Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Everlasting Rock

"Trust the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock." 

An annual celebration is underway here in Cochabamba. The festival of the Virgin of UrkupiƱa is celebrated with dancing, parades, and rituals that take place this week. During this time, the traffic is so dense on our road that it takes us two hours to advance a few miles––if for some reason we need to venture out during this mad rush. Recently our main road was paved, bringing with it more traffic than the years before. Looking out our windows at 6 a.m., we can see a steady stream of busses, taxis, and cars racing by on our main road a half mile from our house. They are rushing to reach the mountain 5 miles away.

This mountain is the location of the ceremony that takes place each year. It was here that the legend behind the festival began. The legend tells of a poor shepherd girl who met a young girl on this mountain while tending to her sheep on a hillside near a town outside Cochabamba. The young girl gave five stones to the peasant girl. When the little peasant girl returned home, she took them out of her pocket to show her mother. The stones had turned to precious gems. The girl's family was rescued from poverty. 

Today, this celebration will attract hundreds of thousands of people to our city. They come from all over the world. Many Bolivians who live outside the country will return to visit family and participate in the festivities. They will climb the hillside where the peasant girl received the rocks and then break off their rock hoping for prosperity in the following year––the bigger the rock, the more prosperity.

Reading my children's book, you'll travel to UrkupiƱa with Chi Chi and his sister, Fi Fi and learn more of the rabbits' dangerous adventure to this mountain. 

Chi Chi and his sister Fi Fi visited this celebration one year. They tell their story in Book 3 of The Really Rare Rabbits Series, Over the Winding Wall.

Flapping! And screeching! And, a terrifying shadow.
 There they were––giant geese--and very real!

Chi Chi watches as Fi Fi slides down Al Alpaca's fuzzy back. They bid farewell to the new friend they met on their adventure through Peppermint Pass. Now, the brother and sister head down the yellow dandelion trail to the Winding Wall where Grandfather Rabbit waits for them. But, first they must venture through the mysterious jungle of Selvaland.

They've heard a scary story about giant ghost geese who live in Selvaland. Chi Chi shrugs it off, but Fi Fi is frightened. He assures her it is just a story. After all, their friend Al wouldn't send them into Selvaland if danger lurked there. 

Chi Chi soon changes his mind when they meet Hotchie, a strange looking creature guarding the entrance of Selvaland. But, Hotchie is not the scariest creature they will meet along the way. When the rabbits stop to rest, their fears mount. Fi Fi trembles, but Chi Chi encourages her to believe God's Word that says, "Trust the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock." Chi Chi doesn't know how much he and Fi Fi will need to trust the Lord all the way to the Winding Wall––and beyond!

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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Antique Aunt

 "Dear friends, let us love one another, 
for love comes from God" (1John 4:7 NIV).

When I was a child I spent many hours with my great aunt, Aunt Flora. She was in her golden years and loved to crochet. I like to think of her as my antique aunt, cherished, valuable, and not forgotten. 

The beautiful dress in this picture was crocheted by Aunt Flora, just for me. Actually, it was for my doll, but now it is on my bear that was given to me by a friend. Both are reminders to me of lasting friendships.

Many children in Bolivia call me aunt. It is a form of respect for your elders in this culture. I often wonder if they will remember me as I remember my aunt. Aunt Flora was more than an aunt, she was my friend. When I had a problem I could go to her house, and she would take time to talk, sometimes for hours. Looking back, it was love that came from God. 

Aunt Flora is gone now, but her memory is lasting. She was a mirror of God's love for me when I was a child. I hope I am a mirror of God's love for children––an antique aunt like Aunt Flora.

How about you? Are you a mirror for God's love?

The tiny book sitting on the bear's lap was a gift from a close friend. In it is a quote that sums up Aunt Flora's life. She left a lasting impression of God on my heart.

"Some people touch our 
lives only briefly...
while others leave a
 lasting impression and
 are never forgotten." 
 from...  FRIENDS
 are the family we
 choose for ourselves.
A Book of Quotations For Friends

Monday, July 1, 2019

Happy Fourth of July

Every day is a happy one when we are in our home country––even when we got food poisoning the first week of our arrival from Bolivia one furlough a few years ago. We were blessed because we had the best health care and recovered quickly.

While in the States on furlough one summer, I had the blessing of attending the AWSA conference in St. Louis and had a signing at the ICRS. What an awesome blessing from the Lord to meet amazing authors and speakers at both events. They are an inspiration to all!

Meeting my first publisher, Tracy Ruckman was a blessing. Memories that last forever are treasured. I also met my editor, Julie-Allyson Ieron, and her mom for the first time––live and in person. What a fun time and good food! Nine years of working with these talented and godly ladies, and they still put up with me.

I am thankful that God ushered me into this wonderful world of publishing in this phase of my life––the senior phase! "Surely you have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence" (Psalm 21:6 NIV). His unending blessings amaze me, and the joy of His presence was evident in these three events. This is all possible because of our country and its freedoms and opportunities.

We love seeing the flags flying all over our country when we are home, and we're thankful for the freedom we have as Americans––and especially thankful for those who have sacrificed so we can enjoy that freedom. We are blessed to be Americans!

God bless you, and God bless America, land that we love! Happy Fourth of July!

Monday, June 3, 2019

Spectacular Sightings

 "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; 
his faithfulness will be your shield and your rampart" (Psalms 91:3-5 NIV).

Yesterday, we viewed a spectacular sighting––repeat of a few years back. We stood at the kitchen window making an apple pie. Chuck peeled apples while I whipped up the dough. I love my kitchen window and always enjoy the view of the rocky mountain behind our house. But yesterday, God surprised us again with two huge visitors sitting on the top of the mountain in full view on the skyline. Two enormous condors sat resting on the rocks giving us a bird's eye view of them. Here's the story from a few years back when they first visited us. I left the story as I wrote it then rather than updating it. Hope you enjoy it––again if you missed it the first time.

Faithful Feathers

Have you ever seen God's wings or heard His feathers flap? I have!

As we traveled from meeting to meeting and church to church over the last five months, I shared this story whenever I had the opportunity. Maybe you've heard it, maybe not. If you have, I hope it made you realize how faithful our God is to meet our needs––even through condors. Maybe you haven't heard it yet. Allow me to share it again in print for those who missed it.

Two years ago my husband had Shingles. They healed in the usual amount time, about three weeks. Soon after, he collapsed in severe pain. Not knowing if he was having a heart attack or stroke, we rushed him to a clinic here in Cochabamba. That severe, excruciating pain lasted three to four hours. The doctors had given him all the drugs possible without compromising his health in other ways––I doubted they were doing all they could to relieve this unbearable pain. But, at least we knew it wasn't a heart attack or stroke.

Finally, after hours of suffering, the pain began to subside to some degree. Little did we know at the time that this pain would continue for six months because of a damaged nerve in Chuck's back caused by the Shingles.  I couldn't believe the first words to slip through his lips as he looked up into my eyes. "I am so hungry for a pizza." Not what I expected to hear from a man who just came through this painful ordeal. How could I refuse such a request? Here where we live, we don't have all the pizza shops one has access to in the USA so I went home to make a pizza and fulfill this suffering man's wish.

Fifteen years ago, while we were building our house, I insisted on having a big window in my kitchen. Looking out that window is a magnificent view of the mountain behind our house. Living in a foreign country without much access to fast food restaurants or even nearby restaurants, I spend many hours in the kitchen. I also teach teen girls baking and cooking classes, so much of my time is spent in my kitchen. I love my kitchen, and I love that window––even more so now than I could have ever imagined because of what I saw that day when I went home to make the love of my life a pizza.

As I whipped up the dough, I glanced out at that beautiful view through the bay window. It's a rocky mountain, dry and brown most of the time, but nevertheless a view of God's beautiful creation in the Andes Mountains of Bolivia. But this day, I didn't notice the mountain view. I saw a view of God. One that I had never before seen.

There, half way up the mountain sitting on a large, flat rock, sat two huge birds. Now, we've lived in our house 15 years and only once before had we seen a condor on this mountain. Condors are the Bolivian national bird––a rare site. I rushed for the binoculars and quickly returned to catch a glimpse of what I thought were condors. If you know nothing about condors, let me describe the size of this beautiful bird for you. They are on average four feet tall and have a wingspan of 10 feet. Amazing creatures. Gigantic birds!

Fumbling, I rushed to place the binoculars over my eyes. Then, I saw them. Yes, they were condors without a doubt. I stood in awe of these beautiful birds created by an awesome God. But that's not all. As I stood gazing with pure delight at what I was witnessing, something even more awesome happened. Both birds, at precisely the same time, spread their wings and stood there looking like statues. I could hardly breathe. God's beautiful creation stood on a mountaintop showing all His glory. A few verses came to mind. Psalms 91:3-5 "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and your rampart." 

I knew those birds were there for me. I was alone that day. I knew people were praying for us, but no one had any idea what we were going through at that moment. But, God knew. I wasn't alone in the scary situation that faced us. God was with us both. I felt God's love around me. His feathers squeezing me. His wings protecting me. I looked at those birds standing there, wings spread, and knew God had me under His wings as He did Chuck. But, not only was there one bird––a rare site in itself––but two birds–of course, one for Chuck and one for me. I saw those wings and I heard those feathers. I saw God through condors, and I knew God would take care of us. I rested, snuggled under His wings and surrounded by His faithful feathers.

The depth of God's love is unimaginable. He shows us His love daily, even through condors. He covers us with His wings always. He shows Himself to us in the condor moments. Expect the condor moments. Don't miss them. Look up, see God's wings and hear the flapping of His faithful feathers.