Friday, November 28, 2008

Truly Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving to all. I'm truly thankful for all that God has given, and blessed beyond all that I can ask or imagine.

A few years ago my daughter Jennifer went to Uganda to be a missionary with Calvary Chapel Ministeries. The time she spent there was eye opening to our entire family. It also served to give us an extended family. We have informally adopted Jean Pierre, Albine and their 5 wonderful little girls (the youngest of whom was born just a couple of years ago and they named her after me.)

Knowing this family and their needs has opened our eyes to how blessed we are in America. This family lives in Burundi and has often shared their home with some of the orphans from the war torn country. While Burundi is currently at peace, Jean Pierre lost his father when he was murdered by guerillas, and his mother died several years ago to sickness. After we got to know him very well and had spent considerable time emailing and praying, Jean Pierre asked my husband and I to be his parents.

We have cherished this family and thank God for the opportunity to get to know a different culture and lifestyle. However, it is not an easy world to live in. The threat of war continues to haunt them, their economy is far worse than ours, and sickness abounds in the form of aids and malaria.

Still, throughout all of this, Jean Pierre writes me to say how blessed they are. He is a pastor now and has planted 9 different churches and they are growing. He's seeing people accept Jesus as Savior, and prays that by coming to the Lord and ridding themselves of superstitious religious practices, their country and people will be transformed. They are so thankful for what God has done, that even when they will sit down to a meal of nothing more than beans and rice, they are very grateful for what God has provided.

I'm humbled by my African son and his family. I look at the vast wealth around me and know that I am truly, most amazingly blessed. I praise God for such blessings, but most of all I praise Him for opening my eyes to see the needs and love of this little family in Africa.


Friday, November 21, 2008


During our visit to Germany this summer, we bought a cuckoo clock. It's a really neat little clock with people who dance around and a waterwheel,and quaint German designs. Oh, and it plays music. Edelweiss at the top of the hour and Happy Wanderer at the 1/2 hour.

For those of you who have cuckoo clocks, you know they aren't without their issues. They need daily care as they spend their energy and wind down. Every morning and evening we find it necessary to adjust the weights and re-energize the clock. Otherwise it winds down and stops, and then getting it started again with the correct time can be a bit of a pain.

I find the same can be true of people. The last couple of weeks I've found myself dealing with sick or recovering family members. My son had knee surgery about a month ago, my husband developed a blood infection in his foot, and my mother had foot surgery. All of them needed a certain degree of care, plus I had a book deadline to fulfill, along with all the other routine issues of life to oversee. I found myself winding down and feeling the weight of responsibility.

But God always seems to know exactly what we need. He sent several good friends along to re-energize me with encouragement and prayers. He didn't let me get so far down that I stopped functioning, because He knew it would be a major effort to get me started again.

There might be a few of you out there who are feeling much as I did, and I just want to encourage you and offer you this hope. God already knows what you need, but He wants to hear from you. Take your frustrations, sorrows, and needs to Him, and trust that He will send the right people into your life to help. He never fails folks. Believe me, I've seen Him intercede too much to doubt that He will continue.

There seem to be so many issues in life right now that have us winding down, but as Christians we know we have a caretaker who will never let us go unattended. We can be encouraged to know that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.


Friday, November 14, 2008


Several of you have written to ask me where in Montana my new series takes place, and why I chose that area. So I thought I would share that with you today. My Brides of Gallatin County series is the latest series I've set in Montana. There will be three books. Book one is out and titled A PROMISED TO BELIEVE IN, as you can see noted here at the blog site. Book Two is out in April 2009 and titled A LOVE TO LAST FOREVER, and book three is out summer 2009 and is titled A DREAM TO CALL MY OWN.

This series deals with three sisters who run a stage stop hotel in 1879-81 Montana. The location was a fun one for me, as it's only about 5 miles away. There was a real stage stop in the tiny town of Hamilton, MT just 15 miles west of Bozeman. Now Hamilton is no longer a town (well it is, but more about that later). All that remains in of that old stop is a cemetery and a plaque that speaks about the fact that the town was a stage stop among other things.

I decided, instead of going with the exact location, however, I would create a little town to the south. In my research I found that many little, hole-in-the-wall towns started as stage stops - places to change out the horses or water and feed them, as well as give the passengers a break. Some were overnight stops, as is the one in my book, as well as a place that might provide a lunch stop.

Now for those of you who have run to the map to see where Hamilton, MT is - the current Hamilton is located just southwest of Missoula, MT and has nothing to do with my book's location. However, in the 1870s, the other Hamilton faced a plight much as the one my fictional town. The proposed railroad site was going in north of where the city was located, and they knew this would mean eventual death to their town. Like many locations on the frontier, Hamilton decided to move north to meet the railroad. When they did this, they renamed their town Moreland, and later renamed it Manhattan, MT. This place still exists and has a couple of fantastic places to eat - Sir Scott's Oasis (the most incredible steaks in Montana) and The Garden Cafe (nice for breakfast).

Some people ask me why I decided to create a fictional town when there was a real town available in the area. The reasons are many. Fictional towns obviously give me much more liberty and freedom. Also, Hamilton was a "dry" town. In other words, they had no saloons or liquor available to the public. I wanted my stage stop to have a most irritating saloon owner and the further complication of prostitution in their area. I also didn't want to worry about whether I put the exact number of businesses, and well-known residents into the story, although often I do this. For example in the series I'm working on now, I have a detailed list of businesses and streets available to me and am using the real town of Sitka, Alaska in 1870.

Nevertheless, I researched stage stops extensively and learned a great deal about the industry and its needs.

Research is one of the things I enjoy most about writing historicals, and I try to keep things very accurate. It doesn't mean I never make mistakes - as readers are always happy to point out - but it does mean my love of the past has a chance to shine through. I hope you enjoy that journey to yesteryear as well.


Friday, November 7, 2008

The best things in life

The best things in life truly are free. The smile of a child. Their fascination with the world. Their unconditional love.

My grandchildren don't care if I'm a writer or a ditch digger. They love me just for being Nana, and that's such a wonderful feeling. So often in this world we have to prove ourselves to someone to "earn" their love. It makes me think that God must feel the same way at times when we challenge Him to do XY&Z for us and then we'll trust Him or love Him.

So here's to unconditional love. May we recognize it for the treasure it is, and maybe we learn to practice it more.

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