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April 5th – National Read A Road Map Day

Today, April 5th is National Read a Road Map Day!

With the advent of Google Maps, Mapquest and the GPS, learning to read a road map is no longer a necessity. But what if your batteries died or the electronics didn’t work. Would you know how to read a road map?

Road MapsMy first experience with maps was the globe of the world Mommy had in the living room. Nothing fancy, just a small table top Rand McNally globe that spun round and round. Sitting on the floor, my siblings and I would take turns closing our eyes and placing our finger on the spinning globe ending up on continents and in countries that we would otherwise have never heard about.

On trips with Old Roady, I ride shotgun with the map draped across my knees following our route with my finger. I enjoy watching for the next town or turn off. With the purchase of a GPS, my map reading skills are not longer needed, but the activity keeps me awake (I was born with an on/off switch on my bottom that is activated by the seat of a car.), so I still like to have a map to look at. The last trip we took, I used the Maps App on my iPad. When I realized I was spending more time staring at the little red dot moving along the highway than I was looking at the landscape, I put it away.

In my book ‘Out Of The Wilderness’, it was Sophie’s lack of map reading skills that led to her getting lost and in need of rescue. Studying with this tutorial would have saved her from the ordeal. But then, she would have never met Gray.

What you need to know to read a map:

  • How to use the grid – those numbers and letters bordering the map have a purpose.
  • Where to find the map key or legend and what data is contained there.
  • Why roads come in different colors.
  • What do the different colors and symbols and highway markers mean.

The final hurdle in handling a paper road map is learning how to refold it back to it’s original neat and tidy rectangle. For that, there is no tutorial.

Questions for you:
Do you think map reading skills are becoming a lost art?
Do you prefer paper or digital?

March Madness at CrossReads

March-Madness2

It’s the CrossReads March Madness Sale!

TWO DAYS ONLY — March 27 & 28th, 2013

Free books!

99-Cent books!

A chance to WIN a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

The Lord Remains Faithful

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever – do not abandon the works of your hands.
Psalm 138:8

A week ago today, I came home from a writing retreat. I cried most of the way home. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to come home. It was more that I didn’t want to leave the wonder of that creative and sacred experience. I didn’t want to come down off  ‘the mountain top’, where I had found inspiration and renewal.

I’ve hugged the memories close and savored them, sharing with the few who would truly understand how dear the experience was for me. This isn’t my story. It’s God’s story. I’m just the flawed writer He chose to bless.

******

With a deadline looming, Old Roady was okay with me taking some of our timeshare points and getting away to write. With the winter weather, I’d hoped to be close to home, as in, just down Route 1 a few miles. But on such short notice, there was nothing available in Rhode Island. We found a studio with a partial kitchenette for six days in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

Then Nemo – The Blizzard of 2013 – blew across the region on February 8th.

Blizzard of 2013

Blizzard of 2013

Four days later I received a phone call. The resort in Falmouth was unable to accommodate the reservations for folks checking in.

Wish I could say I was calm about this. I wasn’t. The lovely woman from the timeshare clearinghouse was kind enough to help me look for an alternative. But throughout all of RI, CT and MA, she found only one other place. It, too, was in Falmouth and for only three nights. She would call to see if they were taking ‘inbounds’.

At this point, I prayed – finally. And the prayer was pretty sketchy. Mostly disconnected thoughts flung heavenward. But God is good. No. God is AMAZING. Because even when I’m not at my best, He remains faithful and continues to work out HIS PLAN for me.

The lovely lady (I wish I could remember her name.) called me back. The other place in Falmouth was available. Would I like it? That’s when I told her what I needed – a quiet place away from daily duties and distractions so I could concentrate on writing.

She giggled and then said, “Oh. Wait. Something just popped up! Is Rhode Island okay?”

“Yes.” I held my breath, because there are no coincidences. Only God-incidences.

“Long Wharf in Newport. Sunday to Sunday. Would that be alright?”

I barely heard her over the pounding of my heart. “Yes. How many nights?”

“Sunday to Sunday.”

“The whole week?” One more day than I would have had in Falmouth.

“Yes. It’s a one bedroom condo with a full kitchen. And since it’s a swap, you get it for the same number of points as Falmouth. It’s usually twice as many.”

I think God loves surprises because every step of the way, the trip only got better.

On check-in, I found out the Inn was going through renovations. Only the fifth floor was open and I was the first to use the completely renovated condo.

Long Wharf Resort

Long Wharf Resort

Within hours of checking in, God painted the sky for me.

Sunset over Long Wharf

Sunset over Long Wharf

Newport fishing fleet and lobster boats

Newport fishing fleet and lobster boats

I emptied my schedule and let go of all that fights for my attention. I made room for God to come in and fill the empty space.  

I was needy and my heart was willing. 

How often am I unwilling? How often do I fill my time with everything but what God desires for me?

A Room With A View

A Room With A View

I was on Holy ground.  My writing, an offering.

God blessed me abundantly with time and words. 

The empty computer screen filled, line after line. How many times in the past have I been afraid the words wouldn’t come? Why can’t I trust like this every day? 

Evening Sun

Will I remember?
On the days that nothing comes easy, will I open up and be uncomfortably empty so He can fill me?

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them –
the Lord, who remains faithful forever.
Psalm 146:5-6

2013 – My Word!

Snow treeDuring my prayer and Bible study time for the month of December, I seek out the word that will be my focus for the new year. Sometimes the same word jumps out at me over and over again as I go through my day. Other times, the repetition of one word leads me to another word before the whispered voice of the Holy Spirit confirms this is it. My word.

To have a special word to guide me through the year – a word handpicked for me by my Creator – sounds so lovely and spiritual, right? But what if the word that keeps cropping up isn’t one that I want?

That’s where I was just before Christmas. Not liking the word.

For several years now my words have been comfortable. Themes to lean on and rest in. Words like Hope and Trust.

This year, my quest started with the word ‘stewardship’ popping in and out of my world. I kept rejecting it, hoping it wasn’t the word and not wanting to consider where the Holy Spirit could be guiding me with that word.

I argued with the Holy Spirit. “Show me the word You really have for me. Stewardship is a word that requires work, you know. And stewardship of what? Money? My health? Spiritual gifts? Relationships? Don’t you know how busy I am? I’m working two part-time jobs outside the house (which equals more hours than one full time job) and I have my writing. And Old Roady and Son like to eat and wear clean clothes. Add in elderly parents and church duties and… and… . Hellooo! Stewardship? Really? I don’t have the TIME!”

Ouch! The conviction pierced my thick-headed hard-hearted shell. Stewardship of my time. Being intentional with my time. Because this is where my year will be defined. The use of my time, the same 24 hours God gives every one of us, will determine if I accomplish what God has set out for me to do in 2013.

The argument is over and prayer has begun in earnest. Because the only way the work – on my interior world as well as the exterior – will be done and fruitful is with constant communion with the Holy Spirit.

And in that amazing way that God works, old articles and past sermons and passing comments from others are hitting the mark and guiding me now that my heart and mind are open to the word I’ve been given – Time. I can’t hold it, or see it, or stop it, or recycle it. Even as I’m sitting here writing, it is passing, never to be reclaimed or relived.

Being a good steward of my Time – that is my challenge, my theme, and my word.

Christmas Story Hop

Grand Prize: $100 Amazon Gift Certificate!

Christian Indie Blog HopPlease join Christian Indie Novelists in the celebration of our Savior’s birth. We have a progressive Christmas story hop to share with you, as well as a post about favorite Christmas songs. Each author is having a drawing at their blog and there is an overall Grand Prize.

Here’s what you need to do to enter:

1. Go to each blog in the order that is listed below.

2. Read the section of the story posted. Then follow the link to the next blog where the next section of the story is posted.

3. At each blog, click on the Rafflecopter link to be entered in the Grand Prize drawing ($100 Amazon Gift Card), and leave a comment on the blog to be entered in each author’s individual drawing. Your comments can be about the story. Or you can tell us your favorite Christmas song, movie or book. Be sure to tweet and like us on Facebook to be entered multiple times.

My drawing —

Feather notebook

Comment on this blog for a chance to win a digital copy of OUT OF THE WILDERNESS, my inspirational romantic adventure novel, as well as a small (3.5 x 5.5 inches) moleskin notebook with a hand-embroidered cover created by Bonnie Paper Works (Etsy).

 Be sure to click here for your chance at the $100 gift card!  And join the other blogs for more individual prizes!!

Follow blogs in the order listed below:

Gloria Harchar
Emerald Barnes
Bonnie Blythe
Anita K Greene (you are here!)
Marian Merritt
Rich Bullock
Dawn Turner

A CHRISTMAS TO REMEMBER : PART 4

Pre-dawn light glowed on the horizon. Meredith checked her watch and stepped away from the window. Time to go.

Hurrying out to her car, she climbed in before a case of nerves caused her to chicken out. She refused to spend another sleepless night wondering why Garth had come back. The scars on his face and his slight limp were evidence that the rumor of a medical discharge was true. But that had happened several months ago. Why show up here now?

The sun was cresting the horizon as she turned her car onto the farm’s driveway. The run-down house loomed ahead with no vehicle in sight. Had he left as quietly as he’d arrived? Last night, she and the children were so caught up in the fun of caroling for someone new in town that she hadn’t questioned the empty parking spot.

Parking her car, Meredith took a deep breath and got out. She climbed the steps and raised her hand to knock. Her knuckles never connected with the wood.

The door opened and a hand shot out, clamped around her forearm and yanked.

“Aahh. Hey!” She stumbled forward and fell to her knees. The door closed behind her with a thump. Her heart thudded against her ribs. In the gloom of the interior, the shadow of a man loomed above her. “Let go of me.” She surged to her feet. Free hand clenched in a fist, she swung at her assailant. A strong hand captured it and held on.

“Merrie, stop.”

Meredith froze. No one called her that name. No one except Garth. And it was his voice that said it now. She tugged against his hold. “You frightened me.” The low light deepened the grooves that slashed across his cheek. He was dressed like a one-man militia.

“You shouldn’t be here.” He glanced out the window then pulled her deeper into the room.

“I had to find out why you decided to come home.” She refused to be cowed by his glare. “For so long I’ve wanted to see you.” Her whispered admission hung in the air between them.

He let go as though scalded. “So now you’ve seen me. It isn’t the face you remember, is it?” He turned away and fiddled with a piece of gear attached to his vest.

The harsh words hit her like a sucker punch. “Is it your scars? Is that why you didn’t come home? You didn’t want me to see you?”

His head came up but he wasn’t looking at her. She glanced toward the window and caught a glimpse of a person in the field before she was shoved against the wall with Garth pressed close against her. “You do exactly what I tell you to do and we may get out of here alive.”

Meredith closed her eyes, desperate to sort out what was happening. She’d known him as a military man, but that knowledge had never prepared her for the hard-shelled warrior pinning her to the wall. Fear warred with the love that had never died for this man standing so close, but still miles away.

“Come on.” Grasping her shoulder, Garth shoved her toward the back of the house. “I want you out of the way.”

“Who is that man out there, Garth, and don’t tell me ‘nobody’.”

His face was set in a hard ruthless mask and, for one moment, Meredith wished she’d stayed home.

“Someone I’ve been expecting.” He pushed her toward the small pantry.

Meredith dragged her feet and grabbed the doorjamb. “You can’t just stuff me away.”

“I can and will. You’ll be safer in here.”

She clung to his arm. “I’m not letting go until you tell me what’s going on.”

His gaze traveled over her face. He lifted her hand and rested it against his cheek. “The man out there did this to me.”

She trembled. Beneath her palm the smooth scar tissue moved with each word he spoke.

“It’s time he paid for what he did.”

Tears pooled in her eyes making it hard to see clearly. “Revenge, Garth? Is that what this is?”

His lips pulled back in a snarl. “Justice. I may be scarred, but what he did left others dead.” He stroked his fingertips across the inside of her wrist.

He moved so quickly, she didn’t have time to react. One moment she stood before him, trying to understand this man she had loved for so long, and the next moment, she was inside a tiny room, the door closed and locked.

For Part 5 and the conclusion of A CHRISTMAS TO REMEMBER, visit:

Marian Merritt
Rich Bullock
Dawn Turner

Don’t forget to leave a comment below and click on this Rafflecopter link to enter the drawing for the $100 Amazon Gift Certificate!

If you are enjoying the hop, be sure to follow us on The Christian Indie Novelists Blog Hop Site!

Christmas Mantle with Old Window

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012

Here it is! My Christmas mantle in gold and white. The white reindeer are from the 1950’s and made in Japan. One reindeer shed his antlers before we discovered him. Not sure of the age of the gold reindeer. The ‘angel hair’ fluffs and bends but is heavy enough not to float away.

Mantle - Reindeer

The Scary Fun of Self-Publishing!

I feel like that gawky teenager all over again. On a family vacation, standing at the end of the high diving board and looking down. Scary fun! That excited feeling accompanied by a ping of fear. Hoping – praying – I don’t belly-flop.

That’s how I feel as I release the first book of my SeaMount Series, OUT OF THE WILDERNESS. 

I’m excited! I’m scared! I’m a little bit overwhelmed. I love the story. I love the characters. I hope you will, too!

Now available on Amazon. All other venues to follow soon.

Former Navy SEAL Grayson Kerr’s honor has become tarnished working as a soldier for hire. His newfound faith in God has him longing to restore his integrity. His new mission is to qualify for a job with the SeaMount Agency. He wants to be one of the good guys. In the midst of a wilderness survival trial, he discovers a woman and her children lost in the forest. Abandoning his own mission in order to help them could disqualify him for the job.

Sophie Moore has fought to hold heart and home together since her husband’s death. To lose custody of her daughters to his influential parents would be her undoing. Determined to make every moment together count, Sophie plans a weekend away. Almost at their destination, she takes a wrong turn and becomes lost in a labyrinth of logging roads. The scruffy, hard-edged soldier that finds them is their only chance at survival.

From the wilderness of Maine to the SeaMount Agency headquarters on the coast of Rhode Island, Gray works to expose the criminal plot behind Sophie’s custody battle. He jeopardizes getting the job he wants for having the love of the woman he needs. Being a good guy may cost him his one shot at redemption.

Giving Thanks

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Psalm 107:1

For the Beauty,
For the Bounty,
For the Blessings,
Give Thanks.

The best cheese ball recipe! For that table that keeps the hungry crowd out from under the cooks feet so the Thanksgiving dinner can be prepared. What do you call the food on that table? Hors d’oeuvres? Appetizers? Nibbles? Pickys? My favorite part of the meal?

Coastal Mantle

The chipped and peeling old window I brought home from my neighbor’s yard sale is on the mantle. My original plans included a garland but time just hasn’t been on my side. With the end of August looming the coastal theme will soon disappear so here are ‘the bones’.

I bought the little sandpiper bird years ago at a craft fair. It’s made of fake fur and has a leather bill. The clam shells are from local Rhode Island beaches. Can anyone go to the beach and not collect treasures?

The conch shell dates back to my senior year of high school and my trip to St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. The trip was a graduation present from my employers, Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan. They paid for the air fare and I stayed in their winter home with them for an entire week. What an adventure. The conch shell is from a day of boating and snorkeling.

The shell pieces in the jar were collected on Sanibel Island, Florida during a family vacation. Even broken, the soft colors of the tumbled bits of shells are appealing.

As the season begins to change so does the late afternoon light. The shadows in my dining room are longer and muted.  Soon my baskets filled with seashells, beach stones and sea glass will be tucked away. Another summer is winding down and that gives me a twinge of sadness, but not for long. Pumpkins and the vibrant colors of fall are just around the corner.

“Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves,
We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!
― Humbert Wolfe

In the Potter’s Hand

… can I not do with you as this potter does? declares the Lord. Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand…  Jeremiah 18:6

I’m on the Potter’s wheel.
Some days spinning until I’m dizzy and disoriented.
Other days, due to a flaw that needs correcting, I am mushed into a lump.
The reshaping isn’t easy.
More spinning… more prodding and pressure.
I wanted to be a teacup.
But my dream was imperfect.

The Potter has a different plan.

So much clay… so much spinning…
Trusting his skilled hands to create something more beautiful than I can imagine.

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