Tuesday, December 25, 2007




Monday, December 24, 2007

Okay, I’m stuck on the story, The Gift of the Magi...I’m just curious, mind you. So—I know she has this long, incredible hair that her husband adores, and (since it’s Christmas) she’s been admiring this beautiful comb in the store window....and he, too, has been secretly admiring something of high price. (But what???) She will (on the sly) go into town and find someone willing to cut off her long beautiful hair and, in turn, earn a high price for its lovely quality. In so doing, she will have acquired enough money to purchase the gift her husband has long desired. (Again, what was it?)

And what does he own that is valuable enough to sacrifice and provide the monies needed for purchasing a costly comb? How about his long beard? Did he even have one? And if he did, were merchants in the habit of buying beards back then? Are they now? Have they ever been? What purpose would a long beard actually serve, except for catching bugs and particles of food, using as kindling, or stuffing a pillow, or weaving a wall hanging. YUCK! And let’s not forget the proverbial Santa Clause. Surely beards of the white variety are in great need throughout the season. So he could sell it at the local barbershop, dye it white, or donate it to the local Salvation Army, but wait, contributions equals no money in return. Remember, DO NOT contribute to a good cause unless all you’re looking for in return is that delightfully warm, yummy feeling you get at the center of your chest.

Yes, it would make for a self-sacrificing ending, her cutting her hair, him buying her a comb she can no longer use, her purchasing a gold pair of shearers for which to trim his foot-long beard, which no longer exists.

There are other options, of course. He could have donated his arm for science, and she could have bought him the long desired trench coat, only to have to sew up one sleeve. Or there’s the proverbial leg. MAYBE it was a fine pair of leather shoes he sought, and so his sacrifice, of course, allowed him only one good shoe by which to hop across the room after watching her place her beautiful new comb in place, and lavish her with a wet kiss behind the ear afterward. Isn’t that a lovely word picture? Or more like morbid? Did someone say that?

I am plum out of ideas—unless it was a new leather wallet he longed for and by the time she purchased it for him, he had nothing to fill it with, because he’d sacrificed all the cash he’d earned doing cartwheels from Fifth Avenue to 64th Street, and kept at it until his jar was full of coins that jangled all the way to the department store where her lovely comb lay in wait.

Well, whether you can recall what the young man sacrificed on behalf of his lovely wife, isn’t the point, I guess. What is the point is that Jesus sacrificed his entire life on earth, stooping first to breathe his first breath in a smelly stable, later experiencing persecution of the worst kind, despite His blatant miracles, and finally, death on the cross so that we could have our heart’s desires—life eternal in a beautiful place, free of worries and cares, absent of any more sacrifice, a love so incomprehensible that we can’t begin to imagine an end or a beginning, and one more thing—all the wants and needs our minds could muster provided at out beck and call.

Now that’s the true gift of the Magi, right there The ultimate sacrifice!

Merry Christmas and the most blessed New Year you’ve ever experience!

P. S. Seriously, now, what did the man give up in order to buy the comb? I haven’t read that story in ages.

------ End of Forwarded Message

Friday, December 21, 2007


A few people have told me they enjoy reading my blogs and when I don't post they wonder where I am and what's going on. haha! Well, some days I have absolutely NOTHING worthwhile to write (like today), and other days I could write pages, but don't have time. Lately, I've been saying to my husband, God did not create enough hours in the day. Why couldn't we have had 30- hour days--or even more? But then I suppose we'd all work harder, get less sleep than ever, and still not accomplish what we wanted! All that to say I guess God knew what He was doing when He set the day at 24 hours.

I mentioned a few days ago that I recently purchased a new iMac. It's been a big adjustment for me, in terms of learning curve--but overall, it's been a good experience. I've especially had fun with the photo aspect. Therefore, I'm going to "experiment" with posting a few photos and use you, my readers, as guinea pigs. The pics I post will be random, everything from last summer, to my pets, to my precious grandson, to -- well, who knows. So, here goes! ENJOY!

Oh, and, just in case I don't post again before Christmas--HAVE THE BEST CHRISTMAS EVER.

Be blessed and encouraged--you are a child of the King!


Thursday, December 20, 2007


Guess what! My hubby did not kiss me for the first time (well, I mean a real kiss) until the night he asked me to marry him--32 years ago! I was 27, had my own apartment, and he'd just been discharged from the air force after having served 4 years during the Viet Nam era. We had been the best of friends for YEARS because my oldest brother married his oldest sister when I was 13 and he was, ur, um, 9, so while we grew up best friends, there was always that age difference that kept us from even thinking about a romantic involvement. In fact, yuck! Poke me in the nose with a stick if either one of us even thought of such a thing! In those days we were much more like brother and sister.

Well, growing up I went through one boyfriend after another, and he had his share of girlfriends, but it seemed like we were always checking up on each other -- "Who're you dating now? Is he good enough for you? Is he treating you right?" he'd ask. "Call me if you ever need me to straighten his nose, babe." (He always called me babe--even then.) I'd ask him the details of his most recent love interest, and he'd say, "She's a partier--fun, but not my type." Or, "She's okay, but her mom is too possessive!" I'd say, "Call me if you want me to give her a piece of my mind." You get the picture. We were JUST FRIENDS, but don't nobody ever hurt the other one.

Well, it was September 1975. I was 27 and currently without a man. (Poor me.) He was 23 and fresh out of love with a girl who, well, frankly, wasn't ME, I find out later. He'd even bought her a honkin' big diamond, thinking he could get me out of his mind if he'd just marry someone else. Didn't work.

The Air Force was done with him, so he was flying back to Michigan to see his family and...get this, see if he could muster any sparks between us. (He now felt old enough for me!) He asked me (just me) to pick him up at the airport, and I thought, that's cool. I get to pick up my best friend at the airport. Well, when he got off that plane and I laid eyes on his tanned, muscled, grown-up frame in that white "leisure suit"--yep, you heard right--leisure suit--I KNEW he was old enough. He walked up to me and planted a nice one square on my lips, but it was short, not the YUMMY one I was telling you about earlier, the "real" kind. This was the "teaser" kind, the kind that makes you walk around in a daze and ask yourself things like, "Have I ever really been kissed by another man, I mean REALLY kissed? If I haven't, then what am I missing?" It was a dumbfounding feeling!

A full week passed and no more kisses. What? What is he doing to me? We played, shopped, hung out at my apartment, ate together, went places, shared down-and-dirty, gut-level discussions, discovered we had a lot in common, laughed - and laughed some more, and all the while I'm thinking, "This is my best friend!"


EXACTLY a week after picking him up at the airport, we were coming home from visiting his sister and brother-in-law who lived several miles away. We chatted in the car all the way home. Suddenly, he put his hand on my knee. Huh? What's he doing, and why does it feel so right? OH, LORD, HELP ME!

Back at my apartment, we sat down to watch some TV. My stomach was aflutter and my heart had stepped up its pace. Something felt different.


His arm came up around my shoulder and tugged me closer. My heart literally stopped beating for at least three entire beats I think, and let me tell you, when that happens you get dizzy and lightheaded! His lips skimmed my ear, and before I could even think about what was happening, I turned my face and, well, his was right there, one inch from mine. He gave me that 'I'm-going-to-kiss-you' look, and I gave him that, 'We-better-not-waste-another-minute' one.

Talk about DIVINE. I thought I had died and gone to Heaven. It was true. I really hadn't been kissed before - I mean truly kissed - until that very moment. All those other times were just pretend things. Oh, I thought they were real, but they were shallow, meaningless, depthless things in comparison to this. This one was tender, giving, promising, soft, passionate. Whew, baby!

On the spot, he told me he loved me, always had, always would -- and would I please, please marry him?

It took me awhile to wade through the mire and mush my head had become, but when I finally agreed, he said, "We don't have to wait long, do we? We already know everything there is to know about each other."

And here's the big thing. We already knew and loved our IN-LAWS! Right there's reason enough!

Well, two and half months later we were married, and you never saw two more giddy, huggy, kissie people in your life. We must have driven our friends and family crazy with our smoochiness.

That was THIRTY-TWO years ago today. Yep, today's my 32nd anniversary. We aren't as giddy as we used to be, and our love has "settled down", i.e. it's grown, developed, matured, weathered a few storms, produced two lovely daughters, given us a grandchild, taught us patience, grown us spiritually, made us laugh till our sides hurt, and even caused a tear or two to fall.

Love is not always easy, but it's not hard, either, especially when you put Christ into the equation. We decided early on that our marriage needed to be Christ-focused/not US-focused. We dedicated our lives and our marriage to the Lord, and He has blessed us immeasurably. We don't have a ton of wealth or earthly possessions, but we share an undying love for each other that no one can take away.

And tell me--what in life could be more important than that?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


My husband has been building our 21-month-old grandson a rocking horse for Christmas. The project took several hours in a freezing garage, but he loved every minute of it, for it was a labor of love. And let me tell you, it is a WORK OF ART, absolutely BREATHTAKINGLY BEAUTIFUL, from the handmade tail and mane to the leather saddle; from the engraved brass plate on the platform to the several layers of shiny stain. (I'm going to attempt to post some pictures of the horse up here so you can see what I'm talking about.) Anyway, it is so well-built that it will be an heirloom, passing down from one generation to the next, I'm certain of it. In fact, I envision it holding our great grandchildren someday, and perhaps our great-great -- who knows? Regardless, it will be rocking some precious little loved one long after we are but a faded memory, a photograph on someone's wall.

Heirlooms. They are priceless treasures, the sort of things that live on, that remind us of what once was and sometimes what will be. They can be material possessions or something as simple as a quilt, a journal, a Bible, or a baby's christening gown. Perhaps someone's yellowed wedding gown lay neatly folded in one of your bottom drawers. (My daughter has my 95-year-old mother's gown, which was far too small for either of my daugthers or me to wear.)

This rocking horse has got me to thinking. What other heirlooms are we passing down? I'm not talking about "things" that might be considered treasures by anyone's standards, though; I'm talking about heirlooms of the heart--the kind that help build character, point our children and our children's children in the right direction, the kind that teach them the truly important things in life.

It is our deepest, heartfelt prayer that our example of faith and trust in a loving God will continue on for generations to come, that as our family grows and marries and multiplies, we won't be remembered strictly for the rocking horses, or the homemade cookies and cakes, or the games we played, or the laughter we shared--but for the Christ who lived in and through us.

That is our prayer. That is the kind of heirloom that lasts into eternity.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007




Thursday, December 06, 2007

Thursday, December 6, 2007 - 1:28 AM

Okay, so I'm about to tell you the stupidest, well, most absent-minded, anyway, thing I've ever done. In my life! And I did it TODAY! Why swallow my pride and tell the world, you ask? No reason, really, except that I do so love to make people laugh, even at my expense. So here goes!

Five of us girlfriends did our annual Christmas thingie today, celebrated the birth of our Lord by spending money, eating at Reds on the River in Rockford, Michigan, and exchanging gifts. We "bonded" by first stuffing ourselves with delectable food, sharing desserts, tearing into our gifts, then freezing our toes off on the icy sidewalks, as we ran from shop to shop, doling out money just about everywhere we went.

Our day started at 9:30 a.m. and ended at 5:30, and in a nutshell it was a superb day with giggly friends.We met at our church this morning, parked our cars, and all piled into one vehicle, Terri's, in case you want the name. (grins)

On the hour-long trip back to the church, we chatted some more (girls never finish talking), and covered everything from Hollywood hotties to war and peace and grandchildren, and then I don't remember because I napped the last 10 miles of the trip.

Back at the church, everyone started piling out. I started rifling through my purse for my keys. My keys. Where are my keys? "I can't find my keys, you guys." Search, search. Search some more. Get nervous. Did I leave my keys in the car all day? Dumb, dumb, dumb. Did I drop them? Did I give them to a homeless person? "Anyone seen my keys?" Try to imagine a bunch of women all looking for the right shopping bags. You guessed it. No one cared about my lost keys. They only cared about finding their millions of packages in the back of the van.

I got out, feeling dejected.

"Hey, Shar, your car's running!" This from Becky.


"Your car. It's running."

"My car is running? Oh! NO! I left my car running? ALL STINKIN' DAY?"

"Oh, Shar, this is why I love hanging out with you," Bec said, giggling. Her eyes always disappear when she laughs hard. I don't know where they go, but they crinkle up into nothingness. "You give me so many reasons to laugh." She was holding her stomach.

Thanks. I think.

We stood there in Michigan's frozen air and laughed our heads off. "Is there any gas left?" someone thought to ask.

I ran to check. (I filled my tank yesterday.) It still registered FULL! Can you believe it?

I guess it doesn't take as much gas as you'd think to let your car idle for 8 hours.

Monday, October 22, 2007

***Some of you may wonder what goes on in my writers' world.
Well, I penned a little poem so you could get an idea!

Inside This Writer’s Head…

The second draft, oh what a blast!
The editing is here at last!
Crossing ‘t’s, dotting ‘i’s,
Reread, rewrite, rethink, revise.

The road to “Finish” takes awhile,
Research, outlines, setting, style,
Files full of worthless news,
Stuff I’ll never even use!

All this for that first, sweet copy,
Who cares if it’s a wee bit sloppy?
Because—guess what— no need to whine,
The editing will make it shine!

Some writers really hate this phase,
Fine-tune, tighten, trim, rephrase.
But me? I find it sheer delight
It means the end is within sight.

I approach it with an eye for fun,
Remembering it’s almost done.
And, then, I’ll finally stop my stewing.
But wait! Another story’s brewing!

Shar MacLaren © Oct. 2007

Monday, October 15, 2007

Here we are at the ACFW book-signing in Dallas! Look at Dee in her cute little argile (how do you spell that?) vest! She is every bit as sweet as her smile! Looking forward to the chance to get to know you better, Dee!

And here we are at the ACFW Saturday night Gala. Yummy food, awards announcements, great fun and conversation at our tables...and best of all--my darling husband, Cecil, surprised by flying into Dallas unexpectedly so he could go to the banquet with me. For more details, read my post of a couple of weeks ago--This is Why I Write Romance!
God is GOOD! May you all sense His marvelous blessings threading through your lives today and always.
Big, Warm Hugs,

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture." Psalm 37:3

There it was, the sign I'd been waiting for! "Mums - 10-inch pots: 4/$20.00" Quickly, I pulled onto the gravel shoulder and came to a stop at the large roadside greenhouse. Finding no one around, I loaded four beautiful flowering pots into my car, then went inside to pay. Still, no one came to my aid. Instead, I found a large plastic bucket with a scrawled note that simply said, "Put your checks and cash inside." Lifting the lid, I found the gallon-size bucket full to the brim with twenty-dollar bills and checks. Can you imagine? Such trust!

After I added my bill to the heap of others, I drove away feeling somehow lighter and having a deeper sense of confidence in my neighbors, my town, even my country. Maybe I am naive, but I still believe that America is the best country in the world. Anyway, this trusting farmer who dared to leave a bucket full of twenty-dollar bills on a table in a little roadside stand got me to thinking along some other lines.

Do I trust my Heavenly Father with that same degree of confidence, I wondered, knowing that when I drop my worries and cares into God's bucket of love no one will run off with my joy? On the other hand, am I slow to trust, afraid of the consequences of stepping out in faith?

PRAYER: Father, give me the faith to trust You with everything, believing that no one will be able to steal away that which is rightfully mine, the simple joy that comes from relying on You. In Your Name, Amen.

Saturday, October 06, 2007


WENDY JO BAKER IS MARRIED--WHOO-HOO! Wendy (Baker) Hodgin is my beloved niece, sort of my "double" niece, as my oldest brother married my husband's oldest sister. Which makes their kids my nieces by blood--but also my husband's nieces by blood. Get it???? I took a few pics but realized afterward that all of the pics I took (of which I'll share a few here) were informal. I didn't really get any of the bride and groom together, or the entire bridal party. Just smidgeons of all "the fun" we had at the reception. It was a glorious, fun-filled wedding, and we thank and praise God that, even while Tim and Wendy had broken off their relationship for a few years, God had a special plan to bring them back together. I'll just write a note or two about all the pics I've included. Nothing long or involved!

My beautiful daughter, Kendy, with her best friend and cousin, Wendy!

Cecil and me waiting for our delicious meal to settle before the dancing begins!

My beautiful daughter, Krissi, with Cecil's mom and Krissi's grandma. Aren't they lovely together?

And another of Krissi and Grandma. And by the way, Krissi is giving me another grandbaby on or around March 12. Yippee-Skippy!

In the "Green Room" after the wedding. Wedding party girls and some friends are practicing their Michael Jackson "Thriller" routine. It came off without a hitch during the performance. SO cute!

More rehearsing. Don't they look serious. But then this is THRILLER we're talking about.

And MORE practicing!

My handsome nephew, Justin, talking with Cecil and a dear friend named Ray, brother to my "almost" niece, Shelly!

The groomsmen AFTER the wedding. The extra tall one is my son-in-law, and the guy next to him is the groom, my new nephew. Actually, I'm related to all those guys--but never mind.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Maybe you're shrugging your shoulders and saying, "Huh? Sarah who?" "Sarah" is the second in my Little Hickman Creek Series and it is now available for purchase. The first was Loving Liza Jane. Courting Emma, the third and final installment, hits shelves in early March. Which means... ta-da!...

***I am working on my next historical series set in the fictional West Michigan town of Sandy Ridge (aka Grand Haven) titled The Daughers of Jacob Kane. Very little about these books will be based on fact, save a few buildings, and the setting, of course. None of the events...so far, anyway, will be factual. The first book in the series, Hannah Grace, centers around the oldest daughter (21). The other books, Maggie Rose and Abbie Ann will follow.***

I have been having a hard time getting myself "in gear" for this series and maybe it's because I have so many other things on my plate that interfere with my focus and creative juices. Or maybe it's because of that nasty word--deadline! Somehow, having a deadline sort of removes the joy of writing for me, even though I sought a mainline publisher for five+ years.

I DO know, however, that God gifted me with a passion to write, and I love the way my books have touched people's hearts from all around the world. It's both mind-boggling and humbling to think God would choose to use my frail little words to make an impact on another's life.

And so I plunge ahead with this next series, knowing He has a plan and will provide this aging mind with new ideas and scenarios! What a journey I'm on.

One thing is for sure--God is not done with us until He says so, and that's usually not until we breathe our last breaths!

May God bless you in rich and bounteous ways, filling you with continuous HOPE and JOY!

Love and Hugs,


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

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I am absolutely ashamed for not having kept up with this blog. So sorry to those of you who check in on it once in a while only to discover NOTHING NEW! One of my reasons for my lack of posting is that I'm very involved over at Shoutlife, and I maintain an active blog there. But if you're not a member there, then you don't reap the benefits of seeing what's happening in my little corner of the world. So, I promise I am going to get better! IF by any chance you do read this blog on occasion, will you let me know by way of a teeny-tiny response to this post, so I'll know if I am reaching anyone out there in blog world? Thanks, dear friends.

Anyway...onto the title of today's post!

I attended the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) convention in Dallas this past weekend. It was incredibly beneficial to me as a writer, but I will admit I missed my hubby. After 32 years of marriage is that pathetic or what? One would think a little separation would do us both good, right? I'm not a total baby. I mean we have spent many a weekend apart over the years for various reasons, but I'm always so happy to see him again.

At any rate, please indulge me as I share a sweet little story with you--and one that will demonstrate to you one of the many reasons why I write romance!

On Saturday, as I was leaving the hotel ballroom after lunch to go up to my room to freshen up for the book-signing event I was to participate in, my phone rang. I searched through my purse and finally laid hold of it. It was my sweet hubby, Cecil. (For those who may be reading this and don't know, we live in Michigan.)

I asked him if he'd played golf that morning. He said he'd decided to play on Friday instead.

I asked him what his plans for the day were, and he said, "Oh, just hanging out."

Then he asked what I was doing. I told him I was heading up to my room to freshen up.

He said, "How come? You look nice already."

I giggled as I hurried toward the elevator and said, "Gee, thanks, sweetie!"

He said, "No, I'm serious. You look pretty in your pink dress."

I stopped dead in my tracks and looked down at my pink dress. Huh?

I made a frantic search of the hotel lobby and found my man standing on the other side, phone to his ear, conniving smile on his face.

Now, that, my precious friends (and family), is why I write romance! (grin)

Have a joyous week, and may God bless your socks off.

Love and big hugs,

P.S. Sarah, My Beloved, second in my series, hits shelves October 3 in case you're wondering.

P.S. again...Tomorrow I will post some pictures of the conference and Cecil and I decked out for the big gala event on Saturday night. Through Every Storm was named a finalist in the general fiction category for Book-of-the Year--but, of course, ir did not win. (TOUGH competition!) I am just humbled into itty-bitty shreds that some kind judges nominated it!!!!

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Dear hubby and I planted lots of grass seed a month ago in a particularly big, barren spot on the side yard. Well, I'm thinking the seed was that cheap stuff that had weeds mixed in because far more weeds grew in that spot than grass! Since you can't throw weed killer onto tender new blades of grass, I tackled the problem in my own way; in the heat of the day I went out and started pulling. Some of those nasty weeds were the kind that spread way out, making it difficult to find the root, others were so thick and hearty, making it impossible to grab hold of the whole thing, and those remaining were just so darned deeply rooted and tough that it would've taken Goliath-strength to yank them out. (Those were the ones I saved for hubby.) Lack of sun, water, and too many weeds are the worst enemies, the biggest detriment, to growing tall, thick, healthy grass.Made me think about we Christians--and the newer, baby ones in particular.Our enemy, Satan, is our greatest foe. He reminds us of those deep-rooted sins that once overtook us, prevented us from growing; he tries to convince us they are too hard to eliminate. When the weeds of life squeeze in around us--unrighteous anger, impatience, lack of compassion, gossip, worldly habits and behaviors, dishonesty, and the list goes on--our spiritual growth ceases to exist. Sin does that, chokes the spiritual life right out of us. The only way to extract sin from your life is to acknowledge you have a problem. (In the case of my grass, I looked out the window and saw it plain as day--too many weeds impeded the seeds from taking root. It was time for taking action.) It's the same with sin. In order to take action, you must turn the matter over to the Lord Jesus; give Him complete control. Only He has the "muscle" needed to rid you of those strong, flourishing, ugly sins. It doesn't happen by sitting around and doing nothing. If you want to maintain a healthy Christian life, you must be proactive. I'm not saying "good deeds" will earn you a ticket into Heaven; I'm saying get out of that easy chair and realize your need for God, acknowledge your sin, and then trust Him for His healing, saving strength. We serve a generous, loving, forgiving, grace-filled God. He knows exactly what's required to live a healthy Christian life, free of choking weeds. There are three basic requirements for growing healthy grass: Ensure plenty of sun, water daily, provide fertile, well-fed soil. I suppose one could also say to guarantee a strong, healthy Christian life, do three basic things. Make the Son the center of your life, water your spiritual life with daily periods of prayer, and fertilize that life with the food of God's Holy Word. As my grass starts to regrow and thicken, we'll toss on some weed-killer. Strong grass can withstand the poisonous killer, just as strong Christians can withstand the attacks of the enemy.The important thing is--don't sit around and do nothing. My grass never would have grown had we not squelched the power of the almighty weed.Extinguish the power of the enemy by living your life wholeheartedly and proactively for Christ. Only He has the strength and might to prevent an enemy invasion!
--- Sharlene MacLarenhttp://www.sharlenemaclaren.comsmac@chartermi.net

Saturday, June 16, 2007

...Memories of Daddy...

A little girl will go to just about any length to please her daddy. At least I did. As far back as I can remember my father loved to fish. I can’t say I ever inherited his penchant for casting out a line in the wee hours of the morning and staring at still, glistening waters for hours on end, sitting on a narrow boat seat, listening to the groans of bullfrogs, while waiting for the tiniest tug at the end of a pole. But I tagged along anyway for the sake of Daddy’s company. And his company was priceless. The memory of it stands out even now like diamonds on black velvet, clear, shimmery, untainted.

“You wanna go fishing in the mornin’?” Dad would ask just before bedtime.

With only a second’s hesitation, I would answer, “Sure!” The truth was I wasn’t thrilled about waking up before dawn, but if it meant spending precious time with the man I most admired, then my answer never required much forethought.

The soft rap on the door came at precisely five o’clock. “Wake up, sleepy head. Fish are jumpin’.”

Quickly wiping sleep from my eyes, I’d roll out from under thick covers and peek past the sheer curtain to find a full moon, its reflection dancing across still waters, a thin layer of fog hovering over the glassy surface. At the water’s edge, our little wooden rowboat lay in wait—a somewhat unreliable old vessel dubbed Maybe Baby by my brother some years before. Maybe it would stay afloat, maybe not. It had been known to spring the occasional leak.

I’d struggle into the same pair of pants I’d shed the night before, throw on a wrinkled sweatshirt, and step into my dirty sneakers. Then stifling a yawn because I didn’t want my grogginess to show, I’d march into the kitchen with purpose. Daddy rewarded me with one of those crooked grins he was famous for and pointed to the door. “Ready?” he’d ask in a whisper so as not to wake the rest of the household. I’d nod.

And off we’d go.

Ah, those crisp summer mornings when the dewy grass tickled my bare ankles as we trudged silently down the hill, the stillness of early morning interrupted only by the sporadic whimper of slowly waking jays and robins. Oh, the uncomplicated perfection.

With a pail, my father would empty out an inch or two of water from the bottom of Maybe Baby. Rainwater? Or that pesky leak? No matter, nothing would keep us from rowing out to the middle of the lake where the biggest catches swirled about, hungry and restless. Some mornings we would share the middle seat, each taking an oar, rowing in perfect rhythm. Other mornings I’d sit in the front, eyes cast downward, mesmerized by the tiny wake created by the boat’s steady course and the tireless squeak of one rusty oar socket.

“How’s this?” he would ask, dropping anchor a couple hundred yards from shore.

“Do you think the fish will bite?” I’d ask, my voice sounding somehow foreign as it echoed over waters smooth as glass.

A knowing grin creased his face. “It’s a good place to start.” I knew that meant we would move on in another 20 minutes if necessary. Fish congregate in tepid pools, he’d taught me. It’s a matter of finding those beds of warmth.

I learned a lot from my dad on those early morning outings, things that had nothing to do with fishing, but everything to do with life and love and laughter. For one thing, he showed me that patience is an art form; it doesn’t happen overnight; it takes practice and persistence and something called long-suffering. “If you want to catch the big one,” he’d murmur softly, “you have to wait it out, hang in there.” I suspect now he wasn’t only referring to a 10-pound bass. Much of life calls for resilience and flat out determination, which doesn’t come easily—unless you’ve worked at it.

I learned that a fine sense of humor is like hot honey on a biscuit; it melts a body clear to the bone. Oh, how our laughter pierced the silence of dawn, rousing numbers of birds and other wildlife, not to mention those poor lake residents longing for one more hour of sleep. As much as my father wanted to catch the big one, and knew the importance of quiet persistence, he never passed up the opportunity to inspire a giggle. I was his number one fan, and he took great pride in maintaining that first place spot.

I learned that perseverance pays. Sitting for long hours in a rickety boat doesn’t reap many benefits until you feel that first little tug. There’s nothing quite like it, even for a novice such as myself. You’re shifting on the boat seat, heavy-eyed and fidgety, staring in the distance at a motionless bobber, when suddenly you feel it, that gentle pull on the end of your line. At first, you wonder if you imagined it until your pole starts to dip and bend and you feel your line go taut. “I got one!” you shout, the adrenaline bursting at the seams. “It’s a big one!” Yes, perseverance pays big dividends.

My daddy trained me that it is the simple things in life that satisfy us, that true wealth is not so much about possessions as it is about position -- your position with God, family, friends, and neighbors. Maybe Baby was no yacht, but I would give anything to sit on her wobbly seat once more, run my hand across her rough-hewn texture, and watch the tiny ripples she created as she glided across moon-kissed waters.

Daddy taught me many things, but one thing stands out above the rest – love flows from silence as well as laughter. We could sit for long moments without murmuring a sound. And from that silence surged a comforting knowledge; love is not always about doing or even saying, but being. There is a certainty every child hungers after and that is simply to know he or she is loved without condition.

My father’s generation promoted a staunchness that went beyond sentiment; thus, he wasn’t overly generous with his hugs and kisses, but, oh, how he loved me unreservedly. He would have laid his life down for me. I know it. I’ll always know it. The memory is crystal clear.

Like diamonds on black velvet.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

PRAISE THE LORD, my book-signing was not only a success, we had a blast! Because of the news article that went in Thursday's paper, all the personal invites I sent out, and just plain word-of-mouth, there were a ton of wonderful people who came out to see me, buy books, and just hang out. I can barely believe it; we sold out of all of B&N's inventory and the 20 or so extra books that we threw in the trunk "just in case".

Aren't these ladies precious? (right pic) They go to my church, and I just love them. They are big supporters of my books. Janet and Arlene...

Below (left) is Kim Fritz, a writing buddy. So glad you could make it, Kim. That meant so much to me. The pic to my right is a precious couple, dear friends of Cecil's and mine, Mike and Terri Metzger. They are both treasures from Heaven, and I'm not kidding! Not only that, they traveled through horrendous traffic to get to my signing. A trip that normally would have taken them 15 minutes took about an hour and a half! ROAD CONSTRUCTION!!! UGH!

This is my precious husband, Cecil. Isn't he the cutest, sweetest, handsomest thing you've ever laid eyes on? Whoa, baby. I love this man so much.
This is Marcia and Duane Tisdel (below, left), my daugher's inlaws. They are special friends of the family. I just love them and am so glad Krissi married their wonderful son. Marcia and I joke that this makes us "sis-in-laws".

The pic above right is Terri, Kendra, and my precious grandboy, Dylan. Grandpa was trying to get a smile out of him, but to no avail. He was a bit perturbed because someone took him out of Grandpa's arms. Hm. He's definitely Grandpa's boy, that's for sure.

I'm sorry I didn't get more pictures, but these were taken toward the end of my signing after things had slowed down.

Here's a great story I'd love to share about my day. One woman approached me in tears. She brought Through Every Storm out of her purse, having already read it, and wanted me to sign it. Then she proceeded to tell me what a blessing the book had been to her, the story itself, and all the Bible verses I had included throughout. It was just what she'd needed, she said, telling me God had put that book before her eyes for a reason, and after reading it decided it was time for her and hubby to go back to church. I was so humbled that we hugged and got weepy together. Her name is Janette, and I will be praying for her as God brings her to my mind. After we finished hugging, she snatched up Loving Liza Jane, and said, "Here, sign this one, too, before you run out of copies!"

Thanks to everyone who made it to my signing. It was a blessed day!

Today is Mother's Day, but that's another post...

Love, Shar

Friday, April 27, 2007

Here's my little punkin', Dylan Michael Brady. He had his first birthday on March 21. He has been the apple of his grandma and grandpa's eyes, and we LOVE HIM WITH ALL OUR HEARTS. Thank you, Lord, for the gift of precious grandbabies. More, more, I want more!!!

This is my big boy, Dakota. The last time I took him to the vet for shots, check-up, etc., he weighed 109 #! He's big boned, tall, and a has about 20# of fur, even though I take him to the groomers once a month! I will admit, he's got a bit of a paunch under all that hair, though. But he's so, so lovable and sweet. I am such a pet lover--although one cat and one dog is my limit. ABSOLUTELY NO RODENTS EVER ALLOWED IN THIS HOUSE...and I don't care how much my children might have begged. I drew the line on that one. I'm go glad God created dogs and cats. They add so much to our lives.

This is Mocha, my 16 pound ball of fur. He's half Himilayan and half Siamese, and 100% big baby. He loves to be carried around, cuddled, loved on, and combed. Every morning while I'm getting ready for my day in the bathroom, he jumps up on the counter and begs for me to get "his comb" out of the drawer. Then he'll sit there and purr as loud as tractor while I comb through his long hair--all the way from the tip of his nose to the end of his long, thick tail. I just love this big guy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

What an Easter Present!

On Good Friday morning, hubby and I set off for Orlando to visit The Holy Land Experience. This is an amazing park with incredible exhibits and live musical dramas and presentations. Hard to explain what it's like. You just need to "experience" it for yourself. I hope we have the opportunity to go again sometime because we only got to stay an hour or so before I fainted in the ladies' restroom and was whisked away by ambulance to Orlando Regional Hospital. Two days and about 13 tests later, it was determined that my fainting spell was just that--a fainting spell. I hadn't been feeling well, and the combination of drugs I'd taken for my headache, the Florida sun, and maybe some dehydration caused me to pass out.

That wasn't what I wanted to share, however. Let me tell you about my wonderful God experience on Saturday afternoon. Lying in the hospital bed after 36 hours of tests and still more to go before the doctors were satisfied, I was beginning to feel the onset of a major panic attack--and I mean MAJOR. I had the shakes, couldn't still my heart rate, developed diarrhea and nausea, and was hyperventilating. Since I tend to have a history with anxiety, I recognized the signs, but no matter how hard I tried, reciting Bible verses and praying unceasingly, I couldn't get a grip. It seemed the enemy Satan had decided to begin whispering lies in my head about my being on the verge of a breakdown, telling me my panic was about to increase ten-fold, and there was nothing I could do about it.

Well, while in the throes of panic, I was laid on a board to prepare for yet another test, this one a 20-minute series of pictures taken of my heart during which time I was not permitted to move a muscle. I told the technicians that I was having a panic attack and wasn't sure I could handle one more test. The notion of lying still inside a "rocket-shaped" machine only increased my agitation. Seeming to ignore my situation, one technician patted my arm and mumbled something like, "You'll get through it." As if that were any consolation. Then off they went into a little room to operate the machine--leaving me alone to listen to the pounding rhythm of my rapid heartbeat.

Ah, but I wasn't alone. Jesus was there, the resurrected Jesus! How could I have forgotten?

After lying on that hard, narrow cot for all of one minute, encapsulized in a solid steel vessel, it suddenly occured to me that Satan had been toying with me. In my head (I couldn't move a muscle, so I figured that included my mouth), I said "Satan, leave me alone." But then I thought to myself, Wait! He can't hear me, he's not all-knowing, all powerful--he can't read minds. But Jesus can! So 'in my head' I said, "Jesus, would you please go tell Satan to leave me alone?"
There is only one word to describe what happened next, and that word is INSTANTANEOUS.
Up and down my body flowed an indescribable peace and rest. My panic rolled away and I became so comfortable on that 12-inch board, right arm lying on a pillow-type extension, left arm tucked up under my head, unmovable. Tears of joy fell silently down my cheeks as I lay on my newfound cloud of comfort and experienced God's divine mercy and love.

In those freeing moments I realized anew that Satan is a defeated foe. I pictured him (more likely his pesky messengers--remember there's only one Satan--he cannot be in more than one place at any given time like God can) fleeing as fast as they could go when Jesus came along and simply said, "Scram! She's mine." That little word picture had me so blessed I could barely keep from shouting Hallelujah in that steel rocket!

When they wheeled me into that testing room I was one panicked individual, but when they wheeled me out I was NEW, different! My husband noticed it right away. "You look like a different person," he told me. I said, "I am. God healed me of my fear in there." I told the technicians, the nurses, and even a couple of doctors what had happened to me, how God had rescued me from my panic, completely removed it with a simple little plea of, "God, please tell Satan to leave me alone." Most smiled. Some nodded their heads and looked a little skeptical, while others said, "That's cool." Bottom line, I really didn't care what anyone thought because I knew what I knew what I knew... and that was that God intervened for me that day.

I serve a big God, and when I call on His name, He hears and answers!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Sharlene MacLaren/ www.sharlenemaclaren.com

Sharlene MacLaren/ www.sharlenemaclaren.com

Yesterday a carton of books arrived at my house! Loving Liza Jane should hit the shelves most any day now, and I'm ecstatic, awed by God's marvelous plans and purposes, and humbled that He would choose to use me in this manner. I have always loved to write, but I never dreamt even two years ago that I would be pubbed by a main-line publisher. God is so good and merciful. On another note, Through Every Storm is doing well.

I stand amazed in God's presence. The way He speaks to me, walks with me, leads and guides my steps. Thank you, Lord, for your faithfulness.

Dylan's first birthday is March 21. We're hosting a party tomorrow for about 30 guests. Should be a fun-filled day. Talk about blessings, Dylan is our biggest! We love him so much. It's so fun to watch all the changes he's made over the year.

Bounteous Blessings,

Sunday, February 25, 2007


I've had Jan Karon's first book in her series sitting on my shelf for years. Don't ask me why it's taken me so long. I have no excuse other than to say when I heard it was about a priest in his 60s I thought--yeah, but I'm all about reading romance. I just didn't think I would connect with a story where the hero is graying, has belly-fat issues, has never married, and loves to hang out in the kitchen. WRONG! This series is masterful! And I am so in love with Father Tim it is not even funny!

Actually, the story did begin on a slow note, so I did question whether I would finish it, but after plowing through the first 100 pages or so, I found myself hooked! Now I'm midway through the third book. I believe there's one more in the series, then she writes about something else. Anyway, so glad I discovered these delightful books. I will be sad when Mitford comes to an end.

I had my first local book signing for Through Every Storm at Hage's yesterday. It was a huge success, and athey are anxious for me to come back when Loving Liza Jane hits the shelves.

God is so, so good to me. Lord, thank you for the seed of passion you've planted in my heart for writing. I just can't think of anything I'd rather be doing in my "golden years" (smile)...yes, I'll be 59 this summer. I suppose that qualifies as golden, or at least it's getting awfully close.


Sharlene MacLaren/ www.sharlenemaclaren.com

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Oh, my goodness, it's "blizzarding" here in West Michigan. Cold, cold, cold. High winds, tons of snow, and frigid temps. Thank God for a toasty warm house.

Super Bowl tomorrow. Even I am a bit excited about this game. And I am NOT a football fan by any stretch!

Sharlene MacLaren/ www.sharlenemaclaren.com

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Sharlene MacLaren/ www.sharlenemaclaren.com

I just returned from CBA's ADVANCE '07 in Indianapolis and what a blessing it was. I had my first-ever book signing, and signed books for a solid hour. Unfortunately, we ran out of books. What a humbling experience to see people waiting patiently for a signed copy of my book. I went into this event with fear and trembling, but everything about the week far exceeded my expectations. God has been so good to me. And the people at Whitaker House Publishing are amazing folks!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

It's a new year, and with that comes a fresh kind of feeling--like the mistakes I made in the past year can be wiped clean for a brand new start. It's like washing a chalkboard full of marks and smudges. Until you put that first word--or line--or number on the board it looks brand new. That's how this new year looks, clean, bright, empty, and brand new. Of course, I know it won't last (already my calendar is filling up). But for now anyway, my days feel new. I feel revived, and ready to face the challenge.

Of course, with the new year come resolutions. I've only made one because I know ME! My resolution is spelled
C-U-R-V-E-S! I went today and yesterday. My aim is to work out 3X a week, so I'm hoping I can stick with it this time. I've lost the weight, and now it's a matter of toning muscle.

Along with this resolution comes my "theme" for the year, which is TRUST. I've been thinking about this word and how it coincides with faith. I think they go hand-in-hand, but also have separate meanings. To me, "trust" seems like a quiet assurance, while "faith" seems more active. At any rate, trust is something for which I'm seeking to improve w/ regard to my spiritual walk. So many issues of life disrupt my faith in a Holy and soverign God. Time to take my eyes off self and focus more on God and others. Not always easy--but necessary.

A good verse to reflect on is Provers 3:5,6, which simply says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."

Sharlene MacLaren/ www.sharlenemaclaren.com