Maine Lights

Back in August, Tim and I went to Maine for a long weekend. This month we vacationed in Maine with my brother and his wife, Chris and Carol Lutz. We'd planned this trip for a year, and it lived up to our expectations.

We arrived in Portland and after lunch went to see the Portland Lighthouse.


It was majestic and beautiful, and we couldn't have picked a better day to see it.



The next day we walked out to the Rockland Lighthouse. It's an amazing experience. You walk out on huge rocks that are somehow held together to make a path through the water to the lighthouse.




Here's Tim with Chris and Carol.

That's how our vacation started. Maine's coast is beautiful and rugged, and we saw the leaves starting to turn red and yellow. I'll share more about our trip later.







Psalm 8: 1-4
Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
in the heavens.
2 Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?

A time to rest


I'm going to take a few days off from blogging to rest. It's been a busy year with changing jobs, a wedding, and being sick for weeks, and I think it's time to rest. I look forward to returning and leave you with Ecclesiastes 3.


Ecclesiastes 3 New International Version

A Time for Everything
3 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
9 What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

15 Whatever is has already been,
and what will be has been before;
and God will call the past to account.[b]
16 And I saw something else under the sun:

In the place of judgment—wickedness was there,
in the place of justice—wickedness was there.
17 I said to myself,

“God will bring into judgment
both the righteous and the wicked,
for there will be a time for every activity,
a time to judge every deed.”
18 I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. 19 Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath[c]; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. 20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”

22 So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?


Just for fun...buried treasure

Have you ever seen people combing the beach with a metal detector? I suppose they're looking for buried treasure. In a slow rhythmic motion the swing the machine back and forth. Once in a while they'll stop and dig for an item, but I've never seen anybody jump for joy or throw a fist in the air and let out a victory whoop. Have you?

Once Tim lost the car keys on a beach in Florida, and a kind soul with a metal detector helped him find the keys. By the time they were found, I'm sure Tim cheered with relief.


We're planning a trip to Maine, and I was curious about buried treasure. We usually visit the Carolinas where there are stories of Blackbeard and other pirates, but I didn't know about up North.

It turns out there may be buried treasure in Maine. My research shows Captain Kidd may have buried at least 45 treasures in Maine around Wiscasset. Bucksport is another area known to have buried treasure from pirates as well as the mouth of the Penobscot River. These pictures are from the Bucksport area.




I don't think I'll plan a vacation around finding buried treasure though. When I go on vacation I like to relax and spend time with family and friends. Spending time with family is better than finding any buried treasure.

Boldness for 2016

Instead of a list of New Year's Resolutions, I decided to be focus on being bolder in 2016.

"Once I let go of the fear and turned it over to God I ended up with the joy." Susan Anne Mason

One of the things I accomplished this year was having my first novella published. I joined three other ladies, Loretta Gibbons, Rose Allen McCauley and Jennifer Johnson, to write romances centered around Bald Head Island.


Right now, my husband and I've been praying to determine God's will. We're pretty sure we know what He wants us to do, the question is are we brave, or bold, enough to follow.

I'll keep you all posted.

Flag of the Week

This weeks flag is from Castine, Maine.


The day we visited Castine was on and off foggy. Last week I shared about our visit to Dyce Head Lighthouse. Castine is a charming coastal town full of charm. Maine Maritime Academy is located in Castine. It's a four-year institution for officers and engineers for the United States Merchant Marine and similar industries.


Boats moored in the water captured my attention. I've seen boats tied up at docks, but before our trip I'd never seen boats sitting in the water without occupants. I learned it's like parking your car in a parking lot. You pick your spot and take the keys with you so nobody steals your boat.

Dyce Head Lighthouse

In Castine, Maine you'll find the Dyce Head Lighthouse. (Some people spell it Dice.) This was the one lighthouse we saw on our quick trip to Maine in August.


The lighthouse is located on a peninsula on the east side of the entrance to Penobscot River. It is positioned on a natural area, and the ground are open to the public. The house is lived in and not open to visitors.



The light first shone on November 5, 1828, but it was decommissioned in 1937 and moved to a nearby skeletal tower. The tower was turned over to Castine in 1956. In 2007 a microburst knocked over the skeleton tower. After that the Coast Guard installed a light in the Dice Head tower, so the Dyce Head Lighthouse again shines.

Barbies

When I was growing up, I loved to read and play Barbies. My mother grew up playing with paper dolls, and she understood my love of playing with dolls.

Mom made Barbie rooms for me to enjoy and saved them after I grew up. Because I had sons, I never pulled them out. There was no way Bill and Scott would play with any of my toys. Brooke and Allie have seen my Barbie dolls, and I even bought them a modern doll house. But this weekend I pulled out my old Barbie rooms for them. We opened one box at a time.



The girls were amazed and thought the rooms were cute. Allie seemed intrigued with all the lamps in different rooms, and Brooke enjoyed setting up the furniture in every room. My mother made some of the furniture with cardboard and material. The rooms have real cloth curtains, bedspreads, and pillows. Some of the rooms have wooden furniture, and even a few pieces are from my mother's childhood.


One footstool is a wooden top from men's cologne. and this blue chair is made from cardboard and covered with material.








Tim helped us pull out all of the boxes and put together shelves for rooms. We even found my Barbie camper. After we set everything up, the dolls took a trip to the Atlanta Aquarium in the camper.



Many winter days I'd come home from school and spend hours playing with my friends and my Barbie dolls. I hope the girls will enjoy coming to my house and playing with them. Today was a good start in building the excitement. It was really sweet to be able to share this joy with them.



Thanks for stopping by and allowing me to share memories and new fun. Have a great day!

Barbies

When I was growing up, I loved to read and play Barbies. My mother grew up playing with paper dolls, and she understood my love of playing with dolls.

Mom made Barbie rooms for me to enjoy and saved them after I grew up. Because I had sons, I never pulled them out. There was no way Bill and Scott would play with any of my toys. Brooke and Allie have seen my Barbie dolls, and I even bought them a modern doll house. But this weekend I pulled out my old Barbie rooms for them. We opened one box at a time.



The girls were amazed and thought the rooms were cute. Allie seemed intrigued with all the lamps in different rooms, and Brooke enjoyed setting up the furniture in every room. My mother made some of the furniture with cardboard and material. The rooms have real cloth curtains, bedspreads, and pillows. Some of the rooms have wooden furniture, and even a few pieces are from my mother's childhood.


One footstool is a wooden top from men's cologne. and this blue chair is made from cardboard and covered with material.








Tim helped us pull out all of the boxes and put together shelves for rooms. We even found my Barbie camper. After we set everything up, the dolls took a trip the to Atlanta Aquarium in the camper.



Many winter days I'd come home from school and spend hours playing with my friends and my Barbie dolls. I hope the girls will enjoy coming to my house and playing with them. Today was a good start in building the excitement. It was really sweet to be able to share this joy with them.



Thanks for stopping by and allowing me to share memories and new fun. Have a great day!

Life on Bald Head Island



Today I'm so excited to have Pam Smith as a guest on my back porch. She's going to share a little about life on Bald Head Island. Here's Pam...

Do you remember the movie "Trains, Planes & Automobiles"? Replace those with "Car, Ferry and Golf Cart" and you have an idea of the unique commute to Bald Head Island, a barrier island directly off the coast of North Carolina. Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Fear river, Bald Head Island is accessible only via boat or ferry, there is no bridge connector to the island. As they say on the island, getting there is half the fun!

I first encountered Bald Head Island back in 1999 during an impromptu "lighthouses" of NC tour with my mom ( my mom is famous for her spontaneous road trips). We rode the ferry over from Southport to see Old Baldy, the oldest standing lighthouse in NC. I fell in love with the island then and when an opportunity arose to work there in 2014, I jumped at the chance! I work for the Bald Head Island Conservancy, a non-profit formed by island residents and land owners in 1983 who wanted to preserve its natural landscape and habitats, in essence "live in harmony with nature". Bald Head consists of three various eco systems - the coast / dune ridge, maritime forest and salt marsh, all of these provide homes to a wide variety of critters and creatures on the island, including; deer, alligator, a wide variety of birds; heron, ibis, painted buntings and bald eagles, river otter, an abundance of crab and fish, nesting sea turtles and this year, a group of nesting least terns.

(This is a white ibis.)

The BHI Conservancy's mission is barrier island education, preservation and conservation, including its well known Sea Turtle Protection program. Working in conjunction with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and the National Marine Fisheries Service, Bald Head Island has been designated as an "index beach" making our sea turtle nesting activity and protection program nationally recognized.



The BHI Conservancy is funded a variety of ways including; Corporate sponsors, memberships, donations, programs, 5K Turtle Trot runs and Turtle Central- the non profit gift shop benefitting the Conservancy. Now here is where I come in! I manage the non-profit gift shop and online store on the Conservancy campus along with part-time staffers and volunteers. We serve as the Gateway to the BHI Conservancy and even the island itself as we are often asked a myriad of questions pertaining to the island. We know where the eagle's nest is on middle island, where the big gators like to roam, how to kayak the creek, where the beautiful painted bunting likes to flit and flutter in spring as he serenades his lady love and all about sea turtle nesting, boils and excavations. We can discuss our groundbreaking non lethal deer population control methods and how sand temperature affects the sex of baby loggerhead sea turtles, all while selling you a t-shirt!


Bald Head Island is truly like no other place I have ever been or worked, there is a distinct effort by residents, workers, business owners and vacationers alike to keep the island as close as possible to its natural state. The homes and cottages are nestled in between rugged dunes and centuries old live oaks, there are no cars on the island. There is a charming post office and chapel situated close to Old Baldy. Kids can roam and explore and parents are grateful for a sometimes spotty cell phone and Internet connection. I hear over and over how families connect and enjoy time together, they feel the island is an escape from the real world, back to the way things were before Golden Arches and discount stores dotted every corner of our landscape.





The sense of community is strongly felt on the island, you feel it when a collective group of islanders and tourists alike are gathered on a beach as the sun begins to set, a hush falls over the crowd while a sea turtle intern checks a nest that has boiled 72 hours prior, she counts the eggs noting the hatch rate, and then as everyone waits with baited breath, she draws a baby up and shows it to the crowd, there are gasps, sighs and sometimes tears as the baby is shown and taken down to the ocean's edge where it begins its journey to the Sargasso Sea. According to our collected research, she will eventually return to Bald Head, as her mother did some thirty years before and lay her own nest, completing the cycle.




Pam, thanks so much for stopping by and sharing with us today.

Please stop by and visit Pam, Turtle Central Gift Shop, and the Conservancy.

Here's the Instagram link: https://www.instagram.com/turtlecentralbhic/

Here is the Facebook www.facebook.com/BHICTurtleCentralGiftShop

And the link to the online store: www.turtlecentral.org



Shop address and contact info:

Turtle Central Gift Shop
700 Federal Road
Bald Head Island, NC 28461
910-457-0917




Grandparents' Day

Last week Bill told me Grandparents' Day was this week. Even though Brooke is six years old, I first thought about my parents. And then it hit me, Tim and I were the grandparents invited to Brooke's school for lunch.

Today we signed in at school and paid for our lunch. I saw another grandmother down the hall with a BIG bag of food from Panera. Brooke loves Panera and I felt like I had failed her. Soon my daughter-in-law arrived with her mother and Allie. Tim got stuck in traffic by a train, but we all made it to the lunchroom in time for lunch.

Brooke walked us through the line, and we sat down to eat.


We talked and ate and had a good time even though we hadn't brought food from Panera.

Afterwards we traced our hands on the table cloth.


Right before we left, we took our picture with Brook and Allie and Libby Benge, also known as Granny to the girls.


Football in the South

College football starts in the South Eastern Conference this weekend. In honor of the upcoming football season, today Janet Ferguson is my guest. Janet and I just enjoyed time together at the ACFW 2016 Conference in Nashville.


Now, here's Janet:

The South, Football, & Life

In the South, most of us love football. It’s something we talk about, cheer for, and spend time watching with friends, whether in person or as a group watching it on TV. The adrenaline seems to flow as the leaves begin to turn from deep greens to those fall yellows and oranges, and a chill touches the air, and those pads and helmets are put on.
My husband played high school football. He was a center. I’ve always watched the sport at whatever school I attended, and of course, in Mississippi, we follow the SEC games. I never thought a whole lot about why we enjoy watching so much or about the injuries the players battle with—until my son played the sport.

His junior year, he tore his ACL and his shoulder labrum participating in this sport he loved. And he was not able to make a comeback. I saw the game through different eyes as he struggled with the loss. He missed the comradery, the goal, the discipline, the friendship. Everything about being a part of a team.


While he was going through three of four surgeries that he ended up having, I began writing Tackling the Fields. It combines this love for a game with the loss of a dream for one character and the loss of innocence for another. It was a challenging, almost painful, book to write. But in the end God heals our wounds and helps each of us recover from our broken places.
He’s there to free each of us from the heartaches that try to take us captive.

I'm so thankful Janet could take time out of her busy schedule and visit today. Tackling the Fields is a wonderful story and is available as ebook and paperback.


Flag of the Week




This week's flag comes from Lake Alamoosook in Maine. I've always loved the water and mostly vacationed around the Atlantic Ocean. My first time to stay in a lake house was magical. The water was tranquil and clear. You could see fish in the water and rocks on the bottom of the lake. My time at Lake Alamoosook was much too short.

I want to share a few more pictures from this beautiful area. Enjoy!

Job 4:7-10 NIV 7 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; 8 or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. 9 Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? 10 In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.

Maine Lobster

Last weekend I spent a long weekend in Maine. One place we visited was Wood's Seafood situated on a back road near Alamoosook Lake.



We purchased halibut and had a delicious dinner with it as our main course. Mr. Wood showed me the lobsters and explained in the state of Maine you are limited to the size of lobster you catch. If it's too small, throw it back. If it's too large, throw it back. Because of a shellfish allergy, I can't let myself be tempted to eat lobster, but I remembered the days when I could.



Thanks to Mollie Heron for taking us to Mr. Wood's Seafood Shop, and thanks to Mr. Wood for taking time out to talk to me.

Summer Memories via Flowers


In my family we call this a resurrection lily. In the spring the leaves come up, and about three months later the flower blooms. These flowers make me think of Grandmother Hubbard and Aunt Judy.(Elizabeth Hubbard and Julia Hudson) Different sides of my family, but both grew them. Tim had a friend, Wiley Finney, who grew these flowers too. I've shared before that we pass flowers along in my family, and we received some bulbs from my relatives and from Wiley which is one of the reasons I think of these dear people.

Lycoris squamigera is the official name for this delicate flower. Some people call this a magic lily, but I like resurrection better. Three months. Three days.

“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-5)

Even more than remembering family and friends, I think of Jesus when I see resurrection lilies.


Fitbit Craze

I was excited to get a Fitbit for Mother's Day this year. I'd noticed others wearing them and thought it'd be a good way to stay motivated to move. Boy, does it keep me motivated.

You can set daily goals and weekend goals. You can challenge friends. You get rewards. During May I was getting settled into my new job, and if it hadn't been for my Fitbit, I wouldn't have pushed myself to walk as much.

During vacation, Tim and I would track our miles. We walked down to the pier each morning and by the time we returned to the condo, we were well on our way to reaching our 10,000 steps.

When you walk 20,000 steps in a day you receive a high top badge.

On July 5, I received the following email, "You've walked 250 miles—as many as the world's first underground railway. This triumph really lays the tracks for some big things in the future." Isn't that fun and creative?


I think one reason people are excited about their Fitbits is the encouragement you receive for reaching goals. So, my new goal is to hit 500 miles walked by the end of August. I'll let you know if I make it.

Victoria Bylin-Inspirational Author from Kentucky

A few years ago I met Victoria Bylin at a Bluegrass Writers' meeting. She was fun and gracious. Since meeting Vicki I've read Until I Found You, Together With You, and this month I read Someone Like You. I don't often review books on my blog, but I wanted to introduce you to Vicki and tell you a little about her book.



What is her book about? Here's how she answered that question.


Someone Like You is a flip-flop reunion story. Back in college, Zeke Monroe and Julia Dare were romantically involved. A minister’s son, Zeke believed his faith was strong, while Julia had no faith at all. Fast forward six years . . . Julia is now a single mom and a brand new Christian, while Zeke is wrestling with himself and God. He’s also trying to save a historic California resort and needs Julia’s help to do it. Add in Julia's rotten ex,her young son, and a romance between her mom and a country music star who looks and sounds like Sam Elliot, and you have the bones of the book.

I enjoyed the depth to this story. So many issues were handled in one book, and many times you wondered how it would all turn out. And this story was big enough to handle two romances and flirted with a third potential romance. But the story also handled tough issues. One day last week part of my morning devotional included Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV):

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.


Later that day as I read, Someone Like You, the character reflected on this same verse. I can't tell you how cool that was.

Here's a little about the author:

Victoria Bylin is known for tackling tough subjects with great compassion. In 2016, Together With You, a story of grace and healing, won the Inspirational Readers Choice Award for Best Contemporary Romance. Her other books, including historical westerns, have finaled in the Carol Awards, the RITAs, and RT Magazine’s Reviewers Choice Award. A native of California, she and her husband now make their home in Lexington, Kentucky. Learn more at

If you're looking for a good book to read, I highly recommend Someone Like You.

Here's the back cover copy:
Julia Dare is trying to run her own business, raise her young son, Max, and help her widowed mother. Her biggest worry, though, is keeping Max's father from being a bad influence while still allowing the boy to spend time with his dad. When an account from her event-planning business sends her to Caliente Springs resort, she's shocked to encounter Zeke Monroe, her college sweetheart.

Zeke is determined to keep Caliente Springs running despite financial trouble. When Julia walks back into his life, he's surprised at the feelings she stirs up. As they work together on an important client's wedding, the fate of the resort soon depends on their success. With Zeke and Julia both pushed to their limits, will their history put up walls between them or bring them together?

Robert and Norma Noe's gift to the Speed Museum-Largest Gift in the Speed's 86-year History



From the time I met Tim, I heard marvelous stories about Bob and Norma Noe. Stories about their kindness and their love for Kentucky. Bob and Norma worked in the Washington, DC area for years. He once told me they used to visit museums in different states. They returned to Kentucky in 1979 experienced in the art of collecting antiques. Soon they became collectors of Kentucky pieces. Bob said, "There is an emotional reason for collecting Kentucky objects. We are Kentuckians..." Thus began their journey to become Kentucky collectors.

The Noes generously gave their collection of early Kentucky arts, furniture and crafts to the Speed Museum in Louisville. When the Speed Museum expanded, they included a wing that mainly includes the Noes generous gift of 119 pieces.

Their generous gift includes furniture, textiles, ceramics, paintings and silver. The best Kentucky pieces are identifiable by their delicate bell-flower inlay and other inlays. The Noes passion for Kentucky and for collection Kentucky antiques and then for donating them to the museum will help preserve Kentucky's heritage for generations. Thanks to Bob and Norma Noe.

Check Out This CIA Operative's 9-Step Hotel Safety Checklist


Drew Dwyer, a Marine Corps veteran and former CIA operative, has traveled the world. He has stayed in hundreds of hotels and here are his safety tips. MOST of these I've never considered, but they'll go through my mind in the future.


1. Acquire or make a copy of the fire escape plan on the back of your door. Most of these just slide out. (I often look at the plan and climb the stairs for exercise purposes.)

2. Do not stay on the ground or the top floor. The ground floor is readily accessible to intruders and the top floor does not allow any room to maneuver. The first or second (European) floors allow access for most third world country emergency vehicles.


3. Keep the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door, even when you are not there.

4. Always assume the room is bugged. Keep the radio or TV turned on with the volume on low at all times -- even when you are not in the room.

5. Keep the drapes/blinds pulled at all times, even when unoccupied. (I always open the curtains to enjoy the view.)

6. Keep a light on in the room when unoccupied.

7. Keep a small “bug-out bag” packed with must-have items (money, ID, passport, etc.) in the event of an emergency departure.

8. Carry a motion alarm that can be placed over the doorknob. They are about $20 and can be found in most electronics stores.

9. Keep a flashlight next to the bed and within arm’s reach.



I learned so much from this list. No more putting passport/ID in safe. Keep curtains closed. I love the idea of a "bug-out-bag." It makes me think of Jason Bourne.
I'll start traveling with a flashlight and will start putting out the "Do Not Disturb" sign.

I'd love to hear what you think about this list. Have you ever done any of these safety tips?

God Delighted Us

Despite a week full of rain leading up to the wedding, God delighted us with a nice day for Scott and Kellianne's wedding. Not only did God hold off the rain, but the sun peeked through the clouds, and we had an amazing sunset.

I'm exhausted from a wonderful weekend of love. The love of God, Scott and Kellianne's love, and the love of family. The ceremony was beautiful. Pastor Max focused a lot on the love of Jesus. The Project859 Band sang at the wedding and reception. So much of the evening was focused on Jesus, and I've wondered often if that's why He allowed the weather to be nice. The kids honored God at the ceremony and reception, right down to the band leader asking us to circle around the couple and pray for them after the last dance.

This may be my only post this week, but I'd like to end with a few pictures.