Scotland, Scotland, Scotland

If a picture says 1,000 words, then this is a 3,000-word essay on Scotland.

Enjoy.

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle

A field of cairns in the Highlands.

A field of cairns in the Highlands. My wee rock is in there somewhere.

Carbost, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Loch Harport at Carbost, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Categories: Photography, Travel | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Writing is Like Knitting

DSC_0448

My friend Sue keeping warm in the hat I knit for her.

Writing is like knitting. Here’s how—for me.

  • I’ve learned a lot by studying online. There are lots of videos, tutorials, tips, blogs—you name it—online.
  • It’s very technical. A new language of terms.
  • It involves words. Untangling the directions for a knitting pattern can be a challenge.
  • It takes practice, practice, practice (much like skiing!).
  • I make mistakes. Oh, do I make mistakes. Correcting them is both a pain and an art. The trick is to first find the mistake and then figure out how to correct it.
  • I get to give it to friends. I enjoy the process of creating, but giving away a gift is the best.
Categories: Writing | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Writing is Like Skiing

DSCF0048

The process of writing is a lot like skiing—for me.

  • It takes practice, practice, practice—for years.
  • I need lessons and critiques from experts.
  • I make lots of mistakes and feel clumsy half the time.
  • Sometimes it hurts—my body and my ego at risk.
  • It’s frustrating.
  • It’s extremely technical.
  • It’s hard to remember everything I’m supposed to be paying attention to.
  • It’s the most fun—ever.
  • There are times when it’s absolutely, crazily, achingly sublime: when it all comes together, and I feel like I’m flying, that I can’t do anything wrong.
  • I’ll never regret doing either.
Categories: Writing | Tags: , | Leave a comment

UW Writers’ Institute Conference

Notice to you writers out there: the UW Writers’ Institute is coming up in Madison, Wisconsin.

This writers’ conference has an excellent reputation in the writing community, so I’ve heard. I’ll let you know if it’s so—I’ll be there!

I hear and read over and over, “Writers, attend writers’ conferences. Attend writers’ conferences.” OK, I will, and I can’t wait. See you there?

April 4-6, 2014 Madison, Wisconsin

April 4-6, 2014
Madison, Wisconsin

Categories: Writing | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Writing Contest Update

operation-iconThis week I got the judge’s critique of my entry in the Christian Writers Guild contest Operation First Novel. Though I didn’t place in the contest, the critique was extremely helpful. It was worth all the angst of waiting and hoping.

If you haven’t had a professional critique your writing, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s putting your creative neck on the chopping block, but hey, that’s how we learn.

The critique confirmed a couple weak spots I knew were there. And it affirmed a couple strengths I hoped were there: two 10s out of possible 10! Woohoo! I admit it, I enjoyed reading the words “tremendous” and “excellent” in those two categories.

Onward. One more contest. The American Christian Fiction Writers also has a contest for unpublished novelists: Genesis.  You have till March 15, 2014 to get your entry in too.

So, congratulations to these five talented authors, the finalists for Operation First Novel 2013. One of them will take home all the marbles and be published by Worthy Publishing.

●  Assault on Saint Agnes by Joseph Courtemanche, Saint Paul, Minnesota
● The Covered Deep by Brandy Vallance, Colorado Springs, Colorado
● The Orb of Oriston by Donna Myers, Nampa, Idaho
● Stolen Dreams by Sharon Sheppard, St. Cloud, Minnesota
●  A Ticket Bought at a Hazard by Debra Jeter, Clarksville, Tennessee

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Love Divine at Christmastime

DSCF2018

Love Divine, all love excelling,
  Joy of heav’n, to earth come down;
Fix in us Thy humble dwelling,
  All Thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, Thou art all compassion;
  Pure, unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation,
  Enter every trembling heart.

Source: http://www.hymnal.net/hymn.php/h/358#ixzz2nwEgORRJ

HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A BLESSED NEW YEAR

Categories: Christianity | Tags: , | Leave a comment

A Child-Like Heart

“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:17

A little child is—jDSCF1003oyful, guileless, trusting, dependent, eager, forgiving, curious, fascinated, playful, fearless, innocent, loving.

Are those the qualities required to receive the kingdom of God?

But what if joy, innocence, and all the rest, are wrenched from the toddler by thoughtless, self-centered parents?

Some of my psychotherapy clients are wary of relationships, don’t feel much self-worth, and are afraid God won’t pay them any more attention than their parents did.

So what does Jesus mean when He says to receive His kingdom “like a little child?” We adults can’t just set aside the weight of life: can’t cut out the thoughts and feelings burned in our brains that make love and trust a challenge.

Picture a child reaching up to Mommy or Daddy.

We were all born with that innate need to be picked up and held. Then picture some big, I mean really big, hands reaching down to pick you up—fulfilling your need.

I’m no biblical scholar, but it seems to me Jesus is saying simply, “Reach up to me. Come.”

O come, little children, O come one and all,
To Bethlehem haste, to the manger so small,
God’s son for a gift has been sent you this night
To be your redeemer, your joy and delight.

from the Christmas carol, “O Come, Little Children”

Categories: Christianity, Psychology | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Defeated or Devotional

The semifinalist list for Operation First Novel 2013, a writing contest sponsored by The Christian Writers Guild, came out this week. I was not on the list.

After the hot flush of disappointment and disbelief subsided, (I wanted it so badly!), my next thought was, “OK, Lord, now what?”

It’s no good pouting—that’s not going to get my novel published—so I might as well learn from this experience and move on.

I’m galvanized to action. There are agents to query, another Christian writers organization to join, another contest to enter. More revisions.

This rejection comes at just the time when my Facebook page has taken a turn that’s amazed me. Like Henry Blackaby says, “Look what God is doing and join Him.” There are women joining who live in “closed countries.” That’s thrilling!

So is this contest rejection a defeat?

NO!

It’s a devotional.

From the beginning I’ve said, if God is in this writing endeavor, it will be what He wants it to be. But that also means I have to learn the lessons He sets before me and not mess it up. He can, after all, find other vessels to use.

Two scriptures light my path right now, both given to me by friends.

May He grant you according to your heart’s desire,
And fulfill all your purpose. Psalm 20:4

A bruised reed he will not break… Isaiah 42:3

Oh, I cling to the idea of being granted my heart’s desire, but I know that doesn’t mean getting what I want. The more I align my heart’s desire with His heart’s desire, the closer I’ll come to fulfilling my purpose for Him.

And this bruise to my ego and my desires is really nothing in the scheme of things. The Isaiah verse was poured like balm over me by a family friend who prayed my family through the deepest of deep hurts. The Lord will not break me. Or you.

Would you like to share scripture verses that have encouraged you when you stood on the cliff of disappointment?

Categories: Christianity, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

American Road Trip West, Part 9

The road home—the Beartooth Highway in southern Montana and Highway 14A in the Bighorns of Wyoming.

Looking back at the Absaroka Range from the Beartooth Mountains.

Looking back at the Absaroka Range from the Beartooth Mountains.

Pictures don’t capture the majesty of these mountains.

Chalk Bute overlooking Beartooth Lake in the Beartooths.

Chalk Bute reflected in Beartooth Lake in the Beartooths.

Nor do they capture the gut-clutching, death-defying, close-your-eyes-and-trust-your-driver feelings.

The Beartooth Highway— 8% grade—15 mph hairpin turns! Hair-raising!

The Beartooth Highway— 8% grade—15 mph hairpin turns! Note the “guard rails”—I almost laughed.

Fortunately, there are places to pull in, catch your breath, and stand and gawk at the grandeur.

The Beartooth Pass elevation is 10,947 ft (3,337 m).

The Beartooth Pass elevation is 10,947 ft (3,337 m). See the ribbon of road below?

Then on we drove to the northern route over the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming. And I thought the Beartooth Highway was nerve-wracking! I don’t have many pictures of this route because I was busy coping!

The grade here is 10-11%. Breath-taking is a good description! That’s usually a good thing, but on occasion I didn’t want to give up my breath! (Lots of exclamation points here, you’ll notice.) I almost kissed the flat ground when we got down. And I swore off ever driving in the mountains again unless it was in Glacier Park’s little red busses.

Looking out at the vastness of Wyoming from the northern Bighorns.

Looking out at the vastness of Wyoming from the northern Bighorns. This doesn’t look very high up, but trust me, it is!

In hindsight, when I had recovered and was relaxing at the Occidental Hotel in Buffalo, listening to a cowboy band, I thought of this day as one of the best mountain days I’d ever had. Thanks to my husband for doing the mountain driving, or I never would have had the experience.

Here ends my travelogue of our Great American Road Trip West; the harsh beauty of the West is a wonder to me; the indomitable spirit of the pioneers inspires me; and the enduring evidence of strife between peoples in our country saddens me.

Like Dorothy who stared in astonishment at Munchkinland and said, “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas,” the US is a whole of so many vastly different parts. Going from the Midwest to the West is like going from to Mars to Jupiter. Pictures and words absolutely do not convey the feel of the varied beauty of our country. Go see it for yourself.

Speaking of our country…

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Categories: Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

American Road Trip West, Part 8

Horseback riding in the Absaroka Mountains of Montana (pronounced Ab-sor’-ka). I’ve been looking forward to writing this post.

The Skyline Guest Ranch is three miles east of Cooke City, on Highway 212. A  log structure purpose-built as a bed and breakfast out of timber salvaged from the Yellowstone burn of 1988, Skyline hosts guests who want to run around the mountains by various means and for various purposes—horseback riding, snowmobiling, fly-fishing, hunting, backcountry camping—or guests who want to sit on the porch and enjoy the view.

Skyline Guest Ranch, Cooke City, Montana

Skyline Guest Ranch, Cooke City, Montana

Our purpose was to ride in the Rockies. This is the way to see the mountains: from the back of a horse!

Say ahhhhh!

Say ahhhhh!

Wrangler Rob, on his trusty steed Sue (a gelding), led us up and down, through the forest, and over rocks—for two hours.

Rob on Sue

Rob on Sue

Dave and I are seasoned riders, though out of practice for many years. I don’t know how rookies do this! Not that I want to deter you if you’ve never ridden a horse and you’re burning to try it in the Rockies. Just a caution: don’t panic. The horse knows what he’s doing, even if you don’t.

Here we are close to the turn-around point. As you can see from my right hand, I wasn’t altogether relaxed! It wasn’t a sheer drop to my left, but it was pretty steep and a long way down. But I was having a blast!

Turn around HERE?!

Turn around HERE?!

To give you an idea of how steep it was, to take this picture Rob had to dismount on the right and crouch on the mountainside, then remount on the right because it wasn’t safe to mount on the left, the side from which you always get on a horse.

Shortly after Rob took this photo, he said, “Do you want to turn around here? or where it’s wider?” “Here” was the width of a horse, with DOWN to the left. So I said, “Wider.” Duh! Well…”wider” was two horse-widths! Our horses had the maneuver done before I had time to freak out.

An afternoon shower on the way back did nothing to dampen our enjoyment of our ride in the mountains. We were just glad we were off the rocks by the time it started raining, not that slippery rocks would have bothered Mason and Rodman.

Now, when I’m lounging at home, drinking my morning coffee, my mind often wanders back to this ride. It was great! No, more than great—it was one of those lifetime greats.

If you go to the Skyline Guest Ranch, these guys await you.

The herd at Skyline Guest Ranch.

The herd at Skyline Guest Ranch.

Categories: Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.