Back from Vacation

It’s Sunday morning, and I’m writing this post before leaving for church in the hopes it won’t be too late.

Kathleen and I just got back last night from our week at the Isles of Capri, Florida. There we spent time with Kathleen’s single daughter, her younger daughter (with hubby and toddler), and my daughter (with her hubby and two kids, one of whom is still a todler). This trip had been in the planning stages for close to a year. We rented a huge beach house, where each of the four family groups had a separate bedroom and bathroom. This is the house.

And this is all of us.

Although the weather had threatened to be rainy all week, that prediction proved pleasantly inaccurate for the greater part. Although we enjoyed trips to the beach, we spent a lot of time at the house playing Uno and Five Crowns and in the pool. You may not realize this, but pools in Florida are typically totally enclosed and screened in. Unfortunately that didn’t keep the NoSeeUms from feasting on us the first day; I’m still covered with bite marks.

     

Although we opted not to rent a boat, our house backed up to a canal that was perfect for fishing. It had been years since I last fished, but I loved it. Especially the day I caught three catfish. We always threw the fish back, though.

We had our meals all planned out, with each family unit responsible for one dinner. I couldn’t count the number of runs we made to Marco Island (about three miles) to pick up additional food from the nearest Publix grocery store.

Kathleen and I did a few activities on our own. We ate breakfast out three times at this place, BREAKFAST & MORE. After eating there the first time, we didn’t want to go anywhere else.

Our biggest adventure was a trip to the Everglades, where we went on two air boat rides and a swamp buggy ride. To say the least, we learned a lot about the Everglades during the five hours we spent there. Did you know the Everglades is the only place in America that has both alligators and crocodiles? That’s because fresh and salt water come together in certain areas.

          

I could go on and on, but I think I’ve said enough for today. As so often happens, I served as the resident photographer of our family get together–I failed to mention earlier that we came from Richmond, Virginia; Las Vegas; New York City; and Orlando–and I spent a lot of my time editing pictures with the Affinity Photo software I’d bought just a few days before heading south.

Comments are welcome.

 

    

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Best regards,
Roger

In Transit

Hmm. What’s a guy to write a blog post about when he’s sitting in the Atlanta airport waiting for his connecting flight to Fort Myers, Florida?

It’s been a long day, even though only a little over an hour of it has been spent in the air. We had the alarm set for 5:30, but both of us were awake at least ten minutes before that and went ahead and got up.

Nobody was going to bother with showering today. Not before reaching our destination, anyhow. We were on our way to the Richmond airport by 6:00. It’s less than twenty-five miles, and we’re less than a mile from Rt. 95, and from there we turn off almost immediately on 295. In short, we were there in no time.

At least we would’ve been, but since we were hungry and running ahead of schedule, we stopped first at Hardee’s to eat.

Checking in online is great. Although the bag drop line was fairly long, it moved rapidly. On to security. Not a problem. The last few times we’ve flown, we’ve been TSA pre-checked or whatever they call it. We’re obviously not terrorists.

So we found our gate, and I started reading a novel on my Kindle. I’d just started it the day before, but it was fast moving. Especially when I found myself skipping unnecessary paragraphs. I’d read several books by this author, but found this one only vaguely intriguing. I’d do him a favor by not writing a three-star review.

So here I am in Atlanta. I’ve finished my lunch–the grilled chicken sandwich could’ve used LOTS of mustard, but the fries were great. I decided it was time to write something for my weekly post, and this is it.

I’m curious. Which would you have preferred, an account of my acceptably tame day (so far) or no post at all this Sunday? You won’t hurt my feelings, I can assure you.

     

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

If History Should Happen to Repeat Itself

Right now I’m about a third of the way through a novel by my friend Ann Tatlock. ALL THE WAY HOME is a historical novel, and the fact that I’m reading it says a lot about Ann’s writing; I ordinarily avoid historical novels at any cost. But this one sparked my interest in a special way.

This novel is about a young girl, Augie, whose home situation is so undesirable that she hangs out as much as she can with Sunny, a schoolmate she became friends with at the park. Over time, Augie becomes more and more a part of Sunny’s family. Sunny’s parents do  everything short of legally adopting Augie.

An interesting story? Of course it is.

But when you put the story in its historical context, it becomes more than simply interesting. Sunny and her parents are Japanese-American. Genuine flag-waving American  citizens.

And the setting makes this story even more intriguing. It starts prior to the beginning of Word War II, when Augie thinks the Japanese are the greatest people on the face of the earth. She thinks of herself as Japanese and wishes she was Japanese, too.

But then the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and the United States enters the war against Japan, and Augie and Sunny can’t really understand why things are the way they are. Especially the fact that seemingly all non-Japanese-Americans turn their backs in fear on their Japanese fellow citizens and make hatred the byword of the day. Sunny’s family sees the possibility of being moved to an internment camp as a real possibility.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten. I foresee Augie’s Japanese family being sent to an internment camp and Augie wishing she could go, too. Perhaps she even tries to. I don’t know.

Because I’ve gotten so caught up in loving and sympathizing with those two girls and Sunny’s Japanese family, it’s hard for me to keep reading. I’m not sure I want to see what they must go through.

Looking back on that period in American history, I’ll bet most people today would insist that the internment camps of yesteryear wouldn’t happen today. I hope they’re right.

But we’re facing a similar situation regarding Islam. Because of the Muslims who are unquestionably our enemies, some people are tempted to view all Muslims the same way.

Can you blame them? How many of the Islamic terrorists who’ve wrought havoc in America were described by former neighbors as kind, friendly people? How can we tell who’s dangerous and who’s not? How many criminals look like criminals, anyhow?

I’m on President Trump’s side in restricting immigration from Islamic countries, at least for a while. I think liberals who claim that Muslims are being discriminated against because of their religion are forgetting one thing: those potential immigrants are not U.S. citizens; does the Constitution actually give them the rights citizens should have? And those same liberals appear to have no objections to discriminating against American citizens who are Christians.

Even if President Trump can keep potential terrorists out of the country, that doesn’t change the fact that we already have a number of terrorists living here, just waiting for the right chance to strike.

What I’m afraid of is that genuinely peace-loving Muslims who’ve already become American citizens and have begun making a positive contribution to their new country’s welfare may have to pay the price for the Muslims who believe in jihad.

The relatively small acts of terrorism we’ve seen since 9/11 have been bad enough, but what will Americans’ attitudes be if the jihadists carry out another 9/11 attack–or something even worse? In our fear and our inability to tell who’s who, will we treat all Muslims the way Americans’ treated Japanese-American citizens during Word War II?

I pray that we don’t. And that we won’t separate two cute little girlfriends–one Christian, the other Muslim–because of our fear and resentment.

I’d appreciate your comments on this post.

 


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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

The Beauty of the Neglected

 

 

I’ll be honest, as I usually am when talking about my shortcomings. My wife and I aren’t as conscientious as gardeners as we are about keeping the house clean and tidy.

We have friends in Australia who have a backyard full of beautiful roses. I don’t have any doubt that Merilyn does everything she needs to do to assure having the maximum number of healthy-looking flowers on every bush. Her efforts pay off.

We, on the other hand, planted two rose bushes some years back. One on either side of the ramp leading into the shed. The first year–maybe the second as well–we fertilized or whatever we were supposed to do to baby our bushes. The results were satisfactory, as best I can recall.

But the bushes themselves weren’t growing, and–frankly–I’d planted them where it was hard to mow between the bushes and the shed and between the ramp and the bushes. Despite my best efforts at being careful, I finally mowed one bush down; there hadn’t been enough of it left for me to tell the difference, anyhow.

As tempted as I was to cut down or pull up the other bush, I couldn’t. It periodically had some really beautiful flowers. And strangely enough, that bush seemed to bloom best when the weather was cold enough we didn’t really expect a rose bush to bear flowers. But the picture above was taken several months ago–before the weather started turning warmer.

And this picture was taken in December of last year! Definitely NOT warm weather.

Amazing what God can do with neglected things as He makes them beautiful in His own way and His own time!

At a recent writers conference in North Carolina, I couldn’t help noticing these dead flowers outside the dining hall. Not as beautiful as they had been in life, I’m sure, and yet amazingly beautiful in their own way even lying on the pavement neglected in death, waiting for someone to sweep them up and throw them away.

God is the all-time expert at making all things beautiful, even in death. How thankful I am that He’s continuing to work on me before I reach that point in time!

How about leaving a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

I’ll be back again on Sunday. Better still, go to “Follow Blog via Email” and sign up to get each of my weekly posts.

Best regards,
Roger

      

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Passing by Home?

In my novel ROSA NO-NAME, the lead character ponders several times about what “home” is. In regard to the title of this post, I might be pondering that same thing myself.

When I was a kid, from approximately eight to twelve, I lived in Durham, North Carolina. It never felt like home because I’d had to leave the only home I’d ever known when my parents and I lived in Farmville, Virginia. So, when we later moved to Norfolk, it was a relief.

My wife and I drove back yesterday from the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in western North Carolina. Just as we’d done going to the conference, we skirted Durham on Rt. 85. I usually just casually think, “I used to live here,” but yesterday I started remembering some of the things I hadn’t thought about in years.

Even at that early age, Duke University played a role in my life. My father used to take me to a barbershop at Duke for our hair cuts. No idea why. I remember a fountain outside that building, one that we could frequently see a rainbow inside or through. (Okay, so I’m a little hazy on details.)

Although I wasn’t big on admiring flowers, my parents liked to visit the extensive gardens at Duke, and even though I wasn’t very interested in Handel’s MESSIAH then–I’d love to go back to that now–they took me to a presentation of that work every year. I may not remember the music, but I recall being fascinated with those huge columns inside the Chapel.

I recall walking to my elementary school and passing by a little neighborhood store–anybody remember when there were still a number of those around? I recall one day when a bigger kid across the street from me yelled an obscenity at me. I was too naive to know what he was talking about.

I can’t forget how big a part tobacco played in Durham. Our next-door neighbor even used it to fertilize his lawn. Although I think unsmoked tobacco sometimes has a pleasant smell, I hated playing outside and having to smell that every day.

Speaking of tobacco, one of our church members gave my father and me tickets to attend some very special, tobacco-related yearly show. The actor who played Joe Friday’s sidekick on Dragnet was an entertainer that year. I had to ask my father the meaning of a vulgar joke he told.

Durham wasn’t all bad. The problem was my inability at that stage of my life to adjust. Being put on the safety patrol and going with that group to Washington, DC, were two of the better parts of my life there.

Home, though? It still didn’t seem like it. Would I like to go back and visit sometime? Maybe. If I can forget the worst of the past.

Thanks for letting me journey a bit through the past today. If you have comments, I’d love to have you share them.

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

What’s He Dreaming About?

I’ve been to Australia more times than I can count, starting with my first mission trip in 1991. Although I’ve been back for a family vacation and also to teach an all-day seminar at a computer users symposium, most of my trips have been mission-related. I’ve spent most of my time in the Sydney area, but have also visited Melbourne, Toowoomba, Port Douglas, and Hervey Bay. Plus a few places I’ve forgotten the names of.

My closest Australian friends lived in or near Sydney, however, and I always managed to visit them for a day or two no matter where I’d spent most of my time. And I always enjoyed two special activities–visiting the harbor and the Opera House and walking around Featherdale Wildlife Park.

I never tired of seeing and even getting to pet koalas. Because of those VERY sharp claws, I was limited to contact with one that was safely situated on a fence or in the crook of a low tree branch. Once I held a toy koala that the real one was safely holding onto.

That fur isn’t soft the way you might expect, by the way. Very disappointing.

But koalas themselves aren’t disappointing. Not unless you expect them to DO something. Even though I once got a video of a koala jumping from one tree to another and running around on the ground, most of the ones I saw were perched soundly in a eucalyptus tree, like this one pictured in the poster hanging on my living room wall.

  

This particular picture has always been one of my favorites. Why would I hang it in the living room, otherwise?

It’s fun to look at him (could be a her; I don’t know) and speculate. Is he asleep? If so, is he dreaming about something nice and quiet? Or is he actually thinking…to whatever degree koalas are capable of thought?

No way to be sure, of course, but I’ve always looked at the fellow from a different perspective. That’s why I call this picture “Praying Koala.”

Okay, so maybe koalas don’t have the same relationship with God we Christians do, but they’re just as much God’s creations as we humans are. So who’s to say he’s not praying?

What do you think? How about leaving a comment?

 

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

A Publishing God-Thing

I’m not inclined to believe in coincidences. I DO believe God sometimes works circumstances out in ways that may SEEM coincidental, however.

First a little back story. On February 17, I received a letter from Barbour Publishing. Barbour was the company that had published my first two books, FOUND IN TRANSLATION and LOST IN DREAMS. Wonderful folks to deal with. I had (and have) nothing but good to say about them.

Nonetheless, they were writing to tell me that not only were those books officially out-of-print, but they were reverting the rights to them back to me. I was free to do anything I wanted with them, including finding a publisher who’d be willing be re-release them.

None of that was bad news in and of itself. But it was HORRIBLE timing. I was just a month or so away from releasing my self-published ROSA NO-NAME, which I’d written ten years earlier as a prequel to FOUND IN TRANSLATION, and I’d been counting on ROSA and FOUND to promote one another. Although either book can be read first, each one is apt to make the reader interested in reading the other one.

Amazon still had a few print copies, but Barbour had Amazon remove the Kindle versions almost immediately. What was going to happen to my mutual promotion plans? Yes, I could self-publish those books, but I didn’t have any money left for professional cover design or editing after having those things done for ROSA. And preparing for ROSA’s release would’ve made it impossible for me to do that any time soon anyhow.

A VERY short time later, I responded to something I’d read on an email loop I belong to. Although my response had nothing to do with my out-of-print books, I “just happened” to mention my situation to the lady I was responding to. When she responded, she recommended her small publisher, Take Me Away Books.

Wow! Godsend idea or what? But I didn’t have time to get in touch with that publisher. I intended to when I had more time, however.

Just a few weeks later I was emailing this same author. But I had forgotten about telling her my problem. Whether she forgot about recommending her publisher earlier or not, I can’t say, but she recommended Take Me Away books all over again.

Okay, Lord! You don’t need to hit me in the head with a Bible.  I’m paying attention now. This is Your idea. It’s NOT a coincidence.

So on April 2 I emailed the owner of the publishing company–at least I think she’s the owner–and on April 5 she offered me a contract not only to republish FOUND IN TRANSLATION and LOST IN DREAMS, but also OVERSHADOWED, my intended third book in the Altered Hearts series that had been completed but not published and THE FLOWERS OF HIS FIELD (tentative title), the still-unwritten final book in the series.

After praying with my wife about it, we felt this was God’s answer. How could we question the “coincidence” of the twin recommendations of this publisher, the coincidence that wasn’t one?

My publisher works uber-fast. By the end of last week, FOUND IN TRANSLATION was available on Kindle again with a different cover, one Kathleen and I found and recommended as a really suitable cover image. Just a few days later, LOST IN DREAMS, which we’d requested to be renamed as A SEASON OF PEBBLES, was available on Kindle.

I’m currently editing and revising OVERSHADOWED with the intention of having it to her by the end of this week. That means it’ll be available on Kindle within a few days of the following week. (Print versions of these books will be available, too, but not as quickly.)

Some things in life may appear to be coincidences, but this whole story was a “Publishing God-Thing” and NOT a coincidence for sure.

Has anything happened in your life that might seem coincidental to others but you attribute to God’s working? How about sharing a comment?

 


         

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger