Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Through the Evil Days -- by Julia Spencer-Fleming

It started out innocently enough -- as I am a HUGE Julia-Spencer Fleming fan (I've read all the Clare Fergusson/Russ van Alstyne books she has written), I received an email (along with many other fans) announcing this soon-to-be-published new book in the series: Through the Evil Days. I read about the new book, then noticed that there were instructions on how to be selected to receive a free Advanced Readers Copy with the caveat that I would write about the book. No problem -- one of my favorite authors of a series I love? I sent off my email and I never expected to receive an advanced copy to review, but a few days later I received my copy in the mail.

Color me surprised and happy! And here is my review:

Friends -- I was VERY busy the day it came, and decided to just glance at the first two pages. Two hours later, I was still reading. Through a very hectic work schedule, I have stolen moments to continue reading this latest addition to a wonderful series. In the stolen moments I was able to take throughout this week the book was a welcomed break -- I kept wanting to read what was going to happen next. I finished the book this afternoon.

Smart, vivid writing, excellent character development -- all the things I have come to expect from this talented writer, and more. Julia Spencer-Fleming kept me at the edge of my seat on more than one occasion reading this book. I sucked in my breath at one moment yelling, "no -- don't go there." I laughed at another moment. I was thoroughly and completely surprised at the happenings at the end -- all things you want in a good mystery that has not only faith, but a bit of spiciness to it, as well as the continuation of multidimensional characters with human flaws -- including Clare herself, the Rector of an Episcopal Church. If you have been a fan for as long as I have (from the beginning), you'll appreciate the continuation of the human journey all these characters have been on. Julia Spencer-Fleming is that rare writer who can skillfully knit so many characters together so well through all her books. If you are new to her writings, the books in this series are:

In the Bleak Midwinter
A Fountain Filled with Blood
Out of the Deep I Cry
To Darkness and to Death
All Mortal Flesh
I Shall Not Want
One was a Soldier

I commend this book to you wholeheartedly -- it is coming out on November 5th -- pre-order it -- you won't be disappointed!
One thing I want to know -- when will these be made into movies?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Bishop Goes to Camp -- My Last Full Day

I'm going to have to leave a day early from Camp Stevens for a personal appointment -- which I'm very sad about. It has been a wonderful week with the campers!

Today, as was true every day this week, I woke up to a beautiful morning after drifting off to sleep looking at the stars in the night sky through my window. It is so beautiful up here at night! The light pollution is at a minimum, and the stars and planets glisten. No wonder the campers reported seeing shooting stars -- the night sky is so clear here.

As usual, wild turkeys and rabbits abounded on the Dining Hall Lawn and by the pool. I am going to miss them!

I took a long walk after breakfast with Kay. The Rev. Kay Sylvester is an intelligent, kind, reflective, talented and pastoral priest. It has been such a blessing to serve with her here this week. I'm only sorry I will miss the Eucharist tomorrow that she is working on with Mike, the transitional deacon from San Diego.

It was a day of talking with campers and staff. Long conversations about the camp, the goings-on-of-the-week, and reflections on how much fun this week has been. This is the fourth week of Adventure Sessions -- and the staff (both support and program) are holding up well, which is amazing given the high number of campers they've had these four weeks. Next week is Odyssey were campers from the US meet campers from Japan. That sounds neat! Camp Stevens is still in need of some host families for the Japanese students (sent out in groups of two to a household). It would be from next Saturday to Monday -- if you can help please contact the Camp immediately.

Anyway, after lunch I helped Beth wash out the tie dyed items from yesterday. The campers (and some adults!) had a great time tie dyeing items yesterday. One younger sister asked to borrow an older sister's t-shirt (both sisters are at camp. Guess what the younger sister did with the older sister's t-shirt -- you guess it. It is now red and green bulls eye pattern tie dyed! I loved the fact that Beth explained not only how to tie dye, but showed the campers different styles-- bulls eye, swirl, stripes, etc. WOW there were LOTS of items tie dyed! Headbands, shirts, t-shirts, sweatshirts, socks, pillowcases -- you name it, it is multicolored now! I took a picture of roughly 1/3 of the items after they were rinsed but before they were washed. Here they are, along with a picture of the pants I tie dyed yesterday along with the shirt I brought from home which is a nice match. I think I will wear them tomorrow and surprise Steve!

I loved catching up a bit with Adam, an Episcopalian who has joined the Marine Corps. He reports in October. He frequently wore his MARINES ball cap, and answered questions the campers would ask him. As the daughter of two Marines, and as the former Rector of the parish closest to Camp Pendelton in the Diocese of Los Angeles, I loved sharing stories about some of the Marines who have called St. Clement's their home. I assured him that there are at least two who are likely candidates to be Commandant of the Marine Corps. Here is a picture of Adam, dressed in a costume for his Adventure Group grace before dinner presentation.

Zoe, who is the leader of the Triad Adam is in -- the Broadcasting Buccaneering Beatles (each Adventure Group has a leader (staff person), and a male and female counselor) always had a smile on her face. She is such a kind person, and full of fun. I especially enjoyed her "outfit" today for the grace their Adventure Group presented. Here she is, with Kay in the background.

Tonight at Community Gathering there was, of course, great music, and sharing by the campers. Chaplain Mike told two great stories, one involved some of the kids as actors -- he kept them mesmerized for over 20 minutes. At the end of the gathering, I took a picture of Lindsay Taylor, the Rev. Cn. John Taylor's daughter and posted it on Facebook, and you can see it here as well. Also, there was a former staff member (20 years ago) Martin Seifried who was visiting from Austria. I was able to get a picture of him with John Horton. It was so good to see John again this week, and to spend time with him.

Program Group meeting as always was informative. As things are winding down (tomorrow is the last full day with the campers) talk about the closing Eucharist and Celebration as well as the day's events in the groups were the main topics of conversation. The Eucharistic Prayer was written by members of Zoe's group -- and I can tell you it is amazing! They were so tuned in and thankful -- tuned in -- that was the theme for the week -- TUNE IN -- and they certainly did! Kay will get me a copy of it and I'll be sure to post it on the blog. You won't be disappointed reading it! So look for it in a future blog post.

Things I'm going to miss about Camp Stevens:
1. The year round staff -- they ROCK! Professional, thinking about the camp and those who attend events or summer camp. I'm so impressed with their care for those who come here, and their care for this place.

2. The summer staff -- an amazing group of people who come for just short periods of time but who leave a mark on this place as this place leaves a mark on them.

3. The campers -- I heard more funny stories, re-experienced their moments of wonder, and enjoyed hearing about their "firsts" so much. Sitting making necklaces with them especially was a beautiful series of moments. We are blessed with wonderful campers this week, cared for by people who know how to instill a sense of awe and wonder about God's creation in their hearts. Beautiful -- just beautful.

4. The gardens and the animals. What a great way to use the resources God has given to the Camp than to grow food and raise animals.

5. The beauty of the camp, the peacefulness of the surroundings, the night sky and wildlife during the day.

6. The food and the food philosophy here. Outstanding, just outstanding. Thank goodness I walked or hiked every day. Enough said.

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Location:Camp Stevens, Julian, CA United States