Friday, August 29, 2008

A World Traveler

These days I'm definitely a world traveler. We just got back from an absolutely delicious 15 day trip to Europe where stories and ideas were everywhere. My husband Jim and I were joined by authors Cathy Marie Hake and her husband Chris, as well as author Kelly Eileen Hake (their daughter) and her friend Julia. Talk about fun. We were authors making notes, exploring castles, trying new tastes, and enjoying the ancientness of Europe.

We started in Amsterdam and ended there as well. This city offered us great food, canal boat rides, windmills, and bicycles galore. They say there is very nearly one bicycle for every person, and I believe them!

We took a train to Basil, Switzerland and from there boarded our Rhine River Cruise ship, the River Ambassador. This tour was sponsored by UniWorld and I have to say they did a fantastic job of everything. Who knew there were 14 locks to pass through between Basil and Amsterdam as we made our way ever "down" to the sea?

The castles on the Rhine were incredible and so impressive. Some are being utilized for tourists, some are privately owned, and still others are in less than perfect order. No matter, the situation, it fascinated all of us to see these wonderful stepping stones to the past. Here are just a few that we saw (and some pics from our trip).

We made stops along the way trying our French in Strasbourg (I was actually able to ask for sugar-free chocolate for my hubby with my 20 words of French). We used our Rosetta Stone sponsored German in many of our stops and found that it got us through in asking for things like DeCaf coffee, more bread and the ever important restroom.

We shopped, frustrating store owners all over Europe with our lack of knowledge regarding the Euro, and our inability to speak the language (if they tell you everyone speaks English in Europe - it's a lie), but ultimately we made their coffers a little richer.

Ultimately, I was amazed at the beauty God created, the kindness of strangers, and the laughter and fun of friends.

Speaking of friends and fun - if you're in the Peabody, Mass. area on September 6th, CBD (Christian Book Distributors) will be having an open warehouse sale, and I will be there signing books and meeting the public from 7:00am - 4:00pm.

CBD is located at:
140 Summit St.
Peabody, Massachusetts 01960


Friday, August 22, 2008

God in the Details

A while back I was blessed to be at a Casting Crowns concert in Bozeman, MT. The opening band, TRACING DAYS, featured songs from local guys that truly blessed me despite the heavy rock focus of their music.

But I had an entirely different experience with Casting Crowns, and had to relate it. First of all, I thought I was just getting to see the concert with my husband Jim. But to my surprise our local radio station DJs came and got me to meet the band backstage. We slipped through a maze of hallways and rooms until we came upon a group of guys dressed in jeans and t-shirts with various toy guns, loaded with darts. They were ganging up on one of their other team mates and I just naturally presumed this was probably the band's road crew. But no - this was the band.

I still have to laugh at the site of these grown men crashing through the dressing room door to plaster another band member with foam darts. A few minutes later, these same folks gathered to greet those of us who had our special backstage passes. They were generous and loving, kind and so much a reflection of joy in the Lord that I could honestly have gone home at that point and still have been blessed.

When the concert started and they began to sing some of their popular hits, I was deeply moved to be a part of the moment. Throughout the day, I had been struggling with worry over my children - the one main place Satan tries to take me down. There's Erik - who really struggled to graduate high school and now is struggling to find a direction in life. Then there's Julie who's separated from her husband and trying to work on her marriage and keep her three children from feeling too many emotional traumas from the situation. Lastly, there's Jen who's living in a big city by herself, going to college and working. She has to be out on her on a lot, sometimes late at night taking public transportation, and I worry about her safety. Could anyone else possibly relate?

Then at one point the lead singer began to share with us that he struggled to get through school with dyslexia and ADD. He didn't get great grades. It made me think of Erik and it gave me hope. Then they sang a beautiful song I'd never heard that spoke of a young woman struggling with marriage problems - the song emphasized loving her like Jesus, and taking her to Him. Suddenly I didn't feel so fearful for Julie. And towards the end of the concert they talked about Jesus walking every step with us--that we're never alone, and I breathed a sigh of relief in regards to Jen.

God was in the details in a way I hadn't expected. The concert turned into an awesome time of praise and restoration and for that I praise God, and thank Casting Crowns. It never fails to amaze me how God can use something we love to do and turn it into a ministry for Him in ways that give hope to the overwhelmed and hurting. I hope you feel His touch today.


P.S. You can check out their new "Slow Fade" video here.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Travel Travel Travel

For the next few weeks I'm going to be traveling a great deal. When you get this blog, I'll be in Europe on a train from Amsterdam to Basel Switzerland!! Wahoo! I'm blessed to be doing a Castles Along the Rhine cruise tour with fellow writers Cathy Marie Hake and Kelly Eileen Hake. Oh yeah, Cathy and I are bringing our husbands, too.

Heidelberg Castle, Germany

I hope to post some pictures for you when I get back. We'll start in Amsterdam and take a train to Basel, Switzerland. I can say, "Is dit de trein naar Basel?" So hopefully I won't get lost. My husband and I are using Rosetta Stone to learn German, so we will go armed with our little Dutch and German translation books, and pray that all the Dutch and Germans will speak fluent English.

Riquewihr, a medieval city between mountain and vineyards
in eastern France on the Rhine River

So why am I heading to Europe? Research! I love incorporating interesting cultural details into my stories. My area of Montana has many Dutch families who settled back in the 1860's. My son attended a private Dutch Reform Christian High School and the cultural influences were fascinating. Not only that, but a wee bit of my family background has some Dutch ancestry, as well as German, Scottish, Irish and Swiss. So I hope to incorporate this into books to come, as well as find new stories as I research.

So "dag" for now. Auf Wiedersehen!


Friday, August 1, 2008

Just Between Friends

I have to admit that blogging isn't something I ever felt I'd want to do. It's not that don't want to share tidbits with friends and readers, it's more along the lines that I can't imagine anyone wanting to read anything about me. Sure I sometimes do some exciting things, but otherwise, I'm pretty boring.

Favorite things to do include petting my cats - we have three...Calvin J. Whiskers, Safari, and Simon.  

Or walking with the dogs - we have two crazy collies. 

Or sitting and discussing historical events with my historian husband, Jim. We could talk for hours about Europe in the middle ages or the reasons why the P51 Mustang was the best fighter in WWII. But most of all, I write.

I love to write. It's a passion. It's a ministry for me first and foremost, and an exciting way to share my love for the Lord. So when I blog, you'll probably hear about things the Lord has done for me, writing experiences, research travel and any other tidbit that I might find fascinating. I'll share with you books and movies that I've enjoyed and keep you up-to-date on the books I'm writing.

But for now I have to go--Simon (our black and white cat grandson- he belonged to our daughter who upon leaving for Boston and Harvard, couldn't take her son with her) and our only female, part Siamese--Safari are having a heated political discussion in the hall.

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