The Countdown Begins

August 1, my debut novel, An Anchor on Her Heart, releases for distribution. For the next several weeks I’ll be offering insights into what prompted the story and why I wrote what I did.


The story behind the story—

When my college graduate son landed a job as an observer biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service, I was thrilled he’d found work in his chosen major. He’d spent an extra term earning twenty additional marine studies credit hours to add to his biology degree and it appeared that extra effort had paid off.

Until I found out where he was headed.

Dutch Harbor, Alaska, a world class fishing port in the middle of the Aleutian Islands, is an area rife with history. Look at a map of the northern hemisphere and you’ll see what appears to be the skeletal bones of a dinosaur tail hanging down from the tip of Alaska. Dutch Harbor sits near the end of that tail, not far from Kamchatka which was once part of the Soviet Union. The port encloses the same waters where the reality television show, Deadliest Catch, is filmed.  My son was leaving Christmas Day which meant he was flying to a territory in the middle of winter, a region covered with snow and ice. He would be working on the Bering Sea.

Proverbs 3:5 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.”

Imagining all that could happen to him, I had to hide my fears. Watching him board the plane, it was all I could do not to run and drag him back. The next few months would be an experience in trust. I spent a lot of time on my knees, not knowing God was giving me fuel for a future endeavor.

When my son returned from his adventure and talked about his in-depth training and his work experience, I knew I had the setting for a great story. From his descriptions of life at the fishing port, the numbers of nationalities that frequent the area, and the personal accounts of men he met, the character of Rudy Taylor began to emerge.  All I needed to add was a heroine with a problem. That wasn’t far off.

More next week. . .


Abba Father

This week I attended a memorial service for a young man who died too soon. He had once been a six-year-old  in the Bible club where I was a leader. I remembered him as ambitious, who always tried to have his Bible verses ready to recite each week. Now thirteen years later, he was gone. I mourned his passing. What a tragic waste of a promising future.

I watched his parents leave the auditorium, agony on their faces, devastation in their eyes. With their son’s death so close to Father’s Day, the celebratory holiday would become an annual reminder of what they’d lost. Their grief would not soon pass. I ached for their pain.

This Sunday we will honor our fathers, the family leader that God often favors in His word. In Deuteronomy 6:1, Moses gathered all of Israel together and taught them the standards God wanted them to know. He admonished the fathers to teach the precepts to their sons and grandsons, preserving God’s law among the future generations.

“That you might fear the Lord, your God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments .  .  .you, your son, and your son’s son.”  With the admonition comes a promise that we may live long in the land God gives us.

In Ephesians 6:4, fathers are told to bring their children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Anyone who has parented a child knows this is not an easy task.

In this often confused and crazy world, our children are daily subjected to outside influences  that may or may not be good for them.  Staying abreast of everything to which they are exposed requires constant vigil. Correcting misguided ideas takes a strong fatherly figure.  No wonder God gave that responsibility to men.

If your father is still living, honor him this week. For better or for worse, he has paved the way for you, leading you on the narrow path he hopes will keep you safe. Life’s pitfalls turned his hair gray, gave him worry lines across his forehead. But he earned those wounds loving you. Thank him.

Summer Anyone?

As I stood at my kitchen window this week and watched rain pelt my patio and the wind whip the trees, I struggled to remember that the summer solstice is a mere eleven days away. Dubbed the wettest Oregon spring in one hundred years, I marveled at how this season differed from last year.

The unseasonably warm days in 2016 teased my dahlias out of their slumber early, many of them blooming by mid-June. In 2017 they’re barely above ground. My patio flowers were planted and thriving, not huddling in their pots trying to stay alive beneath the deluge to which they’ve been subjected these past few months.

I appreciate the change of seasons. Rain is necessary for plant life to grow, wildlife to thrive, and rivers to flow. I’ve seen how a lack of it can devastate an otherwise healthy landscape, turning a beautiful meadow into a patch of weeds. God put the seasons into place and in his wisdom he allows both sun and rain to flavor our world. Too much of one or the other can have disastrous effects on the environment.

Our lives can be a lot like the weather. Events that make us happy and help us enjoy life can be sprinkled with trials that cause us to despair. One season we flourish, another we struggle, trying to make sense of our circumstances. Often we try to fix blame, wanting someone else to suffer in our place.

In Matthew 5:43-45 God’s word tells us: “You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you; that you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.”

Take heart. The rain will eventually disappear. Or the snow. Or whatever weather you are facing that you don’t like. Maybe you have too much sun! In its place will come something different. Appreciate the change knowing all things work together for good. That’s also in the Bible. Look it up.

Another Generation Waits

From the street the building appears to be little more than a warehouse: concrete block structure, flat roof, a patched parking lot that has stood the test of time. The only indication life happens inside is the diner-style sign perched on top telling passersby of its contents—Skate World Roller Rink.

Inside the magic begins. For more than forty years the building has served parents and children as a place to hang out, rent four little wheels attached to a boot, and wobble around the brightly lit skating area. Children of all ages try out their skills skating in an oval pattern, grabbing the wall for security, and ungracefully plopping to the floor when they lose their balance. More experienced skaters occupy the middle, performing figure eights and backward glides with the precision of an ice dancer.

My children loved the rink when they were young. Still frequent it as adults.  The gaudy, red carpet, black tables, and the glittery globe hanging from the ceiling all evoke memories of good times in a safe place where they could just be kids. The snack bar is reminiscent of a movie theater venue with popcorn, candy, and hot dogs on the menu. The birthday party rooms have hosted more celebrations than an ice cream parlor.

But Skate World’s future is uncertain. The original owners have passed away and the trust under which the rink has operated the past few years has expired. One woman has come forward to buy and operate the enterprise for future generations of children, but her funding has failed to materialize. The rink is headed to the seller’s market again.

Skate World needs an investor or two. Someone with a heart for children who knows the value of a safe haven for kids, who understands there’s more to life than video games or electronic devices, and who wants to see the community’s youth able to access fun at a reasonable price. Without that someone, the building will become nothing more than a concrete warehouse. For our community, that would be a great loss.

Interested parties may contact Debbie Berg, c/o Skate World, 3188 Gateway Loop, Springfield, OR 97477