Wednesday, March 27, 2019

"Please God, Give Me Patience...RIGHT NOW!"

Patience...not always my strong suit.

My second novel, Libby’s Cuppa Joe, released on March 8th. Prior to the release, I began planning a launch for March 16th. If you read last week’s post, “And Then Some” you know the launch was a success. 

A true success. I had ordered books for the event, but ran out quickly.

I'm not worried. I expect a shipment of books from my publisher on Tuesday, March 19th. My team offers people at the book signing to prepay for their copy and I'll hand deliver it to them…or have them over to my house for brunch. 

It’s a plan. 

I have a tracking number for my books. The expected arrival is March 19th.” Just as I was told. Good.

March 19 comes. And goes.
So does March 20th. And the 21st

I check my tracking number again. My books are in a “facility” in Los Angeles!

Los Angeles! That is like a million miles from Ohio. (Sometimes I may exaggerate a bit…but it feels like a million.)

I pray for God to give me patience.

My box of books sits in the LA facility for SEVEN DAYS. (You see how I use capital letters to demonstrate my prayer for patience has not yet been answered?)

Sunday comes and I have no books to deliver at church. 

The plan for Monday is for me to deliver one of the books to a birthday breakfast. One friend has purchased the book for another friend. How sweet is that? I email the gift-giver and tell her the books have not arrived. We make a “Plan B” and I arrive with a cardstock picture of the book with a personalized birthday message on it. 

Tuesday arrives and I have no books to take with me to Bible study.

Instead I pray again for patience and call the post office.


“Your package will arrive later than expected but is still on its way. It is currently in transit to the next facility.”

It’s already late!

I want to scream….but that is neither productive nor ladylike. I wait for the automated assistant to finish and choose the option to have a real person call me back. The wait time is between 58 and 68 minutes! 

I grit my teeth and pray for patience.

A very sweet woman named Lorie calls from the USPS. 

I start the conversation by telling her I am frustrated and will likely sound it, but it is not with her. I tell her I know this is not her fault and I don’t want her to take my frustration personally.

She asks for my tracking number. This has to be good. A person from the post office surely has the inside scoop. I can hear her punching the numbers in her computer.

She offers the same information I already have. “Your package is in transit,” she says. “It will be late but it is on its way.”

I breathe deep, praying as I do. “Yes. I have that information. What I need to know is when my books will arrive. And it says they’re headed to the next facility. How many facilities will they sit in between LA and Cincinnati?”

I hear a few more clicks. “They’re on a truck,” she tells me. She doesn’t know the route. 

“Is it possible they’ll get off the truck and spend another seven days in another facility?” I ask.

“Let’s pray that doesn’t happen,” she tells me.

And I think she means it. I tell her I’m trusting God in this, but I’ve been a bit impatient. “All in His time,” I say. 

“Sometimes that’s all we can do,” she tells me. “Pray.” She then tells me if the books haven’t arrived by the end of the week I need to call back and have an investigation opened. 

We finish our conversation and she asks me about the book. 

“It’s Christian fiction,” I tell her. I give her the title. 

I tell myself I’m learning to be patient…But in the meantime, I may order a few books on Amazon. Just in case. 


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The "And Then Some" Principle

My youngest daughter lives by the “and then some” principle. Simply put, it is the notion that God loves us so much that He gives us what we need…and then some. We ask for something and He gives it…and then some. 
Oldest Daughter and Youngest Granddaughter
offered total support!

As a parent, I understand reasonable requests and I certainly know there are those times when my own children have been so humble in asking for something, Tom and I wanted to give them more. When we love God and we’re not greedy, He gives us the desires of our hearts…and then some.

I experienced those gifts this past weekend. I planned a launch for my second novel, Libby’s Cuppa Joe. 
It was a difficult time in a sense. It was the first time I would do something like this since Tom died. I prayed to get through it without tears. I prayed for strength. I prayed for people to show up.

This launch wasn’t about me as an author. It wasn’t about the book. It was about taking a step forward. It was about doing God’s will. It was about trust.

My Team: Mom and 2 of My Daughters
But I serve an “and then some God.” 

I prayed to get through it without tears. In fact, the day was filled with laughter. 

I prayed for strength and God gave me a double measure of it. 

I prayed for people to show up. They did. People from all facets of my life: Family, friends, and neighbors. People I knew from schools where I taught, friends from the square dance community, people I know from several churches. Lots of people. 
Early Guests: I sold out of books in minutes!

I wasn’t alone. Not only did guests arrive but my daughters and mother helped me in every area of the event. They worked as a team –a well-oiled machine. You would’ve thought it was their business.

We sold out of Libby’s Cuppa Joe in the first twenty minutes of the two-hour event!

Available on Amazon
Guests paid in advance to receive copies on order. They lingered in the coffee shop. We took pictures and shared stories. And now I am seeing posts on Facebook from those who tell me how much they enjoyed the morning. 

The book is getting great reviews. I’m energized once again to write…To publish… To continue taking those baby steps forward.

And then some.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

A Time For Everything...Turn, Turn, Turn

When I was young…and that seems like yesterday in some ways…there was a popular song performed by a group called the Byrds. Here are some of the lyrics:

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose under heaven 
A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep
To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
and a time to every purpose under heaven
A time to build up and a tiem to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, A time to gather stones together
To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn,turn)
and a time to every purpose under heaven

The song was based on Ecclesiastes 3, verses 1-8. It was a long time before I could read the passage in the Bible without wanting to insert “turn, turn, turn” at the end of each line. 

Longer still before I began to understand the universal and powerful truth in the verses. 

My camper became my writing retreat.
This week I found out that some damage done to my camper is extensive. So extensive it isn’t worth the reapirs. That may not seem like a big thing to most people, but its loss is significant to me in ways most people cannot understand. 

Tom and I bought the camper the summer before he died. We used it three times that summer and the plan was to spend January and February in Naples, Florida during 2015. That much further south than our home in Tampa is warmer that time of year. We’d sold our house in Ohio so we’d be “footloose and fancy free.” It sounded exciting and fun.

We had plans. But as the Bible says…or in this case, as the Byrds sing, there is a time for everything. “A time to be born and a time to die.” Tom’s time to die came in October that same year.

There’s also a time to deal with practical matters. I didn’t know what to do with the camper. I knew I couldn’t haul it anywhere unless I could drive without ever turning right or backing up. I first tried to sell it but that didn’t work out. Then I learned I could have it moved it to a seasonal campground and keep it there, camping in it whenever I wanted.

My "office" at the camper.
So in 2016, my camper was moved to a beautiful campground in Ohio called Pine Cove Campground near Wilmington. I could camp there whenever I liked between April and October. And I did. I could hear Tom’s voice saying, “You should do this! ”Sometimes I camped alone…though in a campground like this one there was always something to do and new friends around. Sometimes my family or friends came to visit. One of my cousins lived near the place where I kept the camper so it turned out to be a wonderful time for us to reconnect. Often, I would go up to the campground that summer and write during the quiet moments when my camping neighbors weren’t there. (Most people use the campground on weekends.) 

That camper served me well. 

I had plans for this summer at the campground. I hadn’t seen many of my fellow campers in a long time. During the second season, I moved into a new house and then turned around and moved to Kosovo. This summer was going to be different. I pictured myself at my little writing retreat churning out new books now that I was writing again.

But then there was damage to the camper. Water got in. Water is not good for campers. The damage was extensive. When the man I called on to make the repairs told me how bad it was, I cried. Right there on the phone. Poor man.

You see, the camper represented a piece of life I’d lost. It represented a connection to Tom and the dreams we shared. But as the song says, “turn, turn, turn.” There is a season for everything and a time I need to turn around and head a different direction. 

My daughter called me on the heels of my learning how extensive the damage was to the camper. She said, ”It served you well during a season of life when you really needed it.”

I halfway expected her to say, “turn, turn, turn” but she didn’t. But I am doing just that. I’m turning a different direction. I’m learning how to make it in this world alone. It’s the season of my life.

Turn, turn, turn…

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Weather Patterns Track Like a Good Novel: Characters Deal with the Storms of Life

February 2019: Florida
Recently, I enjoyed a couple of weeks in Florida I loved the warm weather and was saddened to return to a chilly start to spring in Ohio. I am fascinated by weather patterns.

I tracked last year’s hurricane season with what I’d call “educated interest.” You see, I spent my formative years in Tampa. Hurricanes were a part of life.

Native Floridians and locals, at least those who have lived there for a great while, respect the storms. They are, however less intimidated by hurricanes than people watching from the outside. In fact, I’ve heard old timers say, “The water’s too low. We need a good hurricane.” 

“Northern Transplants” tend to worry over the storms the first year or two, but slowly settle into the rhythm of the season. Shelters are open and full from time-to-time with an array of people making their home in the Sunshine State. Rarely do Snow Birds worry over the storms since they are likely somewhere in Ohio or Michigan during the hurricane season. They’re playing with their grandchildren and watching the weather reports with a sigh and a “glad we’re not there now” attitude.

Spring Has Arrived in Florida
I’ve found this is true in the opposite direction as well. My Florida family will cringe when I mention we have snow. Even the lightest dusting of snow conjures up a blizzard in their minds. They shiver and wonder why anyone would choose to live in the north. 

This year, however, as I watch the weather patterns of summer in the south and winter in the north, it is with a different perspective. I watch as a writer. No, I’m not contemplating a story about natural disasters. 

I have been working on a suspense novel. I have my protagonists, I have an emotionally injured antagonist and a detective working on a missing persons case. I have a plot and a few subplots. I’m throwing some red herrings in here and there to keep the reader wondering who is at risk and who is the culprit. Even I can get lost in the tangle of words and story lines. 

I am busy typing away when I look up at the television weather report. The storm tracking system offers an array of possible scenarios. What catches my attention is the graphic on the news. 

March in Ohio 2019
As I study the image, I realize it is a template of my book. 

The seemingly harmless wind and flurries from the west will likely turn into something frightening and unpredictable. The possibility of power outages in outlying areas, like subplots, leave me like a reader a bit uncomfortable but knowing all will be well in the end. And then there is the sudden drop in temperatures.  I look outside. It is totally calm. Still. Quiet. Safe. I build a fire in the fireplace.

I watch. Nothing happens…until there is one flurry. Then two. I go to sleep under a quilt my grandmother made and wake up to a blanket of white on my lawn. It is March and the snow is not welcome. Much like Florida when the powerful wind…full of rain and the county next door’s stripped shingles and shattered trees move across the state, my heart races and I cry, “Mercy.”

And then…as quickly as it came, it leaves. We pick up our lives (or in this case, the characters in the book), shake off the innocence we once had about the storms of life, and move forward forever changed.

But that’s me. Other people probably just saw a storm.

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