Monday, August 22, 2016

Trading a Backpack for a Suitcase

On my last section hike. Trading in trail runners for high heels
I’m getting ready for another trip – and this time it has nothing to do with a backpack(!) Though I live out of a backpack several months of the year, right now it is my suitcase I am carrying for my next great adventure.

This time I trade in the backpack and trail runners, the convertible pants and rain hat for a suitcase, nice clothes, and the heart of a writer as I prepare to attend the 15th annual ACFW conference in Nashville, Tennessee.

After all, before I really began my backpacking adventures, I was (and still am) a penman of the word.  In fact, 2017 will celebrate 20 years of being a published author that has seen some twenty plus novels and novellas find the printed page to the eyes of eager readers. I did do some day hikes in the old days and nursed a long sought-after goal to one day complete the whole Appalachian Trail (which I did in 2007 and again in 2010-11, both hikes chronicled in my first nonfiction book, Mountains, Madness and Miracles – 4000 Miles Along the Appalachian Trail).  But in the beginning came my fiction work – of which there have been many titles of adventure and romance, but really, seeking God in everyday life to life issues. I draw from experiences and personal issues I have been through to create these stories. I like to weave a tale too that will make readers keep turning the pages rather than close the book on chapter two (which I dislike doing myself when I read a book!)

So this day finds me packing a suitcase as I venture to a writer’s conference to network with fellow authors and talk to editors about future book ideas (of which I always have many!). Just like hiking,
the thrill of writing a good story is a part of me. I don’t want to waste any moment of what I have been given or learned in life’s journey. It’s in that mode of transporting through life’s ups and downs that I can craft a story that speaks to a reader and makes a difference in one’s life as it did in mine.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Hit With the Unexpected

We just got bad news today.

Yes, many times the news comes when you least expect it.

Or maybe we should have been expecting it? Unsure. Our beloved Aussie Shepherd mix, Katie, has not been feeling that great for a few weeks now. She has lost weight and got finicky with her food. she didn't move very well. We thought it was just a phase, maybe old age as she is nearing 12. Things start to slow down.

Then she developed some kind of bad skin infection. We took her in to get it looked at. The vet also found a swollen abdomen.

Blood work followed. Wasn't too bad.

The vet was still concerned and thought we should x ray the abdomen to see what is going on. We had that done today.

The vet quietly ushered me to the very back of the clinic to see the picture. There was Katie's liver on one side, her spleen on the other, and wedged in between them, a large circular thing at least the size of a baseball.

Our dog Katie has a massive tumor encroaching on her liver.

I had a feeling all week Katie was not right, that the news wasn't good, despite the fact her skin was healing from the visit earlier in the week. She is rapidly turning into skin and bones. She has lost her vitality. And now the x ray confirmed it.

We have less than three months with her. Tonight we are very sad. We are going to lose our pup that we actually got off Craiglist back in 2012 from a family that could no longer care for her. When we got her she had full blown Lyme Disease and couldn't run.
Katie camping with us at Myron Glaser Cabin
We got her on treatment for it, and in a few weeks she was running and chasing our blue tick coon, Eve. She went to the beach with us for Christmas. She went camping and even hiked. She loved to sit in her "hole" she carved out of the bank to watch everything going on in the backyard. She likes to sit at my feet. She is ever faithful to be a good watchdog. She is a faithful companion and furry friend with gorgeous black eyes. 

Now we are watching her waste away as the cancer eats her up.

But I'm glad we had this time with her, even for only 4 1/2 years. She is a temporary gift from heaven.

And I just know - all good dogs go to heaven.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Miracle of a Wander

As an author, why don’t I just sit at my comfy desk and simply write books? Why do I feel compelled to go backpacking, sometimes for days or weeks on end? Enduring the hardship and pain of hiking with a backpack,  day after day, sleeping on the hard ground, no showers, with gnats in my ears and
the common things of life a challenge to find.

Why do I do it?

To see miracles.

It’s tough for me sometimes to see the hand of God in my day to day occurrences in my man-made surroundings of home. Oh, I know He is there. I have seen it. But out on a trail, you are vulnerable to everything - from weather to the ability to hike, to finding a space to set up your tent, to the water you need to drink.

Which leads me to my latest miracle on the trip I took this past week. It began with water, which became a challenge to find during a dry spell of weather. I carried a guidebook that told me where the sources might be to fill up my water bottles, but many were dry. We take for granted the water that zooms out of faucets every day yet such a common need at home can get scarce in the wild. And the scarcity of this needed commodity can turn dangerous in hot conditions when heat exhaustion sets in.

So when I came upon a small spring, and not just any spring but one where a hard-working trail
The pipe helped me collect water with ease
volunteer had hiked up a steep trail to insert a pipe so I can get water, I was amazed. In another dry area I found the needed water seeping down a cliff face. I had no idea how to collect it. Until God reminded me of the simple leaf – of which there were many growing nearby, and I used a large leaf as a funnel to shoot the water straight into my bottle.


It’s all those things we take for granted that becomes much clearer in the woods setting.

And then there is the rains. They came in abundance for two days afterwards. I was soaked to the bone, sometimes cold even, but now there was water gushing everywhere. I had no
want.  I just also had to dry things out and cope with issues that wearing wet socks or wet clothes can bring.

Such is the life of a backpacker. But in these wanders, I see the greatest miracles within the simple provisions in times of need. And it’s those miracles I carry back to my man-made cave and my writing desk to enrich the lives of others. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

I Refuse a Boring Life

...Yes, so I am back. And life has NOT been boring while I've been away from here, to say the least....

I've had many adventures since last we spoke - both as a lover of our beautiful word and a lover of the written word!

I hiked 300 miles SOLO last fall through the wild and wonderful state of West Virginia along the Allegheny Trail. See my trail journal for the adventure. It was something else.

I work out in Shenandoah National Park summers along the Appalachian Trail - helping hikers, picking up trash, and communing with bears and such. It's called ridgerunning. So what is that exactly? My boss says it best in his blog On A Blissful Patrol after following me last summer.

I am blitzing Pennsylvania with eight talks at various libraries around the state about my nonfiction book - Mountains, Madness, Miracles - 4,000 Miles Along the Appalachian Trail. I will share stories and pictures from my adventures. Stay tuned for the fall schedule!

I have written several book proposals that are currently being considered by publishers (one based on my love for Shenandoah) and have two novellas coming, a Christmas one for 2016 in A Plain And Sweet Christmas and in 2017 - Love in the Crossfire based on the events during the Battle of Trenton.

AND I will be in attendance at the ACFW conference in Nashville, TN in August dressed in Revolutionary War attire in honor of my release for 2017! Stay tuned for updates from that event.

My books are available to read both in print and electronic. Check out all the selection of titles at Amazon both fiction and nonfiction!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Bad and the Good – Stay Focused

2014 is ending in a bit of a physical challenge for me as I have been dealing with severe neck pain, cause unknown. But I think back to the year and realize there has been good times and sad times. This year saw some accomplishments for me, accomplishing several hiking goals, finding my Appalachian Trail adventure landing in several prestigious venues like the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Also, my novel set in the Outer Banks and honoring the lifesaving stations The Lady’s Rescuer will be out in January for the New Year. But sadly the publishing line for this book, Heartsong Presents, will close as of June, 2015 (I’ve had many books published this line, including my first one). So I will be on the lookout for other opportunities for my writing in 2015. Stay tuned.

This past year saw me lose several loved ones in my family including my aunt Charlotte and a lady from our church who was like a mother to me, Ceil. We also saw a joyous celebration at the marriage of my son Joshua to his bride Veronica. And with that, we gained a thirteen year old granddaughter!
We lost this sweet lady to heaven this year
This year saw me quite busy on the Appalachian Trail ridgerunning, and also with an extra month. Between that and writing a full length novel, it was a busy summer. But we took out a few weeks to enjoy some late vacations, including a cruise to the western Caribbean aboard the luxurious Celebrity
Dancing with a dolphin!
Silhouette and then a nice week in the Outer Banks for Christmas.

Oh, I always wonder what a new year will hold. I do hope the neck pain goes away as I hate to begin a new year in pain! But with pain comes growth, and with growth comes new opportunities. So that’s good.

Hope your have a wonderful New Year.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Choose to Soar like an Eagle

The journey of life has been dealing all kinds of wicked cards these days. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. I’ve seen people angry at each other. A nation angry at itself. Tough times. Disappointments. Loss. Things can look pretty dismal.

I've been out for morning runs nearing my home and often  look upward to the sky. There above me was an eagle flying high above the trees. At first he appeared to dive downward as if to come closer to earth. He would begin his decent, scan this earth as if to consider to himself, “No, this is not where I’m supposed to be,” and take once more to the skies above. I thought how free that bird appeared. At peace, above the circumstances of this world that can bring it down.  

Yes, we still must exist in this world. But the Bible speaks of being in the world, not of it. We can be like that eagle if we choose. To fly high above our circumstances and not allow them to make us fall. To drift along in God's air of mercy and grace, free, at peace.

Is life getting you down? Look to the eagle and fly above your situation, your troubles, even life itself which is fleeting. Look to a bright New Year with new expectations. 

…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.   Is 40:31 NIV

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Hope

Tis the season to reflect on that miraculous and perfect love born to us on a night long ago. I was thinking of an old Christmas carol I used to hear as a child, "Mary's Boy Child" and one of the lines that says - "And man will live forevermore, because of Christmas Day." How profound and how much hope that brings in days of uncertainty.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas!