Blue water–where deep calls to deep

This is a story about the good stuff. About when you get that feeling. A feeling that doesn’t make sense, but you act on it anyway. Where feeling turns to force. No, not the over-the-top, Hollywood-science-fiction-blockbuster kind. These are the gentle whispers. The ones that are easy to pay attention to. And the crazy ones we dismiss out of hand.

I’m writing to encourage you to pay attention to them all.

It was a regular day in my new neighborhood. I hadn’t had many regular days for a while. After traveling the world for around two years, working for the Lord and writing, I’d learned to enjoy life’s different tacks. How to navigate and appreciate the ones that had taken me into stormy waters and celebrate the soft breezes. This past Spring, I made a home base, experiencing the blessing of living close to my grown children.

I enjoy walking around the harbor, a short distance from my home. On one of my walks, I spotted a sailboat moored there with a for sale sign mounted on its starboard side.

Take a picture,” the whisper said.

She was beautiful. But, I continued walking.

Why would I take a picture of a sailboat for sale? I don’t sail, not anymore. Something made me turn around. I took a picture. Then one more. And another one, and another one.

Smiling, I walked on to the lighthouse. Later that night I kept thinking about TESSA. I couldn’t get my mind off of her, and the next day I told my best friend about her. She gushed over the idea of me buying a boat. I assured her the idea was crazy, on many levels. I wouldn’t call. Having the picture was nice.

Two days later I called.

An efficient sea dog answered on the other end of my cell phone.

“Er….hi.” I couldn’t think of anything to say except, “How much do you want for the boat?” I didn’t know how to go into the fact that I hadn’t sailed in forever.

“A million dollars,” he said. I liked him instantly.

Then we both just got to it. He shared he had cancer, was getting up in years and just too sick to sail anymore. I shared that I hadn’t sailed in close to forty years. We talked about where I learned to sail––Lake Geneva in Wisconsin, Lake Michigan and Nantucket. I admitted I obviously wasn’t ready to handle a sailboat by myself on The Pacific.

He said he’d sailed around the world a few times and believes Lake Michigan to be the most treacherous water on the planet. This surprised me, like a lot of what would pass between The Captain and I. We talked about our sailing adventures a little more. His much more adventurous than mine––by a long shot. The Captain shared that TESSA is a Trintella Vriendenkring 29, 10 meter sloop designed by Van de Stadt, built in Holland in 1967. She was born when I started sailing for the first time.

Then, he surprised me. “Why don’t you come out and sail with me Tuesday night to see if you enjoy it?”

Really? I thanked him for the offer, said I’d think about it and we said our goodbyes. The weekend came and went and I couldn’t get my conversation with The Captain or TESSA off my mind.

I love the Lord’s tender mercies. How he puts cherries on top of things to help us notice he’s right there with us in the many details of our lives. Of course the boat is Dutch. My father’s father was Dutch. At the time of our conversation, it hadn’t even been a year since I’d lost Dad. We’d said our last goodbye on Monterey Bay at Seacrest Beach, during the final sunset of his life. The bay became a part of me in that moment. Deep called to deep.

My best friend wanted to know if I’d decided to go for a sail. I did.

Out on the water surrounded by the language of the sea made me feel like a girl again––shrouds, and main sails, sheets and jibs. I found myself wondering how I could have let something so dear to me go for so many years. Life has a way of taking me places I don’t want to go if I’m not careful.

After our first sail, the Captain confessed he didn’t want to sell TESSA anymore. He asked me if I’d consider going in as a partner with him on the boat instead. He mentioned his current partner was going blind, and as he approached 100 he just couldn’t sail any longer. The Captain added that he needed help to sail her now.

I said yes. The evening of our first sail was the first time the Captain had been sailing in one-and-a-half years. His road had been long in fighting the disease.

It’s been three months since we’ve been partners. As the Captain got his strength and sea legs back, I’ve crewed with him on many different types of luxurious yachts. But the boat that has stolen my heart continues to be TESSA. I love the adventures we’ve been on. I suppose it’s natural that a one-time nomad on land would now have an appetite to become a nomad of the sea––her breathtaking beauty and tender mercies continuously comfort and surprise me.   

Even as the Captain’s old partner is now almost totally blind, we received good news this week. The Captain beat the cancer that had taken him off the water for so long. His doctors at Stanford are thrilled and left scratching their heads. The sea has been the Captain’s best medicine, administered at the helm of TESSA.

“Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.” Psalm 42:7

© Laura Elliott, 2017

Metaphors, Pocahontas and The Lord

On the walk to Leon
On the walk to Leon

I’ve walked 600 KM across France and Spain and have only 200 KM left to Santiago. One thing is certain, everything I experience on the path is a metaphor for life. I jokingly told my friend, “No metaphors before breakfast.” As Santiago approaches, every step I take gets closer and further away from The Camino. I don’t pretend to know what the Camino means or what it will mean for me in the future but one of its great gifts is that I realize people in life come and go, the only constant is my relationship with The Lord.

Peligrinos, mostly men, are concerned with me walking alone. In one pueblo an elderly woman asks me to rush to join the group of pilgrims further up the road so “no estas sola” (so I am not alone). I give her a sonrisa (smile) and point to “el cielo” (the heavens) and tell her “Yo nunca estoy sola” (I am never alone). Her calm smile, beautiful sparkling eyes and greeting, “Buen Camino” is one of many beautiful moments of my pilgrimage because the fear left her eyes when I spoke with her. The Camino isn’t about rushing or safety. “Buen Camino” is a common greeting on The Way given by fellow peligrinos to each other and by the Spanish people who are our gracious hosts. A “Buen Camino.” A good walk. I believe I’ll continue to silently wish this to the people who cross my path after the Camino. A silent prayer.

An English lady I met in Burgos told me that there are three Caminos. The physical from St. Jean to Burgos, the mental from Burgos to Leon and The Camino I’m currently walking––the spiritual, between Leon and Santiago. For me the spiritual camino began before I arrived in St. Jean. I wanted to walk The Way to get closer to The Lord and His will for my life. I’ve enjoyed and have been thrilled by his playful, fun-loving, exciting and adventurous companionship.

my teepee
My teepee

That same night the English lady told me about the three Caminos, I decided to sleep in a teepee. I’ve always wanted to sleep in a teepee. There was a storm coming, but I didn’t care. I had the whole teepee to myself. I’ve never had a better nights sleep. Inside the dark teepee on the chilly night, I lit a candle and prayed. I stared at the millions of stars above me and thanked God for the moment. Later that night the rain came and I was warm and dry in my teepee. I could have said no to sleeping there but as a few people would point out that night, “How many times do you get to sleep in a teepee?” Um, never. It was one of The Lord’s magical, fun-loving moments on The Way. My Camino name changed from The Pretty Pilgrim to Pocohontas when the roosters awakened me the next morning.

I walked with a Hungarian man who shared his remedies for blisters. It turns out he walked with a “crazy” woman who walked fast but was also very beautiful. So he kept walking with her and developed ten blisters. Blister prevention and treatment is a common conversation among fellow pilgrims. At this point we are all walking in some sort of pain. The metaphor for life is powerful. We all walk in pain. Our ultimate happiness is determined by how we deal with our own pain and how much compassion and grace we have for those in pain and on the walk with us.

my feet
my feet

Of course, not all pain is physical. I met a man from Costa Rica whose wife of sixteen years died suddenly and tragically three years ago. He is angry with God. And then there is the first missing poster I saw in a tienda yesterday in Foncebadon for Denise, an Arizona woman who went missing on The Camino on the same stretch of road I walked a few days ago from Astorga through Gonso. That she is still missing after five months is on my mind as I pass the beautiful views she would never see. I pray that The Lord will bless her family with a miracle that will solve the mystery of Denise’s disappearance and reunite them soon.

The metaphors abound. Sometimes there aren’t any answers. Even when we are desperate for them. Beauty can sometimes blind us. What agony the loss of love can cause. Through it all, I must let God be God in the ambiguity. The beautiful ambiguity of the unknown. I will get closer to the beauty of the unknown and His grace on the walk. The Way. Ever forward.

Sunrise -- Mansilla de las Mulas
Sunrise — Mansilla de las Mulas

Jesus in Nepal : 90 days around the world

While traveling, I rarely knew what day of the week it was and dates didn’t mean much. I totally immersed myself in the experience of awakening to the world. A world very different from the one I’d known before. Easter caught up with me in Nepal and it took my breath away.

I used puppets, string games and coloring to help the kids at the Global Dental Relief Clinic pass the time until their treatments. They drew pictures of their houses surrounded by lots of very steep mountains. They drew beautiful Rhododendrons, the national flower of Nepal, and also drew lots pictures of each other. There were some talented cartoonists too. I taped every picture on the wall with torn-up stickers, as tape was scarce. The kids smiled big when they spotted their pictures and sometimes brought their friends to see the spot on the wall where their picture hung.

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I was so busy teaching them how to brush their teeth and playing with them that I didn’t really have time to admire their artwork. But one afternoon, there was a slow spell. A time between schools picking up students and dropping off the next group. While tidying the benches and organizing our supplies, I had a chance to really look at their drawings. Taped to the wall among gorgeous Himalayan landscapes and superheroes and portraits of friends and princesses and castles, there were a few portraits of…me––as a woman or a butterfly or a flower, with the word “Laura” written underneath. And next to me in each drawing, an even bigger surprise. A large cross with the word “Jesus” written in crayon or pencil. Jesus.

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Somewhere between LA and Nepal I had come home to myself and the Lord. Seeing myself so beautifully in pink, gold, red, yellow and brown crayon made the transformation all the more amazing. I hadn’t felt beautiful or amazing in a very long time. They saw me the way Jesus did. I was blind. A picture of the cross was about the last thing I expected the children to draw in the mostly Hindu country. Especially with a likeness of me and my name written beside the name of Jesus. I love how the Lord likes to blow all our expectations. Humbled, I hit my knees. It would have been really easy to not celebrate Easter in Nepal. But the kids and the Lord wouldn’t let me. While applying fluoride to a beautiful young girl’s teeth it hit me…

4/19/14

I’d been doing dental relief work here and realized Easter is tomorrow. I don’t want to ignore Easter. Not this year. Not when the person sitting next to me on this entire journey has been Jesus. This year I wasn’t alone, even though at times I never felt more alone. When I thought I lost everyone and everything I loved. This year I realized I’ll never be alone. Who would have ever guessed that I would celebrate the most meaningful Easter of my life in the Buddhist section of a mostly Hindu country? Jesus.

When I was walking in darkness, He held my hand. The Spirit moved me to ask Sonam if there were any Easter services in Kathmandu. She said she wasn’t sure but she would ask around. Sonam and her husband Karma founded a local girls’ school that cares for and educates the lowliest in Nepal’s society, orphaned/abandoned girls. Sonam was such a girl. Their passion and graciousness are an inspiration.

Later that night Sonam found some Christians that celebrated Easter and arranged my transportation to the service––a brief car ride and walk through her village with a sweet, beautifully dressed, bible-carrying Nepali woman. Shortly after sunrise, we arrived at a converted mosque. Everyone took their shoes off. Men kneeled on one side of the mosque and women kneeled on the other side. Some women wore veils. A Nepali man offered me a translation machine so that I’d get the most out of the service. The teenage girls of the congregation put on a uniquely Nepali passion play that brought me to tears.

The words over the altar read: “God is the way, the truth, and the life.” Easter will always remind me of the time that Jesus spoke to me through the drawings of the children, whispering He’d always been and always will be holding tight to my hand.

Happiness – 90 days around the world

I beheld the sight of the sun’s rays bathing the slopes and drifts of the Arabian desert from the air at dawn, painting the sand pink and gold. After a stop in Abu Dhabi, I arrived in Kathmandu that afternoon. The evening found me celebrating yet another New Year, The Nepali New Year, in Bouddhanath––a neighborhood I’d call home while working the Global Dental Relief Clinic set up at Shree Mangal DVIP school, a boarding school.

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4/12/14

Shirley, the school director, shared that most of the children attending are from “Yackland,” an area above 10,000 feet with no electricity, running water or communications in their villages. To get to their villages requires a week trek and a day’s drive. She informed us that they lost three fathers this year on their treks down to Kathmandu. The kids survived. Shirley told us that what makes the kids at their school special is their mastery of Buddha’s greatest teaching––the ability to turn a problem into happiness. 

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Shirley went on to tell us that the man who founded the school, Thrangu Rinpoche, fled Tibet. Most of the Buddhists in Nepal are Tibetan refugees from Communist China’s take over of their country. The story goes that Thrangu Rinpoche lived in a shack. He said that if he ever had the power to, he would see to it that the kids of Nepal had access to a free education, health care and dental. The Global Dental Relief team is part of his dream. She said that we were all there because we not only have good hearts but we are doing something with them. She blew me away with the stories she shared and the goodness that comes out of tragedy. I keep thinking about the power in losing everything as I witness my first Puja, walk the streets of Boudha, around the stupa mindful of the monks prayers and sacred bead counting. 

It was clear to me that the universe was trying to tell me something about newness, about faith and promise, about beginnings and happiness and the power of dreams. In the silence of Bali’s Nyepi Day my inner voice cried out. In the candlelight and chanting of the Nepali New Year celebration around the Boudha Stupa, I awakened to a new world of wonder and possibility.

sm.candlelight

sm.boys.newyear

(Nepal is among the poorest and least developed countries in the world with 42% of its population living below the poverty line. Poverty, mass illiteracy, ignorance and conservatism causes a majority of Nepali children to be deprived of their basic rights to education.)

Happy New Year! 2014’s greatest gift

Bali, Indonesia 2014
Bali, Indonesia 2014

The biggest gift 2014 gave me is the realization that:

Big dreams are our birthright.

Dream BIG. Believe. Watch what happens.

Another great gift was walking barefoot in the rice paddies.

A very Happy New Year to you, my faithful reader. You’ve stuck with me through thick and thin and now, I’m on the other side. The kind people at WordPress put this snap shot of Laurasmagicday together. I feel so blessed that people from sixty six countries are all on this journey. *raises a glass of champagne* (my absolute favorite drink) A toast to our adventures in 2015!  If you like what you read, help to spread the word. I’d like to get my San Francisco cable car trips (see below) up to 100 in 2015! May all your dreams come true…

 

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,200 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 37 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Teaser Tuesday: Safer Outside by Kristina Renee

Hey all, hope you’re having a great week! I just began reading SAFER OUTSIDE and have to share a teaser with you. I’m excited about going on Liz’s journey. Her story might be the perfect “curl up” read to take the edge off this crazy cold weather! Enjoy 🙂

Liz
Starting my sophomore year at a new school was bad enough but trying

to pull off a new persona seemed a bit ridiculous. I’d grown up with a lot of

the kids at that school but in the two years since they’d seen me, I’d lost twenty

pounds and changed by name. I kept asking myself if they would accept me as

the new and improved “Liz” or if they’d laugh at the feeble attempt dorky “Beth” 

was trying to make a new start? — Teaser from SAFER OUTSIDE

Mature YA Romance by Kristina Renee

Safer Outside, Book One of the Outside Series

When Liz moves to a new high school, she hopes for a fresh start. School is her escape from the violence at home and her only hope for breaking the cycle of
poverty she was born into. Trying to shield her siblings from her stepfather’s fury gets harder each day so when she meets Logan, she thinks it will be a
harmless distraction from the fear.

She’s Wrong.

Logan has the resources to change her life but at what cost? Her relationship is the best thing that ever happened to her but it could also be the worst. If she’s
not careful, she may lose everyone that’s important to her. But it’s hard to be careful when you’re fifteen and in love.

For readers 16+

Kristina Renee was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. She married her high school sweetheart after college and they have two sweet and adventurous sons. She spends her time chauffeuring her kids around and doing technical marketing but when she can escape, she loves reading, writing and editing. Learn more at www.KristinaReneeBooks.com
follow @authorkristinar
like facebook
visit goodreads

Friday Five : “To love my world, To give myself, To live and live and live”

Life is short

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Rest in peace Mike

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too short to make excuses for yourself, or for others

do that thing you’ve always wanted to do

be sure to be there for those that you love

“Mike lived the lyrics of his song To Live, may we do the same:

To love my world,
To give myself,
To live and live and live…” – read more about Mike here.

His songs will live forever listen to them here.

YA Podcast: A Christmas Carol & Giveaway

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So thrilled to be participating in this version of A Christmas Carol. This year with these incredible authors….

(and heard in this order)

Jill Cooper
Tia Bach
Eliza Tilton
S. M. Boyce
Stacey Marie Brown
Ashley Lavering
Morgan Wylie
Elaine Fields Smith
M.R. Polish
Amy Evans
Elizabeth Kirke
Devyn Dawson
Michelle Muto
Elizabeth Sharp
Laura A. H. Elliott
Kristina Circelli
Amy Leigh Strickland

Click here to have a listen, no worries…its not novel length!

 

This year I watched Scrooge, a favorite Christmas movie of mine. This year, when I watched the movie all sorts of emotions came up for me that never have before. Its great to find stories that meet you right where you are, stories that hold up a mirror to your life and help you see things you never saw before. Dickens’ tails are like that for me. I’ll never forget when I made the trip to his home in London. There, I found a beautiful sketch of him working at his writing desk with all of his characters sketched in little illustrations all around him. I wish I had a picture of this beautiful image.

 

Cover Reveal: Burned by Liz Long

Thank you to the amazing authors and bloggers who volunteered to help with today’s cover reveal. I am so excited to show off the cover for my new book – I’ve been dying to show it off! Made by the talented Caroline McKean, I hope you love it as much as I do (plus gets you a little worried about what’s to come).

Gifted, A Donovan Circus Novel is the first title in the series. Available at Amazon on Kindle and paperback, the ebook is currently on sale for only 99 cents to celebrate the upcoming release!

(Where’s Sheffield’s ringmaster voice when I need it?) Now here it is, the cover reveal for Burned, A Donovan Circus Novel!

burned_cover_final_web

Burned, A Donovan Circus Novel Synopsis:

“Tell Sheffield that Medved is hunting him…the Bear is coming.”

Nearly a month after Lucy Sullivan saved the Donovan Circus from certain death, she discovers that Dr. Felix Hardy wasn’t the only bad guy around. When Lucy is attacked on home ground, Sheffield Donovan reveals that there are bigger foes in their world, gifted that use their powers to kill others – including her own family, as she learns from her ringmaster mentor. Medved, a Russian thug and powerful Shapeshifter, is intent on outing the gifted world and will stop at nothing to succeed.

In order to survive, Lucy and her friends must travel to another show, the Grayson Circus, for help. The uneasy alliance with owner Albert Grayson comes with potential new friends and dark secrets about their competition, including a troublemaker named Mel and an old flame of Lucy’s father. Lucy must also contend with her feelings about Keegan and Gabriel, as well as learn how to contain her rampant emotions or risk setting the entire place ablaze.

Will Lucy be able to save the Donovan Circus again? Or will Medved and his men slaughter everyone in their path on the way to gifted domination?

About the Author:

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Liz Long is a ridiculously proud graduate of Longwood University with a BA in English. Her inspiration comes from action and thriller genres and she spends entirely too much time watching superhero movies. Her fabulous day job as a social media editor includes writing for a publishing company in Roanoke, VA.

Her first book, Gifted, is the first book in the Donovan Circus series. Her second book Witch Hearts, a story about a serial killer hunting witches for their powers, is available at Amazon on Kindle and paperback.

To learn more about Liz, visit her website: http://lizclong.com.