Free as the Wind

Monday, June 27, 2011

In former times, boaters relied on the wind to get them where they were going.

Some of us still do.

The sailboats were out in force on Sunday, and we were among them. But even though the weather was perfect, the motorboats were absent. I think I saw one for every five or six sailboats.

With the high price of gas, many people at our marina use their motorboats as summer homes but rarely go out on the water. One October a few years back, we filled our tank to replace the four gallons we had used getting into and out of the marina during the season. At the next pump, a man with a fancy motorboat watched the numbers rise into the hundreds of dollars.

Sailors don't understand motorboaters any more than Cubs fans understand White Sox fans, and vice versa.

It's the difference between a slow but peaceful ride and a fast but noisy one, and between an afternoon on the lake and an afternoon at the dock.

It may take us longer to get somewhere, but at least we go.

Because our fuel is free.

An Empty Nest for Father's Day

Monday, June 20, 2011

Roland and I have always wanted to be empty nesters.

It isn't that we don't love our children or wanted them to leave before they graduated from high school. (Although there were times during their terrible twos and pre-teen years when I was tempted.) But empty-nesting has always been our long-term goal.

My parents raised their children to follow Christ, but their secondary goal was to make us independent of everyone except God. That's what Roland and I want for our children, too, and we worked toward those goals from the beginning.

There were times when I wondered if we were too successful in reaching the second goal. Caroline was six or seven when she went to camp for the first time, and the weekend wasn't long enough for her. When I arrived to pick her up, she didn't want to leave. I didn't know whether to be hurt that my daughter didn't need me or to rejoice that she was learning to be independent.

(Apparently Caroline knew best. She returned to Camp Lutherhaven year after year and met her husband while they were both counselors there.)

John is different. Although he went to camp and on youth trips, he was less adventuresome than Caroline. I guess we shouldn't have been surprised when he returned home, but that wasn't our goal.

So Roland and I were happy when John joined the Navy. Maybe this time it will stick.

Because we really want to be empty nesters.

Climb Every Mountain

Monday, June 13, 2011

John W. Campbell, the editor of a well-known science fiction magazine, said, "The reason 99% of all stories written are not bought by editors is very simple. Editors never buy manuscripts that are left on the closet shelf at home."

I was reminded of the Campbell quote last month when I overheard an editor at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. She said that most of the people she asks to send her a proposal never do: a comment I have heard many times at writers conferences.

It's so hard to find a publisher who will even unlock the door, so why would a writer stay outside after a publisher has opened it? Fear of failure--or of success. Or the writer doesn't believe the publisher really meant it.

That's what happened at my first writers' conference in 2004. An editor from The War Cry read the article I handed him, handed it back, and said, "Send me a copy and I'll publish it." As I walked away, I thought, "He wanted to be nice, but he doesn't really mean what he said."

I sent the article in anyway, and he did mean it. Because I took the chance, I sold my first article and got a check for $117.

Ever since, if an editor tells me to send in an article or devotion or book proposal, I do it immediately upon returning home from the conference. (Well, not until after I kiss my husband.)

Do editors always mean it? Some may not, but I don't know until I try. That's what Mother Superior meant when she told Maria to "Climb Every Mountain."*

There's a mountain waiting for you.

Go climb it.
* From The Sound of Music.

D-Day: Death and Deliverance

Monday, June 6, 2011

June 6, 1944. Allied forces landed in Normandy in a surprise invasion (surprise as to location more than timing). Nearly 10,000 Allied servicemen died in the invasion, but it eventually led to the defeat of the Germans and the deliverance of Europe. And no, the D in D-Day doesn't stand for death or defeat or deliverance. It simply means the day chosen to begin the offensive.

June 2, 2011. (Or fill in the date when your Christian loved one died.) D-Day of another kind. Death and deliverance for a good friend after a long battle with cancer.

When Vacation Bible School starts later this month, it will be the first time in thirty years that Alice hasn't been at the helm. She will also leave a void among the participants in the annual church-sponsored mission trip to teach VBS at Native American villages in Alaska. And I have a hard time realizing that Alice won't be sitting next to me when choir starts up again in the fall. We will all miss her terribly.

June 2, 2011 was the day God chose to defeat Alice's cancer. She no longer lives with the pain and fear it brought. More importantly, everyone who knew her knows that she is worshiping God in heaven, more alive than she ever was during her temporary stay on this earth.

To Don, Mary, and Martha: you will miss your wife and mother terribly at times, and I pray that God comforts you in your loss. But Alice's death was also her deliverance.

For Christians, that's the best news of all.