April 2022 Story Sparks


Theologian Frederick Buechner tells the story of a time when he was most discouraged, maybe even despairing, certainly his faith was on a cliff’s edge. His daughter was gravely ill. He was going through other challenges and he’d taken a drive on a rural road and pulled over at a crossroads to pray. “Give me a word,” he asked. “Some sort of sign that I can hang onto.” After a time, through his tears, he saw a car coming at a great distance. As it came closer and then passed him by he could see the license plate.  It was one word.  “TRUST.”  He held that word to be his sign and let it guide him through the uncertainty and pain. And so it did.  Years later he shared that story and a man in the audience came up later to tell him he had been the driver of that car. He worked for a securities and trust company. It didn’t matter that the “trust” word that helped lift Buechner from his despair wasn’t about faith but about banking. It was the word that Buechner needed to see at that moment.

I hadn’t been thinking about a word or a sign when I entered the room where Jerry was hospitalized for Sepsis, a serious infection.  But someone had left a sign beneath the board listing the doctor’s and charge nurses’ names. “Everything is going to be ok.”  I like that. Did it mean things wouldn’t get rougher? Did it mean that Jerry’s infection was the worst of it and treatment would take care of it? We weren’t sure. Since that day, he’s had a few more challenges including surgery last week. Still, we hang on to that hopeful message.

Then another sign: Beneath the Eisenhower Medical Center where Jerry was hospitalized, was a couple’s name.  “The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Building.”  Those names took me to another time of miracles.  The Washingtons are the generous people who purchased the Big Muddy Ranch that was once owned by the Rajneesh and is now the Washington Family Ranch, the non-denominational Young Life camp in Central Oregon. I wrote a book about that ranch — The Land of Sheltered Promise. They obviously also gave to the Eisenhower Medical Center too.

Those linkages may feel like a stretch for some of you, but for me they are gifts of “trust”, small gestures that appear in the universe to remind me that I am not alone, to trust that in the end, everything will be ok.  If it isn’t ok, well, that means it is not the end. I hope you discover some of those little gifts of confidence in your daily life too whether you’ve prayed for that word or just paid attention.

Perhaps we can take our signs from the ancient mystics like Dame Julian of Norwich who  reminds us that “Our Lord did not say, ‘you shall not be tormented, or troubled or grieved, but that ‘you shall not be overcome.’” I’m trusting in that.

Spring and summer are heating up, literally here on the desert where it has been in the 90s the past few days. But lilacs are blooming through the snow at the Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens, in Woodland, WA Where Lilacs Still Bloom, a great place to visit for Mother’s Day.  And the day before, May 7, I hope you’ll consider stopping by the Aurora Colony for a day of celebration and fashion. At 11:00 AM I’ll be speaking about the threads of Emma Giesy’s life (from the Change and Cherish Series) and you can zoom me for a fund-raising fee or visit in person, have lunch and see a great fashion show. The Aurora women were fabulous fiber artists. Check out the information below and visit auroracolony.org to register.

The Mystery Object

What is 2 cm x 1 cm long, appears on an x-ray as “mineralized” and is sitting in Ceasar’s stomach?  (Our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, age 13). Discovered during an X-ray to see if his cough was congestive heart failure. It isn’t nor does it appear to be caused by a collapsed trachea. With a cough suppressant, he’s doing fine, but in the meantime, a “foreign object” was discovered. Could it be a rock? It has smooth edges. Could it be a bone? He’s never given bones. A theory of mine is that it’s asphalt pebbles that he licks off of his feet. So far it hasn’t affected his eating or delivering the remains. We’ll know either when it passes or when they scope it out.  Appointments are scheduled upon our return to Bend. I’ll keep you posted!

EBook Deal!

For the month of May you can get an ebook deal for Something Worth Doing. Check out your favorite online book retailer (Kindle, Nook, itunes, Christianbook.com, etc) to take advantage of this offer. ONLY good for May 1st to May 31, 2022

May and June Schedules

May 7 – 11:00 am – 2:00 pm. Speaking and signing, lunch and show, Aurora Colony in Aurora, OR. To register and form more information visit auroracoony.com

May 15 – 2:00 pm. In person presentation. Lakeside Center of the Mennonite Village, 2180 54th Ave SE, Albany, OR.  Sponsored by the Linn County Historical Society. Join Jane and Greg Nokes and Steve Forrester, authors of Eminent Oregonians. Jane will talk about her chapter on Abigail Scott Duniway and say a few words about Natalie Curtis from her latest book as well. Social distancing seating.

May 21 – 3:00 pm.  Barnes & Noble, Bend, OR. 2690 NE Hwy 20, Bend, OR 97701. Join Jane and co-authors Greg Nokes and Steven Forrester for a discussion of three Eminent Oregonians.

June 4, 2:00 pm. NOTE as of May 23, 2022 this event was changed from an in-person event to a Zoom Event.

Long ago, Jane was invited to visit the Vernonia  Library and talk about One More River to Cross.  Two more books have been published since then and we’ve survived a pandemic, so it is appropriate to talk about a story of a wagon train of people who endured through a terrible winter in the Sierra and all lived to tell about it!  Join Jane in celebrating resilience!

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June 5, 2:00 pm. Chaparral Books, 5210 Corbett Ave, Portland, OR 97239. Join Jane and co-authors Steve Forrester and Greg Nokes to talk about Eminent Oregonians, and especially Abigail Scott Duniway, an icon of Portland’s history. info@chaparralbooks.com for more information.

June 7, 6:30 pm. In person event – North Plains Public Library, 30975 NW Hilcrest St., North Plains, OR. Jane will travel to this small and vibrant library with colleagues Steven Forrester and Greg Nokes where there is expected to be lively discussions about Eminent Oregonians and other fascinating men and women from history.

Word Whisperings

Run Rose Run, by Dolly Parton and James Patterson, Little Brown, 2022.

I confess. I’ve never read a James Patterson novel with him as a single author or co-author. A friend sent me this book and because I loved a book I read  — The Faith of Dolly Parton by Dudley Delffs and recommended here — I decided this novel might be interesting.  Dolly Parton certainly is. Well, it’s a great book. I ended up reading well into the night. Well paced, clever plot, kept one guessing until the end. And as Joyce Carol Oates once noted, a good story needs someone to cheer for and Run Rose Run has more than one. Original music involved too which just expanded my admiration for this woman who started poor in resources but had a wealth of heart. It all shows up in this book.  Thanks to my friend Marilynn Davis for gifting me this book!

In Closing

As you read this, Jerry, Caesar and I are gearing up for the 2.5 day drive back to Bend, OR from Rancho Mirage, CA. Not sure how long it will take this time with Jerry still recovering from a surgery giving him a bladder bypass. Every journey is an adventure…. April is National Poetry month and I leave you with a traveling poem by Mary Oliver:

“On Traveling to Beautiful Places.”

Every day I’m still looking for God
And I’m still finding him everywhere,
In the dust, in the flowerbeds.
Certainly in the oceans,
In the islands that lay in the distance
Continents of ice, countries of sand
Each with its own set of creatures
And God, by whatever name.
How perfect to be aboard a ship with
Maybe a hundred years still in my pocket.
But it’s late, for all of us,
And in truth the only ship there is
Is the ship we are all on
Burning the world as we go.

I am so happy to be on this ship with you, burning or not, finding signs of hope everywhere.

Warmly, Jane

P.S. I often get requests from those wishing a book list of my titles. Incidentally, Wikipedia has some errors. Visit my Bibliography webpage for the real scoop.