Friday, December 16, 2016

Telling our Stories

Story Time

“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” Shannon Alder.

Tabitha Moffat Brown was a grandmother when she headed west to Oregon Territory in 1846. Her story and that of her daughter and granddaughter is a part of the novel I wrote called This Road We Traveled. (Revell). On that journey, Tabby (as I called her) decided to write her memoir telling stories of her greatest challenges, a legacy gift she planned to leave her children.
  I used that fictional device as a way of sharing Tabby's history as the family dealt with trials  during a fateful trek on the Oregon Trail. I've long thought that stories are the sparks that light our ancestors lives; they're the embers we blow on to illuminate our own lives. Tabby did actually write letters about her life that became the basis for my novel. I had her use the occasion of a life-changing journey to share some of her stories. But I think any time of the year is a good time to write down memories and experiences, not in any great order, but as they come to us. They can be sparks for our own families to illuminate their lives.
The Christmas when my older sister got her first horse, a red and white paint named Bonnie comes to mind for me. I was only eight years old at the time but I remember the intrigue of my parents efforts to surprise my sister who at 12 had always longed to have a horse. My sister died 19 years ago but I still see her with her cowboy hat perched on black hair riding in the Wisconsin snow on that chubby red and white horse and she will always be alive to me in that image, a gift I give myself. Maybe it's a birthday story that you remember and want to share. You don't have to have a great insight about the meaning of the story, only that it's something you remember and would love someone else in your life to have it in their memory too.
Someone once wrote that the purpose of a novel is to move people. Sometimes that means moving their hearts and sometimes it means moving them off their couch to go visit a place mentioned in a novel; or to call a friend because something in the story spoke to friendship. Maybe the story moves a reader to write a letter or perhaps like Tabby, to write a story down. Nothing pleases me more as a novelist as when someone tells me how a story moved them to do something they'd been putting off like beginning their own memoir.
At a bookfair last week, a woman said she didn't usually "waste her time" on novels but she read mine because they were based on real people and incidents. I didn't disagree with her -- the reader is always right! -- but I did wish for a longer time to explore with her how fiction always grows from "real life," from our imaginations, from all those stories we were told as children and from the incidents we live out day to day and later weave through memory into story. There is truth to be found in fiction just as there is in biography and non-fiction works of all kinds. William Faulkner noted when he accepted the Pulitzer Prize in 1954, that "the only stories worth a writers blood and sweat and tears are stories of the human heart in conflict with itself." We all have stories like that inside of us and telling them -- even short ones like parables -- can bring joy and wisdom to others and ourselves.
Each of us are story-tellers because stories are the most powerful ways we have of organizing human experience. Tabby organized her stories around her life's challenges but you can organize your stories --whether you're a writer like Faulkner or a gramma or a dad or a student -- around any stories that you've kept in the pocket of your soul.
Give your stories as a gift to others and in the meantime you may well discover as Tabby did in This Road We Traveled things about yourself you otherwise might never have known.  Write your legacy this season on "hearts not tombstones."

  Merry Christmas and the very best in the New Year!  Warmly, Jane

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

July: A Homestead Celebration for Public Servants

My nephew is a police officer in a large Midwestern city. He has a servant's heart, working nights, participating on the SWAT team, teaching at the academy and spending days getting to know the neighborhood he serves.  I used to pray for his safety but it finally dawned on me that if he wanted to be safe he wouldn't have chosen police work. I told him that and said that now I pray that he will be alert, that he'll use good judgment, that he'll be a positive force within his city and offer his compassion and servant's heart. He said those were much better prayers! So far, so good.

I chose public servants as our final HOMESTEAD birthday celebration honorees because public servants have been so helpful in our lives. When we first moved to the ranch, our setter dog disappeared. It was the local postmistress who learned about a stray dog 12  miles downriver. Ricky's ID tag said "Bend" because we hadn't changed it yet so people didn't know how to reach us. But the postmistress did! She put a note in our mailbox telling us and voila, we got Ricky back (driving 50 miles to get him!).  When we needed help putting in the phone line, the head of the road department on a weekend helped us with the right-of-way; ambulance drivers (volunteers) came down our road more than once. Fires brought both neighbors and the volunteer fire departments. When we had trouble, we called the state police and Sheriff or BLM staff and they always came to assist. Today, I love my postal deliverers and those I take my books to mail to. The police have assisted during a scare; And once again we've used that ambulance!

I have two great nephews in the military and a cousin and niece and nephew used to serve. Kevin, Jerry's oldest son, lies in a veteran-marked grave. I always get teary when the local choral group and band put on the Fourth of July concert and all the former military are asked to stand during the playing of their branch of service's theme song. Remembering Milton's poem, I also think they serve "who only stand and wait" which brings to mind all the  families who send their sons and daughters, wives and husbands off to war.

It takes a community of public servants and I confess, they are who I remember when I pay my taxes. Those in my neighborhood and those around the world deserve our recognition. So this month of July, the last birthday month, consider nominating a public servant in your life! I'd love to share a lunch with them and with you!

July is our final month to celebrate Jane's 70th & Homestead's 25th!  If this is the first you have seen about this celebration, you can find much more information about what you could win HERE.  To nominate someone, fill out the the Google form HERE.  It's fast and easy!  We are looking forward to announcing the grand prize winners at the beginning of August.  Who will enjoy lunch with Jerry & Jane on the deck of Homestead?     

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

June: A Homestead-Style Celebration for Fathers

My teenage friends loved my dad! He had a great sense of humor, would drive us to events and tell stories as he drove. He saw more than half of the sunrises of his life as he rose early to milk his herd of cows. I still remember standing beside him watching the sun come up and thinking how fortunate I was to have a dad to stand beside.

He could be intimidating for little kids as he stood 6’2” and weighed in at around 270 pounds. He lost fifty pounds of that weight in later years when he was told he needed a quadruple by-pass. He declined the surgery and changed his lifestyle instead, drinking less coffee, eating fewer carbs. He quit smoking and he exercised even though he was a farmer and got lots of exercise. It wasn’t the right kind to help his heart. He lived to be 85 so all those changes worked. The one and only letter I have from my dad was written to me when I was 18 and in college and had started smoking. There are no punctuation marks in the letter but it is full of heart and easily understandable. He prayed that I’d quit smoking. He was still smoking himself then but he saw the problem of it. And he wanted to extend my life. It was a wonderful letter of love. I did quit smoking. His words moved me. (later I started again for a year or so but when I met Jerry, I quit again and stayed that way)

My dad’s willingness to change, to learn new things, to take in new information – he’d drive three hours to the University to speak to specialists about agricultural issues – to work hard, to stand tall for others less fortunate, to cherish my mom and sister and brother – make him a giant in my heart.

This month, we’re celebrating dad’s, those giant guys who can fill our hearts and make us tremble when we mess up but who discipline us with love. (Yes, my dad could make me tremble by raising this one eyebrow that meant I’d blown it. He never laid a hand on me except to hold me while I cried. He also taught me how to put curlers in my hair when my mother had pulled her hair out trying to teach me!)

We’re looking for nominations of dad’s – and fathers – men who have made a difference in your lives. The winner will get a copy of Homestead and be put into nomination for lunch on our homestead. Incidentally, when Jerry and I had our plane accident, my parents spent a month there taking care of us. My dad watered the trees we’d newly planted and we’d sit at the window and watch the neighbor’s beef cattle make their way down the ridge to water. We had no television or radio…so we watched the world around us to pass time while Jerry and I healed. So my dad has a connection to that homestead.

Let’s celebrate good men who love in powerful ways. Please fill out the form found here. Those who nominate the winner will receive a book as well! Thanks for celebrating fathers and my birthday! Warmly, Jane

Monday, May 2, 2016

May: A Homestead-Style Celebration for Mothers

When I was far from home and a freshman at the University of Wisconsin, my friend Ann's mom would invite me to Sunday dinner every week. They lived in Madison -- a big city for someone who'd graduated with a class of 84 kids. My freshman class was 7,000.  Anyway, she'd prepare roast beef, cooked to perfection vegetables and always some sweet and comfy-food dessert. Leftovers were a given.  She made certain that I had at least one good meal a week. She was a fill-in  mom for my own mom living several hours away. Ann's mom has "walked on" as my Native American friends say as has my own mom but they are remembered with love.

This month as part of our celebration of my 70th and Homestead's 25th, I'm seeking nominations of moms. Fill-in moms; your mom; your neighbor who is a mom to bunches of kids in the neighborhood though she never had any kids of her own; moms who visit other moms at assisted living facilities or bring food to that elderly couple just down the street or who are super transport moms taking kids to preschool, soccer practice, the equestrian team practice.  Tell us your "mom" story.

Meet Evariste, our Batwa friend and his mom 
who motivated him to go to school and become a 
member of parliament and work on behalf of his people. 
In  May we celebrate Mother's Day, an observation begun in 1908 and formalized in 1914 in the United States. We all have moms and our experiences of them are as varied as snowflakes -- intricate and unique. Some moms are round and warm and funny. Some mom's are tall and lean and serious and some are both. Please consider nominating a mom in your life and tell us the story. Use the form please. We'll select a winner who will receive a signed copy of Homestead as will the nominator. All names go into the pool for selection of lunch in August with Jerry and me and three of the winner's friends.  At the homestead! Help me honor moms...I  miss mine immensely.  If this is the first you are hearing about our Homestead Celebration, you can read all about it here.

We continue to raise funds for Burundi as well through purchases on my website or monetary donations through PayPal.  You can read exactly how to give on the Homestead Celebration launch post here.

My September release, by the way, is about a woman named by the Oregon Legislature as the "Mother of Oregon." More to come on that....

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Cocoon of Cancer: An invitation to Lovely Deeply - an interview with author Abbe Rolnick

One of the joys of being a writer is attending events with tons of other writers and booksellers. A few years ago, at the Pacific Northwest Booksellers annual event, Jerry and I enjoyed a breakfast when a woman introduced herself to me as Abbe Rolnick. Her husband finished up his breakfast behind her and she joined us for a few minutes. She’d been reading my Story Sparks in which I’d shared about Jerry’s many vertebra fractures. She said her husband Jim had been dealing with the same thing and we both figured it was severe osteoporosis but were going through the cancer inquiries. Small world we caregivers find ourselves in.

We exchanged emails and not long after we connected again. I could tell her that Jerry’s diagnosis was severe osteoporosis and he’d begun daily injections (following his three kyphoplasty surgeries). She told me of Jim’s new diagnosis: Multiple Myeloma and his complex evolution of the cancer. Her emails spoke of hope wrapped in the reality of the fragility of morality. When she sent me her book Cocoon of Cancer: An Invitation to Love Deeply. I saw the writing as a healing force for her and that Abbe’s words could bring insight and hope for others. Abbe joins me today and I’m delighted to encourage the reading of her book by anyone touched by cancer – or any debilitating disease.

Thanks for joining me today, Abbe. Can you tell us what you mean by Cocoon of Cancer? 
The moment Jim and I entered into the world of cancer, I felt that we had left behind our normal life. A cocoon encases and protects. Jim has two tattoos, one on each arm. One is f a butterfly and one is a frog. Both go through a metamorphosis. With cancer the change is internal, and there is no guarantee that you will emerge. The world outside matters less. Jim and I view life differently than before. We saw others with cancer and connected on an emotional level. Bonds fortified and nurtured us. Even now with Jim in remission, there is a separation from the old way of living. The cocoon still holds us. We may look the same, but inside we are more aware: we care more, give more.

The cocoon is a great metaphor for all the changes you’ve had. Why did you write this book? 
I didn’t mean to write anything. My essays and poems were part of how I began my days. I’d get up early, before Jim woke, to find my center, to connect all my emotions. I wrote so that I could be strong for Jim. Jim wrote to understand scientifically the cancer and the protocols.
Somehow our words made a difference to our friends and gave them an inside view of cancer. I found that the staff and doctors valued the essays. They don’t often get to hear the thoughts of the patient and caregiver. The essays made us all more human and provoked questions and answers that no one anticipated.

Your words add to the good research about writing and healing. Is this your first involvement with cancer?
Just before Jim was diagnosed, I had started writing my third novel in which the main character’s twin sister had died of bone cancer. Fiction became reality when Jim called me up to tell me his fractured back wasn’t because of osteoporosis and that he had an advanced stage Multiple Myeloma.

During his year of treatment, my mother was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. In breaks between caring for Jim, I’d fly down to be with my mother. Ten days with Jim, five days with my mother. She passed after only three months. I was blessed to be able to hold her hand as she left this world.

Those are moments that stay with us always. Tell us a little more about your writing of this book. How long have you been at work on Cocoon of Cancer? How did the idea originate?
Months before Jim received his diagnosis, I noticed his decline. I wrote words of encouragement to keep us both going. When the actual diagnosis came, my writings became a way to share the journey with family, friends and even the staff at the cancer clinic. The by-product of Jim’s year treatment became, Cocoon of Cancer: An Invitation to Love Deeply.

A much more powerful by-product than pain! Did this book involve special research?
As a caregiver, I needed to know what to expect and independently gathered material from the internet, the cancer clinics, and magazines. Understanding Multiple Myeloma takes more than a simple definition. It isn’t a blood cancer, it isn’t a bone cancer. Plasma cells aren’t the same thing as the plasma in your blood. Months would go by and we would think we understood until determinations from doctors like “a mutation of your P53 gene puts you in the highest risk level,” set us off on more research. Jim and I went to the library at Fred Hutchinson Research Center, part of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, to find the history of bone marrow transplants. We learned the term M-spike and how the excretion of this protein devastated Jim’s spine. We researched each and every trial and medication offered. Our understanding helped form new questions. Because now, according to Dr. Fred Appelbaum, is the ripest time in the world of cancer research, Jim saw more hope than frustration in his diagnosis. Our questions mirrored those of actual researchers. Did we find answers? Some, and with others we can only hope for more technological advances. Since this is a book of inspiration for those with cancer, the more important research was a journey of understanding and patience.

Caregiving encompasses a universe of feelings. Your book offers a map through some of the challenges. Did the book entail any unusual writing habits or places?
I wrote in the wee hours of the morning, before Jim awoke, or while he rested most of the day. I wrote in the doctors’ offices, and sometimes right after procedures to keep my mind occupied and off the sadness or worry of “what if”.

We writers are always having to explore marketing when we decide to open ourselves up to others through a book. What do you see as competition for your book and how does your book differ? What are the special markets and promotional key point of your book?
Cocoon of Cancer, is a memoir on the journey of cancer, and it is also an inspirational book that encourages the caregiver, the newly diagnosed, staff members, and anyone who faces a debilitating illness. While this book deals with the specifics of multiple myeloma, many cancers follow a similar protocol. The crossover allows for a wider audience. Because it is written from the caregiver’s and the patient’s viewpoint, it is less technical and more personal. As a gift book, the prose and poetry give voice to the ups and downs of any illness, and celebrates the spirit that lives on.

I thought of it as an inspirational memoir with poetic overtones. I like that it “celebrates the spirit that lives on.” Would you say this is a book about death?
The idea of death becomes a reality with the diagnosis of cancer. Cocoon of Cancer is about intimacy. It is about living. Both Jim and I never changed what we enjoyed. We talked about death, but each day we made a choice. We chose to laugh more. During the procedures, the chemo, radiation, the stem cell transplants, we didn’t plan for the future. Those days, we learned. We participated in his healing. This may seem odd, but death became our friend. Jim told me the other day he now has to rethink death. I smiled. He knows life.

Yes, it is a book about intimacy. What would you say to those newly diagnosed with cancer?
I would offer my hand with warmth. I would let them know that the process, while difficult, is doable. That the bond begins with each of them. That they have entered into a select group of people who have value not yet tapped. Their journey will teach lessons unasked for. The will live a life fuller and freer, as well as more defined.

Now that Jim is in remission, what is next? 
We will ignore the statistics. We will continue to live our life. We will pay attention. We are still in the cocoon.

Thanks so much for sharing this intimate journey with your readers and with me today. We’ll continue to hold you in our hearts as you continue to live your lives, still in the cocoon. 

To get a taste of Abbe's writings, subscribe to Abbe's notes, short and quick writes of her morning thoughts as the world sleeps and before the sun rises.  They are enlightening!  Read a few here an subscribe

Abbe is establishing her social media platform and enjoys connecting online.  You can find her here:
Goodreads (and right now one of her fiction titles is a giveaway through the end of the month: River of Angels

Friday, April 1, 2016

April: A Homestead Style Celebration for Non-Profits and Small Businesses

Thank you to everyone who nominated a library in March, our winner will be announced Monday, April 4th

We're into the third month of my 70th birthday celebration and the 25th birthday of Homestead. Each month we're celebrating a different category of homesteading spirit, people who keep dreams and stories alive. This month its non-profits and small businesses.

“Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” ― Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist

In Bend, Oregon, we are celebrating 30 years of a community kitchen providing daily meals for families individuals, children. Trinity Episcopal Church began the non-profit that still has a 91 year old volunteer who was there at the beginning. People saw a need and together they found a way to meet it. A woman visiting East Africa sat next to a man for an eight hour bus ride attempting to talk while struggling with a language barrier. They spoke enough. He expressed a need of his Batwa people and Kelly Bean returned to Portland, Oregon and began a non-profit today serving people in Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya with projects to enhance people's independence, identity, dignity and sustainability. I love that outcome drawn from someone having an idea that touches the lives of others in a positive way. Homesteaders hope for well with their neighbors and doing good work while building up a life.

In a town near us, a woman dreamed of owning a bookstore. (Writers often imagine running a bookstore...all those books to read!) The owner of a bookstore in the same town had health issues that drained his world and he looked for a buyer. Herringbone Books was born! A dreamer met someone dreaming of a change and the big winner? The community that gets to keep its bookstore access.

This month, we're honoring non-profits and the entrepreneurial spirit that comes with seeing a need and acting to fix it...or having a small business dream and deciding to follow it. Who in your world is a super volunteer at a non-profit or who started one? Who saw a need and moved to meet it? Or what about that neighbor who started her home business, could she use a little acknowledgment? I'd love to hear about them. Just use the form to nominate. YOU will receive a copy of Homestead and so will your nominee if their name is drawn for April.  Both of your names go into the grand prize drawing for lunch on AUGUST 6, 2016 for three of your friends to have lunch with Jerry and me at the homestead.

To nominate someone, or yourself, fill out the google form.

In the words of John Lennon: “A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” Help me celebrate the reality of a dream achieved.

If you are visiting us for the first time and are not familiar with our 6 month long giveaway, you can read all about it starting here: February's Homestead Celebration

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

March: A Homestead-Style Dream for Libraries

(thank you to everyone who submitted nominations for February!  The book winner will be announced on Friday.  If this is the first you have read about A Homestead Style Dream, visit this post here).

In pioneering days on the Oregon coast, people often shared their books by bringing them to the closest lighthouse. There, on seagull serenaded Sunday afternoons, farmers and fisherman brought their picnic baskets and buckets of milk or brew to sit at the edge of the Pacific. Along with them, they brought books -- or returned their selections from the weekend before. Lighthouses became the keepers of the stories, those precious structures that saved lives on stormy nights being beacons to ships on troubled seas. By day, they saved those who found comfort, healing, adventure and dreams inside stories.

Early frontier people formed communities by building churches and schools and in more than one small town, urged the local trading post to make a shelf for sharing books. That's what Ivy Stranahan did in the burgeoning river town that became Fort Lauderdale, a story I chronicled in Mystic Sweet Communion.

Libraries are also places of rescue for many today. They offer quiet (unless you're in the noisy kid section but even that's a place of rescue). Who can resist a child's giggle or shouts of enthusiasm for the latest Jon Scieszka book (he of The Stinky Cheese Man fame)? In ancient Alexandria, the greeting over the door for arriving patrons was "The Place for the Work of the Soul." Stories do that for us: they offer a window into the world and if we allow it, can transport us to what T.S. Elliot called "Still places in a turning world."

In honor of my Homestead celebration this month of March, I'm seeking nominations of libraries. School libraries, church libraries, community libraries. Maybe those sweet little pocket libraries springing up that I see on Facebook (and have one in our neighborhood as well.). Last summer, I was thrilled to be part of the Title Wave program sponsored by the Coos Bay library in Oregon. I visited lots of libraries those few days including one in Bandon (on the beach) and in a tiny hamlet called Dora in the foothills of the Coast Range. There, the library is housed in a new fire department and community center building. The idea of a library mixed right in with daily life of a community warmed my heart.

Many readers tells me they discovered my books in a senior living library or a church library. My own First Presbyterian Bend library celebrated my birthday last month with librarian Brigitt Dysart creating a collage of my works and posting it on Facebook. I can never forget my beloved Sherman-Public School library where I was a founding member and when we moved into our new facility (from a room in the high school) I helped hand-carry the collections including videos, reference books and even Caddie Woodlawn books from the children's section! During our nearly 30 years on the homestead, the library held Read Alouds and events for poetry month and brought in authors to enrich the lives of that community. That's what libraries do with stories (including those told by art and photographs that enliven the halls of libraries).

Maybe there's a specialty library that interests you. In the town of Astoria, there is an Astorian Collection that gave me information I needed to deepen the story of Marie Dorion. I'd love to hear about your favorite library. I love libraries (can you tell?) for research and admire the work of reference librarians around the world. Yes, they've led me to places Google didn't.

So for the month of March, we're accepting nominations of a library you care about. Tell us the name and maybe a story of how that library has intersected your life -- has it given you a place for the work of the soul? Or perhaps that still place to reorder your world? Maybe the librarian is your special connection. Just nominate using the Google Form we've created HERE. If your library is the winner and they already have a signed copy of Homestead, we'll see if there is another book of mine they'd like to have in their collection. You, as the nominator, as well.

Thanks for keeping the stories in your heart. Let's see if we can't honor a library keeping the stories of a community as well.

Batwa Children with NEW UNIFORMS
And just a reminder: I'm donating $3 for every online at order to the Batwa project. This fall our faith community and African helped send 150 children to school for the first time ever. It's an exciting step forward for the three villages where our Batwa friends live. And many thanks to those of you who so generously sent donations to First Presbyterian Church for the Batwa of Burundi. This is turning out to be the best birthday for me, ever thanks to you!

Have a good Women's History Month too, It's March! Warmly, Jane
If you prefer to donate for the Batwa of Burundi, you can do so here:

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Homestead-Style Dream

It's here! We're celebrating my turning 70 and the 25th birthday of Homestead. We have a plan which is of course what we had to do to build our life on the river though that didn't mean we didn’t have to make many changes to our plan along the way. That's what homesteading (and life) are about. Winston Churchill once said that "Planning is essential but plans are useless." We found that out.

But we have a plan anyway. For the next six months we will have a different opportunity for someone to receive a copy of Homestead, donate (if you wish to the Burundiproject) AND have a chance at the grand prize in August which is lunch with Jerry and me and three additional friends that the winner the homestead!

Now a winner may not be able to make that excursion down the reptile road because he or she lives in Vermont, let's say.  Or Florida. We have a plan for that. We'll identify a lovely restaurant near you, we'll pick up the tab and I'll Skype during your lunch maybe even while we're at the homestead. More details to follow.

Here's how it will work:

NOMINATE a Homestead-Style Dream:

Each month, you can nominate someone (see each month's categories below).  There are  3 ways to nominate someone:
1. Commenting on this blog
2. My Facebook Page and write on my timeline or click here to comment on the announcement post.
3. Reply to my Story Sparks newsletter (Subscribe here)
(please only use first names. If your nominee is drawn at random we'll contact you for their address -- and yours as you'll get a copy too!)

February: Individuals who have built or are in the process of building their “Homestead-Style Dream” for their family.

I'm taking a suggestion from a woman who said how much the book had meant to her when she and her husband were building their dream home, off the grid, where they wanted to raise their kids. The book gave her hope. So we'd like readers to nominate others in your lives that are pursuing their dream to begin something new that might not have the best chance of success but seems like the right thing to do.


March: Local libraries- the keeper of stories. (click here for March's post)

This can be a church library, a senior living facility library, public or non-profit library. The site will receive a signed copy and so you will the nominator.


April: Small Business owners or Non-Profits who are overcoming obstacles and pursing the "Homestead-Style Dream." (Click here for April's post)

Small business homesteaders, people who have dreams to start a business will be nominees who could use a little encouragement. And yes, you can nominate yourselves!


May: Mothers who have faced challenges and teach her children that life is like The Homestead.  (click here for May's post- NOMINATIONS OPEN NOW!)


June: Fathers who rise to the challenge in leading their family and have sacrificed so that their children can live a "Homestead-Style Dream."


July: Public Servants!!!! Police Officers, Fire Fighters, Peace Corps, Missionaries, Service Men/Women, or volunteers who have a passion and dream to serve others improve their communities and/or country.

We'll remind you each month so don't worry. We'll pick two nominees a month (and their nominators) who will each receive a copy of Homestead with the grand prize being chosen from all entries.

August will be our grand prize given out from the generosity of the new Homestead owners and from those many nominees and nominators!  Oh, and the winners will get copies of Homestead as well.

DONATE to a country where people are looking for a "Homestead-Style Dream" in search of their identities.  

Some of you remember that last year this month, I went to Burundi with two others from First Presbyterian Church Bend and a representative of African Road, a non-profit organization working in Africa with a local Christian group. We returned committed to help three villages of Batwa people, the indigenous people moved from the rain forests and marginalized by the government. Many of you helped us acquire identity cards for over 800 villagers, helped issue birth certificates and provide new suits and cloth for the dozens who chose to marry once they had ID cards. They also can now access medical services, vote, work away from their villages and utilize the justice system. If you're on Facebook you can visit scenes from these villages by visiting here.

These villagers have become our friends and last fall, we committed to helping them send 150 children to school for the first time providing uniforms, books and school fees. AND, here's the homestead part, we agreed to help them lease land, buy tools, seeds and fertilizer.  For the first time ever, they are working together to raise crops to feed their families. The size of the corn, beans and potatoes and their smiles of pride of accomplishment have been a great reward for our efforts. They are finishing their first harvest and will replant during the rainy season to have food during the dry seasons.

To honor their efforts and to continue raising funds for school fees, seeds, land leases etc, I'm donating $3 from every online book order from this year.

There are 3 ways you can donate:
  1. Placing an order online at my website
  2. Donate through directly
  3. Mail a check to First Presbyterian Church,Bend, 230 NE 9th, Bend, OR 97701.  Be sure to indicate in the check memo line or instruction space that it's for the Batwa of Burundi.
  4. Via PayPal using the "Donate" button below.
Just as our going to the land in 1984, and publishing Homestead in 1991 changed our lives, I thank you in advance for helping change the lives of others through an encouraging word, an inspirational book and now and then a dollar here and there for a people in a far away land. As the sign on our homestead gate still reads: "We seek neither convenience nor ease but to live a the edge of possibility."  That's a huge part of the "Homestead-Style Dream." Thanks for your part in these new possibilities.

I look forward to reading the various stories from our nominators!

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