Category Archives: Writing

Hope for All Seasons; Friends for All Time

Is it fair to have a three-point “message” this morning? I probably shouldn’t,
but there are three ideas burning a hole in my brain: 1. Please extend yourself in love to widows and widowers
(who are often more lonely than widows, since men sometimes aren’t quite as connected to their kids and grandchildren). 2. There’s a new book that just came out, Hope for All Seasons,
and I’d like to recommend it. 3. I never cease to marvel at how connected we all really are,
although most of the time we probably have no clue!

              Okay, for any of you who have time to hear the longer version… #1. Since coming to our new church, we’ve made a lot of new friends. One teaches our Sunday school class sometimes, and not only do we appreciate his excellent teaching, he lost his wife to breast cancer a couple of years ago (just after we started going to our Sunday school class), so we’ve had a special heart to pray for him and invite him over a bit. (We have several close friends who live far away and have lost their mate, and we know how deeply lonely they are!) #2. At any rate, over the course of getting to know Jay, we realized that his wife was Julie Ackerman Link, who wrote for Our Daily Bread, a daily devotional ministry that has been a part of my life for 50 years (and where several of our kids worked during summers). Posthumously, Discovery House has just released a book of 150 of her devotionals called, Hope for All Seasons, which is now available online and through Christian bookstores. I’ve ordered a copy and am really looking forward to reading it, because I love her writing and heart. She was also the person who started the writers’ group I attend, although (sadly) I joined after she was gone. #3. Last time Jay was over for dinner, we realized we also had a college connection. Bob Jones University was our alma mater! Jay is enough younger than I am so that we weren’t students at the same time, but he mentioned having an older sister my age, and once he told me her name, I realized we’d actually been very good friends! In fact, we were “society sisters!” (At B.J.U. “societies” were comparable to sororities and fraternities.) Sadly, his sister recently passed away with cancer, so I won’t be able to renew that friendship here on earth, but she was a real “kindred spirit” 45 years ago, and it was such a revelation to realize our interconnectedness. I’m guessing that for all of us—if we only knew—we’d discover multiple connections with friends and family members within a 30-mile radius of our home. We probably pass people on the street or in stores who are actually friends with whom we’ve lost contact, or distant relatives, or related to people we know and love. I suppose in this life, we’ll never fully know “who’s who,”  but won’t it be a delight in heaven to explore all the relationships we have with one another? And, don’t forget: All believers are brothers and sisters in Christ and children of God. What fun…and what a family reunion there will be someday!

“Sing the Wondrous Love of Jesus”

“Sing the wondrous love of Jesus,
sing His mercy and His grace;
in the mansions bright and blessed,
He’ll prepare for us a place.

“When we all get to heaven,
what a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
we’ll sing and shout the victory.”  (—E.E. Hewitt, 1898, public domain)

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).

*If you’d like to learn more about Our Daily Bread, you can access it here:

Joy to You this Easter Day! He is Risen Indeed!

In honor of its being Resurrection Sunday, I’ve laid aside my usual post on the Song of Solomon and want to share some beautiful poetry written by the daughter of one of my friends. Lynette Garlets is the mother of four and in the midst of moving her family from Michigan to the Southeast. She wrote these poems first in her head while nursing her young children during the midnight hours of last Easter season. I hope you’ll be as enriched as I have been by reflecting on her meditations.

                                                       Mary’s Delivery

She carried a burden for nearly a year.
He carried his for thirty-three clear.

She traveled the days before her time.
His last walk was the Golgotha climb.

She labored for hours with groans and sweat.
His labor made the sky turn black.

She spilled her blood when her baby came.
He spilled it all, his race to reclaim.

She treasured these things and pondered on them.
His treasure was the rescue of men.

The cry, “It is finished, it is done!”
And Mary kissed her sleeping son.  (~Lynette Garlets)


His only crown was one of thorns.
His only throne a cross.
His palace–where they laid his bones.
His subjects all, he lost.

His naked body clothed my own.
His wounds healed all of me.
His flowing blood paid all my loan.
He won my loyalty.

So raise your flag of homage now.
Sing his song anew.
Love him and before Him bow.
He loved all of you.  (~Lynette Garlets)

(As it says in the Bible:) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16-17).


The woolly worm within its casket sleeps–
All dried and hardened, given up for dead;
All crushed and crowded in its narrow bed.
Like death he neither eats nor breathes nor creeps.
A secret there enclosed, its casement keeps,
A mystery so wondrous, it is said,
That in due time this coffin it will shed
To spread its wings of light, to heav’n it sweeps. (~Sonnet by Lynette Garlets)Can we accept this miracle divine
And justly give the glory to our God?
And then to learn the lesson of the sign–
The metamorphosis of Christ to laud.  If we believe the truth of only one,
Then our own transformation we have none.  (~Sonnet by Lynette Garlets)

And finally, a beautiful hymn written 150 years ago:Crown Him With Many Crowns

  1. Crown Him with many crowns,
    The Lamb upon His throne;
    Hark! How the heav’nly anthem drowns
    All music but its own!
    Awake, my soul and sing
    Of Him Who died for thee,
    And hail Him as thy matchless King
    Through all eternity.
  2. Crown Him the Lord of love!
    Behold His hands and side—
    Rich wounds, yet visible above,
    In beauty glorified.
    No angel in the sky
    Can fully bear that sight,
    But downward bends His wond’ring eye
    At mysteries so bright.
  3. Crown Him the Lord of life!
    Who triumphed o’er the grave,
    Who rose victorious in the strife
    For those He came to save.
    His glories now we sing,
    Who died, and rose on high,
    Who died eternal life to bring,
    And lives that death may die.
  4. Crown Him the Lord of heav’n!
    One with the Father known,
    One with the Spirit through Him giv’n
    From yonder glorious throne,
    To Thee be endless praise,
    For Thou for us hast died;
    Be Thou, O Lord, through endless days
    Adored and magnified.

    (Matthew Bridges, pub.1852
    v. 3 by Godfrey Thring, pub.1874
    copyright status: Public Domain)

Happy Ninth Anniversary, Summer Setting!

April 8 marked the ninth anniversary of my blog, Summer Setting, and it’s still one of the highlights of my daily life! Although my primary goal in writing is an attempt to be faithful to the calling I feel like God has given me, it’s been super rewarding and motivating to check in on my “Stats” page every once in a while. For instance, this past week people from over 60 countries looked at blog posts, and in the last 3 days Summer Setting was accessed over 1,300 times. That sounds like a lot to me, but given that I now have close to 2,000 followers, it also seemed like a curiously small number until I learned from WordPresses’ “Happiness Engineers” that their statistics don’t include any of the followers who have asked to have my posts sent directly to their email accounts every day, since they don’t have a tracking system to know who has opened those emails.

Now, you may be alarmed that I’d notice or care about “how many” people are interested in my blog, since ultimately whatever we do should be “heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23). You are right, and I should not be driven by human approval. However, the reason I’m passing this along to you is because it occurred to me that you might be a lot like me…trying hard in your own way to make a positive impact on your world without getting a lot of obvious response. However, beneath the surface, every good and right thing you do will add value to our world, whether or not anyone recognizes it, and it may be that there are more people who are being positively impacted than you realize. (Which is sadly also true when we make selfish, sinful choices.) Think of us as being blood cells in a body. As individuals, we have a minuscule role, but what we do affects many to most of the other cells in the body.

Feeling discouraged? If you’re a believer, know that Jesus is our “boss,” our Lord and Savior. If He’s smiling, that’s really all that matters. However, if He’s smiling, there are probably others who are feeling warmed by the sunshine as well, whether or not you can see them.

The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

Time Out from Politics…Have You Taken Time for an Autumn Retreat?

blue-water-writers-groupOur Blue Water Writers’ Group had their first ever fall retreat at my house last month, and we had such a grand time that we’ve already planned our next one. memoirsIn fact, I had so much fun personally that now I’m wishing everybody could cook up their own autumn retreat—if not for a group of like-minded friends who might need a concentrated time of productivity in their chosen field—meditationthen a personal retreat to focus on something that’s especially precious to you. brenda-bringing-a-basket-of-goodiesOur group shared breakfast together, had a three-hour “silent time” for writing, took an hour break for a brown-bag lunch together, and then went for another three-hour silent time for writing.

writers-retreatSome of us sat at a table together, writing-in-the-garden-roombut most found cozy corners or private areas where they could spread out quiet-retreatand work without any distractions whatsoever.preparing-to-be-a-spiritual-mentorAll of us felt like our time had been well spent.

deer-on-laneI know a number of you are caregivers and can’t even leave your homes to go anywhere for the day, but what about declaring your own private retreat? writer-at-workFor my son Michael’s birthday a couple of weeks ago, he asked for an “electronics-free day,” and he loved having his family enjoying life together with no computers, telephones, or other interruptions. It’s really okay to turn off your phone for a few hours (unless somebody’s life depends on it). writer-in-progressThink about it! If you can’t take a whole day off, maybe you could take a few hours off one evening. If you love taking a personal retreat as much as I enjoyed our writers’ retreat, I bet it will generate sequels!writing-historical-fiction

And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place,
and rest a while
” (Mark 6:31).

charylene-and-lisa(P.S.—Although we have all types of writing going on within our writers’ group, several of the women write devotionals, and I asked if they’d be willing to share with you. They’ve consented, so the posts on Wednesday through Friday this week will be guest-authored by these lovely ladies!)

From Post to Post

DaisiesOn April 8 and October 8 each year I like to give semi-annual reports on Summer Setting, including some stats and reflections on the highlights of my blogging journey. Because stats are straightforward and fun, I’ll start there. Since last October 8, Summer Setting passed the quarter-of-a-million view milestone and has landed at a little over 318,000 views as of today. I’d like to say “Welcome!” again to the additional 202 followers who’ve joined us this year, and “Thank you, Father!” for the number of daily views growing significantly. The statisticians have reorganized our records such that I can no longer see all the countries that have accessed Summer Setting over the course of its existence, but since January 1 of this year, people from 169 countries have checked in with us some 74,443 times, which is an almost 30% increase from last year. Owl and Huskie So, that’s the easy part of the accounting. The harder part is reflecting on the possible value of what I’ve done, and that’s pretty much impossible to honestly estimate, because I’m basically trying to sow seeds through cyberspace. I will say that writing has been a huge personal blessing. It has definitely expanded my vision of life and gives me joy. I love writing and find myself  living with more intensity and intentionality..acutely interested in every detail…meditating on even the minutia of existence in the hopes of extrapolating some goodness, truth, or beauty to pass along as a blessing to you. My daily prayer is that what I write will exalt God and uplift people…that the stories will encourage every person who reads them and draw us all together more deeply into the love of God.  Dogs made of DogsWhen my children were little and listening to stories, I was constantly aware of my desire to edify and educate them, but they would remind me that there needed to be another “e” word in the formula: “Entertain!” “Make it scary; make it funny!” they would crow. I’ve never been much for the scary, although life itself is scary, and so some of my posts do deal with the harsh realities of life. However, I much prefer the “make-it-funny,” happy side of daily existence, since I think all of us are exposed to more than enough pain and tragedy. Asters. Pink and White Thank you for journeying with me. I treasure every connection and every comment (on this blog, email, and Facebook [please look me up if we’re not FB friends yet!]). I value your friendship, even if it’s only a cyber relationship, and I’ve loved the new friendships that have become real-time experiences with those of you who live close enough to interact in person. I sincerely look forward to the hope of meeting many of you in heaven some day, through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, who loved us, and gave himself for us: “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:13-14).

Chrysanthemums“Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.” (Ecclesiastes 11:1) Shell (The above pictures were taken Tuesday night at Meijer Garden;
for ArtPrize, 2015 they’re exhibiting a collection of works by Japanese artists.)

Below is the list of countries/views for Summer Setting in 2015 as of last night:

47732 United States
3137 Germany
3024 United Kingdom
2302 Canada
2144 France
1678 Australia
996 India
854 European Union
569 Philippines
530 South Africa
523 Russia
430 Brazil
429 Spain
428 Italy
418 Ireland
390 Netherlands
355 Poland
338 South Korea
311 Singapore
307 Norway
282 Turkey
267 Indonesia
248 Thailand
223 Japan
207 Taiwan
200 Romania
195 New Zealand
185 Malaysia
176 Hungary
175 Greece
163 Mexico
163 Sweden
157 Belgium
154 Czech Republic
153 Switzerland
147 Hong Kong SAR China
143 Austria
136 Israel
132 Denmark
132 Ukraine
131 Finland
120 Saudi Arabia
110 Pakistan
102 United Arab Emirates
99 Vietnam
85 Argentina
84 Portugal
77 Colombia
74 Slovakia
73 Egypt
72 Croatia
69 Bulgaria
62 Serbia
60 Belarus
57 Slovenia
56 Lebanon
54 Nigeria
51 Trinidad & Tobago
44 Latvia
43 Bosnia & Herzegovina
41 Malta
40 Bangladesh
40 Peru
40 Kenya
39 Lithuania
38 Chile
37 Algeria
36 Jordan
36 Sri Lanka
35 Estonia
35 Qatar
32 China
32 Jamaica
31 Uruguay
30 Iraq
27 Macedonia
26 Puerto Rico
25 Azerbaijan
25 Ghana
24 Morocco
23 Cyprus
22 Costa Rica
21 Tunisia
20 Georgia
19 Ecuador
19 Moldova
18 Cambodia
18 Albania
18 Kuwait
18 Venezuela
16 Tanzania
16 El Salvador
13 Bahamas
12 Palestinian Territories
12 Uganda
11 Mauritius
11 Kazakhstan
11 Myanmar (Burma)
11 Bahrain
11 Mongolia
10 Oman
10 Armenia
9 Belize
9 Namibia
9 Botswana
9 Panama
9 Iceland
9 Guam
8 Luxembourg
8 Ethiopia
7 Barbados
7 Martinique
7 Syria
7 Laos
7 Dominican Republic
6 Nepal
6 Guyana
6 French Guiana
6 Sint Maarten
6 Guatemala
5 Zimbabwe
5 New Caledonia
5 Honduras
4 Seychelles
4 Cayman Islands
4 Guernsey
4 Fiji
3 Bhutan
3 Jersey
3 Nicaragua
3 Brunei
3 Maldives
3 Grenada
3 Monaco
3 Sudan
3 Guinea-Bissau
3 Burkina Faso
2 Angola
2 Macau SAR China
2 Isle of Man
2 U.S. Virgin Islands
2 Paraguay
2 Aruba
2 C√¥te d’Ivoire
2 Bermuda
2 Montenegro
2 Kyrgyzstan
1 Congo – Kinshasa
1 Cuba
1 Togo
1 Cameroon
1 British Virgin Islands
1 Vatican City
1 Suriname
1 Papua New Guinea
1 Swaziland
1 Andorra
1 Madagascar
1 Tonga
1 Antigua & Barbuda
1 Djibouti
1 American Samoa
1 Bolivia
1 St. Lucia
1 Réunion
1 Iran
1 St. Pierre & Miquelon
1 Gibraltar
1 Lesotho



Celebrating Summer Setting’s Seventh Anniversary in Busan, South Korea

Cherry BlossomsSummer Setting‘s Seventh Anniversary was April 8th, although I’m a bit late getting out my annual update because I was out of country on April 8! Kids with Asians students by Seoul Tower In this past year Summer Setting gained 187 new followers (Welcome!!), was viewed more than 80,000 times, and has now been visited by people from 199 countries. Balloon stuck in cherry tree One of my dreams as a young woman was preach the gospel to “every nation.” Performance by Seoul TowerJust looking on the internet this morning, the U.N. recognizes 193 sovereign states, 2 more “observer” states, and  2 “partially recognized” states. Signpost in Busan That’s fewer than the number of “nations” from which I’ve received visitors! Whoever Coffee and Herb However, there are also 45 “inhabited dependent territories,” so perhaps that’s where some of the names come from. Love is in the air. Seoul Tower At any rate, I am rejoicing in the thought that I’ve been able to reach out to pretty much every nation via this blog. Distances from Busan Thank you, Father!  Seoul National Cherry Blossom FestivalLast year on April 8 Alan and I were enjoying Seoul’s Cherry Blossom Festival in South Korea…and this year on April 8th Alan and I were again in South Korea, Busan, South Korea although this time in Busan as part of a “Grand Southeastern Asia Tour” with Princess Cruises. Approaching Busan Harbor We were told that Busan was “small…easy to get around” so we went on our own. View of Busan from Busan Tower 2Surprise! Someone had no clue what they were talking about! View from Busan Tower Busan is nearly 300 sq. miles in area with a population of over 3.5 million. Busan View from Tower It’s South Korea’s largest seaport Busan. 5 largest container port in world and ranks as the fifth largest container port in the world! Busan Bridge Definitely worth a visit, Cherry Blossoms in Yongdusan Park especially if you can go in early April while the cherry trees are in blossom. Busan Tower We took a taxi to the base of the Busan Tower Busan Tower above Cherry Blossoms (you still have to climb lots of stairs to reach the top), Busan and from there we got a bird’s eye view of the city. Shrine in Yongdusan Park After checking out Yongdusan Park at the base of the tower, Cherry trees in Yondusan Park we walked downtown Jagalchi Fish Market to marvel at Jagalchi Fish Market 3 all the peculiar offerings Jagalchi Fish Market 2 at the world’s largest fish market, Crabs at Jagalchi Market Jagalchi Market (which also seemed to have some of the world’s largest crabs…Crabs at Jagalchi Marketmany of whom seemed intent on escaping)!Lunch at Jagalchi Fish Market If you go to Jagalchi Market around lunch time, it’s a great place to eat. Choosing Seafood at Jagalchi Market You can point to whatever you’d like, Fish frying at Jagalchi Market and they’ll cook it on the spot for you! Kathi in Yongdusan Park  When Alan and I were in South Korea on April 8, 2014, Bell Shrine in Yongdusan Park it never crossed our minds that we might actually be in South Korea View of Busan from Sapphire Princess exactly one year later, and I didn’t really even realize this was true until today. Camilia Rose. Yongdusan Park 4.8.15 copy Life is always full of surprises! I can’t imagine we’ll ever be in South Korea again, but you never know. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Lockets and promises at Yongdusan ParkHowever, even though we change and our circumstances change, God’s person and attributes, his purposes and promises, never do! Lockets at Yongdusan Park. Busan He is always the same…
“Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

Writer to Writer

09.17.14 Writer to WriterIf you’re serious about writing and ever hope to publish, I’d highly recommend Cec Murphy’s recent book, Writer to Writer: Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing. Cec, who’s published over 135 books in his 40+ year career as a professional writer, filled his book chock full of ideas on how to improve as a writer and how to get published.

Cec’s style is plain, personal, and pointed. The entire book is written in bite-sized essays that provide excellent snacks for thought and are easily digested. He begins with a plethora of information to help unpublished writers grow beyond the amateur look—starting with your book’s first sentence. He walks you through principles for writing the best book you’re capable of writing and then goes on to explain many things about the publishing business, including how to write an engaging query letter, things to consider when looking for an agent, and even some tips on what to watch for when you’re getting ready to sign a contract with an editor who’s offered to take your book.

Writer to Writer is also a practical writing manual containing sections on grammar, verbs, point-of-view, and on and on! As a final gift, Cec includes a “bonus chapter” about marketing written by Kathy Carlton Willis (head of a communications company), because—as he puts it—she “knows more about marketing than I’d figure out in years.”

I highlighted so much material in my copy of Writer to Writer that it looks like a text book…and in reality, that’s exactly what it is! If you’re interested but can’t afford your own copy, Cec also has an excellent blog where he has shared much of this information over time and continues to give out freely from his lifetime of experience, as well as providing insights from other writers.  You can access his blog here:

Happy writing, and all the best to you as you write! If you read Writer to Writer, get inspired to be a part of a writing group such as he describes, and live in the GR area…let me know. Maybe we can get something going!

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”
(Colossians 3:23)