Thursday, August 17, 2017

Lesson from a Solar Eclipse

All the talk about the solar eclipse expected on Monday brought to mind the eclipse of 1994, when New York was in the path of a total solar eclipse.

Courtesy Google.com

I was teaching second grade. Remembering my experience of a total solar eclipse the summer I graduated from high school in Alaska, I wanted the children to see the beautiful corona without damaging their eyes. I set up a large tub of water in the parking lot and with the help of several mothers, I took them out one by one to observe the reflection of the corona in the water. The still water gave us an exact reflection of the happenings in the sky.




















Proverbs 27:19

Just as the sun and our faces are reflected in water, so our lives give an accurate reflection of who we really are inside.

My Cruden's Concordance has more than seven columns in tiny print of references in the Bible that contain the word, heart. What does the Bible mean by that word?

With a quick perusal of the references just in the Book of Proverbs, we find a wise heart, a wicked heart, a perverse heart, a deceitful heart, a heavy heart, a sick heart, a merry heart, a righteous heart, a proud heart, a haughty heart, a prudent heart, a pure heart, and a foolish heart.

The Bible uses the term, heart, to describe the source of our emotions and motivations. The heart contains all our desires, hopes, interests, ambitions, dreams, and affections.

The heart is what we really are, not what we or others think we are.

Our heart determines why we act, speak, and think as we do.

Jeremiah 19:9 tells us that "the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked." That is why we need to pray with the psalmist every day, inviting God to "search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there be any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23, 24, NIV).

Our hearts can deceive us. Only God really knows our hearts. Sin begins in our hearts, so God's daily search can nip sin in the bud.

Growing up in coastal Alaska, I often observed the reflections of the mountains in the water. I noticed that the clearest, most perfect reflections appeared in calmest waters. Only as we quiet our hearts before God can we have our hearts cleansed and purified.

Have you initiated God's search of your heart today?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Fight Ever Onward!

In Alaska, where I grew up, the Pacific salmon are now returning to the glacial streams where they hatched. They spend most of their lives in the ocean, where they grow big and strong. Then their instincts send them back home to spawn.

Courtesy Google.com

The salmon must fight against the current with every ounce of their strength. Their flesh turns red and gets torn on the rocks, but the instinct to procreate is so strong that they struggle on until they reach the spot miles upriver where they originated.

Courtesy Google.com

They face many hazards along the way--bears, fishermen, birds of prey. Yet, so many make it to the spawning pools that often the streams look like blood at first glance.There, the salmon lay their their eggs. Their life cycle complete, they die.







Alaskans had a saying: "Any old dead fish can float downstream, but it takes a real live one to swim upstream."


Courtesy Google.com


As Christians, we too must swim against the current of this world. We face many snares that would trip us up. If we are going to make it, we must continually strengthen ourselves spiritually and check our progress, keeping our eyes on goal.

As a teenager, I spent a week on a salmon fishing troller on the Gulf of Alaska. I noticed that when the engines stopped, the ship didn't just sit still in the water. It drifted wherever the waves took it.

So too in our Christian lives. If we are not moving forward in our relationship with the Lord, we will drift along with the current and end up on the rocks.

Just as sailors constantly check their navigational instruments to keep on course, so must we check on our position by studying our life's compass, the Bible. When we see we are getting off course, we need to quickly make corrections. We must not be careless. We can never rest on our oars until we are moored safely at our journey's end.

Have you checked yourself recently? Do you need to make a mid-course correction? Do it today.
Don't delay.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Excerpt from Beside Still Waters

Opening Scene in Chapter 1 
Beside Still Waters 
Book 3 in my Alaskan Waters Trilogy

Boston, Massachusetts, March 1915

Aunt Mabel was dead.
Violet Channing unlocked the door to the three-room flat she’d shared with her aunt, her only living relative, now deceased. The cloying scent of her aunt’s floral perfume could not obscure the rancid odors of garbage and stale food in the stairwell or the medicinal smell of sickness that pervaded the apartment.
Violet clenched her fists. Aunt Mabel was too young to die!
Closing the door behind her, Violet surveyed the tiny living room. It was stuffed with the nicest things Aunt Mabel had been able to salvage when she lost her large, Victorian house in a wealthy neighborhood to the creditors after her husband died.
Slightly tattered lace curtains draped the lone window, the only source of ventilation—if it could be called that. The soot-ladened air from the tenements’ stark chimneys had permanently stained the curtains a dirty shade of brownish gray. Hand-crocheted doilies covered the head and armrests to protect the Victorian sofa she’d managed to save when her house was repossessed.
The apartment felt empty without Aunt Mabel’s dominating presence. She had tried so hard to make this cold-water flat look like her lost home. But the two of them couldn’t even afford enough coal to keep warm in winter or the doctor’s fees when she started coughing.
If only she’d stopped taking a lunch to work sooner to save up enough money for a doctor’s visit. Violet shuddered. Her aunt’s fits of coughing had worsened so quickly. She had refused to see a doctor until her sputum became tinged with blood. By then, it was too late.
“Consumption,” the doctor told Aunt Mabel. “Keep warm and rest.”
He took Violet aside. “There’s nothing I can do for her. Her lungs are too far gone. She probably has only a few weeks.”
“Keep warm. Ha!” Violet spat out, feeling again how her stomach had clenched at his words. She groaned. Her throat tightened, and she sank to her knees on the Persian carpet Aunt Mabel had brought with her to cover the bare, plank floor. The torrent she had held at bay throughout the funeral broke forth like a sudden, angry squall.
When she had no more tears to cry, Violet mopped her face with her handkerchief. The cold had seeped through her skirt. Suddenly aware that she was shivering, she arose.
Hugging her threadbare wool coat closer over her long, black mourning suit, she sat in her aunt’s Boston rocker to figure out what to do. She no longer had the responsibility of Aunt Mabel’s welfare and was now free to choose what to do with her life—if only she could find the means to do it. The rent was paid until the end of the month, but the simple funeral had required all but a few remaining dollars. She needed money.
Violet reviewed her options. Before her uncle died, she had been studying to be a teacher. That’s what she really wanted to do. Because Uncle Chester had mortgaged the house to the hilt to finance his risky business ventures, she and Aunt Mabel were left destitute when he died.
At eighteen, Violet had had to give up her education to take a low-paying job as a seamstress in a garment factory to provide for the two of them. Six weeks ago, she’d had to quit that job to care for her dying aunt. The thought of reapplying there made her shudder—and not from the cold. That ramshackle wooden building, full of dust and lint, was a tinderbox.

But how else could she support herself?

Beside Still Waters, along with the other two books in the Alaskan Waters Trilogy, Till the Storm Passes By and A Star to Steer By, is published by Ambassador International and is available at Amazon.com (Kindle and paperback), BN.com (Nook and Paperback), Vyrso, and Christian bookstores. Visit my website at www.AnnaLeeConti.com or connect with me at Facebook.com/AnnaLeeConti.Author.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Purifying Obstacles




Recently, I was glancing through a magazine and the title, "Purifying Objects," above a picture of a rushing river flowing over rocks caught my eye. It reminded me of the glacial streams of my childhood in Alaska, such as the one shown above. The rocks and gravel over which the water flowed purified the water, making it safe to drink.

Many times, obstacles crop up in our lives like boulders in streams. They cause the water to roil and writhe and tumble us about. But, if we will allow it, God will use those very obstacles to cleanse and purify us so that out of our innermost beings will flow rivers of living waters that will refresh all those with whom we come into contact.

Don't fight the deep waters of trouble that come your way. Remember, God is with you and He will not let you drown. Instead, He wants to use the obstacles in your life to purify you so you can refresh others.




Violet had to learn this lesson in Beside Still Waters.

Beside Still Waters, along with the other two books in the Alaskan Waters Trilogy, Till the Storm Passes By and A Star to Steer By, is published by Ambassador International and is available at Amazon.com (Kindle and paperback), BN.com (Nook and Paperback), Vyrso, and Christian bookstores. Visit my website at www.AnnaLeeConti.com or connect with me at Facebook.com/AnnaLeeConti.Author.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

From Firetrap to Icebox

Is she jumping from a city firetrap factory into a wilderness icebox? 



In the third and final book in the Alaskan Waters series, Beside Still Waters, Violet Channing, orphaned at a young age, is tossed about by life's turbulent waters when the aunt who raised her dies. She wants nothing more than to be a schoolteacher. 

Living in a Boston tenement in 1915, barely able to survive, she accepts a job as a live-in teacher for a sick, motherless child in the harsh Yukon Territory. 

Sailing up the Inside Passage of Alaska, she falls in love with a dashing Yukon riverboat captain. Just when her life feels as beautiful as her new surroundings, tragedy strikes again. 


Can Violet allow her losses to make her better not bitter and learn to love again in this continuing saga of the loves, tragedies, and second chances of a Norwegian immigrant family who must battle the beautiful but often dangerous waters of early twentieth century Southeast Alaska?

Scenes Violet may have seen while traveling to the Yukon Territory:

Whales bubble feeding along the Inside Passage
Courtesy Google.com


Whale breaching along the Inside Passage
Courtesy Google.com



White Pass & Yukon Route Railway between
Skagway & Whitehorse
Courtesy Google.com
Lake Bennett, Yukon Territory,
Courtesy Google.com
Yukon Sternwheeler "Casca" mentioned in Beside Still Waters
Courtesy Google.com

Beside Still Waters, along with the other two books in the Alaskan Waters Trilogy, Till the Storm Passes By and A Star to Steer By, is published by Ambassador International and is available at Amazon.com (Kindle and paperback), BN.com (Nook and Paperback), Vyrso, and Christian bookstores. Visit my website at www.AnnaLeeConti.com or connect with me at Facebook.com/AnnaLeeConti.Author.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Said the Spider to the Fly...

During the summer, spiders build webs on my front porch as fast as I tear them down. When they glisten with dew in the early morning sun, I marvel at their creativity. But when I walk into them, frustration takes over. I've read that peppermint oil will discourage them, but I haven't tried it yet.


Today, I was sorting through a stack of papers I'd saved as a tickler file for my blog. You can understand why an anonymous item in an old youth magazine now defunct caught my eye. I thought you might enjoy it too:

Once a spider built a beautiful web in an old house. He kept it clean and shiny so that flies would patronize it. The minute he got a "customer," he would clean up on him so the other flies would not get suspicious.

Image result for fly
Then one day this fairly intelligent fly came buzzing by the clean spiderweb. Old man spider called out, "Come in and sit."

But the fairly intelligent fly said, "No, sir. I don't see other flies in your house, and I'm not going in alone!"

But presently, he saw on the floor below a large crowd of flies dancing around on a piece of brown paper. He was delighted! He was not afraid if lots of flies were doing it. So he came in for a landing.

Just before he landed, a bee zoomed by, saying, "Don't land there, stupid! That's flypaper!"

But the fairly intelligent fly shouted back, "Don't be silly. Those flies are dancing. There's a big crowd there. Everybody's doing it. That many flies can't be wrong!"

Well, you know what happened. He died on the spot.

Some of us want to be with the crowd so badly that we end up in a mess. What does it profit a fly (or a person) if he escapes the web only to end up in the glue? (to loosely paraphrase Mark 8:36).

In Matthew 7:13, 14, Jesus also warned that following the crowd will not lead to eternal life.



Thursday, July 6, 2017

Lessons from the Juneau Gold Mill

When my grandparents, Charles and Florence Personeus*, landed in Juneau in 1917 to begin their missionary work there, the hard-rock gold mines were the primary industry. I recently came across Grandma's handwritten description of touring the gold mills and watching the process of separating the gold from the rock containing it and some spiritual lessons she derived from it. After my post last week about gold, I thought you might find this of interest as well.

Alaska-Juneau Gold Mine at south end of Juneau
Juneau is nestled at the foot of two mountains, Mt. Juneau and Mt. Roberts. In the heart of Mt. Roberts was one of the largest, richest gold mines of Alaska. It employed about 650 workers.

Gray rocks containing the gold were dug out of the mountain and brought by trains through a tunnel to the mill located above the lower end of the town. The trains emptied the rocks into a large receiver where they tumbled down into large crushers. If they were too large, they were first blasted into smaller pieces about a foot in diameter.

Gold bearing white quartz
The tumbling rocks were sprayed with a powerful stream of clear water. As the mud and muck were washed away, white quartz in which the gold was imbedded began to show through.

The white quartz must then be separated from the useless gray rock. As the rocks fell from the crusher, they were met by another stream of clear water before they landed on a moving belt about two feet wide. On each side of the belt stood a long line of men, called pickers. As the belt moved past them, they snatched off each rock that showed even the tiniest bit of white. The belt carried those that showed no white to the rock dumps to be discarded.

The rocks that showed white went to another crusher, where they were broken into smaller pieces. They were again washed and carried to another moving belt for the same separating process. Finally, the crushed pieces went into the tumbling barrels, which contained many iron balls. As they tumbled over and over, the heavy balls pounded the little pieces of rock almost to powder, which could be poured out like a stream of dirty water.

At this stage, the slurry was ready to be poured onto large slanting tables with ridges from end to end that vibrated back and forth while the fine crushed rock was continually washed with water. The gold, being the heaviest, settled into the spaces between the ridges, while the water carried away the dross.

Inside the Alaska-Juneau Gold Mine
Along with the gold ore were other metals such as iron and silver. They were useful too, but the gold must be separated even from them. Some of the gold let go easily. It was called "free gold." It fell out first into the top grooves of the tables. These little gold nuggets were gathered up with great care and formed into gold bricks.

Much of the gold, however, clung to the other metals. The "concentrates" had a dirty gray appearance and had to be refined by fire.

Grandma wrote that as she watched the rocks being washed and crushed and separated and tumbled repeatedly, she was reminded of how the trials of our faith bring us to spiritual maturity. We need to have the washing of water of God's Word continually applied to our hearts to reveal the pure gold hidden under the grit and grime of sin.

The process is not easy. Just as the other metals cling to the gold, the sinful nature clings tenaciously to us. Some things, like the iron and silver that cling to the gold, may not be sin in our lives, but they weigh us down and hinder us in our Christian walk. We need to let them go.

But don't lose heart. We used to sing a chorus, "Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me." Each step brings us nearer to having His image revealed in us. If we persevere through the trials that seem to crush us, we shall soon come forth as pure gold.


*You can read the complete story of the Personeuses in my book, Frontiers of Faith, available at www.AnnaLeeConti.com.