Wednesday, October 31, 2012


That's it.

Just BOO!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Fall Clean-Up

I don't know about you, but I love fall chores. Yes, I know it sounds crazy, but it's true! The raking, buttoning up, battening down, wood stacking, statue storing, furniture covering...all of it makes the days feel productive and every chore brings me one step closer to the slow season here on the farm.

When the snow flies, life gets very quiet here in the hills. All I'll have to do is blow snow and keep the fireplace stoked, which is a far cry from the mad rush to complete all fall tasks!

Hope you're enjoying your fall clean-up as much as I'm enjoying mine. But if you'll excuse me...leaves, firewood and lawn furniture call!

Have a great day!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Big Hearts!

Every time I look at this photo, I smile. Just smile...and feel my heart warm instantly. Mi Refugio builds characters, touches hearts and truly encourages at-risk kids to learn, grow and experience joy and love. It's an amazing place, and it's touched my heart in a way I can't even begin to explain.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Working hard on the new manuscript. Just writing, writing, writing. Not at all tedious, the way one might expect it to be. I am fully involved with the characters and plot, so the hours are just flying by!

I hope you're having a good week. Me? Having an excellent, productive week. Now, back to the book...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


One of the best parts about being at Mi Refugio in Guatemala was the happiness permeating every minute of every day. The kids, teachers and other mission workers were all so happy. Laughter from every area of the school, all day long--what's not to love about that?

I miss the laughter. I miss the love. I miss the smiles.

But, I'm lucky...when I close my eyes I still see and feel it all.

Monday, October 22, 2012


When I was at Mi Refugio in Guatemala, I spent some time teaching computer and typing skills to the children. They are so bright and eager to learn. The hours flew by quickly and the kids learned a lot--although I truly feel I learned just as much from them.

I miss the kids. I can't wait to get back there ... to teach--and learn!

Monday, October 15, 2012


Everything is very orange-y here. I love it! Will be raking leaves today, which is a nice break from editing.

Hope you have a beautiful day!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

What's Not to Love?

I don't know about you, but I totally LOVE weekends!

For a while I didn't, which was my own fault. I let someone steal my joy--which was, thankfully, only a temporary situation. Now that I'm back on track, I love what I always loved and feel so much better.

Because really, what's not to love about a weekend?

And honestly, letting someone steal joy? Ridiculous!

I hope you're enjoying this weekend. I know I am!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Perfect Baking Weather

It's a chilly morning here, so I've got baking on my mind. This is a favorite recipe. I'm getting ready to pop a loaf or two in the oven. I thought you might enjoy it, too! Have a great Saturday!

Applesauce Walnut Bread
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup applesauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 egg whites
3 T. milk
2 cups flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
½ t. salt
½ t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
½ cup chopped walnuts

Lightly grease and flour a loaf pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together applesauce, sugar, vegetable oil, egg whites and milk. Mix until combined. Add remaining ingredients and mix, reserving the nuts for last. When the batter is thoroughly mixed, spread it evenly in the loaf pan.

Place pan in a pre-heated 350-degree oven and bake for 60-75 minutes. Toothpick inserted in center of loaf will come out clean when bread is done. Cool before cutting.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Work...and Play

These past few days I've been working hard on my new book. Working hard to get over the infection that laid me low when I returned from the mission trip. Working hard to finish all the fall chores here on the farm. Just...working hard.

It's what we all do, isn't it? We work hard for what we have, want and need. We know that if we buckle down and do what we need to do, we'll attain some measure of success. And "success" is defined differently by everyone, isn't it? We all have our own yardstick with which we measure ourselves and our actions, calculate our successes and failures.

As I go about my ordinary life, I can't help but recall the people I met on the mission trip. I see their faces in my mind, hear their voices in my head. And, I keep their lives in my heart.

The realization that so much of what I--and many others--take for granted is hammered home after this journey. I admit, I've never had to wonder where I'll sleep at night. Never had the pain of hunger invade my mind and body. Never walked barefoot over dirty, rutted trails. And believe me, I'm very, very grateful I've never experienced any of those things.

My sweet friend Nadia, in the photo above, knows intimately the "never" list. She's faced all of those issues. Were it not for the school on the mountain and the faith of one brave woman, she would probably be hungry. Barefoot. Dirty.

But, she's not. See that smile? It flashes constantly. See the beautiful brown eyes? They sparkle with intelligence. You can't see her heart, but it is huge. Nadia is kind, funny and loving. It is my great pleasure to say she is mi amiga.

And if it weren't for the work of the woman who runs Mi Refugio, Nadia and the other kids wouldn't be mis amigas. Who knows where they'd be right now. Certainly not on a swing!

That point, the idea that the work and vision of a single human being makes this photo possible, kind of makes my work list seem much more inconsequential. Yes, we all have jobs to do...but some are called to do truly inspirational things. For that, I am grateful.

Now, if you'll excuse me...I've got weeds and firewood to be dealt with!  

Monday, October 08, 2012


"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."
--Chinese philosopher, Lao-Tzu

Or, in some cases, a bumpy busride.

I'm not yet ready to tell you where this bus actually goes five days a week, picking up and discharing its precious cargo. That'll come in time. For now, it's enough to know that the bus is one step on the journey toward a better life for an amazing group of children.

They're greeted each morning by the unmistakable sign that they are welcome. And wanted. And, most importantly, loved.

And this? This is what happens when children are given the chance to journey toward a brighter bumpy step at a time.  

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Guatemalan Gorgeousness


Guatemala is, in many respects, a land of stark contrasts. This morning I'm smiling, recalling the gorgeous natural sights that were everywhere around me. All I had to do was look...

This is a poinsettia tree. Yes, that's right--a tree! It was huge, growing wild and it completely shocked me when I realized the source of shadow where I stood. Imagine, standing in the shadow of a poinsettia? That'll totally change my view on holiday decorations!

A stroll on the grounds at Mi Refugio yielded abundant beauty. I paused at this little pond and gazed into the clear water. No fish in its depths, as I'd hoped, but a single water lily bobbed on the surface. Lovely!

When atop a mountain, rainwater cascades downhill. The melody created by the previous night's rainfall was so soothing.

There are times when I struggle to get the roses in my gardens to bloom. Really, I do. On a Guatemalan mountain, they grow wild. And the scent? Oh-so intoxicating!

Do I miss the place? Can't you tell?  

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Everyone Needs a Refuge

Mi Refugio (“My Refuge” in English) is a school set high on a mountain just outside Guatemala City. To reach its gates, a bumpy, twisting road must be traversed, making it the prize at the end of an arduous trek. 
It is exactly what the name implies to the children who attend classes there: A refuge, one they desperately need. Theirs is a birthright of poverty and despair, disease and illiteracy. The social and economic unrest in the country is a near guarantee that without some intervention the future of a whole new generation will be very bleak indeed.

Mi Refugio provides two meals daily, which in many cases is the only source of nutrition for these kids. They are clothed in neat uniforms, given backpacks and school supplies. They are taught hygiene skills and manners. It is a Christian school, so the children learn faith.

The biggest gift the school endows upon these young, impressionable minds is hope. That’s right; they’re taught that if they do the right thing, study hard and look toward the future with an open heart, that maybe—just maybe—they have a hope for a better life. A future that doesn’t depend on existing, but living. A way to leave desperation and poverty behind and step into the beautiful Guatemalan sunshine that, too, is part of their heritage.
Mi Refugio nourishes small bodies and bright minds. It dispels darkness, even temporarily, and instills hope and faith. It opens doors to the possibility of a brighter future for children who would never otherwise have those doors open to them. It gives these kids a chance to flourish despite terrible odds—and, in the end, isn’t that what we all want for every child, everywhere? A chance to learn and grow…and succeed.          

Monday, October 01, 2012

Land of Eternal Spring

Last week I returned from a mission trip to Guatemala. It was a journey of "firsts" for me. First mission trip. First visit to the country. First up-close look at a volcano. First... Well, why don't we just wait for the rest of the "firsts" to come to light on their own.

What wasn't a first for me were some of the emotions I felt on my adventure. Love. Peace. Joy. All familiar to me, which is in and of itself a true blessing. I experienced other emotions on the trip, as well. Those, like the "firsts", will show themselves eventually.

For now, I just want to tell you that I went on a great adventure.

I met beautiful people.

Saw incredible things.

And came back home with lots of stories. In the coming weeks I plan to share some of those stories here. I do hope you'll join me as I tell about my latest journey. It was awesome, and I loved every minute of it. I hope you will, too.

I'm always amazed by the path these feet are on. This time, the path led straight up a mountain into a find love and a small slice of heaven.