Wednesday, November 11, 2009

splendid isolation

This Kentucky cabin just speaks solitude to me. It's from the Hensley settlement in Harlan County where folks once lived in the "splendid isolation of the 18th-century." Nearly everything here was handmade - "food, clothes, tools and horseshoes, furniture, packsaddles, musical instruments, medicine, toys, quilts and coverlets." No electricity except for pine splinters or oil lamps, no running water except for a well or spring. One resident recalls "when dark time came, we went to bed and didn't rise till daylight." This settlement was built in 1903 by those who longed to return to the simplicity of former times and was abandoned in 1951. Since then it's been maintained and kept open to the public. Add it to your list of must-sees:) Love those old chestnut fence rails meandering across that fading fall ground.

While home I realized some worthwhile things. Distance is a fine teacher at times:) I had little room to be on my computer except for blog posts and found it so very freeing. Sometimes I feel absolutely married to it. Since the release of TFD my days have been a bit of a blur. I've lost a bit of myself and feel the need to get that back. Being home showed me who I used to be and who I've become. I miss that Laura I've lost along the way. Time to go looking for her again.

So how does one do this? By praying, for starters. I've felt the Lord telling me to measure my time for several months now, even before the book's release. I'm getting a little overcommited in some areas. Being online has an addictive quality to it that I don't like. Thankfully, it took a trip home to remind me of how important it is to place hedges around the gift of time.

How do you guard and treasure your time?

Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow. Psalm 144:4

I invite you to hop on over to Carla Gade's wonderful blog at as she's posted an interview about The Frontiersman's Daughter and is hosting a book giveaway. I love the name of her blog and all the whimsical features therein. Bless you, Carla! It's so fun to have writing/book loving friends!


  1. I know what you mean. A lot of times I feel that being online has an addictive quality too so I always make time limits when I feel it gets out of hand for me. Or I'll try to have a whole day, the Sabbath day or something, where I don't get on just so I can put things in perspective. I also got rid of my myspace and facebook years ago... that can be the biggest problem when it comes to never leaving the computer, for me anyways.

  2. I really like the idea of not getting on the computer for an entire day like the Sabbath - that honors Him and helps maintain perspective. I will try that! I've been thinking of doing away with Shoutlife (I'm never on there any more), Twitter, and Facebook also. A blog is more doable and I love you readers:) Thanks, Adge, for your honesty. It really helps in my own struggle to take back my time. Bless you today!

  3. "Splendid Isolation". I love everything about this post, Laura.

    With all the blur and whir of life since your career took off, I can see how you feel like you have lost your old self. But what you wrote here attests to the fact that you are in tune to God and are listening to the Holy Spirit. I'm glad you got a chance to really listen while you were at home.

    Sundays are my day off from the computer (usually). And much like the people in the settlement you described, we go to bed at dark and get up when it's light. Since the time changed it is not unusual for us to go to bed at 8pm. I'm loving it!

  4. Mary,
    We're early to bed folks ourselves - 8:30pm last night and up at 5am this morning:) I like that, too! You and Adge are onto something taking Sundays off!
    Aren't those words great together - splendid isolation?! I sure appreciate your thoughts here, Mary. They always brighten my day!

  5. Laura, I'm glad your trip to Kentucky provided you with some time for reflection. I hope you're able to come up with a plan that restores your sense of balance while still enabling you to remain connected with readers and writing friends.

    I enjoyed your interview. Carla asked some great questions, and I learned new things about you.

  6. Keli,
    Wonderful to hear from you here! Finding a balance is difficult at times but rewarding when you do. I think it's most important that we stay connected to The Source or we really end up being unfulfilled even in the publishing world.

    Yes, Carla is terrific and asks terrific questions! I really value my great interviews on your blog and hers. I talk yours up wherever I go, Keli! I imagine Carla will say the same. Bless you today!

  7. I'm an early to bed, early to rise kind of person as well. I'm up between 4:30 and 5:00 so I can walk my dog long enough to get his sillies out before I head off to work. I try to go to bed early as well, but that still doesn't leave me more time...though I am wide awake through what's left!

    I think what struck me most about that Kentucky cabin (other than that I was sure I saw Lael coming round the corner of it!) was the complete stillness of it. It isn't animated,doesn't have flashing lights, music didn't swell in the just is...and that's a hard thing for us modern women to do these days. And for a woman who is also an author -- well, from the sounds of things it seems you are expected to participate in all the technological trappings including twitter and facebook and whatever else there is out there. Though, I honestly wonder how many people could follow all their favourite author's twitters? And why bother having facebook when you have a blog? And what's wrong with actually getting together with people instead of 'virtual chatting'?! I think I was born in the wrong century!

    I guess it's all about finding a balance between the real world and the virtual one...though we are the ones who invite ourselves into both.

    So, to answer your question: I guard my time by listening to what I need. So if that means not answering the phone and calling someone back later, than that's what I do. And I am finally beginning to grasp the meaning of the first word I ever learnt: 'no'. I think I had a better grasp of it as a toddler, though. :-) But my 'bestest' way to guard and treasure my time is to open a book and lose myself in its time!

  8. Kav,
    Love that you saw Lael coming around the corner! Ian must be in those woods somewhere, too:) Thank heavens for the gift of imagination. It's such a blessing.

    Yes, your comment about the utter stillness of the cabin is right on. Interestingly, it was this very quality that led to the settlement's downfall. Apparantly the women couldn't stand it over time - and that was 50 plus years ago before flashing lights, loud sound, etc. Wonder what they'd think about texting and all the rest!?

    Your comments made me think of prioritizing - I'd much rather be reading than facebooking. And I don't think my tweets are going to make or break someone's day:) In fact, I tweeted once and asked how it was possible for an author to have 6,000 friends and do anything but read tweets all day. Nobody responded!

    Yes, "NO" is a wonderful word, especially when said to self to curb myself from wasting time.

    Hope your day contains a best-loved book!

  9. I also imagined Lael, and Captain Jack hiding in the woods!

    Oh, the simplicity of days gone by. At least from our perspective.
    Sometimes I think we have replaced hard physical work with busyness.
    It is hard to even imagine working throughout the day as they did, sitting down to a good meal, and sleeping on a straw filled tick.I do like to imagine quiet evenings by the hearth in conversation, reading and perhaps even writing.

    The pace that they received information was so different then. I guess it seems a little ridiculous how readily available it is today.
    Imagine someone running up and knocking on your door every few seconds with an update or delivering a letter. How distracting.
    I think our busyness can be very distracting, too. At least for me it is.

    I'm trying to leave my computer off more often. When it's on I constantly checking this or that. Putting a hedge around our time is very important, isn't it.
    The crooked fence in that picture reminded me of a term I used to use with my children, we said "happy fences". As in, "the boundaries have fallen for me in pleasant places." (Ps. 16:6). Our pastor just referred to that verse on Sunday. And Judy Hedlund is talking about time management on her blog today, as well. Hello, Carla!

    Praying that you rediscover the Laura that you are missing.

    And I personally invite your visitors to stop by Writing to Distraction to read your interview and have a chance at winning your wonderful novel.

  10. Great insights, Carla. Simply checking this or that when online can become a terrific temptation/distraction! Good reminder!

    Personally, before I left for Kentucky, I prayed for a specific verse that would speak to me about any misuse of my time. Immediately Proverbs 31 popped into my mind. OH NO, I groaned - not THAT intimidating woman:) But I went there and one verse seemed written in boldface - "She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness." Okay, I thought, I can handle that. I'm not an idle woman!

    And then I looked at the footnote (I love footnotes!) and it said that "bread of idleness" literally means "eyes looking everywhere."
    Bingo!! I have become so immersed in so many things that my eyes are often "everywhere" and no longer focused. For some this may not be a problem but for me it was a timely reminder to keep my eyes on Him.

    Another huge warning to writers - your family is more important than any writing you will ever do. Books come and go - children and husbands are priceless and everlasting. We need to make sure we don't succumb to "selfish ambition and vain conceit" and neglect them in the process. Sadly, I have seen this happen to people in the writing world and it isn't pretty.

    Enough sermonizing:) I'm learning so much as I go. Thanks to everyone for taking the journey with me!

  11. Laura,

    "Eyes looking everywhere", wow. I am humbled. Thank you so much for sharing this. So much to think about.

  12. Me, too, Carla. Humbled is just the right word. Am so glad God is patient with us. I have so much to learn. Thanks so much for the follow-up thoughts.

  13. I hear you on the addictive quality of being online. Between my blog and another writing project I'm working on I do feel like I live on this thing sometimes.

    But, I had to tell you that I just finished your book! I loved it all the way through. I'm kind of sad to finish it because I hate to leave the characters and place. Thank you so much for writing it. And next time "make a big deal" of your appearances at book fairs ;-)

  14. Tiffany,
    It thrills me that you loved my book:) And that you didn't want to leave the characters behind - I felt that way when writing it! And I promise to make a big deal of the next book fair - or better yet I'll hunt you up in Lexington and Mom and I will take you to lunch! I sure apprecite your thoughtful comments. Readers like you mean so very much.

  15. I've found if I get more and more taken away, God has a way of "redirecting" me. It can be sweet and gentle or it can be "listen up". Sounds like you got a sweet and gentle reminder, Laura. Lovely. Everyone's so different-- so listen well. And don't get caught comparing yourself to someone else or making some imaginary "list" you have to do to be ok. I've found that's pretty deadly to listening for and walking with God... He brings Freedom and a very light and doable burden. I've just sent up some prayers for you in that regard... Blessings!

  16. Myrna,
    You really do understand - lately struggle with the comparison trap which is just so joy-stealing, etc. I appreciate your prayers more than I can say! Knowing that you're there for me is such a blessing. I've been thinking of you lately, too, and hope you're doing very well.
    I remember the old saying - if the devil can't make you bad he'll make you busy. That sort of keys in with "eyes looking everywhere" and those awful internal to-do lists.
    Your words mean so much. Thank you!!

  17. Oh the mighty Chestnut! How sad is their loss. Your research is a bit similar to mine. I'm camping in the mountains this cold Thanksgiving weekend to get a feel for an area I'm writing about. I have several cabin pictures and info if you ever want it.

  18. Britt,
    I hope you post about your camping trip! How memorable and how great for research!! I'll be thinking about you:) And checking your blog once you get back! Have a wonderful time full of His blessings.