No, that wasn't supposed to read Blanket - I meant Banket. Some folks call it Dutch Letters.
For those of you who have never experienced the delight that is banket, I highly encourage you to get thee to a Dutch community and partake. In our area the Dutch were strongly represented in the founding of area communities. It's fascinating to me that these industrious folk came in the late 1800s and settled the area, digging irrigation ditches by hand that still exist and are utilized today. They brought their culture, and many of their strong Christian ethics.
Not far from me is the tiny town of Churchill. This strong Dutch community holds a wonderful Christian school from which my son recently graduated. It was through that school that I came to learn about banket. I also learned about snert, stampot and bitterballen, but I digress.
The first time I attended the Dutch Harvest Festival at the school, I was met at the school door by a wonderful greeter. The woman smiled and pulled me aside as I crossed the threshold. Whispering conspiratorially in my ear, "If you want banket, you'll have to get it right now--it's going fast."
Now having a bit of Dutch ancestry myself, I felt the calling of the banket, even though I had no idea what it might be. I nodded to the woman and allowed her to point the way. The next thing I know I'm standing in a long line holding tubes of flaky pastry that had been filled with an almond paste concoction. It was like a badge of honor as you walked through the school with your arms laden with banket. The older women nodded knowingly. Those who hadn't made it on time stared enviously.
Last week I took fellow writer Cathy Marie Hake to Harvest Festival. The affair opened at 10:00 and we were there at 10:03. By 10:05, the banket was gone. As Cathy and I left with our treasured dessert, I noticed two women whispering by the door. "They've sold out of banket," one said to the other. It was a moment of mourning and sorrow for both women. I felt sorry them, saddened that they'd come all this way for banket, only to miss out. I looked at Cathy and then to the banket we had secured. For a moment I thought the Christian thing might be to share or at least offer to let them buy one of the tasty sticks. But then sanity returned and I cradled my find like a mother protecting her young and made a mad dash to the parking lot.
A few days later, Cathy called to say her family had loved their experience with banket and that she would plan to come again next year for more. "We'll need to get there earlier," I warned. "Banket waits for no one."
Do any of you remember that old song, Life's Railway to Heaven? The words were always favorites of mine because I loved trains and railroads. The first verse states,
Life is like a mountain railroad, with an engineer that’s brave; We must make the run successful, from the cradle to the grave; Watch the curves, the fills, the tunnels; never falter, never quail; Keep your hand upon the throttle, and your eye upon the rail.
Last week I was at a writer's retreat in Chama, New Mexico where they have this awesome mountain railroad. The narrow gauge Cumbres & Toltec line is open for passengers part of the year, and the scenery the railline follows is incredible.
The train and the scenery reminded me of this great old song that I remember singing in church when I was a little girl. Coming from a railroad family, maybe that gave me a stronger connection with the song, but no matter the reason I found the analogy of life being like a mountain railroad to be a powerful thought.
We will go through steep grades and tunnels where the sunlight is blotted out. We will face challenges and obstacles that threaten our well-being and that of those we love. But through it all the faith we have in the engineer will see us through. And I suppose this is where I veer away from the song's words. The song talks about us being the engineer and Christ being the Conductor, while God is the Superintendent of the Station.
I don't believe I am the engineer of my journey. Furthermore, I don't want to be. I'm more comfortable being a passenger and letting God be the one in charge. He knows the perils and beauties we will endure on our journey. We need to trust that He is capable of driving the train, no matter the terrain or weather. He knows the course, and there is a great peace in that for me. In my version of the song, God is the Engineer, Jesus the Conductor and the Holy Spirit is the Brakeman.
Sometimes it's hard to sit back and let God be the engineer. Fear blocks our senses and we stand ready to abandon the train, or try to take over the controls or worse yet, redirect the route. I challenge you this week to stay in your seat and trust that the engineer is capable, and not only that, He has a wonderful journey for you with blessings in abundance that are yet to be revealed.
I'm happy to announce that this weekend in glorious Colorado Springs there will be numerous booksignings at a variety of locations with a number of authors.
I'll put the locations and time below, but I wanted to share about this for another reason. Sometimes people are hesitant to come to booksignings because they worry about what to say or do. I had one lady tell me that she didn't come to a book event, because she was shy and didn't know if she'd be brave enough to actually meet the authors.
If that's you, or you worry that you'll be expended to buy something, put your fears aside. For me book events are for the sole purpose of getting to know the store owners/managers, the workers and of course the readers, and for letting them get to know me. I want to put myself out there and show everyone that I'm just a regular person. Actually, I'm a pretty shy person, but readers always make me feel welcome.
Over the years I've seen God work in wonderful ways through book events, so I go where He calls me, no matter my comfort level, no matter the weather, no matter. I hope I'll get to see a bunch of you at the booksignings, but even if I don't, just know I think about you as readers and booksellers, and I pray for you. I know the economy is rough and that times are difficult, but know that this didn't take God by surprise and He totally has it under control. COLORADO SPRINGS SIGNINGS Friday's signings - please note on both days there may be additional authors who aren't listed here.
Mardel - from 11:00 - 1pm with Stephen W. Smith Donita Paul Dale & Susan Mathis Joe Wheeler Robert Liparulo Mark Andrew Olsen
Focus on the Family from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. with Jim Daly (there from 2-3pm) Lisa Tawn Bergren Cindy West Mark Tedder Third Day
Castle Bookstore from 3:00-5:00pm with Tracie Peterson Judith Miller Kelly Eileen Hake Cathy Marie Hake Kristen Heintzmann (may be some others not sure)
Connections from 5:00-7pm Robert Liparulo Donita Paul Marshal Younger
Saturday Focus on the Family 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Marshal Younger Larry Killam Dale & Susan Mathis Joe Wheeler
Mardel 12:00 - 2:00 p.m. Tracie Peterson Judith Miller Cathy Marie Hake Kelly Eileen Hake Kristen Heintzmann Larry Killem Jonalyn Fincher Dale Fincher
Castle Bookstore 2:00-4:00 p.m. with Tosca Lee Donita Paul Jonalyn Fincher Dale Fincher Travis Thrasher Tom Doyle
Connections 4:00-6:00 p.m. Lisa Tawn Bergren Mark Andrew Olsen Tosca Lee Travis Thrasher.
I have a postcard on the wall board in my office that reads: "So I haven't written much lately! So what? Neither has Shakespeare."
The first time I saw the card it gave me a chuckle. I remember saying, "Yeah, but Shakespeare doesn't have deadlines anymore."
Writing on a deadline is always a challenge, but it's a good feeling to know that something you have in mind to write, already has a home and the interest of a publishing house. Now if the silly world would just stay out of the way, everything would be perfect.
But alas, the world careth not for my needs. And neither does Shakespeare, because he's dead.
The car doesn't care either, because it can't feel a thing for me. If I fail to lavish it in attention, it fails to cooperate and run. If someone fails to lavish me in attention, I'm still required to cooperate and run.
The bills I owe don't care. They simply demand I present the proper amount of homage at or on the proper date and time. If I expected that, the world would simply snicker and ignore me.
And sometimes the people I think should care, don't because they're consumed with their own problems. Just like I get consumed with mine. And that's the point of my blog this week. Issues and things will do their level best to consume us and take our focus. Deadlines will creep in to add stress and misery, even when they are good deadlines. And chaos, the Devil's favorite playground, will ensue to defeat and destroy.
So my goal this week is to focus on the positive aspects of life and to enjoy the fact that God has blessed me with deadlines while protecting and providing for me amidst chaos. He is a good and loving Father to be sure, and I don't want to forget that even when the deadlines and chaos loom.
This time of year always gets me into a reflective mood. I think about the year and how it's gone for my family and friends--for me. I look at the changes and the evaluate the good and the bad. But most of all, I get a sense of completion.
When I was a child, autumn was a time of completion, despite the fact that school had just started up again. We hurried to collect the last of the garden vegetables. We worked to make sure the dog house was winterized with straw. We gathered up the summer toys and made sure they were put safely away for another summer, while making sure we knew where our winter gear had been stored.
As I grew older, autumn continued to feel like a time of completion. There was house cleaning, yard preparation, winterizing the vehicles and house and making sure we had warm clothes to see us through colder times.
Now, the sense of completion also comes in looking back over the year at the tasks God gave me, analyzing what is yet to be accomplished--what can still be improved. I like completing projects whether they're the book I'm writing or room I'm cleaning. I like that sense of accomplishment--of satisfaction.
So rather than wait for New Year's Eve, I'm encouraging you to reflect on 2008 right now. Look at what has been done and what is yet to be accomplished. Take charge of the time that is left and experience great pleasure in the satisfaction of completion. Whatever you were putting off--whatever you've been avoiding--take it by the horns and see it through to the end.