Today’s guest is the pastor of a little church in Road’s End, Virginia, and the hero of Deborah Dee Harper’s novel, Misstep. Welcome to Inner Source, Hugh. We’d love to hear a little about your past and just what brought you to this small Virginia town.
Thanks, Marji. Glad to be here. Melanie and I just finished up twenty-seven years in the Air Force where I served as chaplain. We lived all over the world, but through it all, Mel has dreamed of owning an inn much like the ones found in the Colonial Williamsburg eighteenth century style. When we found Road’s End, quite by accident, we were intrigued with the beautiful house that we’ve since bought and named The Inn at Road’s End. We were hooked.
Now, in one sentence, I’d love to have you describe your parishioners?
My parishioners at the Christ Is Lord Church are fine (funny), loyal (loony), patriotic (pushy), Christian (without a doubt), awesome (argumentative), and unconventional (off-the-wall) folks who enrich (exasperate) my life in so many wonderful (wild and wooly) ways.
That’s a delightful description of that unique crew of wacky individuals.
Your wife, Melanie, is a wonderful person. She has to be because I’m going to tell you that while you might not believe so, you fit right in with the rest of the folks in that little place. Melanie seems to be the stable one, and well, she’s put up with a lot. What do you believe is her secret to remaining calm in the midst of lunacy?
Yes, well, Fay, I’ve begun to wonder myself if I’m part of the problem here. I have my own idiosyncrasies (fear of spiders, snakes, close places, storms, etc., not to mention my OCD tendencies—and I do mean don’t mention it—please).
Mel is a lucky woman in that she married me—which allows her to remain calm in the face of constant chaos, serene when everyone around her is psychotic, and happy when I’m hot under the collar. And she can do all that because in contrast to what I’m doing, she can’t help but appear calm, serene, and happy. (That’s why she’s lucky. She gets to be compared to me which makes her look supremely better in all situations.)
All joking aside, though, her secret is her deep, abiding faith in Jesus Christ. She, better than me (and I’m the pastor, for crying out loud), has been able, ever since I’ve known her, to throw all her burdens at the foot of the Cross and believe with all her heart that Christ has her back. She’s cool when I’m sizzling with frustration and anger. She’s calm when I’m clutching at straws and looking for the lifeboats. She’s unflappable when I’m … well, flappable. Mostly, though, Mel is a child of God, and I will be everlastingly grateful to Him for putting her in my life.
Of all the characters that you live amongst, which one (besides Melanie) would you say is your best friend and why? Which one would you avoid the most if you could and why? And which one makes you laugh the most and why?
I’d have to say Bristol Diggs is my best friend, if for no other reason than he’s the only other totally sane person in town. Bristol has some strange things in his past, but those have only made him stronger and have brought him to Road’s End, for which I will be eternally grateful. He shares my sense of humor, and maybe most importantly of all, is just about as clueless as I am, particularly when it comes to women and what makes them tick. We make a great team.
Without a doubt, the person I avoid the most HAS to be Ruby Mae Headley. Don’t get me wrong, Ruby’s a fine lady, but she never …stops …talking. Never. With her daughter Grace being my secretary, Ruby Mae thinks she’s somehow got the inside track on anything remotely church-related, which in her mind means she’s in charge. If it isn’t what hymns she’s going to torture…whoops, I mean perform on Sunday, it’s what topics I should address in my sermons (just how God chooses His special projects, meaning her, for instance) or how we can bring in more money to the church coffers (which usually involves the church buying something from her to turn around and sell to someone else). And don’t get me started on those hats.
The one who makes me laugh the most would have to be Dewey Wyandotte. Bless his heart, he’s a little dim, and George, who has an inflated opinion of himself anyway, takes full advantage of every opportunity to let Dewey know just how dim he is. On the other hand, Dewey can be shrewd; you just have to sort through all the silliness to find out who the real Mr. Wyandotte is. In the third book of the series, Misjudge, the readers will get a closer look at the characters and find out just how much they’ve contributed to our nation and their neighbors. Dewey is always good for a crazy idea, and more often than not, gives it right back to George. Go, Dewey!
Yes, Ruby Mae, bless her heart, is a strange bird, and I would love to sit and listen to Dewey and George ague all day.
Hugh, I purposely shared your story with my pastor and his wife, more particularly his wife, because I wanted them to know that they are not the only ones with eccentrics in the congregation. As a pastor who has a whole church filled with eccentrics, I’d love for you to provide some advice on how you deal with a total group of lovable loons so that maybe my pastor can learn to deal with a group of them, of which I know he considers me one.
Ha! If your name was Clair, we could call you Clair de lune. Just a little joke there. Just as your pastor does, I’m sure, I rely on God to keep me sane. If He didn’t want me as a pastor, believe me, He had every chance to make sure I didn’t make the grade. I’ve often asked Him whether or not He’s blessing or punishing me by setting me in the midst of all these crazy … er, eccentric people. In fact, I ask that very thing in Faux Pas after a particularly insane meeting in the church basement. I take it one day, or argument, as the case may be, at a time and ask for His guidance continually. He never lets me down.
Thank you for visiting us, Hugh. I’m looking forward to the next adventure Faux Pas.
Thank you, Fay, for hosting me. I’ve had a blast, but please don’t show this to any of the folks in Road’s End, because then I’d have to hurt you, and you can imagine how that would go against my grain, being a pastor and all. Still … (sorry, Lord).
Your secret is safe with me. However, I know at least one of those eccentrics can use a computer, can’t they?
I look forward to the interview with your author, Deborah Dee Harper on Wednesday. Until then, I want to introduce her to your readers.
More about the Author:
Deborah Dee Harper currently resides in Alaska where she writes inspirational and humorous books for both children and adults and takes thousands of photographs. When she isn’t writing or taking photos, she stalks moose and other wildlife, survives earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, endures the long, dark, frigid winters, revels in the endless summer days, and is awestruck by the rippling northern lights of the Alaskan night skies. She also leaps mountains in a single bound and wrestles grizzly bears along hiking trails. (Not really. Just making sure you were paying attention.) Whenever she can, she loves being with her daughter, son-in-law, and three grandsons in Kentucky, and her son, daughter-in-law, and two more grandsons in Michigan. (For real.)
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at her website www.deborahdeeharper.com, and her three blogs: www.deborahdeetales.blogspot.com, www.deetrails.blogspot.com and www.laramieonthelam.blogspot.com.
More about Misstep:
Winnie and Sadie are still fighting, and I’m still living in the strangest town on earth.
It’s December in Road’s End, Virginia, a tiny town long forgotten by anyone but its residents, where Colonel Hugh Foster and his wife, Melanie, have chosen to live—for better or worse. The jury’s still out on that one!
Road’s End is comprised entirely of senior citizens whose kids have grown and left for greener pastures. Hugh, Melanie, and Bristol (one of the few sane people in town) are faced with a crumbling church in desperate need of repair and renovation, a dwindling congregation of opinionated, ornery senior citizens, and a camel—yes, a camel. And if that’s not enough, the trio and the rest of the Road’s End residents, are soon mired in danger and intrigue when a group of gun-toting drug dealers arrive in town, bent on killing the church handyman, and conspiring to ruin the doggonedest record-breaking blizzard the town has ever seen.
Poor drug dealers.
Deborah has an upcoming sequel to Misstep entitled Faux Pas. Here’s more of the hilarity you’ll find in Road’s End, Virginia.
What would you do if the President of the United States was attending your daughter’s wedding?
Panic. You’d panic. Add in a severe storm, crazy senior citizens who believe the POTUS lied his way into office, a crumbling, but historic church you happen to pastor, a cranky Secret Service agent, a four-year-old grandchild-to-be you know nothing about, and a son-in-law-to-be whose faith in the Lord has waned, and you’ve got yourself a humdinger of a wedding. Not to mention that same future son-in-law is a University of Michigan Wolverines fan (not a Michigan State Spartans fan) and prefers sweet tea to unsweetened. My gosh, what is the world coming to? Talk about a faux pas! Well, good luck with all that, Pastor Foster.
And Heaven help the president.
Stepping out of her humorous genre, Deborah also has another upcoming release entitled The Sin Seeker.
Sin Seeker, is the first book in my Sin Seeker series. The story deals with sin and the very real battle we’re in every day of our lives with the forces of darkness. Graves (Gray to his friends) Hollister is a discouraged social services employee tasked with the thankless job of keeping children safe from parents who don’t deserve them in the first place and who neglect and abuse them regularly. He starts hearing demonic voices shortly before a hideous tragedy occurs, after which he quits his job and sinks to the bottom of a bottle of anything he can find that’ll put him in an alcoholic stupor. He spends two months trying to obliterate his memories. Finally, he realizes he can’t; he must face them, so he enrolls in seminary and becomes a pastor. With his new role as pastor and his newfound ability to actually see the sin on the people God has tasked him with helping, Gray finds himself thrown head-first into a world of evil and demons, angels and miracles.