Book Pick: Another Heartwarming Tale by Author Deborah Raney

Almost every day, it seems, the media reports someone missing. Often that person’s picture is broadcast over the airwaves, accompanied by phone numbers to call authorities in case viewers have seen the person and may know his or her last whereabouts. When the person is found, the community is informed, the family is reunited with their loved one, and life returns to normal. 

But what happens to the family whose missing member never turns up? To the husband who keeps wondering where his wife or child may be? To the mother whose heart is squeezed dry of hope? To the questions that remain unanswered: Dead? Alive? Kidnapped? Ran Away? 

In Deborah Raney’s recent book The Face of the Earth, published by Howard Books, Mitch
Brannon is faced with the unknown whereabouts of his beloved wife Jill. A third grade teacher ready to begin a new school year, Jill leaves to attend a week-long school conference in another city while Mitch, a school principal, remains home preparing for his role as a school administrator.
 

 At week’s end, and before leaving the conference, Jill calls, promising to pick up something for dinner on her way, and teases him about bringing a surprise. When Jill doesn’t arrive at the appointed time, Mitch is irritated. But when the day ends and there’s still so sign of Jill, Mitch’s irritation turns to dread. He seeks the help of their next door neighbor, Shelley, Jill’s best friend, and together they search for the missing woman.

 In her usual style, Raney weaves a tale of love and devotion challenged by circumstances that threaten to tear a family apart when the unthinkable happens. Readers will despair with the husband, feel the angst of the worried children, and identify with the best friend who wonders how she will cope when no answers to the situation are forthcoming.  A great story of commitment in the face of loss and faith in a time of tragedy, The Face of the Earth will keep your attention to the end.

Daffodil Festival–42 Years of Tradition

Forty two years of tradition beckoned my family last Saturday when we traveled to the annual Daffodil festival hosted by the Long Tom Grange near Monroe, Oregon. Though ice had covered most of the landscape only three weeks before, I was surprised to see grouping after grouping of daffodils sporting their yellow trumpet blossoms along every ditch, around every fencepost, and clustered in every drive as we neared the location.

More than four thousand spectators were expected for the event, which in the past featured horse-drawn wagons that carried guests down a long drive along daffodil-infested Ferguson Road.  This year, flower lovers were driven by school bus down the daffodil strewn path for a scenic view of more yellow and white flowers than one usually sees in a  formal garden.

A hamburger and hot dog barbecue occupied one part of the landscape, hosted by the high school swim team. Inside the main Grange building, visitors could sit and be served cinnamon rolls, coffee, and hot chocolate by the local 4-H group.

While they ate, customers could feast their eyes on the handmade daffodil quilts lining the walls. Two quilts had been made by a woman now in her nineties, who had learned how to hand stitch the elegant blankets when a child of eight. She donated these works of art for a raffle at two dollars a ticket. Some lucky winner would go home swathed in a flowered pattern of yellow and red created by a seasoned seamstress.

The high school baseball team served as traffic controllers, ushering vehicles in and out of the parking area. Visitors were seen leaving with foil-wrapped pastries and pots of flowers ready to bloom, stopping in front of the teepee to have their picture taken.

The festival will return next year as sure as flowers promise to bloom.

Matthew 6:28b-29: “Consider the lilies of the field, they toil not, neither do they spin: yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

 

A Challenge to Daylight Savings Time

The return of Daylight Savings Time this week tempted me to complain about the event which interrupts our sleep, torments our clocks, and causes most of us to drag through the first few days of its arrival.

I’ve never thought the adjustment necessary.

For all the ruckus surrounding the changing of the time, wouldn’t it be as easy for those who applaud the extra daylight to just rise an hour earlier? Why include the rest of us in the quest for more sunny hours when in reality the time change only benefits a few? For the sake of commerce, we are almost all included.   

But one thing the event does stir in me is the hope for warmer weather. Something about the annual forward leap awakens anticipation of coming flowers, chattering birds, and outdoor activities. The day’s arrival is like a trumpet heralding better things to come, promising the end of winter’s doldrums. And, after the iciness most of us have endured in recent weeks, the potential for a better environment is quite inviting.

I’ve already found myself outdoors after dinner, sprucing up my flowerbeds and eliminating last summer’s leftovers. I’ve inspected the bulbs left in the ground, trying to decide if they froze in the subzero temperatures we received, or if life will spring from their bulbous bodies.  A couple more weeks of sunshine will reveal their fate. I’ll either replant—pulling out the old and laying in the new—or snip tops, encouraging a sturdier stem to bear the weight of the coming blossoms.

Once again, Daylight Savings Time, we’ve survived your arrival. God’s word in Philippians 4:4 tells us to rejoice, so we will, in spite of you. Make certain the trouble you cause is outweighed by the benefits. Because come November, we’ll turn our backs and our clocks on you, shoring ourselves up for another round of winter. You’ll be history.

 

 

Pebble in the Water Inspiration–Weekend Getaway

Everyone worked from a personalized notebook, complete with a bookbag.
Bob Welch teaches writers to find their voice.

Jane Kirkpatrick discusses books at the conference table.

Last weekend I attended the 20th Beachside Writers Workshop in Yachats, Oregon. Founded by Bob Welch as Pebble in the Water Inspiration in 2005, the weekend getaway seeks to encourage new writers to find their voice. 

An evening, a day, and a morning are filled to the minute with classes taught by Welch, a multi-published novelist  and long-time newspaper columnist known for his candid humor and heart-wrenching truths, and who inspires people to be ripples on life’s waters. 

Historical author Jane Kirkpatrick, an award winning writer known for her tough female characters who helped change the West, joins Welch both for classes and at the microphone for the general sessions.

Electronic book specialist Roger Hite, who has written both fiction and non-fiction e-books available on Amazon.com., completes the class make-up.

Though I came as a first-timer, the moment I entered I felt surrounded by friends. The weekend resembled a family reunion more than a conference. People were excited to talk about their projects, and the teachers were welcoming and warm. Welch’s classes focused on discovering yourself as a writer. Kirkpatrick’s classes outlined steps to writing a novel and ways to do research. Dr. Hite’s classes discussed the new world of electronic publishing. I wanted to attend everything, but had to divide my time between the speakers.

An old book, a pair of glasses, some scrabble pieces and candles made for a charming centerpiece.

Sally Welch, Bob’s wife, added beautiful table decorations to the décor as well as thoughtful favors for each guest. She kept everything running behind the scenes while the teachers concentrated on their students.

 A friend from my past—Ann Schar—served as the conference chef. She provided gourmet type meals, from fancy corn bread served with White Chicken Chili to Cinnamon Poppy Seed Rolls and Chilled Poached Salmon.  

The conference hosts a book table where conferees can buy selections written by the staff, even cookbooks from the chef, completing what one attendee called the perfect kick-start to spring. I came away with renewed energy and motivation for my writing journey, happy that I’d chosen to attend. 

Author’s Note: If you’d like more information on future workshops, please visit www.bobwelch.net/pebble-in-the-water-inspiration/.

 

 

 

 

Respecting My Writing Roots

While listening to announcements at the Oregon Christian Writers conference last weekend, I noticed a tall, elderly gentleman mount the platform stairs and approach the podium, crossing the stage like one comfortable in front of a crowd.

 He stated he owned a small press and, at 88, was going out of business. He encouraged the audience to inspect his books in the lobby, all reduced to sell. As he descended the steps to the main floor, I realized I’d known him many years before. Reading his name tag—Professor Dick Bohrer—confirmed what I’d believed. Here stood someone to whom I owed a debt of gratitude—a man willing to encourage beginners and see them succeed.

When I first met Dick Bohrer, he was the senior editor at Moody Monthly, a Christian magazine based in Chicago. I’d recently begun freelance writing, having married and quit my job as an in-house editor.  Bohrer bought my first article. One of his letters, a letter I kept, said, “You tie a neat package.” He left the magazine about two years later and I lost track of him.

 I had seen him before at OCW, but I wanted to connect again with this man to whom I owed so much. I said, “I doubt if you remember me, but you were the editor at Moody Monthly when I first started writing freelance articles. You gave me my first sale.”

He looked up, his eyes brightening as he read my name badge. “I remember.” He nodded. “What are you writing these days?”

I told him, catching him up on thirty years. “I wanted to thank you for being the catalyst that launched my writing career.  That first sale gave me the courage to continue on.” I smiled. “I haven’t forgotten.”

 As we parted I wondered how many of us have an opportunity to thank the person who helped us begin years before, to tell them what their act of encouragement meant in our lives, and to let them know how much they mattered.

In Luke 17:17, Jesus asks, when only one man returns to thank him after he healed ten lepers, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?”

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if all of us could learn to say, “Thank You” and give our mentors the praise they deserve?