Autumn in the Mountains

dsc_2541Fall is a great time of year–and not just because my birthday (pardon the pun)  falls on one of the first days of autumn.

While those fallen leaves are a nuisance for people who have trees in their yard–worse still, when the leaves come from neighbors’ trees–and have to rake them, there’s no question of the beauty of their colors. And nowhere is that more apparent than in the mountains of North Carolina.

But “Autumn in the Mountains” has a second meaning in North Carolina. One that’s special for me and a number of other people. It’s a retreat for Christian novelists.

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I just got home a couple of days ago, and I’m still glowing. We had great speakers and teachers; Steven James blew everyone away, as he always does. We had the chance to talk personally with some of our favorite authors–like DiAnn Mills. We also watched a great new movie, Heaven Bound that was co-written, co-produced, and co-starring our favorite funny faculty member, Torry Martin. That movie hasn’t even been released yet.

Colorful autumn leaves.

And we began each session with uplifting worship. Whether through music led by Janet Roller or a devotional by Debbie Presnell, we couldn’t help feeling we’d spent time with the Lord.

More autumn leaves.

And let me not fail to mention the wonderful fellowship among the conferees themselves. Although we had a lot of new ones this year, this is always a great place to reconnect with friends from all over the country. One thing non-Christians might find hard to believe is the way Christian authors support one another, even though in theory we’re competitors.

Those folks were among the most colorful of those autumn leaves.

Oh, and the food was pretty good, too, even though my gall bladder, which comes out this week, kept me from going whole-hog the way I usually do at these conferences.

Because this conference is limited to fifty attendees, it’s a very intimate time. Unlike its “big sister,” the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, in May, everything except meals takes place in Mountain Laurel, a small hotel with meeting rooms and a cozy auditorium. I can’t exaggerate what this conference has done to rejuvenate my enthusiasm for writing.

But you know what?

I couldn’t ignore the other kind of Autumn in the Mountains while I was there. The kind with all types of literal colorful leaves. I took several walks in the Prayer Garden and on the Nature Trail, where the fallen leaves were so thick it was hard to tell exactly where the trail was at times.

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Autumn is one of God’s most special creations. Especially in the mountains of North Carolina.

What about you? Do you like fall or is the approach of colder weather unappealing? Or does raking those leaves detract from your enjoyment of their beauty? How about leaving (leafing?) a comment?

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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Links you might be interested in:

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

Best regards,
Roger

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Happy to Be Me

At sixty-eight, I’m finally learning not just to be satisfied with the way God made me, but to be happy about it. He’s the Master and I’m the clay. He wouldn’t have let me turn out to be anything less than He’d intended—not as long as I was trying to follow His will. Of course, He had to keep smushing me together and remolding me during the process to make sure I turned out right.

Sure, I’d love to have been better looking. And to have had more hair. I couldn’t even have a Beatle-ish hair style in high school when the Fab Four first came to the United States to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show; my hair just didn’t grow prolifically in the right places. For that matter, what if He’d given me a body that stayed permanently trim—no matter how much food I ate or what kind.

And a lot more energy. When friends at a summer job nicknamed me Flash, it wasn’t because I was serving as the staff photographer. I was slow then, and I haven’t gotten any faster. “Hurry” isn’t in my dictionary.

Okay. Those things weren’t in God’s plan for me. But how could I miss something I’ve never had?

What if He’d led me to the perfect vocation right after college instead of taking me through six-plus years of teaching junior high English, ten years of helping economically disadvantaged folks find appropriate federally funded training, and almost nineteen years of computer programming?

Of course, I’d thought the programming was the vocation He’d been leading me to all along. Only when I was downsized unexpectedly did I realize I’d grown weary of keeping up with the changes in information technology. But He knew that would happen.

That downsizing led to a temporary at-home job, and when that ended it led to a part-time job at Target for three years. And it was during that time that I had both the time and the inclination to write my first novel. The first of eleven so far.

What? Did God have that in mind the whole time?

I believe He did. Looking back on various parts of my life—and the characteristics that make me me—I can see His hand placing those puzzle pieces on the board. They’re making more sense than ever. And I’m starting to appreciate the fact that I’m the me I am.

What about you? Do you like being who you are? What would you change if you could, and why do you think that would be important? Have you finished becoming the person God wants you to be? Please leave a comment.

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

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My latest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out. If you’re interested, please check it out at Amazon.

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Best regards,
Roger