgiving and (gasp!) Christmas? No way, I'm not ready. But if you look out my window, you'd see that everything is jumbled up, confused. The corn stands in the field, proud and tall; the precious ears, ripe with kernels and ready, point down to the earth, not up to the sun like they did a few weeks ago. And today, the stalks are frosted with snow, but not because the farmer is late or lazy.

We haven't raked leaves yet because most of them are still on the trees. The hose is still in the garden. Leaves on the black walnut tree are still green but they're wilted and sick looking. Branches sport leaves and snow. The birdbath has a layer if ice across the top. Snow is falling, heavy and wet. Six months from now, you'd say it was an April Fool's joke, but today...

What's going on? "The last shall be first and the first shall be last?" Not quite. "For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert..." This is snow not water. How about "Praise the Lord from the and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command..." That's nice...but then there's "He gives snow like wool; he scatters frost like ashes. He hurls down hail like crumbs--who can stand before his cold?" That's right: Cold!

Yes, indeed, I am complaining. Not ready for winter, haven't enjoyed fall yet. The turtle necks have not yet replaced the t-shirts in my dresser. The windows haven't been washed yet; the garden still needs to be put to bed.

But, then, there is soup on the stove and bread baking. Candles seem to warm the house a bit. It's dark early enough that I can ignore the dust and the carpet that needs vacuuming. Good news (we think) from the business; Eddie's Wake is selling and people seem to like it.

I think that's called grace. No, more like grace upon grace.

Peace be with you...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Summer Glories

From a piece I wrote for the Pastors' Column in a local newspaper yesterday, which helped me remember how much I love to write. Gotta get started on the next novel!

All summer, I babied my Morning Glory vines along, hoping they would put out those beautiful blue blooms just like the picture on the seed package. In June they sprouted, in July they spread all over the trellises, but there were no flowers. The green vines looked nice, but something was missing.

So I read up on Morning Glories, discovering that they like soil that is poor and dry. I’d had no luck with nasturtiums in that same spot last summer, maybe the soil was too rich, even though it’s mostly sand and I didn’t add any fertilizer. Maybe they were getting too wet when I watered the rest of the garden. Maybe, it was just too cool for most of the summer. I decided to make a mental note that Morning Glories are just one more flower that won’t bloom in that spot. Next year, I’ll try something else.

I had to go out of town for a period of time, and forgot all about my disappointment with the Morning Glories. When I returned in the middle of August, there were a few flowers on each vine. They were such a gorgeous shade of blue that I grabbed my camera and took some pictures, just to prove that they actually flowered. As the weeks passed, and Labor Day came and went and we went deeper into September, much to my delight, the vines erupted with dozens and dozens of new blooms. By evening, the flowers would be pulled back and shriveled, but when the sun came up again, new flowers would be there to greet the day. Except for planting the seeds, I did nothing to make this happen. It was all God’s miracle of creation.

Now here we are at the beginning of October and we’ve had frost warnings two nights in a row. There was no way to cover all those vines, so I hoped they’d survive just for a few more days, maybe even a few weeks. On the morning after the first frost, the flowers bloomed, but when I went to check on them, their edges were purple and curling inward already. As I write this, the plants are still valiantly making flowers, but the wind and rain and cold make them wither and fade well before noon.

Every fall I am reminded of what the Prophet Isaiah says. The grass withers, the flowers fade; but the word of our God will stand forever. As we move into the darkest time of the year, when no grass grows and all flowers have withered, when we burn candles to ward off the edge of night, this verse sustains me. Isaiah also says surely the people are grass, and so we are, mortal and fragile, not only in our bodies, but in our spirits as well. But God, Creator of all, sent the Word, Jesus to save us from all that. No matter how we bloom and fade and watch our loved ones bloom and fade, the Word of God stands forever, steady, constant and always with us.

May God’s peace be with you

P.S. It was so windy overnight that the trellis holding the biggest M.G. plant blew over. Bye, bye, blue...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Cake - for Me?

Well, I did share it! It was the afternoon treat when I attended a book group at a golf resort with my sister-in-law and mother-in-law a couple of weeks ago. (The rocks were yummy - like m&ms!) I was amazed to see my name on the events sign at the entrance to the park. I was really amazed to see 33 people in the clubhouse, waiting to hear what I had to say about Eddie's Wake, waiting to ask some great questions. It was fun, but kind of embarrassing, too.

Soon we'll have a book celebration at our church for friends and family. We sent out 50+ invitations today! What will I fix to feed all these people? Wish I had time to make Maggie's apple pie. True comfort food, if it ever existed.

And tomorrow, I'll be talking to a reporter from the local newspaper, who wants photos.

This is all fun and exciting, but I want to remember - and maybe you can help me with this - that writing Eddie's Wake was never meant to be about me. Yes, I love writing, and I'm antsy to start the next book, but that's not what this is about, either.

I wrote Eddie's Wake for every person who has lost a loved one, who has pined for someone who no longer walks on this earth; it's about everyone who knows first hand what "vain longing" is like. Eddie's Wake might be a good read, but it's supposed to bring the message that life goes on and healing happens - even though the scars of loss never really go away. It's about love, and how true love comes about in the strangest ways. It's about how love does, indeed, conquer a whole host of problems, or at least make them a bit more bearable. Most of all, it's about how the love of God trumps all.

No, Eddie's Wake is not about me. It's all about you, my friends.
May peace be with you.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Tribute

Where have you been?
I know it has been a very long time since I have posted.
You do know how important a web presence is to selling Eddie's Wake, don't you?
Yes, I do, but... well, a lot of things have happened. Like my 'day job,' which isn't really a day job at all, with all those evening meetings.
You missed some of those, too. You're becoming a slacker!
And then there's my family. It's been a busy summer helping my Mom weed through her belongings and move. I missed lots of work for that and had no time or energy to think...
You're making excuses.
They're all true. And then, we we thought things would settle down, someone important died. My father-in-law.
Oh, dear.
He used to terrify me, but once, before I was even officially in the family, and I was visiting their house with my beloved and it was winter and I was freezing even with an extra sweater on, he turned up the furnace. I told him he didn't have to do that just for me, and he said, "What's the matter, don't you think you're worth it?" And the truth was, I didn't think I was worth it. That has stayed with me for over 35 years. Somehow, I thought I was being a good Christian or at least a good girl if I always put everyone else first, which would have meant, if the family wanted to save money on fuel oil, I should ignore my own needs and go along with it. It took a scary person telling me I was worth something before I began to believe it.
You've come a long way, baby.
Most of the time. But now I hear myself saying those same words to others. Maybe that's the greatest tribute I could pay.
So now do I have an excused absence from blogging?
Of course. You're worth it. Just don't forget about us.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"How can I get a copy?"

It just occurred to me that I've been telling you about my getting my hands on copies of "Eddie's Wake," but that I haven't mentioned where you can get a copy. They are available through and Barnes and I ordered one copy through Amazon last night; will let you know how long it takes for it to come. Haven't tried B&N yet.

My Morning glories are finally beginning to bloom and the weeds in the garden are thriving. Between the book and more family crises, I haven't been able to do anything about the weeds or enjoy the flowers.

But wait! I just went out to get a shot of the Morning Glories, and discovered, on August 19th, that we have ripening tomatoes; the first of the season. I will have tomatoes on my cucumber cream cheese sandwich today. And tomorrow I will make salsa!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I have a BOOK copy of Eddie's Wake!

My stomach was in knots and my hands were shaking. I wasn't sure if I would laugh, cry or throw up as I when I opened the box... but I did none of those things. Just signed a copy for my Mom and left it on her chair. It's a beautiful book with some heft to it, thanks to Dave Aldrich. Yay, Dave!

I've been with my Mom for three weeks helping with family stuff, but am on my way home, sleeping in the shadow of the Mackinac Bridge (above).

We'll be planning some "Book Events" soon and will announce them here. Hope you can come help us celebrate!

Friday, August 7, 2009

They're Here!

Finally, it's a reality. Two boxes of books arrived today, but since I'm in Michigan with my Mom, I had to ask my son to open the boxes. He says they look great. Will keep you posted as to availability.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Beware of that perfect parking place

It was a shady spot in a gravelly lot on a warm day. Nobody else is parked there, what luck! In fact, the whole lot is vacant. We pull in, park, get out, and start walking; Mom forgot her cane, so she hangs onto my arm. She mentions something about these little black blobs on the ground. I am very preoccupied. Looks like leftover asphalt crumbs, I say. You know, it's road construction season in the Midwest, and some of those workers can be pretty sloppy.
We return to the car about 30 minutes later. This time I look down, and I look closely. Oh-oh, those aren't asphalt blobs, they're... berries?
I look up. A-hem. A big tree with red and blackish-purple berries, like big ol' raspberries... The source of our coveted shade. Well, I say, at least no birds have blessed us with droppings on the car.
Now, I look down again. At my feet, at my sandals. At Mom's feet. If we'd been barefoot, it would have looked like we'd been stomping out the grapes of wrath before his judgment seat! (OK, self, settle down, now!)
Back home, we decide to wipe our feet on the grass. Picture: elderly woman, hanging onto daughter as they wipe gunk off their shoes. We look up. Neighbors watch us from their stoop. Almost fall over laughing, wondering what they must think of us.
Later, same neighbors watch as I scrub said shoes and sandals with a brush, Fantastik and water from the hose.
Shoes cleaned up pretty well... then I notice the asphalt driveway, little bits of dark berry from our shoes, waiting for someone to walk all over them and tromp them through the house. More hose, more water.
Neighbors still watching: "Whatever they stepped in must have been good, Ray..."

The berries in the photo above are wild black caps from my yard, much tamer than seedy mulberries mixed with gravel.

Great news: Eddie's Wake publish date, July 31, 2009. Today! Mom says we need to celebrate with ice cream. Chocolate, vanilla. NO berry!

Books soon to come.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"We're On Our Way!"

No photos for this post... (Can't think of anything to use. Maybe if I had a photo of a car...) We're on our way! Eddie's Wake is in production. In a few more weeks, we should have books. Yay!
Thanks for reading.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Wild Things

It seems like I've been seeing (and hearing) all sorts of wild critters lately. On the way to work last week, poking its head from the weeds at the side of the road was a bald eagle. I'm sure it was lunching on roadkill, maybe a whole deer or a raccoon. I remember fifteen years ago or so, when the eagles were just coming back from the brink of extinction, we took the kids on a hike down to the Mississippi River, hoping to see one. It was late December and the water was open and there were at least four or five big eagles feeding on Mississippi River fish. What a thrill that was! And now there are enough eagles that seeing them around here is a pretty common occurrence.

And then there are the deer. This time of year they are more of a traffic hazard than anything. Two fawns at the edge of the road, trying to cross then chickening out, back and forth to the center line then finally across. I was glad I saw them soon enough to slow down and take in the show. On Saturday while fixing breakfast, I heard the strangest noise... was it a bird or squirrel? I looked, and saw a doe, 20 or 30 feet from the house, looking down at something and making that whistling-snorting noise. I opened the window a little and she looked at me. Then down. Then at me. I'm not sure I like having deer so close to the house (my hosta plants, you know) so I made a little bit of noise and she took off into the woods. And there, just above the weeds, went the furry tail of our mouser cat, Cougar, after her. Did she really think she could catch a deer?

I think I saw a groundhog heading into the corn the other day. And there are the howls of the coyotes and fox at night, making me go out looking for little Betty, my favorite cat, the one we don't think is smart enough to run from predators. And of course, there are the bluebirds and hummingbirds who like it when I water the garden. I quit filling the regular birdfeeder, since it attracts raccoons and possum this time of year, and I do NOT like having that kind of wildlife on the deck!

All this is diversionary for me. We are still waiting for approval of the cover for "Eddie's Wake" from Outskirts Press. They have to OK it, then I have the final say, and then it goes into production and then, in three to four weeks, I'll see the book. The real deal. Next post I hope to be able to say, "We're on our way!" but for now... wait, wait, wait.

The photo above is Betty, soooo busted.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The water in my blood

On my way home from Michigan, I usually cross the Upper Peninsula on US Highway 2. The highway runs along the north shore of Lake Michigan, between sand dunes and through forests. The Lake was stunning yesterday in the cool sunshine and I was amazed at her colors, from deepest blue to crisp aquas to greens so transparent that I could see the sand beneath it. I stopped twice to take pictures and wondered at the sense of urgency I had to capture all the colors in my camera.

I love Lake Superior, and Lake Michigan, too. I grew up vacationing in the U.P., swimming in Lake Michigan and picking rocks along Superior's shore. I think I take pictures because I want to hang on to both lakes and all the memories I have of being there with my parents, sister and brother. My father died seven years ago this week. My sister lives in Alaska, my brother is ailing and my Mom is growing older. Maybe if I can hang on to the lakes and the dunes and rocks and white pines, I can hang on to the family I grew up with, too.

Karl Stern in Eddie's Wake felt the same way, I think, when he discovered that he and his family would be leaving the Lake where his father lived and fished and died. He was positive that everyone would forget all about his father if they moved away; he was truly afraid that he would forget, too. I wish I could tell him that moving away wouldn't make him forget... he'd just never be able to visit the big Lake without the feeling presence of his father. And that he'd probably take a lot of pictures trying to take the Lake home with him.

The image above is the "Mighty Mac" -- The Mackinac Bridge. It was completed fifty years ago this year and is a marvel to behold.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Traveling Sawmill

Our nephew builds extraordinary furniture... beginning the process by cutting down trees, hiring a sawyer to cut boards, and letting the boards dry and age. (Find out more about Adam's furniture by clicking here.)

I thought of Jacob Denver, the lumberman from "Eddie's Wake." Wonder what he might have thought about something like this? It was sure fun to watch!

Speaking of Eddie's Wake --
I finished proofing the proofs (galleys) and returned them (again!) Next comes work on the back cover... then the book goes into production. Soon...

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Lots of rain over the past 24 hours and the tomato plants look bigger and the corn out in the fields looks green and lush. Of course, this means the mosquito population will pop, but hey, it's part of summer.

Galley proofs were returned on Wednesday and I am going through all the edits I already sent in to make sure they were all addressed. Thought it would take a couple of hours, but I've been at it all day. All this means, we're getting closer to the day when I have an actual "Eddie's Wake" book in my hands. It's a joy to have this to work on when other things become so stressful!

Photo above: "Hens and Chicks" from my garden.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Dry Places

I returned the galley edits for Eddie's Wake on Monday. Today is Friday. Other than that, my week has been pretty unproductive. I sure would like to start writing again, but it's like trying to decide whether or not to make that phone call when you know your company will show up as soon as you do.
I'm thinking about some marketing ideas... visiting book clubs, sitting with a pile of my books in a coffee house, looking for new ways to get "out there" through the internet, sending copies to famous people(?), peddling them to artsy shops. If you, readers and followers, have any ideas - please leave a comment or email me.
Before I put the sprinkler on my already-dry garden, I couldn't resist taking a shot of the above moss-roses. They are amazing little plants that flourish even when it's dry.

Friday, June 5, 2009


Just wanted to post an update: I'm about half done with the galley edits; glad to be doing them because I'm finding many mistakes by the publisher. I have until Tuesday to finish.
I also wanted to show off another clump of wildflowers in our field. We've been trying to grow lupine for years, and this year we have maybe 6 good sized plants in shades of blue and purple. Another case of "wait for it...wait for it..."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It took years

Driving home today, I noticed these vivid blue wildflowers growing in our field. I had some wildflower seeds some years ago (maybe three years?) that I cast out in hopes of one day having a field of flowers. It took years - but aren't they great?

It took years (six, to be exact) to write Eddie's Wake, but today the galley proofs arrived! I'll be busy for a while doing edits, but keep checking back, and thanks for reading!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Possibility and Promise

Everything that needs to be planted in my main garden is in, as of yesterday. It's a good feeling, although there are weeds in another garden and a perennial or two that still need to be split. The fields around us are greening up, and close inspection says we have corn growing on both sides of the road. Come tasseling time, it will be gorgeous, the golden strands reflecting the long rays of sunrise and sunset in amazing ways.
It reminds me of lyrics from a Stan Rogers song: "Watch the field behind the plow turn to straight dark rows. Put another season's promise in the ground." ("The Field Behind the Plow," Home in Halifax, recorded 1982.) I can't listen to the song without weeping; partly it's the melody, partly it's because I've pastored so many farmers here in western Wisconsin and I can see each one of them in my mind's eye, turning around on the tractor seat to watch their progress. And partly because one-of-a-kind Stan Rogers died in a plane crash in 1983.

When I put in my two tomato plants, I set the tomato cages around them right away. It's easier to contain them that way. My son saw them and wanted to know what kind of animal I thought I was keeping away from them using those fences. We both had a good laugh. But the tomato cages are already in the garden, signs of possibility and hope - for large, tasty, home grown summer tomatoes.

Still no word from Outskirts about when I'll see the galley proofs of Eddie's Wake. But when I finally see them, you'll be the first to know!
Give thanks for veterans today.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Eddie's Wake

There's still nothing new from Outskirts Press on the progress they're making with "the book." I should have the galleys to proof very soon, which will mean I'll be quite busy for a while. I looked over the first paragraphs I wrote for the next novel, and didn't like any of it, so I'll be starting from ground zero. I have ideas but no outline. But Stephen King in On Writing says to just go with it. As I learned with Eddie's Wake, characters take on a life of their own and do things you had no idea they were even thinking about. I'm excited for the next big adventure.

Above you'll see the cover for Eddie's Wake, designed by Dave Aldrich of Aldrich Design. (The link is to Dave's blog). He does great work; even told me that he thinks the cover for Eddie's Wake is his best so far.

Thanks for reading!

From Where I Sit

Although my "office" is one corner of the living room, I think I have the best view of any other room in the house. It's irritating when I have no time (or will!) to straighten up the clutter of papers, books and important artifacts; when it spills out from behind the nice wooden room divider and the Norfolk Island Pine that make up my pretend wall. I appreciate neatness, but I can't seem to get beyond my clutter. Even when I decide to spend the day picking up, I get engrossed in other little projects that sometimes even add to the clutter. If I could close the door on an office, I think it might be better. It drives me nuts sometimes!

But from where I sit, I can watch bluebirds darting in and out of the bird house; I have a ringside view of the orioles eating jelly from the orange rinds I put in an old flower pot; I can watch the budding fields to our east and to our south (I'm pretty sure they're all planted with soybeans this year - corn is so much prettier to watch.) From where I sit, I can see when someone comes up the long steep driveway, I can tell when the birdbath needs water. I can watch the "hummingbird wars" as they all want to drink from the feeder at once, but refuse to take advantage of the multiple feeding spots.

We have no flowering trees, but I wish we did. At work, though, there are two of them, gushing with flowers. (See photo above.) I crawled around underneath them with my camera last week - briefly, because I could hear many bees feasting in the blossoms. I used to think we called this time of year "spring" because things spring up from the ground, but now I wonder if it's because of all the flowers gushing from trees and bushes, like water gushing up from a spring.

Enjoy these days of sun and warmth and new growth.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Story is Everything

Think of all the ways we tell stories; think of all the reasons we tell them. From "What I did on my summer vacation" to "It was awesome, you shoulda been there!" From "Once upon a time" to "In the beginning was the Word..." Our stories don't just tell what happens to us, they tell about who we are and what's important to us. I've been thinking a lot about the significance of "story" in our lives lately, thanks to the women who asked me to lead a morning retreat last weekend. (I learned that I'm much more comfortable putting things on paper than I am talking about them!)

We talked about our stories intersecting, those places where our paths cross. We become part of one another's stories, sometimes for life and sometimes just "for a season" as my friend and co-worker says. When our lives touch and relationships develop and our stories interesect, your story teaches me about myself, and a my story teaches you about who you are. We are so interconnected; we need one another to be who we are.

Music is moving - well, some music is moving - because I think it touches us somewhere inside and lets us see a bit more about who we are; helps us know our own story. Last night, a wonderful choir visited the church where I work and told THE story of our salvation. It's a group of folks some of whom have been singing together for thirty years, each spring presenting Easter cantatas to area churches. Each year the music is different and the story is told a little differently, but even so, I think by singing together, THE story and the stories of each other's lives become part of all the others. (The photo above is of the choir.)

Now that Eddie's Wake is at the publisher's and there's not a lot I can do to move the process along, I'm feeling like I need to gather my characters together again and get back to work telling their stories. I've learned that ultimately, in some deep and mysterious way, the stories of their lives are actually some part of my own story.

Oh, brother, this is getting too deep for me... my brain says it's time for bed. Until next time, may you find peace amid all the scary news we hear from all over the world these days!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Margueritas Tonight!

Tonight my husband and son accompanied me to our favorite little Mexican restaurant to celebrate. Yes, indeed, I submitted all my materials to the publisher today! I'm sure there will be some tweaking and redo-ing, but this feels like we're almost there. Now maybe I can focus on a few other things I need to finish sometime over the next few weeks, like three assignments that are due for my continuing ed program, and the retreat I've agreed to lead this weekend. Thanks for reading and watch for new posts!
(Photo: White Pine trees in Rhinelander, WI)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Susan Boyle

Like so many others, I have been watching the amazing performance of Susan Boyle that' s been playing on TV news and on You Tube. I have never cared for the nasty attempts to humiliate performers on "American Idol;" and now it's counterpart, "Britain's Got Talent." It is clear that "Simon" (whoever he is) was ready to do it again during the pre-performance interview with Susan. "What is your dream?" "To be a professional singer." "And what has kept you from that, do you think?" It seems to me that he and the audience were waiting for her to say, "Because I am middle aged and not very attractive." I loved her response: something like, "Because I've never had the chance and I'm hoping this is it." The audience snickered and looked at one another as if they were saying, "Can you believe this?"

But Susan triumphed. I only hope that she didn't die a little inside as the judges waited for her to fail, hands poised over those red "CUT!" buttons. She is feisty and confident and a beautiful jewel of a person, and would be even if she couldn't sing like a Nightingale.

And somehow, she so reminds me of Maggie's best friend, Will Denver's wife, Bernie, from Eddie's Wake. It makes me love her even more! I, for one, hope to see and hear a lot more from Susan in the future.

Yes, she's a jewel of a person, that's for sure.

And the truth is, in God's eyes, so is "Simon" with his handsome bod and stuck up attitude. Both loved, both treasured, both creatures of the same God.

I could almost hear God chuckle as Susan sang her heart out. You go, girl!

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Today is Thursday in the "Octave of Easter." Even though I have not yet wished you a Happy Easter, it's not too late. In the Church, we celebrate 50 days of Easter, a week of weeks plus one. So - Happy Easter! Watch for signs of new life wherever you find yourself.

In writing Eddie's Wake, I've noticed that the passage of time (October though June), especially the holidays, seem to correlate with events from the plot. It wasn't really anything I did intentionally, but it just seemed to work out that way. Without giving the plot away, I can say that Easter brings a promise of peace for Karl. In the end, he is satisfied not to have all the answers, knowing that the answers he does find will ultimately bring healing.

Jumping up and down excited!

Greetings! Spring has arrived: the tulips are poking up through the soil; the bluebirds are back; the binoculars have found their place onto my desk, so I can watch the bluebirds; the grass is in that brownish-greenish state that promises true green with a little rain, and there's rain in the forecast for the weekend. And if all that wasn't enough... Dave Aldrich, who has designed the cover for "Eddie's Wake" has posted it on his blog as part of a slide show and will soon have it on his website. If you'd like to see it go to Aldrich Design Blog.
I am also hoping to submit the manuscript to the publisher today or tomorrow. When will books be available? Late this summer --I hope.

I will spare you a photo of me jumping up and down excited (no time for a visit to the chiropractor.) The photo above is Lake Superior from the shoreline of Bob's Cabins in Larsmont, MN. It's our favorite get-away place, also the place where I finished the first draft of "Eddie's Wake."

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Palm Sunday

This morning it occurred to me that I should have posted my Palm Sunday story. Some of you have heard or read it, but it's one of my faves so here goes:

A Story for Palm Sunday
Matthew 22:34-46
That is Not Enough!

It was after that long discussion we had with Jesus in the temple that I began hearing voices. Actually, it was only one Voice. At first it was a tiny voice, a voice I was able to ignore. But then it so grew in volume and intensity that even when I covered my ears I could still hear it. I was sure I was going mad!
I am Phinehas ben Eleazar, Pharisee, lawyer by trade. I know the law of Moses and all the holiness codes that go with it; I know it like I know the back of my hand. It was my life, you understand. I was a man respected in my community, well known in the temple for my expertise, so you can see that I was of sound mind and no fool.
Along with the other Pharisees, I saw Jesus as nothing but trouble. True, he was a teacher with exceptional insights... But his radical new ideas would lead our people into chaos and confusion. If they listened to him, we reasoned, our position and our standing would be gone; our authority and our knowledge would be worthless. And if any of us - the chosen people of Israel - if any of us listened to him - we would become soft and unwilling to resist the forces of Rome. Jesus said to the people You have heard that it was said ‘you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
Israel was our land, promised to us through Moses. We had lost it once long ago, but now we were back, even though the Roman forces occupied the territory and tried to govern us. We needed to fight so that we would not lose our homeland again! Do you see what would happen if we listened to Jesus and started to love our enemies -- the Romans? If we loved them, we would not be able to fight them. We would most certainly lose this land again forever. Can you see what a threat this man Jesus was to us and to our whole way of life?
On the day following the Sabbath before Passover, Jesus and his followers paraded into the city. What a spectacle! The people waved palm branches and threw their clothing on the road before the donkey upon which he rode. It was a mess! Some in the crowd were chanting Hosanna to the Son of David! Others became unruly, with everyone asking, “Who is this? Who is this?” The city was filled with many visitors because of the Holy Days and the Romans were touchy - they didn’t like all the uproar and commotion... And when the Romans didn’t like something, it made all of us in the temple nervous.
After all that, Jesus came into the temple and caused more trouble, tipping over the tables of the merchants and money changers. It was a riot, I tell you. Outside they were still chanting Hosanna, hosanna to the Son of David, and inside was another mess. The blind and the lame in all their rags teemed around him, crying out and begging to be healed. It took us hours to get rid of them all and clean things up again.
Several days later, he came back. We tried to talk to him, find out just who he thought he was and what he was doing - he had to know that he’d put himself in grave danger. We debated back and forth and he told us stories - about two sons, about wicked tenants in a vineyard, about a wedding banquet where the invited guests refused to come. We asked him about paying taxes. We asked him about the resurrection. He gave us answers that we puzzled over, answers that we eventually realized were insults to us.
So we conspired together to test him, to see what he knew of the law. “Phinehas, you find a question that he will not be able to answer” they asked me. “He has not studied like you have, perhaps we can trip him up and get rid of him, prove he’s a fake.” After a few moments, I came up with the question: Which commandment in the law is the greatest? Certainly his answer would be incorrect, we thought, what with all the talk of loving one’s enemies.
At this, he astounded us. He had it right. ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. Nothing about loving enemies! But then he said, And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
Jesus told us what we already knew - that we are to love God with everything that is in us... But then he added what we’d ignored, what we had let slip away from our thinking, what we didn’t want to connect with loving God. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
We know that! I said, even though in the back of my mind I was considering the truth of it. We know that! I said, and that is when I first heard the Voice that would come to torment me. That is not enough, Phinehas!
Jesus went into a tirade against us, the scribes and the Pharisees. What he had to say stung, made us angry. The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses seat; therefore do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach! He said we’d laid burdens and requirements upon others that we ourselves were unwilling to bear. My heart told me that was true; inwardly, I had to agree with him. But we needed to be more careful - why give charlatans like this anything else to say against us, true or not true? That’s when the Voice spoke again. That is not enough, Phinehas! I shook my head to rid myself of the bad feeling I was getting.
Woe to you! Jesus said. Woe to you about this and woe to you about that! And on and on he went, and we became angrier and angrier. Did he have a death wish or what? He probably would die if he wasn’t more careful!
And then he wept: Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it. How often I have desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! Jesus never returned to the Temple after that.//

We Pharisees were known for our devout prayer life. I stopped in the public square on my way home and remembering the talk about loving God with heart and soul and mind, I prayed that Israel would understand and live by that. Then I went on and on, saying all sorts of things to make myself look righteous and holy. I prayed so loud that the people couldn’t help but hear me. Satisfied, believing I’d done quite well at loving God with heart and soul and mind, I started for home, only to hear the Voice again, this time louder and angrier. That is not enough Phinehas! The evening meal was like sawdust in my mouth. I went to bed afraid of what else the Voice might say to me in my dreams.
The rest of that week was trying. Even as we made preparations for the Passover feast, we worried and wondered what to do about Jesus. Then one of his disciples came to us, offering to take us to him that very night. We agreed, though we were not really sure what we’d do with him.
I am ashamed to say that I was so caught up in all of this that I did not listen to the joyful chatter of my wife, Susannah as she scurried about cleaning and sweeping away any crumbs of the old leaven that hid in the house. She was lighter of heart than I had ever seen her, yet I didn’t bother to ask her why. Well, she had reason to be happy, since Passover represents new start, something we all needed. I did notice our home, though, so fresh, so clean... I glowed with pride when I thought of the fine rugs and things I’d been able to provide for Susannah! Then again the Voice. That is not enough, Phinehas!
I was barely there for our Passover meal, distracted and unsettled. I left as soon as I could. We arrested Jesus in the Garden, hauled him all over the city during the darkest hours of the night - you know the rest of the story, I don’t need to tell you. Some who had cheered him on a few days before were now begging for his death. The whole thing got way out of hand. I talked myself into believing that we were doing this for the love of God, for the good of Israel. Then the Voice began to berate me, and I heard it constantly... It is not enough, Phinehas, it is not enough, it is not enough...
We got the Romans to crucify Jesus. It was the worst of all possible ways to die. While he hung there, my cohorts and I sat in the temple, righteously praying, keeping ourselves from being defiled by that wretched scene on the hill, not knowing that we had just played the most despicable role in the drama of all times. It is said that Herod and Pilate became friends because of all this, so love your enemies became a reality that day. It had been the very teaching that we had worked so hard against.
Suddenly, midafternoon, under a darkened sky, the curtain in the temple was split from top to bottom with noise that made me think of the cracking of bone, the tearing of flesh, the breaking of a heart. There was deafening thunder, then a violent earthquake. We were terrified! Was God himself angry with us?
Evening was approaching, the Sabbath was about to begin, so we all set out for our homes, where we would do nothing for a whole day, according to the law. I will never forget the sight that greeted me when I arrived. Instead of finding Susannah waiting for me in the doorway, our home was a crumbled mass of rock and mortar. A wisp of smoke snaked its way out from the spaces between the debris, then suddenly the quiet poof of a fire igniting, then the whole mess was engulfed. The earthquake must have knocked over the oil lamps and the brazier that kept us warm at night. The oil and the charcoal must have been dumped all over our fine, imported rugs... Surely Susannah had enough sense not to try to put it out, for that would be to work on the Sabbath.//
Surely she gotten out...
Our whole district came alive with wailing and I saw for the first time that others had lost homes, too. I could not find Susannah among the weeping women. I called for her over and over, until our neighbor, Jacob, appeared at my side and said, “She’s still in there, Phinehas, we heard her call for you a few minutes ago.” I looked up and saw that the sun had set - it was, indeed the Sabbath.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” I remembered. If I was to love God, then I must obey his command not to work on the Sabbath... And then suddenly there was the Voice once again, crying out in agony. That is not enough, Phinehas!
Quickly I tucked the hems of my long robes into my belt and began pawing through the rocks and rubble to find her. I did not feel the burning of my hands or the wetness of my tears, I did not hear Jacob telling me to stop because it was too late, I did not know that I was breathing smoke, I did not see that it was hopeless. I did not realize that the fire had become hot enough to explode bricks - I remember a “pop” and then nothing else.
When I awoke, I was in Jacob’s house, which the earthquake had jostled and rearranged, but had left standing. I was in Jacob’s bed, Jacob’s wife was bringing in a jar of water, and there Jacob sat by my side. Bandages covered my hands and encircled my head, my legs and arms were covered with ointment that smelled of aloe. Patiently Jacob and his wife had cared for me day and night, taking turns sleeping out of doors in a makeshift tent, never leaving me alone for a moment.
After many days, I was well enough to leave the house and I saw the mess that Jacob still needed to take care of in his yard. I couldn’t believe his generous hospitality! They had given me the best bed that was left, and had waded through rubble and filth to bring water so I would not die. All this for someone who had always been too high and mighty to associate with them. Such wonderful neighbors!
There was that word. Neighbor. Hadn’t Jesus said that the second greatest commandment was to love your neighbor as yourself? Was this what he meant? I wished that the Voice would speak to me again, but it remained silent.
Jacob finally agreed help me search through the rubble for Susannah. Do you know that the rocks were still warm? After several hours and much backbreaking labor, we found what was left of her, face down, buried beneath the blackened bricks and rocks. We paused and Jacob put his hand on my shoulder... I remembered that I would be defiled if I were to touch the dead - but for once I wasn’t worried about being holy. With my still tender hands, I carefully turned Susannah’s fragile remains, thus revealing the strangest and most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Clutched in her charred hands and held to her breast was the leaf of a date palm, soft and green and supple, as fresh as the day it was taken from the tree. It was not dried or scorched in the least! A miracle: life in the midst of death. Susannah now lies in the family tomb. She is still holding the palm leaf. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was still green and full of life. //
But questions still remain. Was Susannah among that rabble when Jesus rode into the city? Is that where the palm leaf had come from? She had been so full of peace - and joy - what did she know that I could not understand? In all of our years together, this woman never had a wrong instinct. Was Jesus the Messiah? I think she believed it was true, and I... I helped kill him!
From that time, my life changed. Although I could not thank Jacob and his wife enough for all they did for me, I could not rebuild my house. I went to the temple less and less often; seldom was I called upon to settle disputes of the law. I admit that I was confused and riddled with guilt. Soon I left Jerusalem to live out my years in Bethany, where I was befriended by Mary, Martha and Lazarus, who told me many things about Jesus; stories of his compassion and forgiveness - and of his resurrection. I wish I’d known him like they did.
I studied in the synagogue there and tried to teach the law through the lens of the greatest commandment. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love is more important than any law of rule.
I admit that I continued to be a model of arrogance in many ways. One afternoon, a father and son came looking for me at the synagogue just as I was leaving. Their request was simple, but I tried to put them off until the next day, when, I said, I would have plenty of time for them. I was a tired old man and I wanted to go home. That was when I heard the Voice for the last time - now it sounded gentle but weary. That is not enough, Phinehas! Something in my soul smiled, it was like hearing from an old friend. I could see that the two had traveled some distance to see me. “Please excuse me,” I said to them, “won’t you come to my home for the night? We can talk there.”
I never heard that Voice again, although there were many times I wished that it would speak. Loving God and neighbor is a difficult thing! But I tell you Christians: You must do it! For we learn love by being loved - and you have been loved by the greatest Neighbor of them all, who gave his life for you. I tell you, if you do not love your neighbor and your children and your families as yourself, how will they ever learn how to love? More important - how will they ever learn how much God loves them?

Copyright© 1999/2008 Carol A. Peterson. All rights reserved.

Friday, April 3, 2009

I Did What I Could

Greetings, everyone! It has been nearly a month since I wrote and there are too many reasons to explain why -- another trip to Michigan, family needs, Lent, Eddie's Wake, Lent, family...

The BIG news today is that the line edits are finished; I've cleaned up everything on the manuscript I could see that needed fixing. There may be other errors, but I will have to catch them when the galleys come for me to proof. If I had an extra $1500 laying around, I might hire someone to do it professionally, but I don't have the cash.

Now I am working on summaries , headlines, synopses and all manner of other little "book reporty" things I need to submit to the publisher. I used to write a lot of book reports for school, but it's been years... And have you ever tried to write a book report about a book you wrote? For some reason, I am finding it daunting. But I did decide on the size of the book - 5.5" X 8.5". My goal is to have a publication party or open house or some other kind of event before August 1, 2009. It takes about 90 days from submission to publication, which means I'll need to have everything in to Outskirts Press by May 1.

My latest trip to Michigan was under difficult circumstances. I am so blessed that the congregation I serve gave me emergency family leave and allowed me to miss two Lenten midweek services and one Sunday. And they prayed for me and my mom and my brother! Other family and friends, did, too and I want to thank you all. My concern for my mother's well being and my brother's many health issues, both physical and emotional was overwhelming. I learn it again and again - when I don't have well thought out prayers, or any prayers at all, there's someone else who is doing it for me.

Sleeping in my mom's "antique bedroom" gave me ten days to look at one of my favorite family portraits: my maternal grandmother with her parents. Grandma was born in 1897, so I think the photo was taken in 1898 or so. I was able to take a digital picture of it and have included it with this post.

Hopefully - even with Holy Week and Easter next week - I'll be able to write again much sooner than last time. Until then - blessings!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The wilderness in Eddie's Wake

Photo - last year's Easter lily replanted in my garden; a green sunburst with a new lease on life.

"Wilderness" has shown up in several of the recent RCL gospel readings. Not the refreshing, renewing kind of wilderness where a person can get away from it all and pick wild berries and sleep on a bed of pine needles. Nothing like the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota. More like a desert wilderness, where it's nothing but sand, and the sun ruthlessly sucks away any moisture that might appear. I learned again what happened in those New Testament places of "wilderness" (heremos in Greek)... How Jesus, especially, went into the wilderness to struggle, to meet a crucible head on, to make a weighty decision.

And that made me think about Karl Stern and his struggle in a wilderness dream. (Maybe it could be called a vision.) There he meets his true enemy, and there he realizes he can't fight it alone. Since I haven't shared much from the book lately, here's just a bit of Karl's wilderness dream.

Karl dug his toes into the warm sand as he stared at the hand painted road sign. It had markings like nothing he’d ever seen before in a green so full of life that when he traced them with his finger he felt a surge of something better than love, better than hope, more powerful than the strength of his father and Will combined. He had no idea what the markings meant, so he bent down and copied them in the sand, returning to touch them again and again. If he ever got home, he’d draw them in his sketch pad and show them to Sister Anne. He drew a box with the upper right corner rounded off, a stick that curved slightly to the right from the top, a bent fishing hook and a slanted pitchfork. Whatever they were, he didn’t want to forget them. He drew them over and over, until they were part of him.
(Here Karl meets with a cobra that tries to squeeze the breath out of him. He untangles himself and flings the snake to the ground.)

Suddenly a sword appeared in his hand. He swung it at the serpent, swooping it in a wide arc. The serpent reared its head and spit out a stream of brown liquid. Whiskey. Karl dodged it, but stumbled with the weight of the sword. The snake laughed at him with Melvin’s voice. Rage filled Karl’s body and made him strong, stronger than he’d ever felt before. He would end this wickedness once and for all; he could do this! He stabbed the snake, impaled it to the ground, and left the sword standing in the sand. But even before he moved his hand away, another sword came out of nowhere, which was a good thing, because he hadn’t killed the snake at all, only divided it. Now two heads laughed at him, two tongues flicked at his bare feet, and two sets of red eyes bored into his soul. With trembling hands, Karl stabbed at one of them, again plunging the sword into the ground, leaving it standing. Now there were three snakes. Another sword, another stab, another serpent; another and another until he stood in a slithering mess of evil broken only by the countless swords which stood like crosses in a cemetery. Even though he despaired and grew weary, Karl knew he would die the moment he stopped fighting. Stab, thrust, stab again... Bitter disappointment filled him. He’d thought this was a place of goodness and peace; with all his heart, he wanted it to be. Stab thrust, stab. He couldn’t keep this up much longer. He wanted to call for help, but who would come? Stab, stab, stab. This must be hell.
Poor Karl, at such a young age learning that despite wanting to end the wickedness in his life, he could not do it by himself. Poor Karl, at such a young age desolated and despairing; weary and wondering if he hadn't found his way into hell. I won't share the rest of his vision here, but I can tell you that as he's lifted away from it all, he gets a taste of what love can accomplish.

Time to wind down for the night and reset all the clocks; spring ahead, fall behind. I'd love to get all the sleep I need before the busy Sunday ahead.


Friday, February 27, 2009

I'm Covered!

Yes, it's been a while since I've written... I don't know if anyone is even checking this blog anymore. Life has been stressful and dark for me lately, in many ways. BUT, I now have a cover design for Eddie's Wake! Mr. Dave Aldrich did some fine work - fabulous work- and it feels like this book might actually happen. I'm not ready to share it with the world, but think blue. It amazes me how God can give such a bright spot at just the right time. Until next time - peace!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

February Thaw

After being stuck in the deep freeze for weeks, today it is 39 degrees. The sun is shining on the west side of the house and melted snow is dripping from the eaves. It's warm enough to let Betty and Parker Barnie (our little cats) spend their energy outside instead of nibbling on my plants in the house. In some places there is blacktop showing through our icy driveway, thanks to the efforts of the men of the house. The days seem to be getting longer, too. I remember hearing a meteorologist say around December 21 that by the end of January, we'd gain 55 minutes of daylight. We're halfway between the winter solstice and spring equinox. I checked the weather report for the south shore of Lake Superior, and it's as warm there as it is here!

No doubt, however, the cold will return and we'll feel cooped up again, and have to dress in layers when we go out instead of throwing on a jacket, and my son will keep a fire in the fireplace pretty much around the clock. But it's a little easier to take all that when the days lengthen and the snow melts a bit and we know that winter will not last forever.

One of the inside projects we've had on the to do list for the past few years finally got accomplished last week, thanks to the efforts of my husband. The bathroom has a new coat of paint, new lights, and new hardware on the vanity. I've always liked the shades of turquoise, gold, orange and deep maroons of the southwest. (At least, it seems like the southwest to me.) Trying to work with those colors got a little frustrating until I realized that Lake Superior agates, tinged with iron, are often reddish or light maroon. Gathering all the agates we've collected over the years into a vase to put on the vanity got me thinking that we could hang those framed posters of Split Rock Lighthouse on the bathroom walls (we have very high ceilings), and oh, yeah, we had this decorative map of Lake Superior, and ShopKo had the perfect frame for it, marked down from $50 to $15. So now we have a Lake Superior themed bathroom. HGTV wouldn't like it, but hey, it's our house and we're both crazy about the big lake!
Till next time - watch for spring, watch for the return of the light.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Hoar Frost

Hello, Everyone. I know that I have neglected this blog and haven't posted for three weeks, now. Just when the Christmas season is over and I think I'll have time to do normal things, I get stuck with all the stuff that needs to get done because it's a new year. Annual reports and tax stuff, Sunday preaching and Wednesday teaching, newsletters, a funeral and some sick calls... not to mention the bathroom we are finally painting and redecorating after too many years. (I always seem to have an excuse, don't I?)

Yesterday when we got up, we were socked in with fog, the kind my folks used to call "pea soup fog." We couldn't see the road in front of our house, and we couldn't see the highway across the fields. I had some errands to run, so I waited around for a few hours. When I finally decided to go, I realized that everything outside -- trees, weeds, bushes -- was covered with feathery frost. Hoar frost. I ran back inside to get my camera. (The photo above is at the edge of our woods.) As I stepped through the snow to find the leftover bittersweet berries in the "raspberry thicket", I realized how fragile the frost was. All I had to do was touch a branch or stem and the frost would float to the ground. Just a slight brush or bump meant that the old weed or tree would be transformed back to it's normal state again.

All this made me think about how fragile we all are, how fragile life is. We need more than a little bump to make us fall apart, but our lives are tender enough to collapse every once in a while. (For some people, that happens a lot more often than once in a while.)

In Eddie's Wake, Maggie realizes this with great longing as she grieves for Eddie. When she receives a letter from Jacob Denver after his second visit, she writes back to him, saying: If there is anything I have learned since my husband’s death, it is that life is too short to waste on things that are not good and honorable and true.

Life is short, my friends. Make it beautiful by sharing your compassion and kindness with someone you love!

P.S. I'm still working on edits. *Sigh.* This process is taking longer than I thought way back in August when I decided to self publish Eddie's Wake. Thanks for waiting. And thanks for checking in on my blog.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Love Shuffle

"The Love Shuffle" (see photo) sounds like it could be the name of a dance, and in a way, maybe it is. Our household is in a moderate amount of chaos these days as we shuffle things around to make room for some family members to take up residence in our walkout basement. This means moving an office and turning the upstairs guest room into a combo office/sleeping space. It means moving my bookcases to new places; finding a new home for a dresser; throwing away a lot of useless stuff we've accumulated over the nearly ten years we've lived here; recycling old computers and printers. It's a pain in the neck, and yet... we are blessed to have room enough for such an arrangement and we're happy that we can provide help to these two. It's why we have this place; it's one more way to show love to people we love.

I've had a little more time this week to work on edits for Eddie's Wake. It occurs to me that the word "shuffle" describes much of what happens in families, both in a physical way and in ways of the heart. When Eddie Stern dies, his family shuffles roles and responsibilities. When Maggie's mother is seriously ill, Maggie leans on Karl, finding comfort in his being there, something that would have been done by his father. Jacob Denver shuffles his home in the hopes of having an instant family. Will and Bernie shuffle their household so there would be room for Karl and his sisters to stay with them when... Oh, dear, I'd better not say too much more; it could spoil the read.

Thanks again for reading, and a Happy New Year to all. May 2009 be a year of happiness and contentment for you, despite the bad news we keep hearing about, both in this country and abroad.

P.S. Went to see the Tale of Benjamin Button on New Year's Eve. It was great, I highly recommend it!