Wednesday, November 27, 2013


"Even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you."
Psalm 139:23, NIV

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Photo was taken on Wendover Avenue, Greensboro, North Carolina 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

SUNDAY SOLACE: Morning's Song

"In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary."
~ Aaron Rose ~
"The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy."
―Psalm 65:8, NIV

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Friday, November 22, 2013


Welcome to Friday Friendly Focus. I am excited this week to introduce my friend and purveyor of hope, Kathe Wunnenberg.
Kathe and I met a couple of years ago when I attended  a writing conference in the Arizona mountains sponsored by her ministry, Hopelifters Unlimited. It didn't take long for me to note that Kathe wears her heart on her sleeve―a
heart of overwhelming
compassion which resonates throughout every fiber of her being.  I was privileged this summer to be included as a contributor in her latest book and continue to be inspired by her sincere example of being the hands and feet of Christ to those who are hurting.

Thank you, Kathe, for being my guest and for sharing your "recipe of hope" just in time for our Thanksgiving feasts. Kathe serves up a dish you will want to pass around.
by Kathe Wunnenberg

One Thanksgiving I surprised our neighbors with a gift I called “Hope Rocks.” It included: a bag of rocks, a sharpie, and a glass bowl. I could tell by their puzzled look I needed to explain. So I shared about our family’s outing the previous Thanksgiving when we exchanged formal dining for quad riding and a picnic in the desert complete with turkey sandwiches and pumpkin pie. During our wilderness adventure I wanted to create a fun family activity to express our thankfulness. But what? As I pondered and prayed about what to do, the Lord brought to my mind the story of the Israelites trekking through the desert and the miracle Jordan River crossing.  

And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. He said to the Israelites, "In the future when your descendants ask their parents, 'What do these stones mean?' tell them, 'Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground' " (Joshua 4:20-22).
That’s it! I thought.
“Gather rocks!” I directed.

Within a few minutes our family returned with their stone treasures and placed them in the center of our lawn chair circle. I handed each person a marker and asked them to write on their rocks what they were thankful for, share them with the group, and then place them in the bowl. Dad, mom, fire trucks, sunshine, baseball, Jesus and the police were a few “hope rocks” I remember.

After we returned home I placed our bowl of rocks on the kitchen table as a centerpiece. On days when I needed extra encouragement, I picked one up and remembered our circle of thanksgiving in the desert and hope returned.

The next time I saw our neighbors, they smiled and said, “Thanks! Hope rocks!”

What are you thankful for? Consider starting a new tradition to express your gratitude and remember what God has done for you. Grab a rock and a marker and start writing!
Kathe Wunnenberg lives with her family in Phoenix, Arizona. She is a speaker, writer, and leader known for her creative compassion. She believes God can transform anything you offer Him-your possessions, people, places and personal life experiences-into hope to help others. Kathe embraces this daily hopelifting lifestyle and encourages and equips others to do the same as the Founder and President of Hopelifters Unlimited. Learn more about her and her newest book, Hopelifter: Creative Ways to Spread Hope When Life Hurts at 

I invite you to  leave a comment for Kathe. We would love to hear about something you are thankful for, your Thanksgiving traditions and/or a creative way in which you choose to share hope.

Blessings and Happy Thanksgiving! 

Starr and Kathe

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


"Let the trees of the forest sing, let them sing for joy before the LORD."
1 Chronicles 16:33, NIV

Fall exits as leaves rain like colorful ticker tape

in celebration

of Old Man Winter's coming.  
Refusing to take its final bow until

it saturates

our souls with its jubilant song.
Drink it in. 

Winter is long.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


 "Yahweh my Lord is my strength;
 He makes my feet like those of a deer
and enables me to walk on mountain heights!"
―Habakkuk 3:19, HCSB 



Friday, November 15, 2013


The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, a 1968 movie based on Carson McCuller's acclaimed debut novel, was one of the first movies my husband and I went to see while dating.

Carson, a transplanted Georgia girl, finished her 1940  novel while living in Fayetteville, North Carolina. My mother worked as a young waitress there at the time and happened to live in the same boarding house where Carson and her husband rented a room. I remember my mother speaking of Carson's eccentric ways and of the fact that she dressed in boyish clothes, wore a man's watch, smoked and didn't hesitate to befriend blacks, which was frowned upon in the segregated South.  

Fayetteville residents had no clue this eccentric young  woman was about to become what publishers considered the "find of the decade." 
Carson McCullers
February 19, 1917 ~ September 29, 1967
Columbus, Georgia
Carson McCullers
 "I live with the people I create and it has always made
my essential loneliness less keen."

Carson McCullers, born Lula Carson Smith, was plagued with poor health for more than half of her life. A child musical genius, she began her formal training in piano at the age of ten. By thirteen, her passion was to become a concert pianist, but her intensive study was interrupted at the age of seventeen with a prolonged illness which would later be diagnosed as rheumatic fever. Too weak to play the piano, her father gave her a typewriter and she began writing plays that she cast, directed and produced at home before an audience of family and friends.
Though an ordinary student in high school, she was a prolific reader. She reasoned that to read was to prepare to be a writer, and where better to read and learn to write than in New York City. Convincing her mother she wanted to prepare for a concert career at Juilliard School of Music, she arrived in Manhattan during the grips of the Great Depression. In the evenings, she studied creative writing at Columbia University and New York University for two years while taking odd jobs to support herself and pay tuition. She was fired from time to time for daydreaming. Her study was regularly interrupted by respiratory ailments related to her still undiagnosed rheumatic fever. She often returned home to recuperate. It was on one such trip she met a Fort Benning soldier from Alabama, Reeves McCullers. They were married in 1937 and later moved to Charlotte, North Carolina where she worked on her manuscript for The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. With an outline and six chapters, she entered a fiction writing contest sponsored by Houghton Mifflin and was awarded a $500 prize as an advance against royalties and the promise of publication if her work proved satisfactory. In 1938, her husband was transferred to Fayetteville, North Carolina, and it was there she finished her debut novel. She was living in Fayetteville when The Heart is a Lonely Hunter was accepted for publication and released in 1940.
Carson suffered three
crippling strokes before she was thirty, yet managed to write daily. In 1941, she completed her second novel, Reflections in a Golden Eye, but it was her third novel, The Member of the Wedding (1946), that was considered to be her finest work. Adapted for theater, it won most of the theater awards in 1950 and ran for 501 performances on Broadway. Her fourth and final novel, Clock without Hands (1961), climbed to sixth place on the New York Times best-seller list. Carson continued to write dozens of non-fiction essays, short stories, plays and poems leaving an impressive literary legacy before she died in 1967 of a massive brain tumor at the age of fifty. A movie based on The Heart is a Lonely Hunter was released the following year.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013


 "Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear."
―Matthew 13:16, ESV
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Monday, November 11, 2013

The Ultimate Sacrifice

"Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die."
~ G.K. Chesterton ~
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
John 15:13, KJV
In loving memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice
and in honor of all who have and continue to risk their lives daily . . .



Sunday, November 10, 2013

SUNDAY SOLACE: Crown of Glory

Our crown has  been bought and paid for,
we simply need to put it on.
“What is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    a son of man that you care for him?
You made them a little lower than the angels;
    you crowned them with glory and honor."
Hebrews 2:6-7, NIV


Saturday, November 9, 2013


“A ship in the harbor is safe, but that's not what ships are built for.”   ~William Shedd~   
"Some went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters.
They saw the works of the Lord, his wonderful deeds in the deep."
Psalm 107:23-24, NIV

In keeping with this week’s serendipitous theme of the sea and sailing ships, it seems only appropriate for Simply Saturday Trivia to maintain the flow and offer up some seasonal Mayflower facts.
On this day in history, November 9, 1620, after two grueling months at sea, the nation’s first settlers spotted land. They dropped anchor two days later on the shores of Cape Cod in a merchant ship called the Mayflower. The ship, captained by Christopher Jones, had departed Plymouth, England on September 6th with 102 passengers and 26 crew members onboard. Nearly 40 of these passengers were Protestant Separatists who hoped to obtain religious freedom in the new World. After arriving in Cape Cod, a scouting party was sent out, and in late December the group landed at Plymouth Harbor where they formed the first permanent settlement.
What finally became of the Mayflower is an unsettled issue. After the Mayflower's return to England in May of 1621, she was again involved in trade between London and France. Her captain, Christopher Jones, died in early 1622. Historians claim, in 1624, the ship was finally broken up and that her timbers were used in the construction of a barn at Jordans Village in Buckinghamshire. The well-preserved structure is a present-day tourist attraction.

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Photo was taken off the Minnesota coast on Lake Superior 2010

Friday, November 8, 2013


Welcome to Friday Friendly Focus. It is my privilege this week to feature, Eddie Jones.
Eddie is a gifted writer, author and acquisition editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He is co-founder of Writers Advance Boot Camp and the online devotional site, Christian Devotions. Eddie gives unselfishly of his time and resources  so others can realize their dreams and spread the love of God through writing.  
Grab a cup o' joe, kick back and enjoy  his delightful humor in this excerpt from one of his many books, Hard Aground, Again.  If you've never sailed, Eddie's adventures will either cause you to wish you had or be glad you haven't. Either way, Eddie, thank you for helping us see how a little laughter goes a long way in relieving the stress of life.
 Oscar Mired Dinners
by Eddie Jones 
For ten dollars we got one of the finest seafood dinners the Low country could offer and an evening of entertainment that has lasted a lifetime.

It was Rick’s idea, really. He was the captain’s kid and we figured that if the prank seemed too daring for his old man, Rick would take the fall for the rest of us. He didn’t, but that’s the way we figured it. By the time Rick finked on Lin and I, fingering us for the petty pirates that we were, the escapade had grown to legendary proportions and everyone wanted to be numbered among the band of buccaneers. But for now, it was Rick’s idea. I was just the guy driving the boat.

Lin was the navigator, and it was his job to keep us clear of the shoals and mud flats of Georgia’s Sea Islands. Our passage up the Intracoastal Waterway from Jacksonville, Florida, had been plagued by swift currents, slow days, and the gradual acceptance that life around these sea islands moved with the ebb and flow of the tidal times. Fish and fowl and boat all moved along to the same slow pulse of the gravitational pull.

Our adventure had begun earlier that morning with the wind ripping through the sun-dried sawgrass of a tidal marsh, thrashing the restless reeds in advance of a summer squall. The morning blossomed with the passing shower, and soon the narrow river swelled beyond the channel markers, washing over oyster beds and cautious crabs in a relentless march for the high-tide line. Somewhere up ahead, beyond the next turn or the one after that, was a fork in the waterway called Hell’s Gate. Rick’s dad, Oscar, had warned us to stay alert for this navigational nightmare and to watch for the set of range markers. The symbolism of the topography and the mischief we would propose should have been a harbinger of things to come, but we were young and stupid and blinded by our faith in two forgiving fathers — Rick’s dad and my heavenly one.

In Rick’s case, his dad was down below mulling over the waterway charts and making plans for another dull meal aboard ship. I didn’t know it at the time — but was about to learn — that Oscar had this thing about Dinty Moore beef stew. He considered this canned hash to be an integral part of the cruising experience. All I could envision was the regurgitated heap of cold beef hash from my days as a Boy Scout. I hoped Oscar’s loud boasting of fresh stew was for show and to scare us, but Rick assured me it was not.

“My old man loves the stuff,” he said.

“You’re kidding. How can he eat something that looks and smells like canned dog food?”

“Oh, it’s not so bad if you add a little wine to it,” Rick offered. “The trick is to drown it thoroughly in merlot while Dad’s out in the cockpit checking the channel markers. If you doctor it up enough, by the time you’ve finished a bowl you’ve got a little buzz and are tempted to go back for seconds. But don’t let that wine high fool you. Stop at one helping or you’ll pay for it in the morning.”

Well, I had never had a beef stew hangover and didn’t care to try one that far from central plumbing, so I asked Rick if there was another option.


“Crabs?” I asked. “You mean like stopping for a crab dinner along the waterway?”

“No, I mean like grabbing one of these traps we keep passing and boiling a few.”

“What’s your dad gonna say?” Lin asked.

“I’m not sure. It’s hard to guess which way he’ll come down on something like that. But right now it’s crabs or Dinty Moore and I’m willing to try a little larceny if y’all are.”

Like I said, Lin and I figured Rick had a better feel for his dad’s temperament than we did, so we found a false sense of security in Rick’s courage.

Along the Southern coast, locals still set shrimp nets and crab traps in small creeks and tidal pools, preserving a way of life that is fighting to stay ahead of the kudzu creep of four-lane causeways and back-nine bunkers. Motoring north along the waterway, we tried to ignore the rumble of rubber tires on steel girders overhead, because off to port a broad savanna stretched beyond the back lawn of a plantation home.

“Do you think we’re close to Hell’s Gate?” I asked as the channel narrowed.

“Not sure,” Rick replied. “We’ll know for certain when we get to the next marker.”

None of us had thought to check the tide, but then no one had considered the penalty for poaching crabs either. As accomplished sinners we didn’t need to be led into temptation. We could find it on our own just fine. While Lin and Rick gathered their tools for our evening heist, Oscar was down below banging on a steel pan to warn us that preparations for dinner were underway. Together we clung to the hope that soon the Styrofoam float we craved so desperately would drift into view and spare us another dull meal aboard Oscar’s boat. What had begun as a lukewarm alliance to poaching crabs now possessed our very soul, and we were rabid with the prospect of a fresh seafood dinner.

“It’s tough when you want to steal and can’t,” Rick mumbled after a few minutes of searching the dusk-darkened waters.

“Or mercy,” I thought.

Just as Oscar announced that he’d found the can opener, Lin’s light illuminated a beige float bobbing off the port side. Rick rushed forward to get into position while I carefully steered us away from the main channel and towards dinner. I was reluctant to throttle down for fear of alerting Oscar of our intentions, so I watched and waited and hoped our brief diversion from course would go unnoticed. Rick knelt down, wedging his head beneath the lifelines to lie flat on the narrow side deck. I was watching Rick reach over and down towards the water to snag the trap, when suddenly I saw Lin twist and stumble on the bow, his thigh landing hard against the bow pulpit. I only had a moment to wonder at this before I, too, succumbed to a rush of vertigo as the cockpit floor rose beneath me in that sickening manner that accompanies a grounding.

“What’s going on up there?” Oscar shouted, charging up the companionway. “I thought I told you guys to call me if you weren’t sure where the channel was.”

He was standing in the cockpit with a half-opened can of Dinty Moore in one hand and a plastic spatula in the other.

“Rick, you should know better than this. Rick? Where’s Rick?”

“Down here.”

We looked off the stern and saw Rick standing in the water beside the dinghy.

“What are you doing down there, son?”

“I fell in.”

“Well, if you can stand up, then you know dang well this isn’t where the boat’s supposed to be. Get in the dinghy and take the anchor out into the main channel. Eddie, you get ready to winch it in. Y’all better pray that the tide is rising.”

It wasn’t.

I learned that night that the secret to life is enjoying the passing of tides. It’s a hard lesson to learn. You learn it on a shoal or you learn it bucking a current, but in the end you come to appreciate the power of the tides. It is the eternal flow of highs and lows that sets the pace of life. Fish and fowl and fair-weather sailors all float along on the same river of ups and downs.

We convinced Oscar that since we’d gone to the trouble of running aground, we might as well enjoy a crab feast. Rick pulled the chicken-wire cage on board and we dumped ten or more of the frightened critters into a pot of boiling water. I was pleased to see that their spastic convulsions stopped almost as soon as they hit the water. Moments later we were sitting around the table dipping chucks of beefy white meat into bowls of golden butter and listening to Oscar’s tales of other waterway trips. The stories and crabs kept coming, each nourishing us in different ways, and when we were finished Oscar added another to his collection.

“Y’all chip in a few dollars while I write a note.”

We glanced at each other, puzzled at his request, but did as ordered. Oscar went into the head and dug through his dock kit and returned with an aspirin bottle. He emptied the pills on the counter, then rolled the money and note together and slipped them into the bottle.

“I plan to be gone tomorrow morning when that fisherman comes back for his trap. He’s gonna be pretty ticked off to find it’s empty except for this aspirin bottle. Ten dollars ain’t much, but maybe it will make up for what we took. Could be it’s more than he would’ve made off them anyway. In any case, these crabs and this grounding will give us something to talk about the rest of the trip.”

And it still does.

Photo copyright  of Miroslav Vajdić

Hard Aground...Again is a collection of cruising and boating stories, offering a "stuck up" look at the underside of cruising and the frustrations “land-cuffed” sailors experience when our plans for coastal exploration and tropical destinations run aground on the shoals of family, finances and failing health. It is available for purchase through Amazon in paperback or Kindle edition.

Image of Eddie JonesEddie is a North Carolina-based writer and Acquisition Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He is also an award-winning author with HarperCollins. Learn more about Eddie at

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


The God who set the boundaries for the sea is the same God who watches over you and me.
Is anything too hard for the Lord?
Take comfort in the fact that He is sovereign. 
"I made the sand a boundary for the sea,
an everlasting barrier it cannot cross. 
The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail;
they may roar, but they cannot cross it." 
―Jeremiah 5:22, NLT

Please visit my devotional blog at the following link
Video was taken at Holden Beach, NC 2013 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Chosen Vessel

“He saw two boats at the water’s edge … He got into one of the boats.”
–Luke 5:2-3, NIV

I was recently invited to join a team of writers for ZooKeepers Ministries, a non-denominational ministry founded on Titus 2 dedicated to helping women and families around the globe find harmony in their homes through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. My first 5-day devotional series began this week. Please join me each day as we examine how to become vessels God will choose to use.
The Chosen Vessel
Day 1: A Steady Boat 

Day 2: A Ready Boat

 Day 3: A Weathered Boat

Day 4: A Perceptive Boat

Day 5: A Receptive Boat

The Chosen Vessel

“He saw two boats at the water’s edge … He got into one of the boats.”
–Luke 5:2-3, NIV

I was recently invited to join a team of writers for ZooKeepers Ministries: A non-denominational ministry founded on Titus 2 dedicated to helping women and families around the globe find peace in their hearts and harmony in their homes through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. My first 5-day devotional series began this week. Please join me each day as we examine how to become vessels God will choose to use.
The Chosen Vessel
Day 1: A Steady Boat 

Day 2: A Ready Boat

 Day 3: A Weathered Boat

Day 4: A Perceptive Boat

Day 5: A Receptive Boat 

Sunday, November 3, 2013


O God, thy sea is so big, and my boat is so small.

“For forty days the roaring floods prevailed, covering the ground and lifting the boat high above the earth. As the water rose higher and higher above the ground,
the boat floated safely upon it.” ―Genesis 7:17, Living Bible

Waves crashed against the boat’s hull only inches from where Noah and his wife lay.

“What would it take for this boat to capsize?” Naamah asked.

“This boat is built for high winds and torrential rains,” Noah assured her.

Moments later, “Are you sure we’re not going to perish?”

Her husband’s words always comforted her. It was not what he said so much as the calm manner in which he said it.
But how could he be so sure?
"This hope we have as an anchor of the soul,
a hope both sure and steadfast."
―Hebrews 6:19, NASB

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Friday, November 1, 2013


Nature's Epilogue

John Burroughs  John Burroughs 
April 03, 1837 ~ March 29, 1921
Roxbury, New York
John Burroughs  was an American naturalist and essayist important in the evolution of the U.S. conservation movement. According to biographers at the American Memory project at the Library of Congress, John Burroughs was the most important practitioner after Thoreau of that especially American literary genre, the nature essay. By the turn of the century he had become a virtual cultural institution in his own right: the Grand Old Man of Nature at a time when the American romance with the idea of nature, and the American conservation movement, had come fully into their own.

"In the beginning God created . . . " Genesis 1:1, NIV
Today is Author's Day. An author broadly defined is a person who originates or gives existence to anything and whose authorship determines responsibility for what was created.

Because we are made in the image of God the Creator, we also possess the innate ability to create. God has uniquely gifted each of us according to his divine wisdom. Exercising our natural abilities is the expression of his Spirit within us. There is no gift greater than another. There is no right or wrong expression. Gifts are given to be used; not to be hidden or placed on display so as to draw attention to the recipient. They are entrusted for a specific purpose and when skillfully laced with those of others can accomplish above and beyond our grandest expectations.

Simply stated, gifts are given for our enjoyment and are to be used without reservation for God's glory and the benefit of mankind. Experience lasting joy and significance by employing your gifts to bring light and color to the pages of someone's life. We all are authors. It is never too late; we simply need to begin.

Celebrate Author's Day by celebrating you. Read a good book. Better yetwrite one.
"We write this to make our joy complete." 1 John 1:4, NIV

"Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others,
as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms."
 ―1 Peter 4:10 NIV

 Please visit my devotional blog at the following link