Friday, July 28, 2017

The Road Less Traveled . . . For a Reason! by Laura V. Hilton


Camping is not one of my favorite activities. My idea of roughing it is a little more civilized. Like maybe a hotel with a complimentary breakfast -- kind of like Bessie in my story Married By Mistake featured below. My family has a different opinion. My husband, Steve, is former Navy stationed with the Marines, and used to the military’s version of camping. My son sleeps outside in the backyard for fun. Since we live deep in the forest, it’s not a stretch to imagine bears, raccoons, mountain lions, and other wildlife. They are very real, present, and accounted for.

When Steve and I were first married, my mom and two of her friends decided to go camping at Petit Jean State Park near Russellville, Arkansas. Mom invited Steve and me to go with them. Steve was all for it. And ready to leave, yesterday. I was considerably less excited, but told Mom we’d be there, asked what we could bring, and started praying for clean bathrooms and showers, without an army of bugs and spiders spying on me as I shower.

I can’t remember whether we went to Petit Jean in the spring or the fall. The temperatures weren’t hot during the day, but in the comfortable range, and the nights were down-right cold. Mom had camp cots and sleeping bags left from the days when we went camping for weeks every summer with Mom’s and Dad’s friends. The ones that had the same “roughing-it-is-fun” idea as my parents—and it was. Sometimes.

Anyway, we slept on cots. Mom, Steve, and I in the same tent. Their friends had a small travel trailer which I thought probably beat cots and tents in terms of amenities. I am more of a night owl while Steve is an early bird. I stayed up late at night, reading by the lantern or talking with Mom’s friends (also night owls) by the fire while Steve and Mom fell asleep with the birds. Steve and Mom got up at some odd hour of the night when I was still happily sleeping and started preparing breakfast and making plans for the hiking we’d do later on the trails at Petit Jean. When breakfast was almost ready, Steve came into the tent to wake me. He slid his icy hands into the sleeping bag I was snuggled in and touched my feet. I sat bolt upright and said “Get your cold feet off my warm hands!”

Steve about rolled with laughter. That was when he discovered that when I first wake up, when my mind’s on something else, or when I am exhausted, words and phrases come out in weird order. He already knew I talk without words going through any sort of mental processing beforehand.  My mouth opens and words emerge I have no memory of saying. Like when we got engaged. We only knew each other two months. We were right in the middle of a water gun fight in my apartment, and this is where details get rather cloudy. I remember laughing. Racing to the sink to refill the water guns. Both of us getting soaked. Then the mood changes. And he stands there in all seriousness and says “Yes.”

Yes? Wait. Obviously, I’d asked a question. But for the life of me, I didn’t have a clue what words had exited my mouth. “What did I say?”

He’s still standing there, all serious, water gun angled toward the floor. “You said, Marry me.  I accepted.”

I’m sure my mouth hit the floor and I got the deer-in-the-headlights look.  “No. I didn’t mean that.”

He shrugs. “Too late. I already accepted.”

And so I found myself engaged. And two months after that, married. We’ve been married close to thirty years now, so I believe God proposed for us.

My children find my speech equally amusing and unsettling. They are used to me saying weird things. Like, “Go see if there’s a mailbox in the letters.” Or, “Get the refrigerator out of the carrots.” I’m also known to get common sayings all mixed up and wrong. Unfortunately, my fingers have the same problem as my mouth. Things come out wrong or without realizing I said them. I claim it’s part of my Pennsylvania Dutch heritage—after all, I had to go through speech therapy as a child due to the German way of saying certain words. For example, the word “three.”  My family all said “Tree.” As in, “I ate tree cookies.” That wasn’t acceptable in public schools. So I had to go to therapy to learn how to pronounce three. I also know my family got their word order mixed up all the time, like I do. “Go get the cookie jar out of the cookies.” All the people, in the Michigan community my grandparents settled in after leaving the Amish (German settlers) spoke the same way.

I had to learn to be completely reliant on God for words. Pray often. When asked to speak in front of the church or at a library, I do serious praying that the words will come out in the right order.  After being laughed at a lot as a child, I learned that silence is best. And unless I know someone and feel comfortable around them, I remain quiet.

That is something I struggle with now. As a pastor’s wife, as a homeschool mom, and as a writer, God is constantly forcing me out of my comfort zone. Just like those long ago camping trips with my mom and dad, and – later – Mom and Steve, I am out of my element when asked to speak at libraries, in front of a church group, or at a ladies meeting. When asked to contribute to blogs I struggle to come up with something valuable to say. I learned I do much better when I give both the words that come from my mouth and the words that come from my fingers completely over to God.

With my husband reminding me, “Breathe, breathe, breathe. You got this.” As well as a lot of prayer, I have found that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

Hope for Happy Endings Is Renewed in Nine Historical Romances
Meet nine women from history spanning from 1776 to 1944 feel the sting of having lost out on love. Can their hope for experiencing romance again be renewed?

Love in the Crossfire by Lauralee Bliss - Trenton, New Jersey, 1776
Gretchen Hanson watched her beau go off to war and never return. She soon falls for an enemy scout who stumbles upon her farm. If Jake is discovered, it could mean death for them all. Will Gretchen let go of love or stand strong?
Daughter of Orion by Ramona K. Cecil - New Bedford, Massachusetts, 1859
Whaling widow, Matilda Daggett, vows to never again give her heart to a seaman. But when debt drives her to masquerade as a cabin boy on a whaling ship, a young harpooner threatens both her vow and her heart.
The Substitute Husband and the Unexpected Bride by Pamela Griffin - Washington Territory, 1864
Cecily McGiver, a mail-order bride, arrives in the rugged Washington Territory shocked to find herself without a husband—that is until Garrett, a widower, offers to take the position. Can the challenges that face them lead to love?
The Prickly Pear Bride by Pam Hillman - Little Prickly Pear Creek, Montana Territory, 1884
Shepherdess Evelyn Arnold left her intended at the altar so he could marry the woman he really loved. Dubbed Miss Prickly Pear, Evelyn is resigned to a loveless life and the ridicule of her neighbors. When Cole Rawlins sweeps her out of a raging river, she realizes even a prickly pear can find love.
The Widow of St. Charles Avenue by Grace Hitchcock - New Orleans, 1895
Colette Olivier, a young widow who married out of obligation, finds herself at the end of her mourning period and besieged with suitors out for her inheritance. With her pick of any man, she is drawn to an unlikely choice.
Married by Mistake by Laura V. Hilton - Mackinac Island, 1902
When a plan to pose for advertising goes awry, Thomas Hale and Bessie O’Hara find themselves legally married. Now Bessie and Thomas must decide whether to continue the charade or walk away. Either choice could ruin them if the truth gets out. 
Fanned Embers by Angela Breidenbach - Bitterroot Mountains, Montana/Idaho border, 1910
Stranded in the treacherous railroad camp after her husband’s murder, Juliana Hayes has no desire to marry a ruffian like Lukas Filips. Can she release prejudice to love again? Or will they even survive the fiery Pacific Northwest disaster to find out?
From a Distance by Amber Stockton - Breckenridge, Colorado, 1925
Financial Manager Trevor Fox sets out to find a lady to love him and not his money, then meets and falls for an average girl only to discover she’d deceived him to protect her heart after he unknowingly rejects her.
What the Heart Sees by Liz Tolsma - Hartford, Wisconsin, 1944
American Miriam Bradford is shocked to see Paul Albrecht, her summer fling from Germany in 1939, escorted into church as a POW. Can they rekindle their romance amid the overwhelming objections of almost everyone in town–including her father? 

Laura V. Hilton is an award-winning, sought-after author with almost twenty Amish, contemporary, and historical romances. When she’s not writing, she reviews books for her blogs, and writes devotionals for blog posts for Seriously Write and Putting on the New.

Laura and her pastor-husband have five children and a hyper dog named Skye. They currently live in Arkansas. One son is in the U.S. Coast Guard. She is a pastor’s wife, and homeschools her two youngest children.

When she’s not writing, Laura enjoys reading, and visiting lighthouses and waterfalls. Her favorite season is winter, her favorite holiday is Christmas.

twitter: @Laura_V_Hilton

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Marilyn R. said...

Laura, I enjoyed reading this blog post--it brought smiles and chuckles. I've been known to turn words around also while saying something (I think we all do at times). Speech therapy--oh yes, I was there myself. I'm like you, camping is not really my thing--it takes so much time to pack up everything to even go.

The Second Chance Brides Collection sounds like a great novella collection. I have enjoyed everyone of your novellas and books. God bless.

Angie Arndt said...

I loved camping most of the time, but we always had campers. But one time we went camping and canoeing with my brother and sister-in-law in the Boundary Waters. The outfitter dropped us off at one point and ten days later picked us up at another. We had to travel 40 miles by water and portage to get to the pickup point. No cellphone service and we only saw two or three other people during that time. I was never so happy for a proper bath. It was the first thing I did when I got back to the hotel. There were times I wondered at God's wilderness, but there were many times I was miserable.

As far as sentence structure, I do think you can look to your Pennsylvania Dutch heritage. It sounds like you're melding the two: "From the cookie jar, get the cookies," and "Get the cookies from the cookie jar," becomes "Get the cookie jar from the cookies." Does that sound right?

I always enjoy your posts, Laura!