Murder Mystery Mayhem

 

Salutations favorite peeps! My incredibly good mood this morning could be blamed on several things. September is finally here and my anticipation of snuggly sweaters, flamboyant scarves, and leather boots is entirely too optimistic but is undeniably arrived. I am at the bottom of my first perfect cup of tea for the day. And I managed to stack up a total of five dead bodies last month.

It’s motivating.

I wasn’t that kid in middle school who could work a Rubik’s Cube. It crossed my eyes and when no one was looking, I peeled the little stickers off and pasted them back together on each side because my OCD was off the charts, seeing those colored squares out of place. I spent all of high school drama practice learning to french braid my own hair. It’s like underwater basket weaving, blind folded. These things can be done, but you have to access whole other parts of your brain to attempt them.

And I only have so much brain.

My official first Murder Mystery is accomplished, is what I’m trying to tell you, and writing it felt exactly like riding Mr Toad’s Wild Ride while attempting to french braid my curly hair and recite the alphabet backwards. There was a lot of lurching and laughing but also occasional shrieks.

The plot involves a fresh heroine, Loveda Brown, who races into the tiny town of Idyllwild, California in the Year of Our Lord 1912 and much mayhem and murder and mistaken identities occur. Technically classified as both a “historical” and a “cozy”, you won’t find violence or grisly bits on the pages but you will find humor and small town relationships because I am absolutely making this into a series. Hopefully, at least the first two will be available by Halloween. That just feels logical.

If you like things that go bump in the night, drop me a comment here. Let me know if you want to be on my list of super-sneaky, sworn-to-secrecy beta readers, the peeps who read my drafts and tell me which parts require tightening up. Like a noose. I’m currently taking auditions for my next villain and he or she must be willing to kill for all the right reasons and clever enough to get away with it. Tell me about your fave mystery, whether it’s a book, TV show, movie, or pandemic conspiracy theory. Some day, you might even find your name in one of my books.

Dead or alive.

Click this image to read the first chapter of “The Great Loveda Brown”.

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When You Can’t Go to the Mountain

I was supposed to be in Idyllwild today.

All week, actually.

Every year for a million years, even before we were married, Hubby and I were attending the Bible School up there in July.

Most of the fam is up there right now, and I can tell you – without any peeking online whatsoever – what their cabins look like and where they sat in the dining hall and exactly how they will saunter from the general assembly in a half hour from now and head over to Gilboa hall for classes.

The visions of those “left behind” at the rapture and those cast onto a desert island (or a ferry dock) as the party boat sails away without them and others who have walked into the ice cream shop only to discover that their favorite flavor was sold out only moments before…are nothing quite this startling.

Alas, unlike stay-at-home moms, humble servants of the public can’t gallop off into the woods at will.

It’s different.

And so, I sit at the keyboard wondering how, in the first time since never, you bring the mountain to yourself, instead.

The atmosphere there is crisp in the morning, as you sip coffee and the pines streak early sunshine from Tahquitz. So I sat on my deck and sipped tea and admired the sun streaks in our oaks.

The rabbits look the same.

Then they do the daily readings and I’d make a note here or there for pondering later and after announcements, we’d all settle in for morning classes.

So I read this morning, enjoying years of notes, laughing at my twenty-year-old so very naive ones, and follow them along as they grew in understanding, things erased and clarified and re-connected into the bigger fabric of this message of life and love and redemptive glory.

I play in my treasure chest a while and humming, rise to put my house in order for the day.

This God we worship, He is here.

He is there, too.

He is wherever you stand, sharing this moment with me; there is nowhere that He is not.

The difference then, might be the putting aside of everything in order to spiritually feast.

It’s arranging your life in order to leave it, to wander a mountaintop with a huge family reunion, and just breathe Him in.

It’s a deliberate focus.

Up the mountain and down the mountain is like comparing Thanksgiving to plain old dinner.

The yearly gathering ends with a deep satisfaction, tempered with sadness that it’s over.

But – big surprise – my kids are still hungry the next day. For that kind of effort, it should feed us for at least half a year, right? Nope.

We pray for our “daily bread”.

We ask, standing next to Daniel who would never see his mountain again, for just bread and water. For enough.

“Whether I am on the Mountain or at the office, I have learned in whatsoever state I am to be content,” says paraphrased Paul.

So I think, as the party boat sails away, that being on a desert island once in a while can have it’s benefits, if only to prove that the humble daily dinner can become a feast with proper intentions.

Two things occur to me.

  1. There is more food available than a king’s table could hold, right here on the empty beach.
  2. I am not alone.

When you take the thing you wanted, the thing that was outside of you, that you could see and touch and want, and put the thing inside of you, you become the thing.

Are you what you eat? Education and opinions and disciplines and whatever it is that you decided was worth swallowing are continually changing the landscape of who you are.

His days are full of every element of Thanksgiving, should we choose to act like it.

This week can hold every element of the Mountain, should I choose to act like it.

It’s a deliberate focus in much smaller bites.

So I will connect with others that feel “left behind” and remind them that we are, indeed, also part of the Mountain, wherever we stand right now.

I will have meals with them and we will admire the gifts in our treasure chests and skip the elaborate planning and leave satisfied. Sufficient for the day.

The party boat is inside of me.

The Mountain is inside of me.

I will deliberately make space for study and I will deliberately make space for family reunion and I will deliberately make space for holding still and just breathing Him in.

Here.

Today.

And I am grateful.

Idyllwild Pines

Pigging Out

Let me set the scene: Breakfast is served cafeteria style at our annual week long family bible camp in Idyllwild Pines CA. They used to serve it family style on platters but that was, apparently, too easy. My 12 year old is standing first in line, taking no chances on missing out on any possible tasty goodness that will be served. He isn’t interested in quality so much as quantity. A 12 year old boy is never full to the top and spends much of his day seeking, eating and thinking about food. In later years, this morphs into other subjects that cause me to lose sleep, so for now, I am encouraging him in this hobby.

He patiently thanks the servers for what is placed on his tray and the last I see him, he’s sitting with buddies loudly enjoying the start of another fun day. I of course am delighted to be enjoying my own calmer breakfast with real live adults. There’s not a toddler in a clip-on high chair, I’m not eating over the head of an infant strapped to my chest, and I don’t have a kindergartner asleep in a wagon just outside the doorway. Twenty minutes of contented breakfast later, I clear the table and head out of the dining hall.

Full stop.

Let me re-set the scene: a 12 year old boy eats like the wind (in case other competing 12 year old boys are looking sideways at his meal). And then he looks around for more. The cafeteria is happy to hand out seconds, even thirds, until the food runs out. So why am I looking at my son, sitting outside at a picnic table, up to his ecstatic elbows in a massive platter of bacon? His eyes are a little glazed over, a look of bliss on his face. I know I speak for everyone here when I said, “Eeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwww.”

Actually, you and I know that’s not what I said. I said, “How did you get that?” followed by a moment of being impressed with the child’s opportunistic skills, followed by a vague jealousy, followed quickly with my mom instincts: “You are going to be SO SICK.”

“But mom,” says the cherub, grease dripping from his chin, “they were just gonna throw it all away!”

Here is where I need to take a moment. Just last week, I was cleaning the morning kitchen mess and on a large tray was one last chocolate brownie. You know what happened, right? We’re not going to let a brownie come between finishing the kitchen and moving on with the day. Brownies for breakfast without even skipping a beat. Can’t waste it just because it has nowhere to go.

Boom! Kitchen clean. No survivors.

Pork products are near and dear to my family’s heart, and I’m going to assume, yours. We will do the happy dance if ham or sausage or bacon or BBQ pulled pork sliders are on the menu, and we keep it fairly rare for health reasons as it does, literally, get near to our hearts. So I couldn’t really do anything about the bacon bliss breakfast except laugh and hope for the cast iron stomach of a 12 year old to take the punishment that his mouth was sending down.

We should all be so punished.