I still remember all the hoopla about the ending of the last millennium, and here we are already 15 years hence. Can you believe how readily time flies in our incredible age of fast forward?

I’m intrigued by the number of my readers who share that, although they enjoy the depth and intensity of Thriving: 1920–1939 and Choosing: 1940–1989, their preferred book of my Understanding Ursula trilogy is Arriving: 1909–1919 for the description, the detail, and the connectedness of our pioneers to God, Mother Nature, and each other. Like so many others, I often long to slow my pace and find lasting moments to savour my memories—to rediscover what Lori Knutson termed “soul satisfaction” in her wonderful book Sacred Simplicities: Seeing the Miracles in Our Lives.

By the time this newsletter reaches you I shall be on my annual sojourn to the exquisite Villas Las Ventanas located on Playa Junquillal off the Pacific Coast on the western edge of the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica. Year after year I return for its rustic appeal, to stroll along its timeless shore, and to absorb the energy and serenity of nature. Invariably I am soothed by the wonders and joy of God’s creation, and my spirit is replenished. It is a time for reflection, meditation, and prayer as well as a long-awaited opportunity to reunite with my Costa Rican family, Rosa, Danny, and Eder.

Many of my readers will be happy to learn that I shall also spend innumerable hours during my afternoons continuing to write Lords and Lepers. I’m as eager as you to see where my four female adolescents will take me on their journey into adulthood and to see if they will prove my thesis that, in today’s society, we are too often valued for what we do and have rather than for who we are. For your reading pleasure, here is an excerpt:

“Every moment of the long weekend in September at the Jamieson’s cottage on the shore of Clear Lake had been wonderful. Being together with the only three true friends she had ever known, Hope relished the excitement and gaiety of just being a teenager, not a prodigy, sunbathing on the beach, painting her toenails, giggling, and sharing stories into the wee hours of the morning. For the first time in as long as she could remember, she had not travelled with her prized violin, and she soon forgot all the expectations, trials, and tribulations of being consumed by the passion of her music.

“Perhaps even more salient was the deeper understanding Hope had begun to develop with Mrs. Jamieson. She had always been reserved around Cassandra’s mother, believing that the older woman was critical of her because of the supposed tension between Francine and her. But now that Francine was much more confident and not nearly as dependent on Hope whenever the foursome were together, even Jessica noticed that they were all more relaxed in each other’s company.”

A blessed New Year to all of my readers. I think of you often.


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