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

Good Summer Reading

 

 

 

 

 

 

When someone mentions Amish fiction to you, how do you react? Do you yearn for a simpler lifestyle, where farm animals factor into your life, and a slower pace fills your days? Or does the word evoke something else in you, an overdone retelling of a life that most people would find difficult to live?

I don’t read a lot of Amish fiction, but one author who writes about the Plain community has captured my interest because she pits the simple life against the complicated culture in which the Amish have to exist. Her books bring the two different worlds face to face in a collision of values and the stories that result are fascinating.

Her name—Leslie Gould. The series—Neighbors of Lancaster County.

I finished reading the first story, Amish Promises, and found myself longing to know more about these characters.  The Lehmans, a dysfunctional Amish household, run a dairy farm and live next door to the Becks, an all-American military family. That alone is a pivotal factor for conflict, but the unmarried Lehman aunt  and a single male friend of the Becks, a soldier recently returned from Afghanistan, discover each other and sparks fly. Literally!

In the second novel, Amish Sweethearts, the Lehman children and the one son of the Becks play together and grow up as close friends. But the two worlds are a universe apart and when the children show interest in the lifestyle on the other side of the fence, trouble brews. The eldest Lehman daughter and Zane, the Beck’s son, deny their love for each other, but it is a struggle they cannot win, even when the girl begins seeing an Amish man her father arranged for her to court.

I have yet to read the third tale in the series, Amish Weddings, but have it on my to-be-read shelf waiting for its turn in the line-up. I promise you won’t be disappointed by any of the three in the series, but if you take a chance on all of them, you will have a wonderful summer of reading.

Mother’s Day Beginnings

Mother’s Day means many things to different people. Most of us view the date as a way to show honor to our mothers, often bestowing gifts and sentiments to them. But, originally, the day began for a very different reason.

The observance grew out of a movement known as the Mothers’ Day Work Clubs, designed to raise awareness of poor health conditions in communities toward the end of the Civil War. A social activist named Ann Reeves Jarvis, working alongside Julia Ward Howe, believed mothers would unite to help the less fortunate and hoped to unify them to work for world peace.

Her daughter, Anna Marie Jarvis, found her inspiration for Mother’s Day when she heard her mother say she wished one day someone might create a day just for mothers. Anna was motivated to carry on the social work her mother started. When the older woman died, Anna held a memorial ceremony on May 10, 1908, three years after her mother’s death, to honor the matron’s life work. A shrine was erected at Andrews Memorial Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia. Anna contributed five hundred white carnations for all who attended the service. This is believed to be the first official Mother’s Day observance.

As commercialization moved in and gifts of cards, candy, and flowers came to be associated with the celebration, Anna Jarvis lost her enthusiasm for the day she’d helped establish. Embittered, she is quoted as saying the printed card was a poor substitute for a handwritten sentiment to a woman who did more for her children than any other person alive. Candy was a pretense for the gift giver to help himself. Only the white carnation, in her opinion, continued to represent the purity of a mother’s love.

Anna Jarvis never married. Her birthplace, Anna Jarvis House, in Webster Taylor County, West Virginia, has been listed as a national historic landmark.

How sad it is that Anna died unhappy with the work she started. Her quest had a biblical basis. The scriptures are filled with references to honoring one’s parents. In Exodus 20:12 we are told, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

However you remember your mother this week, know you are carrying out a command that the Lord established for each of us.

Happy Mother’s Day.

 

Acknowledgements: Wikipedia online encyclopedia, dltk children’s Bible lessons

Launching A Book–Part 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edits. Track Changes. Copy Edits. Proofreading copy. More edits. Deadlines. Deadlines. Deadlines.

Launching a book is not the process I thought it would be when I first signed my contract. These past few weeks I put the finishing touches on the final proofread of book one before I send the manuscript back to my editor. Every comment from her or the proofreaders had to be addressed. Each word choice checked. Meticulous, tiring work, but satisfying as well.

One proofreader sent me a note through my publisher saying, “I hope to finish in the next few days. I had to stop for the evening because I’m having trouble reading through my tears. This is good stuff!”

Be still, my heart. My story made a proofreader— a man—cry? I had to stop and catch my breath. I didn’t see that coming.

Three proofreaders read the manuscript and made suggestions. In some places they disagreed about the need for changes. In others they concurred. The constantly shifting copy made my head swim, but the book moves forward, now barreling down the publishing timeline to its release date, September 1.

Once I submit the final read, I also have to send the copy for the second novel which will launch next year. I received the content edit back this week. The woman who read it made some great suggestions and found some (oops!) inconsistencies. All part of the process.

Often I feel as if I climbed aboard a treadmill from which I can’t step off. But rather than feeling tired, or overwhelmed, I’m buoyed by the fact that I will soon be a published novelist. A title I’ve worked hard to achieve. God, in His wisdom, knew when my turn could come.

I think of Esther (Esther 4:14) who was afraid when she was called to defend her people and Mordecai said to her, “who knows whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Like her, my time is here. Both exciting and frightening.

I’m sure there will be more tripping hazards ahead—like reviews, sale numbers, blog interviews, and book signings—but I’ve earned the right to participate and I am ready to take it on. For better or for worse.

More to come soon.

Novel Releases Today

Today The Road to Paradise, a novel by Author Karen Barnett releases to the public. The story is part of a series on Vintage National Parks which bring to life President Theodore Roosevelt’s vision for protected lands. He is quoted as saying, “There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of the giant sequoias and redwood, the Canyon of the Colorado, the Canyon of the Yellowstone, the three Tetons; and our people should see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children’s children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred.”

Here’s what the book jacket tells us: “An ideal sanctuary and a dream come true–that’s what Margaret Lane feels as she takes in God’s gorgeous handiwork in Mount Rainer National Park. It’s 1927 and the National Park Service is in its youth when Margie, an avid naturalist, lands a coveted position alongside the park rangers living and working in the unrivaled splendor of Mount Rainier’s long shadow.

But Chief Ranger Ford Brayden knows too well how awe-inspiring nature can quickly turn deadly. Ford is still haunted by his father’s death on the mountain, and the ranger takes his work managing the park and its growing crowd of visitors seriously. The job of watching over an idealistic Senator’s daughter with few practical survival skills seems a waste of resources.

When Margie’s former fiancé sets his mind on developing the Paradise Inn and its surroundings into a tourist playground, the plans might put more than the park’s pristine beauty in danger. What will Margie and Ford sacrifice to preserve the splendor and simplicity of the wilderness they both love?

I’ve reviewed Karen’s first four books— Mistaken–, a book about prohibition in the 1920’s, and the Golden Gate Chronicles, a series centered around the 1906 San Francisco earthquake— Out of the Ruins, Beyond the Ashes, and Through the Shadows—in earlier blogs. Karen’s style and impeccable research combine to give the reader a thoroughly satisfying reading experience.  Available from Amazon, CBD, Barnes and Noble, and at your favorite bookseller The Road to Paradise is sure to please..

My copy came early. I read the story.  You won’t be disappointed.

The Saddest, Gladdest Day

 

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:

And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

Matthew 28:1-7 KJV

Jesus came for the sole purpose of giving his life that we might attain eternal life in heaven with him. The only step we need to take, as it says in Acts 16:31, is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and we shall be saved. The choice is ours.

A joyous Easter to you.

Hosanna Procession

A friend entered eternity this week. She’d been an inspiration to me, her attitude toward life one of positive assurance that God would take care of her.

She’d reared three children after her husband left to find other women, had worked as a fraternity cook for nearly three decades, and had walked the cancer journey alone when illness struck later in her life. Her response to trials was always, “God has taken care of me in the past, he’s taking care of me now, and he will take care of me in the future.” Her unwavering faith in the face of hardship spoke volumes to those of us who knew her.

When I read of her death, I was warmed knowing she made her exit from this earth to heaven the same week we celebrate Palm Sunday—Christ’s glorious entrance into Jerusalem. He and his disciples were headed to the holy city to celebrate Passover. He knew, as he stood at the top of the hill leading to the main gate, he would not leave alive. Time for the fulfillment of his purpose had come. Mankind would forever be changed. Jesus would become the sacrificial lamb, offering anyone who believed in Him hope for eternal life in heaven.

In Ephesians 2:4-7 we are told: “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”

As I read those words and thought of what Christ did for us at the cross, I imagined my friend’s final triumphant walk into the arms of her Savior. Goodbye dear friend. Save a spot for me.