This week was a bad one and amidst all the frustrations and sorrows and negative vibes being sent out from a variety of sources, I thought I might well give up and stay in bed for the rest of the week.
Then lo and behold, a gift came in the mail.
A present from a dear friend who wanted to cheer me up.
I won't name names, but this dear woman is not without problems and sorrows of her own and yet she took out the time to think of me. And boy - did she think of me!!!
What was in the box?
My very own Keurig Coffeemaker. Wahoo!! I've wanted one for a long, long time and if you have one you'll know what I mean.
Now I have a reason to get up. :D Just kidding, although making coffee with my new machine is great fun.
Oh and since I love to share information with you - let me share this little gem of knowledge.
Most Americans pronounce the company name as “cure-ig” However, Keurig is a Dutch word which means "neat" or "arranged". The Keurig coffee company was founded in 1992 by Olaf Keurig, a Dutchman. The proper Dutch pronunciation actually sounds more like “keer-ech”.
Isn't that neat?
Now I'm off to make a cup of coffee and to think of how blessed I am to have good friends like you and like the elf who sent my Keurig.
Merriest of Christmases to all of you and may God bless you in the year to come. Next week and for about 3 weeks total - Steph Whitson will be filling in for me - while I am busy...making coffee. :)
PS - the painting above is from Victor Gabriel Gilbert and titled A Cup of Coffee Painting
I've been doing research again for a new book. This time the setting is Minnesota and ice harvesting is a part of my storyline. I love when God sends me wonderful gems from the past, and I just have to share this one with you.
If you have time, I want to encourage you to watch this wonderful movie that was made in 1919 and shows ice harvesting. It's wonderful - not only the actual work on the ice, but they show the men taking the ice for storage and how they utilized horsepower to create an elevator to lift the ice into the icehouse. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
If nothing else, this video makes me very happy that it's much easier to get ice today.
Do what? Keep warm.
We all have our ways of keeping warm over the winter, but I thought I'd share a few of the ones we have here in Montana.
First of all - I know you've probably heard of the "3 Dog Night" when it's necessary to have at least 3 dogs surrounding you to keep you warm. Well, this is a "1 Cat Day".
We are also heavy into thermal products.
I have thermal curtains at the windows, thermal underwear for really cold outside days, thermal gloves and hats, thermal sleeping bags and comforters and of course thermal dog wear - including boots.
We love our fireplaces and heating stoves. We love to crowd around them and keep warm.
We have chemical packets for warming hands and feet. We have car survival kits
with all sorts of items to keep you from freezing to death if you are trapped up in the mountains - say when you go searching for your Christmas tree.
We get active and have all sorts of cold weather sports.
Probably the best way to keep warm during the winter is the company of good friends. No, not so we can huddle together, but when we get together all that hot air we have going in conversation keeps us pretty toasty. No, not toasted, although I understand Judy and Tammy have great eggnog and hot buttered rum recipes. At least I suppose they do - since they always seem to have a recipe for something outrageously delicious that I can't afford the calories of and yet really really want to try.
So if you are cold - I'm sending you warm thoughts and suggesting you find someone to hug. If you're in a warmer place or even one that's still hot - well, you don't need to worry about such things so you can probably just skip this blog and wait for Judy or Tammy to post a recipe for something delicious and cold.
As I was thinking about how I wanted to decorate for Christmas the other day, I was actually wondering if I could postpone until maybe next May. With all the issues of illness and complications to life, I really haven't been in a Christmassy mood. Despite the fact that Montana is definitely looking a lot like Christmas.
Then as I started thinking about the things that I like to do as tradition, I realized that some of these have gone out the door because the kids are no longer small children.
We used to go together and get a Christmas tree and then we'd set aside a night to decorate it. We'd have hot cocoa and music and laughter and sometimes arguments (not always perfect moments I guess), but it was a tradition I loved. Then as the children left home, it didn't seem the same.
We used to take long drives and look at Christmas lights or the snowy countryside.
Another tradition I liked was baking with my kids. We didn't get to do this every year as they got older, but I tried hard to keep it yearly when the girls were little. Especially to make sugar cookies and decorate them.
We had years when we went caroling at nursing homes and sledding as a family. All wonderful memories.
Did we have a perfect "Leave it to Beaver" "Ozzie and Harriet", "Walton's Mountain" family? No. We were never even a close contender. Our family was attacked by sickness and discouragement, financial woes and sinful mistakes. We had a great many problems and I could choose to dwell on that, but I'm not going to. It's easy to focus on the bad. The bad has a way of demanding to be recognized, while the good stands quietly to the side and waits to be acknowledged.
So this year, I'm starting a new tradition. It came to me as I was thinking about how I wanted to spend Christmas this year. I knew I wouldn't get to be surrounded by family, but then I rethought it. I can be surrounded by family in prayer for them.
So I decided to have a Prayer Tree.
On the center of our dining room table where we will see it day in and day out, I placed a little bright purple (just for Kim) metallic tree as a centerpiece. Next I bought ribboned tags that have wonderful words on them like - PEACE - JOY - CHEERY - GREETINGS - LOVE and as a name of a loved one comes to mind, we will write it on one of the tags and decorate the tree. Then when we see the tags, and the names, we will pray for those loved ones. Everyday we can add new folks as problems and praises arise, we can even add additional notes to the tags. I hope this tradition will take off across the country. We need to be a nation of prayer - a mighty praying people who stand in the gap for one another.
Man do I have some great fun for you. My publishing house teamed up with my website people and together we came up with a super cool contest to promote my HOUSE OF SECRET release. The book is selling well and I've already seen some fantastic fan letters, so this is a great way to give back.
Check it out at my website - traciepeterson.com and click on CONTESTS and follow the directions.
Here's a look at the prize.
One (1) Grand Prize Winner will receive a $400 Pike Place Market prize package, featuring:
• Market Spice Tea Sampler Trio – 3 Flavor Variety
• Sleepless in Seattle 5-Pack Coffee Gift Set
• Seattle Space Needle Relax Du Mocha Cocoa 6 oz
• Washington Artisan Handwarmer Mug – Mossy Creek design
• Pacific Northwest Lemon Honey Creme – 11.8 oz
• Pacific Northwest Artisan Crackers – Parmesan Cayenne 5 oz
• Seattle-Made Garlic Obsession Dip 1 oz
• Washington Smoked Wild Sockeye Salmon – 2 oz
• ‘Celebrate the Market’ Pike Place Kitchen Towel & Mitt Set
• Emerald City DVD (visual tour of everything from the Space Needle to the Pike Place Market)
• A personalized (you select the name) marble plaque, featuring Isaiah 43:18-19, Bailee’s favorite verse in House of Secrets
• A copy of Gems of Wisdom, written and signed by author Angie Breidenbach, a close friend of Tracie’s and the woman to whom House of Secrets is dedicated
• A signed copy of Eyes of the Heart, a devotional stories book by Tracie Peterson
• A hardbound copy of House of Secrets, signed by Tracie Peterson
The contest closes soon, so spread the word and go sign up.
And, with Thanksgiving this year, I just want to say how blessed I am to be able to share God's love with my readers. So many people are suffering throughout the world and all because of their Christian faith. We are a blessed people despite the complications of the economy, health issues, political scandals, and all manner of disasters. God has been so faithful to His people and I want to encourage you to spend some time thinking about all the ways God has proven Himself faithful this year and share it with us here.
Today I want to thank our veterans living and dead for the sacrifice they made to give me freedom. Throughout the ages we have been a truly blessed nation to have men and women who volunteer to serve our country and its citizens. We owe them our freedom and in many ways our very lives.
I thank the families too who have soldiers serving - who daily sacrifice a whole family under one roof to allow their loved ones to serve us.
And I thank God for a nation that though flawed and at odds, steeped in controversy and sin, is still my country and I love it.
So today - I encourage you - call a vet or their family member and say thank you - take a veteran to lunch - take them a gift - give them a hug.
Here's my personal shout out to my friends and family members who have served.
Uncle John - who gave his life in World War II
Uncle Paul who served in the Army Aircorp World War II
Dad - who served in the Navy
Mark - who served in the Navy
Tim - who served with the Navy
Don - who served in the Air Force
To Judy and her family for Jim's sacrifice and to Kim and her hubs for theirs and anyone else represented here.
THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. I love you all so much! May God keep you in His care!
In keeping with our tree theme this week, I thought I’d share something wondrous. We see a great many types of evergreens in Montana. We even have the Ponderosa Pine for our state tree. But recently on a trip to Spokane, Washington, I was quite worried about the state of some of our forests. We have dealt with the pine beetle up our way so I thought I was looking a forest gone bad from invasion of those little bugs. Instead, I was delighted to learn that these trees weren’t in a state of death and dying, they were Larix laricina – Tamarack.
I thought I was pretty familiar with the trees in our neck of the woods, but the Tamarack or American Larch took me by surprise. This species of tree is found in Canada, but also in some of the northern states of the US, and even as far south as West Virginia.
The name Tamarack is from the Algonquian meaning “wood used for snowshoes.”
The Tamarack wood is tough and durable, but also flexible. Tamarack was used in corduroy roads in Alaska and Canada because of their resistance to rot. But the most amazing thing to me is that every fall the Tamarack turns yellow and loses its needles just like other trees lose their leaves. And we’re not just talking a blah yellow. These trees turn a glorious, intense yellow that definitely grabs your attention.
Tamaracks aren’t true evergreens, but rather deciduous coniferous (not carnivorous Cathy - at least I don’t think they eat meat)tree. This means they shed their needles in the fall. They reach heights of 33-66 ft. And can survive in temperatures down to −85 °F – in fact, they love the cold.
Tamarack are known to have a gummy sap that has a great flavor when chewed and is every bit as sweet as maple sugar. The native peoples have long made a tea from the bark that can be used as a laxative, diuretic and help for rheumatism. Poultices can be made from the inner bark and used on wounds and burns and it’s also supposed to be great for headaches. It’s really an amazing tree, and hopefully I will be able to lay my hands on some to plant in my yard.
So there’s my contribution to this week’s tree theme.
God Bless You!
Sometimes I'm absolutely amazed at the way God ties things together. We have been joining friends for a home fellowship on Thursday nights and of late my hubby Jim has been teaching. We've been talking about the history of Christianity and of Israel and the Jews. It's amazing to look through history and see the parallels of our faiths.
Throughout the ages you see where the Jewish people are despised and persecuted, and now we see how Christians are being treated much the same. I even heard someone say the other day that they would be glad when the time came that Christians had to meet in secret in the USA. Believe me - those days are coming.
The neatest part of all, however, is the way God has so intricately used the evil for good - just like Joseph speaks of in Gen. 50:20. When you look at America becoming a nation, you can see where God had plans for us to come alongside the Jewish people to encourage and support a homeland. Sometimes it's hard for us to remember that for hundreds and hundreds of years - there was no Israel. Napoleon comes along and in order to build and promote his cause he finds purpose for the Jews where others had condemned and tormented them. Of course he didn't care about them, but they served his evil purposes. You have Hitler who does the worst possible things to the Jewish people, and God uses that to rally and draw His people together. Then in 1948 America comes alongside Britain to encourage and promote the formation of a Jewish homeland. Gives you the shivers when you really study it out.
Don't ever doubt that God is in the details of your meager existence. He has the hairs on your head numbered. Believe me - He's in the details.
So I've been home for two weeks now and I'm finally getting back in the swing of things. And no - this isn't a current photo - rather it was taken last year around the same time - so I'm enjoying the delay of snow this year. We're having a beautiful fall in fact and I'm getting back into writing my current book.
The book I'm working on is 3rd in another Texas series. Book one CHASING THE SUN debuts in March 2012 and then book 2 June 2012 and the book I'm currently writing is slated to release a year from now - in October 2012. The series has been a great deal of fun. Set in Texas 1863-1868, I wanted to show the contrasts of mindsets. There were strong Union supporters in Texas, as well as strong Confederate supporters, but mostly there were those who stood in support of Texas.
While I was researching and enjoying being home after a wild and crazy traveling schedule since last May, I found the lyrics of this song from 1854 and thought it summed up my heart.
"My old House my dear happy Home" (1854)
1. There’s a spot that I love, there’s a home that I prize
Far better than any on earth,
It is bound to my heart by the holiest ties,
And I prize oh how fondly its worth;
’Tis no beauty nor splendor endears it to me,
Ah no for its grandeur hath flown,
But ’tis fondest affection that binds me to thee,
My Old House, my dear happy Home.
2. O home! what dear magic is in that sweet sound,
How closely it speaks to the heart,
What a word of deep tenderness in thee is found,
Oh who from such treasure could part;
Could barter the joys of a sweet home of love,
For a path in the wide world unknown,
Could seek for vain pleasures and heartlessly rove,
If they knew the true value of home.
3. Some sigh to be wealthy, some seek to be great,
Some envy what others can do,
But oh I’m in my lowly estate,
For the hearts all around me are true.
And ties that are nearer and dearer to me,
And hearts that are truly mine own,
With fondest affection now binds me to thee,
My Old House, my dear happy Home.
Isn't that fun. I thought it really fit how I felt now that we're home.
Oh and one other fun thing that's happened this week - I got a delivery of a new cd. If you like blues-jazz I have to say this is great. It's LET THEM TALK by Englishman Huge Laurie - yes the actor on HOUSE and from earlier years of BERTIE AND JEEVES. He's an incredible musician and I've totally fallen in love with his music. My only disappointment was that the cd didn't include 27 Ginger Headed Sailors which he once sang on BERTIE AND JEEVES. Actually I suppose it really wouldn't fit the blues feel.
Hello wonderful blog readers. Did you miss me? I sure missed you!
Back in July our granddaughter Rainy fell ill. It became so serious we feared we would be having a funeral.
We headed to Kansas City and sat at her bedside and she gradually improved. We said it was the healing power of Grandparent Love. Here she is with her momma after recovery started. The looks are day and night differentand proof that prayer works. Thanks so much to those of you who prayed.
We hurried back home then and I went to be with the women of my church. We had a retreat in the mountains with Angie Breidenbach as our speaker. If you haven't checked Angie out - you really must. She has some amazing jewlery that supports African orphans and she's written several books. Also she is a super amazing speaker and if you need someone for your women's groups - I highly recommend her. Check her out at www.angiebreidenbach.com
After that it was back to Kansas where I worked with Judy Miller on the 3rd installment of our Bridal Veil Island series. Judy is always a lot of fun to work with and I got to enjoy her new office. Made me start thinking about my own.
Then we moved on to St. Louis where I was the keynote speaker for the American Christian Fiction Writers conference. Oh that was tons of fun. I got to see a lot of my writer friends and as Tammy posted - we snapped a photo of us bloggers sans Cathy and Robin. I was completely blessed by the conference as I know many writers were. The ACFW awarded me a Lifetime Achievement Award and a bouquet of roses. This came as a total shock. I've teased my publisher that this means I can now retire. Here I am with Kayla Woodhouse. She's 14 and has already co-authored 2 books with her mom Kim Woodhouse. I recommend you get a copy of their first book (the only one out so far) titled NO SAFE HAVEN.
Speaking of the publisher - after St. Louis Jim and I moseyed up to Minnesota to do research and to meet with the Bethany House folks. I love and adore that gang. They are like family to me and it's always so nice to get together with them and talk about the industry and the ministry aspects of what we do.
Amidst all of this, I was dealing with a shocking diagnosis that came to me on the 8th of September. The doctor told me I have Multiple Scelosis. MS is a nerve disorder where your own white cells attack the myelin (sheath around nerves) and destroys it. This can cause pain, blindness, cripple you and so much more. Not exactly a fun diagnosis. I started daily injectables which was also not to my liking, but now I find they aren't quite so bad. It's an interesting twist in my journey here on earth, but I'm trying to keep my eyes and ears open to what God will teach me on the way. I definitely would appreciate your continued prayers.
Oh and a super neat highlight. On our way home, we picked up a new baby. Actually a 6wk old collie pup. We're calling him Mack - short for The McGreggor which will probably be his official name. He's soooooo sweet and fluffy. Just a bunch of fur with a nose.
Yes, you read that right - I'm researching cattle drives this week. In particular - the cattle drives from Texas to Kansas.
After the Civil War the country was hankering for steak - primarily because the war had made it almost impossible to ship cattle east and especially not south.
A man named McCoy (maybe he's related to Judith McCoy Miller our dear writing sister??) set up a rail town called Abilene in Kansas. He knew that if he could get the drovers to bring in the cattle, the town would boom. All that was really needed was a railroad and the Kansas Pacific was good to oblige.
Cattle drives are very interesting things. I've been talking to local ranch folk and listening to information about drives, as well as reading diary accounts. I have a neat little book that details a cattle drive in 1868 from the perspective of one of the drovers and it's fascinating.
A common size herd was around 2000-3000 head of cattle - usually fattened steers. They moved them only about 10-12 miles a day and this size herd would stretch out about 2 miles long. The cattle would graze as they went, so you didn't move them too fast and walk all the fat off of them. At night they were usually so tuckered, they didn't wander off and could usually be tended by one or two mounted riders.
During the day, however, you had about 15 men for a herd of about 2500. You also had a wrangler who kept the horses. Each mounted drover (or cowboy as we call them now-although that term was quite negative back then)needed anywhere from 5-8 horses so that he could trade out and not ride the same one everyday. The wrangle kept this herd of horses called a remuda and tended their medical needs and shoeing. The wrangler had to be a sort of veterinarian, farrier, jack-of-all-trades.
Of course you had your trail boss and your Cookie.
The chuckwagon was mighty important because you burned a lot of calories riding from dawn to dusk and dealing with everything from stampedes to Indian encounters. The latter was especially critical as the trails from Texas to Abilene, KS went right through Indian Territory and though most of the Oklahoma villages were peaceful, there were always problems with which to contend.
I got a little tickled with some of the descriptive terms for cattle drive needs. A "hoodlum" wagon carried the bedrolls. "Chuckwagon chicken" was bacon, "Pecos strawberries were beans, "sourdough bullets" were biscuits and cowboy coffee was said to only be strong enough if a horseshoe could actually float in it. Isn't that fun?
Oh and in Montana - there are still cattle drives.
Interesting times to be sure. On another note - my granddaughter Rainy is still desperately ill and the entire family continues to need your prayers. Thanks for thinking of them.
I apologize for how brief this blog is, but I know you'll understand.
My granddaughter Rainy is having surgery tomorrow and that is holding my focus right now. The doctors have been perplexed by her situation and plan an exploratory surgery.
I would definitely appreciate prayers for the doctors and for the family.
But most of all, I ask for prayers for Rainy. This will be something like the 30th surgery for Rainy in just 9 years. She has been through so much and when I talked to her today she was so depressed and sad. My daughter is afraid Rainy has given up, and who can blame her?
God is definitely our stronghold these days. We know He has all of this under control.
So many tragedies have gone on around me, and I'm sure in your own life, over the last few weeks, and so often I've heard people comment about where is God when these things happen? Or why does God allow this in the life of His children - the very ones who have given their hearts to Jesus and trust in Him for salvation?
It's so hard sometimes. Especially when we are taken off guard. I read so many accounts of children dying over the last few days. A little girl was killed in a car accident - no doubt only one of many. Another family of children were murdered. Soldier sons died overseas. A friend lost her youngest son to an unexpected heart attack. Where was God in all of this?
Then you have the horror of what happened in Norway. More earthquakes for so many places around the world. Every time I turned on the news there was something horrific and full of sorrow. It was enough to leave me longing for the day when Jesus would return and set things right. And that got me to thinking about where God was in all of this and why bad things have to happen.
Jesus told us there would be problems. He said in John, "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I've overcome the world." He also said that He would be with us always, and in the night before being led to face His own death - Jesus prayed for us. After praying for His disciples, Jesus said,
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
How precious to think that Jesus prayed for us before we were even born. He knew there would be hard times and that the world would be against us. He knew we'd face sorrow and trials of every sort. He knew we'd feel unloved, lonely and overwhelmed at times, so He prayed for us. Just imagine it. This was the first prayer ever prayed for you, and it came from Jesus Himself.
Sometimes God seems distance in times of trial, and sometimes He seems quite near. The truth is, He is always there, even when we cannot "feel" or "see". That's where faith comes in. We can be assured in faith that God will never leave us. Sometimes it's hard to rest in that, but I want to encourage you to do just that. I also want to remind you again of what Jesus said when He prayed for us.
22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
You are loved and you are never alone. We are one in the Lord.
I took a couple of weeks off to tend to homefires, but now I'm back. At least for a little while.
Montana is enjoying warm weather, but low humidity, unlike most of the rest of the country. I've decided to invite you all to come up and enjoy our wonderful summer. First I will take you to a lovely view of the Gallatin River where you can rest your feet in the cool water. This was actually taken during spring melt a few weeks ago so the waters aren't the crystal blue they are now.
Then we'll watch some of the wildlife
and enjoy a beautiful sunset.
Maybe we'll camp out and have a campfire and enjoy the chill of 50 degree mountain air. You'll need a jacket! Me and some friends from church went camping last week in the mountains. This is my friend Dineen trying to stay warm.
Tomorrow we can enjoy a mountain drive.
We can even head down to a rodeo or two. Here's my friend Merrill getting ready to sell cotton candy at one of the biggest rodeos in Montana on 4th of July weekend. I helped for two nights at the rodeo in Three Forks last week and we had so much fun.
I wish I could just have you all over for a nice break from the heat and humidity. My husband Jim and I grew up in Kansas and we know very well how bad it can be. Jim always says, "If you live a good life in Kansas, God rewards you with Montana." I think he may be right.