Photo by Sybil Holland




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Welcome, friends! Thanks for stopping by.

A paean to my editor

November 18, 2009

When I read a book, I always turn to the acknowledgements and scan down the names to see what writers have to say about their editors. I've been an editor in my career, as well as a writer, so I like to see that side of the desk get its due.

When I got my start as a freelance writer twenty some years ago, I worked at a great local paper, U.S. 1. It bills itself as Princeton's business and entertainment paper. It's targeted exclusively to the Route 1 business corridor, not to any one particular town along it, like Trenton, Princeton or New Brunswick.

The editor there, Rich Rein, has a stellar background in journalism, dating back to his days at Princeton University and then his writing days at Time and People magazines. Despite my journalism degree and my years as an editor for Dow Jones, it is Rich who really taught me what it is to write a story.

Now that the newspaper is celebrating its 25th anniversary, I thought it was high time to acknowledge Rich's influence on my career. So, I wrote a column titled What U.S. 1 Really Taught Me. Well, actually I titled the column "What Rich Rein Really Taught Me," but I guess he didn't want to take all the credit -- or blame. When you read the column, you'll understand. Hope you enjoy it! (Sorry, Rich!)

A heroic tale of martyrdom

November 17, 2009

In 1952 Dutch New Guinea, two young missionaries trekked into the uncharted Bird's Head area of this Indonesian island. In doing so, they lost their lives.

The story of these two men isn't as well known as the widely reported story of Jim Elliot's party of five missionaries killed in South American four years later. Because of the involvement of a Life magazine photographer, the latter story came to the nation's attention in a big way.

But now, more than fifty years later, the pioneering efforts of the earlier missionaries, Walter Erikson and Edward Tritt, have borne surprising fruit in the very same way that the Elliot party's did.

I wrote an article about these two missionaries to what today is called West Papua. It was a supremely satisfying story to research. I interviewed people directly involved with the story and had first-hand access to letters, diaries, newsletters, photos and trial documents. This allowed me to re-create the incident in greater detail than is possible for many early martyrdom stories.

You can find the story of Erikson and Tritt here in the magazine TEAM Horizons. Scroll down to Legacy: Erikson and Tritt and click on View. Then open the document as a PDF file.

Often, when tragedies occur in our lives, we have no idea why we have been called on to suffer. It is the privilege of the families and co-workers of these two men to be witness to the rewarding ending to this story more than 50 years later. I hope you enjoy reading it.

Book of military chaplain stories

November 10, 2009

A month or so ago, my husband and I had dinner with a childhood friend and his wife. Gary's a military chaplain and his wife an ordained minister.

We spent a few hours catching up -- we hadn't seen each other since our teens! -- and then Gary wanted to tell us a story. It was about a care package we'd sent him while he was deployed to Afghanistan a few years ago. Because it was nearing Christmas, I'd put in a small plastic Christmas tree and bags of candy. I also packed in some brownie mixes. Gary wanted to tell us what happened to the brownie mixes.

Not having the ingredients or means for making the brownies himself, he approached the kitchen staff on the base, who said they’d see what they could do. Meanwhile, Gary began preparing a Christmas Eve service.

Normally, Gary said, only two or three soldiers came to his Sunday services. Even so, he expected a few more for Christmas Eve. He was thrilled to receive another package in the mail, one from his wife that contained small gifts to distribute at the party. He also got word that the brownies could be made up for a party following the service.

Preparing to start the service, Gary glanced around the chapel and was astonished to find the seats filling up. He counted 30 personnel in attendance, including himself. After the service, the group gathered to enjoy the treats and gifts laid out for them. On the table were 30 gifts and 30 brownies. Exactly enough gifts and exactly enough brownies to go around. Imagine that!

After finishing the story, Gary said in passing, "We chaplains have hundreds of these stories!" Immediately, I thought, "What a great book idea!"

So, that's what I'm working on now. A book of stories told by military chaplains. If you are -- or if you know -- a military chaplain, I'd like to hear your story. I'm looking for stories that show God's grace to the military in everyday ways, or in ways that are experienced as miracles.

To tell me your story, contact me through the e-mail address to the right of this blog. I'd be happy to contact you by phone or e-mail to talk about your story. I've already heard some wonderfully inspiring stories and look forward to more. Thanks, Gary and Rosalind, for the idea!