Meet Me In The Stairwell

‘MEET ME IN THE STAIRWELL’ 

You say you will never forget where you were when 
you heard the news On September 11, 2001. 
Neither will I. 

I was on the 110th floor in a smoke filled room 
with a man who called his wife to say ‘Good-Bye.’ I 
held his fingers steady as he dialed. I gave him the 
peace to say, ‘Honey, I am not going to make it, but it 
is OK..I am ready to go.’ 

I was with his wife when he called as she fed 
breakfast to their children. I held her up as she 
tried to understand his words and as she realized 
he wasn’t coming home that night. 

I was in the stairwell of the 23rd floor when a 
woman cried out to Me for help. ‘I have been 
knocking on the door of your heart for 50 years!’ I said. ‘Of course I will show you the way home – only 
believe in Me now.’ 

I was at the base of the building with the Priest 
ministering to the injured and devastated souls. 
I took him home to tend to his Flock in Heaven. He 
heard my voice and answered. 

I was on all four of those planes, in every seat, 
with every prayer. I was with the crew as they 
were overtaken. I was in the very hearts of the 
believers there, comforting and assuring them that their faith has saved them. 

I was in Texas , Virginia , California , Michigan , Afghanistan. I was standing next to you when you heard the terrible news. 
Did you sense Me? 

I want you to know that I saw every face. I knew 
every name – though not all know Me. Some met Me 
for the first time on the 86th floor. 

Some sought Me with their last breath. 
Some couldn’t hear Me calling to them through the 
smoke and flames; ‘Come to Me… this way… take 
my hand.’ Some chose, for the final time, to ignore Me. 
But, I was there. 

I did not place you in the Tower that day. You 
may not know why, but I do.. However, if you were 
there in that explosive moment in time, would you have reached for Me? 

Sept. 11, 2001, was not the end of the journey for you . But someday your journey will end. And I 
will be there for you as well. Seek Me now while I may 
be found. Then, at any moment, you know you are 
‘ready to go.’ 

I will be in the stairwell of your final moments. 

God

(Thanks to my Mom who sent me this forward by email.) 

Going, Going, GONE

I am pleased to announce (and so relieved) that the Book 2 proposal is in the mail I just took it to the post office and sent it off. It should arrive tomorrow. Please pray with me.

I believe that this publisher is the one the Lord has directed me to. I know that is a bold statement, but my decision was made based on prayer, the advice of wise and knowledgeable people, and the peace I have about sending it to this particular publisher. So, I am praying “in faith, believing” and I can’t wait to hear from them. 🙂 They promise to respond within twelve weeks. 

Here’s where it gets tricky. What if they say no? It’s possible. I know many people who have believed they are doing God’s will, pray in faith, believing, and God shuts the door. So, what is the answer? I guess it is surrender. This is not my book. It is a project that I feel God has given me. So, I will trust his timing and his power. But, I’m still praying “in faith, believing!” Pray with me, please!

Almost, But Not Quite

Just a quick note to let you know that the manuscript has NOT been sent yet. It was a self-imposed deadline but yet, I still feel the pressure. After my wonderful husband edited it I took one more look at it and, well, lets just say there were a few minor changes I want to make. The problem is that I am just now waking up (with coffee at my side) from a two 12-hour night shift stint. So, I will be working on those changes once my coffee hits my brain, and the new and improved plan is for it to be in the mail tomorrow.

The additions mostly involve character description. One challenge I have with trying to find a traditional publisher for this second book is that it is… well it’s the second book. It MUST be a stand-alone story (which I think it is), but that means that I need to make sure the characters are described well enough for someone who might not have read the first book. That’s what I’m finding I left out. For instance, they need to know that Molly is 8. They need to understand the connections of the kids.

Anyway, I know some of you are praying. I believe that God’s timing is best and I have only one shot at this number one choice of publishers, so I’d best get it right! Pray tomorrow as I send the manuscript. Pray each day, if you can that God’s will would be done. Oh, and my website has a payment button now! Go order a few dozen books. 🙂

Culture or Love of God – Which constrains me?

This is the first draft of a column for the Newberry Observer. I rewrote it to be less direct for the paper but felt I wanted to have my “full-say” here.

Culture or Love of God – Which constrains me?

When Mr. Jimmy prayed in church on Sunday I got stuck on his first phrase and, I admit I didn’t hear much else he said. He started like this. “Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the privilege of coming to you today.” 

Privilege. He said privilege. 

I am a PK. That means preacher’s kid to those of you who don’t know and since this is the Bible Belt that’s probably not many. My Daddy is a Baptist minister and has been most of my life. In fact he was in Seminary when I was born and is still going strong. 

 I love church. My week is not complete if I don’t go to church Sunday Morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday evening. Call me weird but that is who I am. That is my culture. 

Because of that I feel comfortable here in the South. Out West people are more private about their faith. They don’t speak as freely about their church affiliations. When you pray in a restaurant you stand out, you are conspicuous. Not here. Here, there is nothing unusual about a table full of people bowing their heads to pray before eating their meal at Ronnie’s. 

Jesus is a big part of the culture in the South and I love it 

However, I have to wonder sometimes if that’s all it is to us. A part of our culture.  That’s why my mind got stuck on the word “privilege”. I’m so blessed to know it is my privilege to come to God, to attend church. But do I look at it as a privilege? Am I attending church for the right reasons? I’m sure God is pleased that I am there, regardless of my motives, but am I receiving the full blessing I could? These are some questions I ask myself. 

After the prayer, I pulled myself together and listened as Pastor Clark preached on the Love of God. He spoke of the truth that it is the Love of God that constrains us. 

 Ah, there is the answer. Church attendance shouldn’t be because it is my culture. It should be simply because God loves me and that love is so powerful, so overwhelming that I can’t wait to get there. 

It’s like when I am going home to South Dakota to see my family. I can’t wait for that plane to land or the car to travel those last hundred miles. I go every chance I get. I make sacrifices so that I can go. If I don’t go often enough I become unhappy. (My husband might even use the word crabby.) The love for my family constrains me to go. There would be something wrong if I went simply because it was my culture.

That’s what bothered me when Mr. Jimmy prayed. The Love of God should constrain me, not the Culture to which I was born. After all, as a child of the living God it is my privilege to be in church.

It’s something to think about, isn’t it?

Come, Holy Spirit

I was sitting at the piano this evening, singing my way through a song book. I came to this song. It’s not my usual style but every time I sing it I am grabbed with the powerful truth. Tonight more than usual. With the challenges we face in our nation and world today I couldn’t help but think that this song is quite fitting. As in every age what the world needs is for Christ to work through his people. The thing is. . . we are His people. Are we letting Him use us as we should?

For as long as I can remember, my Daddy has been burdened and praying for revival. I believe that we all need to follow his example. What America needs isn’t a new economic program. It’s not a new batch of people in Washington, although I’m thinking it can’t hurt. What the world and America need today is for God’s people to surrender to the Holy Spirit and let God change the world through us. Are we up for the challenge? 

Come, Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit came at Pentecost; He came in mighty fullness then.

His witness thru believers won the lost, And multitudes were born again.

The early Christians scattered o’er the world; They preached the gospel fearlessly.

Tho’ some were martyred and to lions hurled, They marched along in victory!

Chorus:   

Come, Holy Spirit, Dark is the hour. We need Your filling, Your love and Your mighty power.

Move now among us, Stir us, we pray;

Come, Holy Spirit, Revive the Church today!

Verse 2:

Then in an age when darkness gripped the earth, “The just shall live by faith” was learned.

The Holy Spirit gave the Church new birth, as reformation fires burned.

In later years the great revivals came, When saints would seek the Lord and pray.

O once again we need that holy flame, to meet the challenge of today!

Chorus:

Come, Holy Spirit, Dark is the hour. We need Your filling, Your love and Your mighty pow’r.

Move now among us, stir us, we pray;

Come, Holy Spirit. Revive the Church today.

by John W. Peterson

Pay Pal – Up and Running

In the never-ending attempt to sell books we have Pay Pal up and running on the website. Now it is much easier to order a book or ten from my website. I know kids are back to school now. Maybe they have a book report. This would be an awesome book for that purpose. Maybe you know they are going to be invited to umpty-jillion birthday parties this year! This book is a great gift for a boy or a girl. Maybe you are a grandparent looking for a birthday or Christmas gift for little Dick, Jane, or Sally! Have I got a deal for you!

Check it out! We will be making more updates to the website soon so go frequently. Tell your friends about this book. And please, please pray. The manuscript and proposal for the second book in the series will be sent Tuesday to a publisher. I really would like it if a traditional publisher would pick up the second book.

Thanks for reading my blog. I am so blessed to have this opportunity. I am amazed every time I see someone has chosen to come and read these little things I write. Now, if you want to read the BIG THING I wrote, go to my website. 🙂 🙂 www.doublecousins.net

Like No Other Place

A few days before he died, I sat by Grandpa Jones’ bed in the nursing home. He fiddled with the blankets, frustrated that his life was nearing an end. He wanted to be home. He wanted things how they used to be. The silence was painful for me, and since I don’t believe in silence I started the conversation with a question. “Grandpa, what was the favorite place you ever lived?” 

Without hesitation he answered; “Survey Valley.” 

I wasn’t surprised. The Survey Valley is in the Sandhills of Nebraska, north of Ashby. It is the place they moved to, by covered wagon, in 1913. Grandpa was eight. He grew up there, he married there, and his heart really never left. He wrote about it in his books; the people and the places. 

From 1978-2005 the places I lived in Wyoming, Nebraska, and South Dakota all led to a frequent traveling of Highway 2 through the Sandhills to get to Grandpa and Grandma’s. Even now, when we travel to Rapid City, we travel via Highway 2 most of the time, just from the opposite direction. So indirectly, I have developed a love of the Sandhills. It feels like home. It is the place of my roots. My Daddy was born in this sod house in the sandhills during the depression. My Uncle Jim is the boy in the picture. 

I remember once, when I was about seven the family made a trek one Saturday up to the site of the old sod house. It wasn’t there anymore. If I remember right, we found some foundations on the property and an old garbage dump. What I remember most though about that day was the feeling that pervaded the air. It seemed everyone was a little excited mixed with sadness. Everyone wanted to see the place where. . . 

Last September my sister and I drove Highway 2 on our way to, and from Grandma’s birthday party. I realized that I didn’t remember traveling the Sandhills in the fall. Maybe it was just the fact that the Sandhills never look quite the same any two years. This year, in particular the colors were amazing. Oh, not the bright colors you see out east, but subtle hues. It was awe-inspiring.

September Sandhills

Yesterday I spent a lovely sweet hour reading a book I ordered. The name is Like No Other Place – The Sandhills of Nebraska by David A. Owen. My cousin Gordon and his wife Jan brought the book to the reunion and I really wanted one of my own. Mr. Owen is from Connecticut and spent a year in the Sandhills learning the people and the land. He took pictures and then he put together this fabulous book. I could hear my Grandpa talking as I read the stories in the book. I can tell you, that if Grandpa and Grandma Jones were living, they would not only own this book, they would be its best promoters. Grandpa liked books with lots of pictures. Grandma loved the Sandhills too.

Gordon is pictured in the book which is fitting. I’ve always felt that Gordon is the most like Grandpa. He is the oldest grandson and benefited from the most years around Grandpa. He and Jan moved their family to the middle of the Sandhills. I still remember the pride in Grandpa’s voice when he spoke of their move. He was sad they would be farther away from him but oh my, there was a bit of jealousy that he couldn’t be the one moving there.

So, my recommendation today is that you go to Amazon, or your local bookstore and buy this book. Whether you have ever been to the Sandhills or not it will be interesting for you to read. I think he caught the essence of what the Sandhills are as well as what it means to be a Sandhiller.

Change is Life and Life is Change

Change is hard. I don’t know anyone that particularly likes change. I know I don’t. Well, maybe I should rephrase that. I don’t like bad change. But—and it’s a big but—who defines bad change. I only want good changes. Changes that will keep us all the way we are.

 But is that good? I guess not.

 I was all for the change of getting married five years ago. But that led to change that I didn’t much like; the change of living fifteen hundred miles from my family. The change of not being there every time one of my nieces and nephews celebrate a birthday. The toughness of going home and seeing the changes in everyone as they grow older. The wonderful change of marriage brought about difficult change. But I didn’t for one minute entertain the idea that I should refuse the loving husband God was offering me. Hello!!!

So many of the changes we experience are related to sin. The sin of Adam caused death; the aging process can be blamed on him too. The thistles are his fault; the pain of childbirth is his fault. Man. . . he really blew it. Others are given to us by God. Some to make us happier, some to make us grow, some just because that is how he created things to work.

 I have been sitting on my porch a good bit this weekend. The tree in the big yard is starting to change. Already. I know it’s only August, but a few over-achiever leaves have already changed to orange and as I watch they start dropping in the breeze, floating to the ground. Sometimes two drop at once.

Our house in North Carolina has seen a lot of change the past 4 years. Emptying out, painting, scraping, gutting the bathroom and starting fresh. There’s the porch, of course and the new siding and windows. Our last big improvement was the new flooring. It almost looks like a new house.

 But yet, the memories are still there for my husband. We kept the picture of Mary the mother of Jesus that has been on the wall ever since Bruce remembers. He thinks it was a wedding gift for his parents. It’s not our style, but its part of the history of this house. The house his parents built when they married. So we work at making this our house while preserving the memories. We refer to it almost always as “Mama’s house.” To my husband that’s what it will always be.

There are moments as we sort through the remnants of his parents’ life in this house that I sense the deep sadness in my husband. He misses his parents. He misses the way it was when Mama still lived here. We still keep things just because it’s too hard to part with. Sometimes the things we find prompt a story or two about growing up in this house. Stories about his Daddy taking them camping when he was switching shifts and had a long weekend.  Stories about the huge garden they grew, the garden that was essential to feeding four growing boys.  I love that. I want to know how it was for my husband. I want to see how the people in his life made him who he is.

The change I hate the most is the change of saying goodbye. I hate it. I hate moving because I have to say goodbye to my friends. But I always remind myself that if I hadn’t left the last place I wouldn’t have met the people I am presently saying goodbye to. So, I tell myself when I’m faced with another move,  maybe in a few weeks I’ll have new friends, new people I won’t want to say goodbye to. It usually helps put things in perspective.

In this world of change I’m thankful  for the one thing I know won’t change.

God.

 God is immutable. He cannot change. How can perfection be changed?

But, What If?

I feel like a four-year-old this morning. I’m in the “But, what if” stage. What if the publishers don’t want Book Two? What if I send it out and it’s rejected again and again? What if I try hard but not quite hard enough? I don’t have the money to publish another book the way we did the first one. Am I working hard enough on it?

Then I think, yes, but what if the publisher does accept it? Then I’m going to be doing this marketing for the rest of my life! And where has my life gone anyway! I’m going to be 50, yes, I said FIFTY in less than two years. My life is more than half over even with the best case scenario and I’m going to spend all of those years selling mysteries? Of course that’s only IF a publisher likes them. But, what if they don’t.

Then I’ll have to pursue a self-publishing route that is a little less expensive. But what if it isn’t out there. What if I don’t get as good of a product from a different self-publishing option. WinePress put out an awesome product. What if I use a different self-publishing company and the product is rotten. Then I’ll be frustrated and regretful.

What if I can’t get the next book printed at all. All of those people who are excitedly waiting for the next one will be disappointed. 

Well, as you can guess I didn’t sleep very well last night. There were too many what-if’s going through my head. I told my husband, “I’m afraid a publisher won’t take the book, and I’m afraid they will.”

His response, “well Miriam, remember what you often tell me. God is in charge of this anyway so I don’t need to worry about it.”  He had to go there didn’t he? I’m thankful for a wise husband. I’m thankful for enthusiastic readers and friends who encourage me. But, mostly I’m thankful for a God who knows all and can do all. He never has any “what if” moments.

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13