Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Okay, then...

Excerpt from Chapter 32- Stand At The Cross Roads:  Nine years earlier, when Buddy came out to doze our driveway, I'd asked him to also clear out a notch on the hilltop. That spot was designated as the site for the Cross Roads chapel, which at the time was to be the first building we constructed. As our plans continuously morphed, building the chapel became a dream for the future...

I knew that Pat had been thinking about building the chapel for quite a while. Every time we attended a worship service at a different church or chapel I could see him counting heads, measuring walls, and figuring costs in his mind. He is so quick with numbers that I frequently joke that he’s my personal calculator. But now he was treading on sacred ground, planning to design the chapel I had dreamed of for so many years. My defenses flew up.
            "I’m not sure the chapel will fit on that spot without more dozer work," he said. "Not if we plan to fill it with a couple hundred people."
            "Well, it should. We planned for it when we dozed the site."
            "It’s better to plan big, scale down later, if necessary. I’ll look at it."
            The size wasn’t our only point of contention. The beauty of cedar siding or the easy maintenance of HardyiPlank? A trendy tin roof or composition shingles that were guaranteed to keep the interior cooler and quieter? A tile floor, carpet, or stained concrete? Square windows? Rectangular? High or low? Agreement did not come easily between us, and after all, it was his money. But it was my vision. The ghost of that perverted adage about the Golden Rule kept poisoning my mind

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Labyrinth

Excerpt from Chapter 31 - Stand At The Cross Roads: As I approached the edge of the canvas mat, to step back into the real world, I was both excited and joyful. I knew now why God wanted us to build a Prayer Labyrinth at Cross Roads.
            At home, I went straight to the Internet and studied every entry I could find on the subject of labyrinths, amazed at the number of different styles and types. They could be constructed of canvas or garden hedges, or simply outlined in rope or rock. Some were permanent, while others were drawn in sand or dirt and erased when no longer needed.
            I ordered books on how to build one. Surely it couldn’t be that hard, and we could certainly afford rope, or maybe even rock. The day the books arrived, I opened the package and sat down to absorb whatever I needed to know.
            Unfortunately, the secret of the labyrinth was math - not my strong suit, by far. This particular math was called "sacred geometry." Although I studied the books and the equations for several days, I knew it was hopeless.
            The right space would have to be located, and an area large enough for a labyrinth would have to be hacked out of the heavy woods. Using rock would make it permanent, but a lot of man, or woman, power would be needed to haul the rocks and place them properly.
            I talked to God that day in earnest confusion. I knew He wanted a Prayer Labyrinth built at Cross Roads, but once again, He had given me a job to do that seemed impossible. Getting no immediate answer, I despondently shoved the books onto the bookshelf, where they remained untouched until after I married Pat.
            Pat's degree is in statistics and mathematics. Perfect. I gave him the books and asked him to help figure out the secret. He dutifully read the materials, but once again the books ended up back on the shelf.
             Now, after all this time, the idea of building God’s Prayer Labyrinth might be possible after all. Not only was Melissa familiar with the subject, because her church possessed one, but the previous summer her pastor, Jo Hudson, had traveled the entire southeastern United States learning to build labyrinths. This was the very same Jo Hudson whose grandfather’s house I had bought from the Methodist church in Somerville.
            A coincidence?
Reverend Jo Hudson  
Sally Miller, Dr. Suzanne Black & Melissa Dunn in background

Great news! Today I received a letter from The Writer's Edge, a manuscript submission/screening service that is recommended on many publishers websites for first time/non-published authors.  They have accepted the manuscript and it will be included in The Writer's Edge listing next month.  This listing will be sent to 75 publishers, including most of the leaders in Christian publishing.

The reviewer wrote, "Readers will be interested in the sometimes dramatic ways that God has worked in your life, and your honesty serves you well as you write about your journey of faith.  You have a compelling story to tell.  ...I want to encourage you to continue sharing your story..."

This last month was anything but down time.  Writing the daily excerpts has given me the opportunity to carefully re-read each chapter, expanding, revising, correcting or clarifying as I went. The result is an even better manuscript. The letter came the day before the last chapter posts.   A coincidence?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Yes, But...

Excerpt from Chapter 30 – Stand At The Cross Roads: For the first time in my life I had close friendships with women I loved and depended upon, women who magically appeared at my side during any important occasion. They worked beside me at the camp. They sat by my bed at the hospital. They brought meals to my home when I was recovering from a broken back. They counseled me, cried with me, celebrated with me. I didn’t want that part of my life to change.
            And this mission I’d undertaken, it was God’s work, yes, but it was also mine. I was the one He had called to steer this ship, and during these years of good times and bad, I was hardheaded enough to keep my hand always at the wheel. I couldn’t let that change.
            Previously, in my childhood as well as my marriages, men took control of my life. That never worked for me. So being in control was a type of self-preservation.
            Pat was stronger by far than any man I’d ever known. By marrying him, I would be agreeing to share my world, to share the camp and the vision God had given me for it. Could I do that?
                                                                          Jean Bailey, Jane Pulley, Ellen Knight
                                                                            Me & Cindy VanDeventer (standing)
                                                                              Restoration Accountability Group
                                                                                                                                                                                Melissa Dunn                                  

       GOOD NEWS!



Saturday, April 3, 2010

No Expectations

Excerpt from Chapter 29- Stand At The Cross Roads: A moment later, Mary introduced us, and I learned that Pat was her boss. She was his assistant. His office was the first one on the right, which I passed every time I visited her after that.
            He had an impressive roll-top desk, his walls were covered with geological and seismic data charts, and he was always wheeling and dealing on the phone. And when he was on the phone, he was usually pacing. He’d look up, say "Hi," and go back to work. The energy generating from that office was palpable.
            Pat was married back then, so to me he was just Mary’s boss, but he seemed to be an interesting person, a smart businessman, and above all, highly competent. Friendly, easy going, he never minded that I’d come by to visit. And he occasionally popped over to Mary’s office to say hello.
            That was in the early days of Cross Roads, late 1996. By the time Pat asked me out to lunch in September of 2001, he was in the process of divorce and I was recovering from a broken back. After the charity dance I invited him to in February, we started dating again and continued throughout that spring. One day, out of the blue, he said, "When are you going to ask me to go to church with you?"
            Panicked by the thought of what people would think if I showed up in church with a man and remembering our former conversation on this subject, when he’d asked me about the importance of faith in my life - I froze.  Once again, I had been challenged to put my money where my mouth was.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Change Is In the Wind

Excerpt from Chapter 28 - Stand At The Cross Roads: "The camp is bringing in enough revenue now to pay me a modest salary," I explained. "A far cry from the multiple salaries we envisioned four years ago, but enough for food and essentials. With that support, I can spend time marketing Cross Roads and still have time to take care of the day-to-day chores."
            "If that’s what you think you need to do, go ahead," Scott said.
            "We haven’t put out newsletters consistently in a while," I added. "We haven’t nearly explored all the churches within driving distance. With this extra time, I can do both."
            "If it’s what you want to do," Jennifer said ambiguously, "then you’ll make it work. If anybody can do it, Mom, you can."
            They didn’t actually encourage me, but they didn’t try to talk me out of it. I knew they felt as strongly as I did that we were spinning in circles going the way were now.
            Before May was over, I had turned in my resignation at Insite Printing. I was ready and eager to devote the summer promoting Cross Roads.
            Shortly thereafter, Jennifer and Scott came to me with the saddest faces I’d ever seen. Scott nervously hung back while Jennifer stepped forward.
            "This isn’t easy for us to tell you," she said. "We believe in what we ’ve tried to accomplish here, and we want Cross Roads to succeed, but…”

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Excerpt from Chapter 27- Stand At The Cross Roads: As the weekend approached, we kept a wary eye on the weather. It occurred to me at one point that the success of this event would guarantee we'd never suffer the whim of Texas weather in the future. Thus far, we seemed fated to have every big event rained out. Unfortunately, the forecast for the weekend was grim. Heavy weather off to the west was moving in our direction.
            Saturday dawned bright and sunny, so our spirits were high that morning. Melissa came to help Scott, Jennifer, and me mow, clean, and set up the tables and chairs.
            Dan Dickson and his fellow band members from “Godsong” arrived, pulling a trailer full of musical instruments and equipment. When I showed them where they’d be playing their eyebrows shot up. Exchanging furtive looks, the band set up at the edge of the open-air pavilion, while Dan pulled me quietly aside.
            "You think the weather will hold?" he asked apprehensively, as flurries of white Dogwood petals skittered across the grounds. 
Dan Dickson and wife Sara (my sister)