Friday, February 26, 2010

Enjoying Texas

This week I'm enjoying a writer's retreat in Round Top, Texas. The Round Top Christian Retreat Center is an incredible setting for rest, writing, and fellowship. When I first came to this place almost a year ago, I was immediately blessed by the owner Euphanel Goad. She is a marvelous lady and has been so much fund to work with. She gave us a tour of the grounds and the various houses available and I was completely sold.

The retreat is full of lovely grounds to walk,

and gorgeous antiques in each of the houses.

As I understand it - this is quite the center of antique shows and festivals. Hmmmm, I might need to shop, but mostly I hope to focus on the Lord and rest in Him.

Having a retreat reminds me of Jesus withdrawing to lonely places. Of course with a total of 17 authors under one roof - it's not at all lonely.

Hopefully next week Cathy or I can post some pictures. Sadly Tammy, Robin, Kim and Judy couldn't be with us - but maybe next year. In the meantime, they can just think of all the fun we're having and plan to join us next year.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Rough Places Plain

I've always been a fan of Handel's Messiah. Even as a child I was enthralled by the sounds of praise and adoration. A couple of my favorites have to be the Hallelujah Chorus and Unto Us a Child is Born. However, I'm also a great fan of the opening:

Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God; speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem; and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness:-Prepare ye the way of the Lord: make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low, the crooked straight and the rough places plain.

And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together;for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

I love that this is taken directly from Scripture, and I find it such a blessing when times are rough as they have been this week. There have been far too many troubles and sorrows to list them all, but among them was the death of a beloved uncle, the news that our granddaughter is losing parts of her vision, our six year old grandson is on a suicide watch and our 3 year old grandson has been diagnosed with developmental problems and autism.

Coupled with this was bad news for at least five people I love. The rough places didn't seem plain at all.

However, even in all of this I know that my Redeemer liveth. I know that one day Jesus will return and set everything to rights. I know He will Comfort His people and that His glory will be revealed!

I take hope in God's promise to one day put everything in order, and I covet your prayers.

Friday, February 12, 2010

New Sitka Book

My next Sitka book just came out. Boxes were waiting for me on my front porch when I got home the other day, and boy was I excited. Ladies from my church have been calling to ask when this book would be available, so I was mighty glad to be able to tell them - NOW!!

Morning's Refrain is book 2 in the Song of Alaska series set in beautiful Sitka, Alaska. While in Sitka researching, I met some really great folks and enjoyed the history of the area so much. For so many years, traveling to research stories has been one of the definite perks to my business. Years ago when my youngest was just a little boy, we would take him with us on research trips. He learned so much long the way. In fact, the other day after seeing a movie that was supposedly set in Nome, Alaska he commented on the fact that they had forests of trees in the movie. "There weren't any trees in Nome," he declared. And he was right. The folks in Nome have Christmas trees shipped in for the holidays and then afterward, take them to a particular field and prop them up for the fun of it and pretend they have a temporary forest. Erik remembered that little fact as well.

Here's the treeless Nome area.

The weather in Alaska is also another thing to be experience in person. My trips there have provided such great research material for simple thing like weather, landscape, vegetation and animals, plus the people. Like Robin, I enjoy making up towns on occasion, but when I utilize a real community I definitely want it as accurate as possible.

All of this came rushing to mind as I held my copy of Morning's Refrain. This was a fun series to research and some of the issues that I touch on in the stories were very much problems that I felt God wanted me to share. We should always learn from the past, especially where mistakes were made or successes enjoyed, even while we press on toward the goal God has for us.

I hope you get a chance to enjoy Alaska one day for yourself. My daughter Jen once commented upon viewing some of Alaska's grandeur, "This is incredible, and just think, Mom; this is a fallen world. Just imagine what God has for us in the future." For me - that pretty much summed it all up.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Southern Hospitality

When Judy and I were in Savannah, I heard more than one visitor say something about "southern hospitality". At the airport in Savannah they have rocking chairs--not just in the airport, but at the pick-up location outside. When I saw that I thought it was rather like an old friend welcoming you to sit and stay a while. I found all of Georgia to be like that--here's a scene from Jekyll Island.

Before I even reached my hotel, I was "yes ma'amed" three times. Doors were opened for me - chairs pulled out for me at restaurants (well not at Clary's Cafe but more on that later)

I mainly stayed in the historic district so I was treated to that charming side of Savannah over and over. The grand old houses were like welcoming old aunts who beckoned you to come to tea and hear their stories of days gone by.

The cemeteries were incredible with ancient stones from the Colonial days and Civil War. The memorials there were ghostly reminders of a time that I still can't quite imagine.

Throughout the trip, I found people so very hospitable and interesting - some were quirky too - like the guy at the store that always came to touch people's hair or the guy who yelled up to our tourist bus to ask if anyone had cocaine. Oh well, at least he was polite and said "excuse me" first. At least I think that's what his garbled words were.

Oh, and Clary's Cafe - well that was the down-home cafe they showed John Cusack at in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, but let me tell you it was some of the best food I had in Savannah and the folks there were so sweet. If you go there, ask for Maggie to be your waitress - she was so awesome.

So now I'm back in the cold north devoid of live oaks and pralines. But outside I have the most glorious view of the mountains and the air here is dry. So the south is great for a visit, but I still love Montana.
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