Sunflower - the symbol of hope

       I love this sunflower picture.  Our granddaughter, Mariah, painted it late last year.  She loves sunflowers and she got pretty excited when I told her that the sunflower was the symbol of hope and encouragement because it always turned toward the sun. 
        In my book coming out in April, The Daughter's Walk, the sunflower appears as the symbol for Norwegian women who sought suffrage at the turn of the century.  This sunflower looks a bit windblown and I like that because that's what living looks like.  We get a little wind blown and there are clouds that can look menacing but also like they could soon blow away.  Blue sky is promised and see that green?  Soon, the snow will be gone and it'll be spring.
       While we wait for spring...Jerry and I are traveling south, to southern Baja with our Greece-traveling friends.  We're quite the foursome now who know each other's foibles and love each other anyway.  Jerry likes the odds he always guy, three women.  
        It'll be a working vacation for me as I have a book due in April but I always wake up earlier than everyone else and write for a few hours.  By the time the others roll around I've accomplished something for my day and the rest of the time we spend reading, walking on the beach, experiencing another culture.  Last year while walking on the beach we met a man with his dog who chased a stick out into the surf.  We stopped to watch and talk and learned he was a fisherman who owned a fleet and he told us which restaurants to eat at if we wanted fresh fish!  A little insider info never hurt anyone!
       We hadn't planned to move right before Thanksgiving when we booked this time in Baja.  So the house is still a bit chaotic.  We've met more of our neighbors and feel really fortunate to be among them.  They're checking on the house while we're gone; Jerry's brother will make sure the pond is full for the birds and our friend Sherrie, who helped us build the ranch all those years ago, is coming over to help organize the garage and put away the boxes marked "books" on the shelves in the cabinet there. It's so nice to have good friends and family!
        A few people have questioned our going to Mexico, fearful for us. But we remember people being fearful for our travel in Greece too and it was a grand time with people kind and caring all along the way.  That's always been our experience in Baja as well. Why, in scheduling the shuttle from the airport to our hotel, the shuttle company even sent us photographs of their drivers so we can pick them out from the crowd.  How thoughtful is that!  I always imagine what it might be like for someone from Germany, lets say, reading an American newspaper from a big city and wondering about the safety, murders, robberies and what not.  Yet we wander around in town without worry.  That's how we think of our trip to Baja, too. There are bad things happening all around the world; but good things too and we'll look for the good things, pray for traveling mercies, and take in the goodness of creation and community even if it's far from home. 
       They have sunflowers in Baja, too.
        I've begun a  journal sent by a good friend at Christmas. Those of you who are signed up for my Story Sparks newsletter will hear more about that when my webmaster sends the newsletter out next week. (You can sign up for it if you haven't on my website  Along with the first service of the new year that we attended at First Presbyterian, that journal I'm praying will support a new spiritual practice for the year: to keep the promises I've made to myself.  I've already blown it once...I won't go into that here but it had to do with not taking offense at things Jerry says or how he says it....but I'm back on track, listening, paying attention.
       When we get back we'll be gearing up for Beachside Writers in Yachats on the Oregon coast and the release of The Daughter's Walk. I hope you'll keep up with me on Facebook and if I can figure out how to do it, I might try to blog from Cabo and post a note on Facebook, too --If it won't make you cry to see sunshine for those of you in the cooler climates!
        Meanwhile one promise I've made is to turn my face toward the light in the time of challenge.  Might look a little windblown but that's all right. The clouds will blow away and the sun will still be there. I wish the same for each of you.  Have a great January and I hope to see some of you in Yachats in February.  Warmly, Jane
PS  Bo has posted on his blog at  He always has fun stories to tell! Be sure to let your dog/cat/goat let him know what you think!