I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Major Changes Bring Life and Writing Growth

Delores E. Topliff

I was born in Vancouver, Washington, official end of the Oregon Trail, which, besides becoming a Christian, largely shaped my interests and goals. After college and grad school, with two sons ages 11 and 9, choosing life options included teaching in New York City or Guam, or joining committed Christians in Canada along the Alaska Hwy. where we bought inexpensive land to start a Christian community. That's what we did. We were a modern version of the Plymouth Colony eager to build a new life and culture together on an increasingly self-sufficient farm, We founded an excellent school, and ultimately a 4-year Christian college.

My family came in the second tier of arrivals. Our first summer, we peeled enough logs to build 10 cabins, including ours. We carved our names into the logs we peeled, and appreciated reading those names inside our snug comfortable homes that winter.

We became part of each other’s lives. Though that community has since segued into other locations, and some people have gone different directions, we remain close-knit friends forever.

That’s reminiscent of how the MBT Ponderers grew. We met, peeled (and signed) our works-in-progress, and formed bonded friendships closer than any of us expected when we first exchanged contact information.

Perhaps growth in life and writing is in proportion to major life changes--the bigger the effort, the bigger the payoff--plus more muscles built and lessons learned in the process. No matter the outcome, the journey is memorable--worth every effort.

No pain, no gain. Isn’t that the American Ethic? I remember in college saying, “Man scorns that which he too easily obtains.” That apparently has become my life creed. But that’s also true for our fiction characters. Readers despise the mediocre, only get involved when heroes and heroines face gut-wrenching tests and stumble, sometimes fall, but keep going forward to heart-satisfying conclusions--if not always fully happy endings.

Through life journeys, authors and readers become older and wiser. Embracing great fiction enriches our life experiences.

What about you? What life adventure and/or effort has brought you the most change or gain so far?


  1. I was part of a profession that dealt (and offered) the reality of sudden violent death on a daily basis. It moved me from being a citizen of the temporal world to having one foot in eternity.

    I've learned that everything we experience here - from the ups and downs of writing to serious illness - is just a passing, thing, waves on a pond that, when stilled, will reflect the perfection of Heaven.

    It's hard to get excited about what kind of car to buy. Conversely, it's easy to get exercised about deliberate cruelty and malice...and the barrier that inhibits action, sometimes decisive action, is lowered. (Don't mess with a kid or animal in my sight. Please.)

    I didn't like having to bury friends (or sometimes, pardon me, the bits I could find), but they surround me with the security and love of continuity beyond this life, and whisper in my ear, in the still of the night, of the 'eternal liberty' of Heaven.


    1. "It's hard to get excited about what kind of car to buy."

      I was sitting in a pediatric therapy waiting room with the other moms--women I'd just met and had an instant connection with because all of us had kids with medical problems. We couldn't relate to other women in our lives who's biggest problem seemed to be deciding which new sofa to buy. If we could help our children through another therapy session, if we could see them smile, we could live with faded furniture. And seeing a child who's prognosis was worse than mine son's continually put my problems into perspective. That lens makes mine a lot smaller.

    2. Thanks, Andrew, for sharing your profound thoughts and experiences. I also once spent 3 1/2 mos. in the Guerilla-occupied zone of Colombia that further rearranged my values and what I considered difficulties. I may no longer fit general society as well, something like the Rip Van Winkle effect that others may not relate to well, but that's okay.
      And thanks Roxanne. Your experiences have added so much wisdom and depth to you on a daily basis that distills from you. I don't think you even realize . . .

  2. Dee, I really enjoyed that glimpse of you as a pioneer building a cabin in Alaska.

    Becoming a widow permanently changed me, even now that I've remarried. But I also learned many lessons when we traded a suburban lifestyle for acreage in the countryside, where we raised chickens and dairy goats and we homeschooled our children. We look back with many fond memories.

    1. In British Columbia, Canada, ON the Alaska Hwy., but I was privileged to travel all the way up that Hwy. several times, even crossing the Arctic Circle, where daylight doesn't end and mosquitoes really are Alaska Airlines. Wouldn't trade those experiences, though there may be a few I'm not eager to repeat, too.

  3. Being married to a man in the military has brought adventure, change and a growing dependence on God. We moved three times in the first 2 1/2 years of marriage. I experienced a bit of culture shock as I learned how military wives operated, and figured out how to encourage my husband. As I learned how to deal with sometimes lengthy TDY's. My husband had no deployments while we were married, but when 9/11 happened, I turned to God first, not knowing what that would bring for us.

    The other thing is my journey to motherhood, but I won't elaborate here. Suffice it to say God taught me a lot about what faith looks like from His vantage point.

    I loved this post Dee, and hearing another aspect of what God used to make you the amazing woman you are today.

    1. I'm glad your husband didn't get a TDY and appreciate the family God has shaped you into.

  4. Love this post. And the comments. Life changes us. I try to view everything as an adventure. The good, the bad and the (not ugly) in between. One of the good things has been meeting you, Dee, and all the other Ponderers. You have enriched my life, and I'm so thankful for that!

  5. I think that's one reason we click. We're both Survivors and have similar outlooks. You also enrich my life & I appreciate your prayers when I encounter some of the more intense adventures.

  6. Dee, you have such an adventuresome spirit, which I admire. I could list a great many things that have molded me from my life as a child to having children of my own. The hardest thing lately has been picking up my live in Ohio for 50+ years and moving to Nevada. Away from family and friends, away from the familiarity of everything I did. I also lived alone for four months, something I had never done as an adult. Would I do it again? I'm not so sure, but God has been my strength through it all. Great post.

  7. Like Jeanne, ten years in the Navy taught me a lot about life and God. I learned to be thankful for what I had and not waste my time wishing for what I don't have. With my hubby travelling 5 days a week, I still stand by that lesson.

    Difficulty in having a child also taught me trust and belief in the healing power of Jesus and I have the 5 kids to prove it ;)

    Being called to the table over my big mouth taught me that God really does hate gossip and will not tolerate it in our lives see Psalm 101:5

    All in all my Lord's mercy has taught me everything I have needed to raise teenagers and walk this life. I have made so many mistakes that I always look back on my life thankful I am where I am right now.

    Loved the post, Dee. Great reflections and reminders.

  8. Jennie, I know you relate to total change in garden options and conditions. I moved to MN from Pac. NWest, planted multitudinous rose bushes and over 100 spring bulbs. The deer and rabbits fed very well. Rabbits ate the roses, thorns and all--I have a few cold variety at farm now I nurse along, but very challenging here.

  9. Thanks Gingah. Three of my friends became subscribers to our blog today--I'm pleased.

  10. You continue to amaze me, Dee. Your stories show your grace and spirit.

    I've faced many adventures, but going back to college and graduating at 40 with a 4.0 (not bragging...just part of the story) showed me I can do anything I want if I put my mind and heart into it. Then getting my first book published proved our dreams are never out of our reach.