When I meet people I am often greeted with the words, "Bless you" or "God bless you." My response is always the same. I say, "He already has."
I have been blessed above and beyond anything I could have imagined or expected. I could never have dreamed when I first rented that typewriter that my books would top the bestseller lists. Who could have guessed that one day movies, let alone an entire television series, would be produced from my stories. All of that was beyond the scope of my imagination.
God has blessed me and the work of my hands and I don't ever want to forget that, or fail to give the credit back to Him.
Today is special. It's the one day in the year that Americans set aside to thank those who served or are currently serving in our military.
My father, along with my uncles from both sides of the family, fought in WWII. My mom and aunts built ships. My mother, whose name was Rose, was an original “Rosie the Riveter.” And later our son, Ted, served as an Airborne Ranger with the U.S. Army. My family's roots run deep with military service, and we have gratefully served the nation we love.
This last Sunday our family was privileged to host a member of our military at the Seahawk game against the New York Giants. Meet Sergeant Snyder, and today of all days let your flag wave in appreciation to all those who serve.
This morning I'm grateful for the gift of laughter.
Having run out of room in my prayer journal, I went in search of another. I keep several blank ones in my bookshelves for just such an occasion, however, the one I chose this morning was a journal I'd started back in the year 2000 when the grandkids were young. I'd written down some of the funny things they said and found myself laughing out loud. Here are a couple of examples:
Maddy--age 3. We were having a family potluck and the table was overflowing with a wide variety of dishes. Maddy looked at the table and declared, "Tonight we feast."
Carter--age 3. It was my birthday and I asked him to guess how old I was. Carter thought long and hard and came up with the biggest number he could imagine. "Five."
James--age 8. His classroom had been vandalized and he was upset enough to write a story in which he was instrumental in capturing the culprits. The last line of his story was, "And when they got out of jail, they were too old for bingo."
About 20 years ago I started a gratitude journal in which I write down five things I'm grateful for each morning. I find that starting my day with an attitude of gratitude sets my thoughts on a positive path. Thinking about all that I have to be grateful for fills my heart with joy and sets the course for my writing day. I’d like to share with you today’s list:
- Swimming--there's little that gets me going in the morning more than the smell of chlorine and my half mile swim in the water.
- High School friends (Cherie and I graduated from high school together. We’re having lunch today and I am so grateful we reconnected.)
- The Seahawk win.
- My daughter Jody (Jody worked a 14-hour day on Saturday at the gift shop with two special events.)
- The book of Acts (I'm reading the New Testament and am inspired by the faith of those first century Christians.)
Happy Halloween! As far as I'm concerned, this holiday is all about costumes, candy and pumpkins. We live at the end of a long driveway that's gated, so we don't get trick-or-treaters -- well, other than family. From sheer force of habit I continue to set out a bowl of candy, although it disappears much faster than it should.
My personal favorite costume happened when I was big and pregnant with one of our kids. We attended our church Halloween party and because I was pregnant, I had limited options. So I wore my bridal veil and Wayne came dressed in overalls carting a toy shotgun. Shotgun wedding!
I'm a pumpkin sort of girl. Pumpkins symbolize autumn to me: the turning leaves, bundling up in a warm sweater, knitting and football.
I wait all year for Starbucks to bring back their pumpkin spice lattes and for pumpkin pie to be in vogue again. Truth is I'm a sucker for all squash (Okay it might have something to do with the melting butter and an unhealthy dose of salt and pepper). I enjoy sharing my passion for pumpkin with my grandkids too. We plant pumpkin seeds every year which net enough pumpkins for each grandchild. So bring on the pumpkins!
Recently I shared this delicious recipe for a pumpkin pie latte on Facebook. If you missed it, here it is again: http://www.atthepicketfence.com/2012/10/thanksgiving-pumpkin-pie-latte.html
My granddaughter Maddy and I share a birthday. Maddy is by far the best birthday gift of my life. The day she was born I was so excited I actually missed her birth! My daughter phoned to tell me she was in labor and I needed to get to the hospital if I wanted to be there when the baby was born. Overjoyed, I rushed out but remembered I had a nail appointment. So I stopped to cancel and let everyone in the shop--okay the entire complex--know I was having a grandchild on my birthday. Back in my car, I passed the bank where one of my best friends worked and I couldn't possibly not tell her, so again I stopped. Who wouldn't be thrilled? In retrospect, perhaps I should have redirected my excitement to getting to the hospital instead of stopping to tell everyone I knew!
I consider my readers my friends. Most every reader comments that they feel like they know me. The astonishing part is that you do know me. If you read my books, you know my heart, you know what's most important to me. I know that if I cry when writing a scene, you'll weep too. If I laugh, you'll laugh, and if I put my heart out on the page, it connects with yours. There's an invisible connection between us that links your heart with mine and to me that's a gift God has given me through you.
For those of you who have heard me tell the story of my first book sale, you'll immediately recognize that selling Heartsong had God's fingerprints all over it. Just a month earlier I'd received a devastating rejection from an editor I'd met at a writer's conference. She'd reviewed my proposal and had nothing good to say about it. I asked if she would read it again if I rewrote the story. She looked me directly in the eye and told me that no amount of rewriting would ever make this book worthy of print and that the best thing I could do was toss it in the garbage.
I loved this story. Without question there was room for me to grow as a writer (there still is!) but the gift God gave me is that of a storyteller. I refused to believe her and so I sent off a query letter to a different publisher. Then every day I waited for a response. One day, I could not stand to wait any longer. I didn't care if New York wanted to read that manuscript or not, I was mailing it off! I loaded the kids in the car and headed to the post office.
When we returned, I found the answer to my query letter in the mail. The editor had taken a Sharpie pen and written across the top in big black letters: DO NOT MAIL US YOUR MANUSCRIPT, WE ARE NOT BUYING AT THIS TIME. Three weeks later she called and purchased the book. If I had waited a half hour I would never have mailed off that manuscript.
I’ll always remember that day and am grateful every time I see God’s fingerprints on my life and the lives of others.
I think Alaska is one of the most romantic settings for a novel, which explains why I've used that locale a number of times through the years. Wayne and I have had the opportunity to travel to the Arctic Circle and to several of the major cities in Alaska, and we've enjoyed every minute and every adventure. And yes there have been adventures... some quite hilarious and others less so. I< >have incorporated a good many into my stories. Of all the books I've written using Alaska as a back drop, I believe Starry Night is probably one of the most romantic. For those familiar with my Midnight Sons series, you might even recognize a character or two in Starry Night. Starry Night was released for the first time in hardcover last October and was released this week for the first time in paperback.