The Importance of a Friendship in Biddy Chambers’ Life—and Ours! By Michelle Ule

Do any of you have a friend who would be willing to risk her life to help you?

Mary Riley

Biddy Chambers had such a friend in Mary Riley. Without Mary’s help, presence and encouragement, one of the most beloved devotionals, My Utmost for His Highest, might never have come into print.

The two were the same age, thirty-one, in 1915 when an opportunity arose for Biddy and her two-year-old daughter to travel to Egypt. Biddy’s husband Oswald, a noted Bible teacher, was serving as a chaplain at a YMCA camp north of Cairo during World War I.

Prior to sailing to Egypt, Oswald requested permission to bring his wife and child since Egypt was not yet a war zone.

The YMCA authorities considered his shocking request—no one else had a wife or child with them– and said yes. Biddy and Kathleen could come, along with a nurse.

How many of us have a friend who would volunteer to sail through winter U-boat infested waters to a war zone with a small child to live in an adobe bungalow in the Egyptian desert surrounded by Australian and New Zealand troops?

How many friends would volunteer to pay their way to live in a land of pestilence and illness in an era before antibiotics when summer temperatures regularly hit 130 degrees?

Mary Riley volunteered. She loved Biddy, Oswald and Kathleen and through her attendance at the Bible Training College (BTC) they ran in London prior to the war, she wanted to serve God, no matter where he sent her.

She also was a terrific cook and the ministry Oswald envisioned at Zeitoun camp could use her.

Three months after Oswald’s departure, Biddy, Mary and Kathleen caught a small ship. A passenger ship hit a mine and sank in the English Channel the day before they sailed. They passed two U-boat-sunk ships ruins in the Mediterranean Sea. The danger was real.

Once in sunny Egypt, they must have taken a deep breath when they saw their humble dwelling with sand as the floor.

Both women rolled up their sleeves and plunked a pith helmet on their heads. Mary cooked in the outdoors with the help of an Army orderly. Basically camping, she and Biddy turned the Zeitoun YMCA camp into a center of hospitality. They never knew how many people would drop by for dinner.

As one soldier wrote about Mary and Biddy’s arrival: “They kept open house for us all. Whatever they had they shared, and with little Kathleen running around and attending the Sunday services where she lustily sang the hymns, and Miss Riley’s cooking, we began to feel almost as if we were home again.”

When they went “up the line” to a more primitive camp, Biddy and Mary concocted fruit trifle to serve desert-weary soldiers at free teas on Sunday afternoons.

As one officer said, he would “forgo the comfort of a chair and sit on the sand to get such a meal,” as prepared by Biddy and Mary.

Oswald himself appreciated the women’s toil under arduous conditions, “it takes some vitality, morally, physically and spiritually to be cheerful in weather,” like they had in Egypt.

Mary mourned with Biddy when Oswald died unexpectedly from appendicitis in 1917. She helped keep the camp running while Biddy and Kathleen grieved.

At war’s end, the three sailed to England together in far less perilous seas.

Mary Riley did not have to lay down her life for her friend, but she was willing to do so when she accompanied the Chambers family to Egypt.

Biddy could not have traveled nor done the ministry she performed while in Egypt without Mary. Mary helped with Kathleen’s care (as did others), cooked and ministered to the soldiers while Biddy attended her husband’s lectures and “took down” in shorthand everything Oswald said.

From her notes, and those Biddy took at the BTC, Biddy compiled all 30 Oswald Chambers “authored” books in the years following his death.

For that reason, you can say that without Mary Riley’s friendship with Biddy and Oswald Chambers, readers for the last 90 years would not have had the bestselling devotional, My Utmost for His Highest.

We should all thank God for the friendship of Biddy Chambers and Mary Riley!

About the Author

Michelle Ule is the biographer of Mrs. Oswald Chambers: The Woman Behind the World’s Bestselling Devotional (Baker). You can learn more about her, as well as Biddy and Oswald Chambers, at her website, www.michelleule.com

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/mrs-oswald-chambers/384330

That One Friend by Krista Phillips

Do you have that one friend?

That person who will tell you like it is.

…Who will call you out on your crap

…Who will love you despite your crap

…Who will listen to your rantings when you’re upset and not let your low moment color their view of you

…Who will give you “that look” when you are being nonsensical

…Who is intensely protective when someone hurts you

…Who is your “safe” space where you don’t have to pretend to be something you’re not.

Some people may call them “best friends” but honestly, that term is so seventh grade and brings to mind times I’ve been hurt, crushed, and stabbed in the back by people I “thought’ were my friend. I wouldn’t wish seventh grade on my worst enemy!

The older I get, though, the more my view of friendship has changed. It isn’t just someone to hang out with. It isn’t someone who will grab their pitchfork when I’m angry and be angry with me. (although, sometimes it is.)

I don’t need someone to agree with me about what a dork my husband is being. I need someone who will lovingly point out to me that how I am handling the matter is making things worse.

I don’t need someone to tell me that what a loser he is and that I could do so much better—I want someone who will encourage me to fight for my marriage and who will pray for my marriage with me.

I don’t need someone who will gossip with me, I need someone who will thwack me in the arm when I start to gossip.

I don’t need someone who will *heart* a post of mine on Facebook. I need someone who will be at my house, jumping up and down with me. (or on the phone or text if they are remote…)

I don’t need someone who will *sad face* a post of mine on Facebook when I’m hurting. I need someone who will be at my house, sobbing with me, or on the phone, giving me words of encouragement.

And I need to work on being “that” friend right back to them.

When I was writing “The Engagement Plot” I was working on giving Hanna a friend. She really needed one. Then Carly showed up on the page.

I loved Carly. She had spunk. She would show up with chocolate or a rifle in her hand, or maybe even both. She was intensely protective, but she was also brutally honest. She would listen, but also speak truth to her friend, even when it might sting. She didn’t just listen and agree to tickle her friend’s ear and make her feel happy in the short term. She loved her friend enough to be honest. She was her biggest cheerleader but also her biggest critic when that’s what Hanna needed.

Not all friendships can or will be like that. Honestly, I’m not sure I could handle more than a few of them at that level. But I’m finding the importance of having friendships that go beyond the surface, and my life has been so much richer from them.

For me, my fellow bloggers at The Writer’s Alley are my heart sisters. I feel 100% able to spew my junk to them and get honest, helpful opinions in return. And my “real” sisters, as we’ve grown into adults and past the whole “SHE PULLED MY HAIR” or “I GET SHOTGUN” thing, have turned into my best friends in the world. I have been so blessed by those friendships, and can’t imagine my life without them.

What about you? Do you have “that one friend” who doesn’t just serve as a confidence keeper but an accountability and prayer partner too?

About the Author:

Krista Phillips writes contemporary romance sprinkled with two of her favorite things, laughter and Jesus. And sometimes chocolate for kicks and giggles. She lives in Middle Tennessee with her husband and their four beautiful daughters, and is an advocate for congenital heart defect and organ donation awareness. Visit her online at www.kristaphillips.com.

New Releases in Christian Fiction – November 2017

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


Contemporary Romance:

Rooted in Love by Valerie Comer — A divorcé with a set of rambunctious twins falls for the boys’ daycare administrator, but does he deserve another chance at love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Prescription for Romance by June Foster — Though history teacher Scott Townsend made a commitment to the Lord as a teen, he can’t relinquish his bitterness toward his younger brother after he squanders their parents’ money. When a beautiful, young pharmacist seeks affirmation in a way that challenges Scott’s values, he must uphold his Christian upbringing. (Contemporary Romance from Forget Me Not Romance [Winged Publication])

Believing in Tomorrow by Kimberly Rae Jordan — Sammi struggles to accept the consequences for her actions and to live with her new reality—unwed mother instead of wife and then mother. Though it eats at her soul, she feels that the judgment she faces is her lot to bear. Can Levi get Sammi to see that their child deserves better? Or will she lose everything she’s dreamed of for her tomorrow because she can’t accept that forgiveness is hers for the taking? (Contemporary Romance, ACFW QIP)

Texas Christmas Twins by Deb Kastner — Miranda Morgan’s Christmas will be twice as busy now that she’s guardian of her sister’s sweet twin babies. But the celebrity photographer is happy to trade a glamorous LA lifestyle for motherhood in her small hometown of Wildhorn, Texas. Unfortunately, the twins’ handsome godfather, Simon West, is unconvinced. The brooding rancher isn’t thrilled about letting sunny, spontaneous Miranda into his carefully managed world. Though they disagree on almost everything, Simon and Miranda discover common ground as they work to make the twins’ first country Christmas cozy and bright. Could this holiday transform Miranda and Simon’s tentative friendship into a forever love? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Historical:


The Legacy by Carol Ashby — A father’s martyrdom makes his son and daughter hunger for revenge on their brother who betrayed him and the people who led him to faith until God answers their father’s final prayer in unexpected ways. (Historical from Cerrillo Press)



Jerusalem Rising by Barbara M. Britton — When Adah bat Shallum finds the governor of Judah weeping over the crumbling wall of Jerusalem, she learns the reason for Nehemiah’s unexpected visit,God has called him to rebuild the wall around the City of David. Nehemiah challenges the people of God to labor on the wall and in return, the names of their fathers will be written in the annals for future generations to cherish. But Adah has one sister and no brothers. Will her father, who rules a half-district of Jerusalem, be forgotten forever? Adah bravely vows to rebuild her city’s wall, though she soon discovers that Jerusalem not only has enemies outside the city, but also within. Can Adah, her sister, and the men they love, honor God’s call? Or will their mission be crushed by the same stones they hope to construct? (Historical from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])


Historical Mystery:

Death at Thorburn Hall by Julianna Deering — Amateur sleuth Drew Farthering and his wife Madeline travel to Scotland for the 1935 British Open, but instead of a relaxing holiday, they find murder, mystery, and international intrigue. (Historical Mystery from Bethany House [Baker])

Waiting for His Return by Carrie Turansky — The daughter of a wealthy Tennessee doctor falls in love with an injured artist-correspondent on assignment to cover the battles near Union occupied Nashville. (Historical Mystery from Flowing Stream Books)

Historical Romance:

The Virtuous Viscount by Susan M. Baganz — Lord Remington falls for a woman he rescues and recovers in his home, but can Miss Storm trust his virtue when he risks his reputation to unbeknownst to her, saves her life. (Historical Romance from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])


Lord Phillip’s Folly by Susan M. Baganz — Lord Westcombe finds himself falling in love with his unexpected wife and having to rescue her from the devices of the Black Diamond with the help of his friends and newfound faith. (Historical Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

The Regency Brides Collection by Amanda Barratt, Angela Bell, Susanne Dietze, Michelle Griep, Nancy Moser, MaryLu Tyndall, and Erica Vetsch — Romance is a delicate dance bound by rules and expectations in Regency England…Seven couples must navigate society’s gauntlet to secure the hand of true love…. Charity and Luke are strangers who were forced to marry three years ago. Adelaide and Walter share a love of music and disdain for elitism. Caroline and Henry are thrown together by three orphans. Helen and Isaac harbor his unlikely secret. Esther is empowered to choose between two men. Sophia is determined not to choose a man like Nash. Jamie and William face a daunting London season together. Will their faith grow and love prevail in a time when both were considered luxuries the elite could not afford? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Sound of Rain by Sarah Loudin Thomas — Judd Markley is a hardworking coal miner who rarely thinks much past tomorrow until he loses his brother–and nearly his own life–in a mine cave-in. Vowing never to enter the darkness of a mine again, he leaves all he knows in West Virginia to escape to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It’s 1954, the seaside community is thriving, and Judd soon hires on with a timber company. Larkin Heyward’s life in Myrtle Beach is uncomplicated, mostly doing volunteer work and dancing at the Pavilion. But she dreams of one day doing more–maybe moving to the hollers of Kentucky to help the poor children of Appalachia. But she’s never even met someone who’s lived there–until she encounters Judd, the newest employee at her father’s timber company. Drawn together in the wake of a devastating hurricane, Judd and Larkin each seek answers to what tomorrow will bring. As opposition rises against following their divergent dreams, they realize that it may take a miracle for them to be together. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])


Legal Thriller:

Guilty Blood by Rick Acker — A desperate mother tries to prove her son’s innocence, but shadowy forces want to keep him in jail–and kill him there. (Legal Thriller from Waterfall Press)


Romantic Suspense:

An Unexpected Legacy by Amy R. Anguish — When Chad Manning introduces himself to Jessica Garcia at her favorite smoothie shop, it’s like he stepped out of one of her romance novels. But as she tentatively walks into a relationship with this man of her dreams, secrets from their past threaten to shatter their already fragile bond. Chad and Jessica must struggle to figure out if their relationship has a chance or if there is nothing between them but a love of smoothies. (Romantic Suspense from Tulpen Publishing)

Christmas Double Cross by Jodie Bailey — Undercover Texas Ranger Colter Blackthorn’s convinced Danielle Segovia is really a wanted criminal—until she’s nearly kidnapped right in front of him. Now Colter must keep her out of the clutches of the notorious drug cartel leader whose traitor sister is a dead ringer for Danielle. The drug czar wants the drugs he thinks the pretty shop owner stole from him. And with the younger brother Danielle is raising dragged into the crosshairs, Colt has to find a way to protect them both. But a showdown at Christmas—with Danielle as bait—may be the only way to make sure they all survive the holidays. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright — Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious death fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather’s Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house’s dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide. A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy’s search leads her into dangerous waters and, even as she works together with a man from her past, can she unravel the mystery before any other lives–including her own–are lost? (Romantic Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])


Speculative:

Awakened by Morgan L. Busse — The monster has awakened. After her escape from the Tower and from her father’s experiments, Kat Bloodmayne wakes up to discover the dark power inside of her has grown stronger. Now more than ever she needs to find the doctor who holds the key to healing her, but the only one who can help her find him is Stephen Grey, the very man who betrayed her. Stephen Grey cannot change the past or what he did to Kat, but he will do everything he can to help her now. But will Kat let him? Or will his transgression be too much to overcome? Time races against them as they travel with sky pirates through harrowing storms and across the war-torn country of Austrium in search of the doctor who can cure Kat. But can he cure what is broken inside of her? Or will the monster inside of Kat consume her soul? (Speculative from Enclave Publishing)

Imperfect Pieces

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm: 147:3 NIV

Walking on the beach, searching for perfect seashells is an activity that always returns me to my childhood. My body may be older, but my spirit is childlike, searching for treasure.

This year, the October waves were unusually high until the last day of our vacation. When the tide receded, shattered seashells littered the bleached sand. Repeatedly, I bent to dig out a prize only to discover it splintered. An onyx seashell half-buried in the crystals appeared to be perfect until I cleaned it in water and discovered a hole at the apex. I’d been walking and praying, asking God to speak to me, and He did, through the debris on the beach.

How many shells had I passed over because of their imperfections? How many people have I ignored because of their poverty, the coarseness of their language, or just plain old meanness? There are others who seem to have it all, the perfect life. But I know no one reaches maturity without being crushed. Some just hide it better than others, just the like the shell I discovered half-buried in the sand. At first glance, it appeared to be whole, but it too had been damaged.

Someday, when I get to heaven, I’ll be perfect, but only because of Jesus and His precious blood that wiped away my sins. Until then, I hope to gather other broken pieces for His kingdom. It takes each of us to make up the body of Christ. The church is not for the perfect, it is for the fractured. Each broken life forms into the one body Christ. His body was broken and pierced for you and for me.

I saved the imperfect shell to remind me of my brokenness, and the healing power of Jesus. How about you? Are you too broken and splintered?  Let me introduce to Jesus. He’s the perfect treasure.

 

 

 

Magnolia Storms–Friends, Novels, and Ocean Springs, Mississippi

By Janet Ferguson

Stories come together in unusual ways. My latest novel, Magnolia Storms, is no exception. The idea formed when one friend described being a ship pilot, and I knew I wanted a ship pilot for my next story hero. Then riding home from a writing conference, I brainstormed with other friends-authors and came up with having a meteorologist who’d been through Hurricane Katrina and never wanted to return to the Mississippi coast as a heroine. Of course she has to! And so I had the bones of my story.

Ocean Springs is a quaint town near the Mississippi Sound with an adorable downtown area lined with gift shops and restaurants.

Sprawling live oaks majestically spread out their massive roots and branches along the sidewalks.

Somehow some of the adorable homes weathered the inundation of the tidal surge and mass destruction of Hurricane Katrina, but not all.

-See more about that here: https://www.wunderground.com/education/Katrinas_surge_part14.asp


I’d been to Ocean Springs over the years, more recently with my husband, and navigated the streets on Google Earth, but I needed some finishing touches on my scene descriptions. Enter my sweet beach-friends. They sort of randomly asked me at just the right time to go for a girls’ trip to Ocean Springs and stay in Front Beach Cabins, one of the very places I’d been checking out online. The cottages are near enough to walk downtown and only a couple of blocks from Front Beach. We took bikes that were provided by the cabin owners down to the shore.

The beaches are small in Mississippi because the Sound is protected, to some extent, by barrier islands. From Front Beach, you can see the barrier islands.

 

I  finished the last tweaks on the Magnolia Storms manuscripts after critique partners (who are now beloved friends, too) looked it over. My next adventure was finding the perfect cover. Another friend, Nancy on my street team suggested, that she had a friend with the perfect hair for my heroine. I thought that was great, but how would I get her on a cover?

Long story, short. Her friend, Emily, drove to Ocean Springs with her sister-in-law, Ann Marie, and made pictures. They were perfect, and the cover all fell into place!

 

So friendships not only molded this story together, but also put the proverbial cherry on top!

Magnolia Storms
A Coastal Hearts Novel
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you….

Maggie Marovich couldn’t save her father or her home from Hurricane Katrina, but she’s dedicated her life to meteorology so she can warn others when the monster storms approach. Except…she works three hours inland and rarely risks returning to her childhood hometown of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Both her single-parent sister and the ship pilot Maggie once loved refused to leave the Coast, despite Maggie’s requests. Now a hurricane’s headed toward Mississippi, and Maggie’s sister is seriously injured, leaving Maggie little choice but to head south—into the storm.

The water and tides flow through Josh Bergeron’s veins, and he can’t imagine giving up piloting—even for the love of his life, the infuriating Magnolia Marovich. He tried to move on without her, marrying and having a child. But after his wife abandons him and his little boy, his career choice is threatened by the weight of his parental responsibilities. Moving next door to Maggie’s sister and sharing their child care seems like the perfect set-up. Until Maggie blows back into town.

Being forced to lean on Josh for help washes up the wreckage in Maggie’s faith. Where was God during the destruction of Katrina? Why do some prayers seem to go unanswered? Between the hurricane looming in the Gulf and another gale raging in her heart, can Maggie overcome her past and find the trust to truly live?

Author Janet Ferguson has a series of books published just in time for the Mississippi Book Festival.

Ebook    Amazon  Nook  Kobo iBooks Google Play 
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Janet W. Ferguson grew up in Mississippi and received a degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Mississippi. She has served as a children’s minister and a church youth volunteer. An avid reader, she worked as a librarian at a large public high school. She writes humorous inspirational fiction for people with real lives and real problems. Janet and her husband have two grown children, one really smart dog, and a few cats that allow them to share the space. 

I love to hear from readers! You can connect with me on FacebookTwitter,GoodReadsPinterest, use the contact page, or subscribe to my newsletter on the Under the Southern Sun page for exclusive book news and giveaways

Southern Contemporary Inspirational Romance
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Faith, Humor, Romance
 Southern Style

 

 



 

How to Defeat Jealousy

By Shelia Stovall

Everyone I know suffers from jealousy at some time in their life.  Since starting the writing journey, I’ve been plagued by the acrid emotion and it shames me.  When it’s time to announce finalists for different writing contests, I shut down my computer and avoid Facebook.  When writer friends post, “I’ve just signed a three-book contract,” I make the appropriate comments, but, there’s an ugly green poison that infuses my spirit.

There’s a reason God listed covetousness as one of the Big 10, Thou shall not…  It steals our joy. What I’ve finally discovered is that I needed help to overcome this virus.  All these years, I could have been celebrating with my friends and sharing in their happiness.  Instead, I’ve sipped from the cup of  envy. I’ve confessed this sin, and repented in prayer, but it wasn’t until I asked Jesus to take this burden from me, it happened. THANK YOU, JESUS! I couldn’t’ do this on my own, but the power of His holy spirit wiped it away.

My critique partner, Carrie Padgett, has a sweet spirit, and she’s one of the most talented and hard-working writers I know.  I’ve critiqued the first few chapters of Harley Taps Out.  When the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference (ACFW) announced her name as a finalist in the Genesis contest, my heart soared with joy. Then she asked me to accept the award for her, if by chance, she won, because she was not able to attend. My heart overflowed with happiness for her achievement. When her name was announced as the winner, I practically ran to the podium in high-heels and accepted with tears in my eyes. What a blessing to share in her success and joy.

Photo by Becky Melby.

God has gifted me with so many wonderful friends along the writing journey. As I sat in the audience Saturday evening, I cheered on and celebrated three additional writer friends who have counseled and mentored me. Cynthia Ruchti won a Carol Award for her novella, Restoring Christmas. I still have the advance copy she shared with me two years ago.

Ann H. Gabhart

Also, my friend, Anne Gabhart’s book, Murder Comes by Mail was a Carol Award finalist.

Liz Johnson and me.

And my friend, Liz Johnson’s book, The Red Door Inn was a Christy Award finalist.

I am so fortunate to have these women as mentors and friends.  What a joy to be able to celebrate my friends’ accomplishments as their successes make my cup runneth over.

What about you?  What’s causing you to be envious?  Perhaps it’s a friend who gets the job you wanted, or maybe you’ve been waiting for the right man to be your life-partner, and it seems you’re always the bridesmaid and never the bride. I’ve seen women suffer such angst as there are praying for a baby, and yet, it doesn’t happen, then they suffer when friends have children. Dear ones, it took the power of Jesus to take away the burden of jealousy from me.  Don’t do as I did, and try to do this on your own. I think it impossible to do so without the strength of the savior.  My yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:30 NIV.  Jesus can replace your jealous spirit with His spirit of love, joy, and peace, but the choice is yours to  ask for His help.

To celebrate my writer friends, I’m going to have three drawings on Saturday, September 30, 2017. For a chance to win one of the books below,  comment about jealousy.


 

Angels Among Us

By Wanda Rosseland

Oh, the joy of hearing people tell about their angel stories! I never dreamed in my life of having an opportunity to hear this, let alone write about them; true angels, close enough to touch, magnificent beyond belief in their beauty and power. And others who looked like ordinary people, you or me. It still seems a miracle that God asked me to write a book about them, and that he brought me stories out of the blue, starting with Rhonda’s angels surrounding her bed where she lay when her husband was so sick with brain cancer. A soft gray cloud of angels, floating and swirling above her, bringing peace and calmness that never left.

This was what I learned as I worked on gathering the stories, from all different people and situations. That God was giving us, filling us, with hope and faith so strong we’d never doubt it, along with an unflagging assurance that He answers our prayers, sending help swiftly. Healing sickness, protecting innocents, or just showing us the unbelievable majesty of heaven. That He is always taking care of us.

What do you envision when you think of an angel? Is it a little old lady, nicely plump who looks like your grandmother from when you were a child? Like Lois’ did when she was mourning the death of her husband and her severely broken leg. Or do you see myriads of golden lights dancing around the room like little spotlights, with a joy and effervescence you have to laugh at? As Cherie did at her Christmas “Wrapping Presents Party” after she had been diagnosed with cancer in her mouth. Or is it a well-groomed Arab man with impeccable English, telling you things about your life no one but you knows. As happened to an American soldier based overseas, when his grandmother died and he could not get back to Montana for her funeral.

Click on cover to link to Amazon.

Before starting to write Angels Among Us, I would have never dreamed an angel could appear on earth in such forms, and then I started to understand that they come as they need to be, in order to accomplish the mission God sent them to do. Some in their long white robes with wings spread wide, others looking like nurses, little girls or old men.

I’ve always loved angels, ever since a child. But I felt they were regulated to heaven and only showed up on earth for very important things. I didn’t realize they came to ordinary people, and then I wondered if perhaps everyone on earth is ordinary in the sight of God, and therefore each one of such value He immediately sends angels at their call. I’m sure now that’s what it is. From the description of my cousin, Gail, there must be thousands and thousands of angels flying about us every day. Some seen, most not, with wings and without. And I no longer think I’ll never see one, for in this book they come to everyone, old, young, sick, healthy, mothers, single people, rich, poor. The angels are for us all. You. Me.

When I first started writing what truly became Angels Among Us, I had no idea God was going to take me down a road that would show not only their supreme magnificence but also how caring and protective they are.  Shielding us from harm. Standing between life and death. Taking our hand when we have something fearful to do. And at the end, carrying us back to Heaven in their arms.

“Look, Mom! The angels are here. Can’t you see them? Up there in the corner. They’ve come for me.” The bright shining angels, standing with love, waiting to take Alice home.

On a wing and a prayer.

About the Author

Wanda and her husband Milton raised their three children in Montana where they grew wheat and ran sheep and cattle.

She writes for Guideposts and Angels on Earth magazines and reads every book she can find on angels.

if you’ve seen an angel, she’d  love to hear about it.  Her email is wjross@midrivers.com or you can make comment on the blog.

 

 

Dog Friends – Real and Imagined

By Ann H. Gabhart

Have you ever had a super dog friend? I have. Several of them. I started begging for my own dog when I was about eight. I needed a dog like I needed air to breathe. Some of you may understand that and some of you may not. We had barn cats. We had calves and lambs we bottle fed, but I had the dog hunger that nothing was going to appease except dog fur under my hands.

My wishes were answered when dad must have asked one of his friends to bring me a pup. Ollie was a collie and Spitz mix as best we could guess, but I didn’t really care. He was a dog. That was all that mattered. Since then I’ve had many dog buddies. None any more loved than my current dog, Oscar. Sometimes a dog just seems to become an extension of you as though he knows your thoughts before you think them.

Click on cover to link to Amazon.

I wanted my heroine in These Healing Hills to have that kind of dog. Many of the Frontier Nursing Service midwives had dogs. The Frontier Service recruitment posters promised the nurse midwives their own horse, their own dog, and plenty of adventure to entice them to the mountains to deliver babies in the homes of their patients. So, naturally my heroine had to have her own dog. But he had to be a special dog that would matter in the story. And he was and he did.

The recruitment ad wasn’t the only reason I dropped a dog down into my story. I read the memoirs of one of the Frontier nurse midwives who had a great dog friend. Her dog chased rattlers out of her paths and even managed to block her horse and stop it once when in some mysterious way the dog sensed danger. A rock slide a few minutes later covered the trail in front of them. That’s the kind of dog friend I gave my nurse midwife character in my story. I was so glad Sarge made the cover of the book.

My Oscar hasn’t done any heroics, but he is a very good friend. He’s walked miles with me. He’s slept on his bed behind my chair while I wrote thousands of words. He’s been a good model for my fictional dogs. Trouble is, back in the summer he was diagnosed with an aggressive bone cancer in his back leg. I’m sure some of you have had to say goodbye to a furry friend long before you were ready. That’s where I am now. Not ready but knowing the day is speedily approaching when Oscar will head over the rainbow bridge.

Shelia said I could write a story about friendship. So that’s what I’ve done. My dog friends have given me unconditional love and friendship over the years. The dogs I’ve dropped into my stories have done the same for my characters from Maybe, a dog in my first young adult book, Chance Hero, to Zeb, Jocie’s answer to her dog prayer in Scent of Lilacs to Asher in The Innocent and now Sarge in These Healing Hills.

Have you ever had a special furry friend to make you smile and feel loved?

About the Author

Miracle Meeting

For with God nothing shall be impossible. Luke 1:37

Every mission trip to Africa leaves me with an awareness, that God is with me. Today’s story is an example of God’s grace and faithfulness.

I met a little girl, Melalla, six years ago on my first trip to Africa. Of the fifty or so children that attended our kid’s club, she stood out with charisma, energy, and charm. At the time of our first meeting, I guess her age to be seven or eight-years-old. It’s always difficult to judge the age of an African child as many are small for their age compared to American children.

When I returned home from my first mission trip, I offered friends the opportunity to choose one picture of an African child, and I asked them to commit to pray for the child in the photo. My friend, Anna, chose Melalla’s snapshot, and a year later, when I returned to Africa, Anna sent a gift of school supplies. When we returned to Melalla’s village with the package, we discovered her family had moved. Our missionary friends kept the gift in case she returned for a visit. Melalla eventually received the school supplies, but my friends have not been able to stay in contact with her because African families often move in search of work.

I know Anna is still praying for Melalla, and I’ll never forget her, but I thought it unlikely I’d ever see her again.

Normally, when traveling in Africa, I’m riding in the bush taxi with the mission team, but on this particular day, last week, I rode in an air-conditioned Toyota with Sabrina, the missionary who opened her compound for us that first year so we could have a controlled area to teach the children. (A compound is a home and other buildings surrounded by a wall). On the journey, I asked her about Melalla, and she said she’d not seen her in a long while. I lifted a prayer for this lost relationship, and accepted that I’ll probably never see this engaging girl again. Then God did something amazing. We were delayed in a traffic snarl at a small village on the highway due to the Tabaski holiday. The markets are always chaotic, but it was especially so because everyone was preparing for the festival. Consider the shopping craze of the last weekend before Christmas. An African traffic jam is impossible to describe, but picture vans piled high with produce, donkey carts, cars, motorcycles, and every horn is blaring, then throw in a herd of sheep wandering through it, and children selling peanuts or sweets standing at car windows. As we waited in the jumble, Sabrina gasped, “It’s Melalla.” She rolled down her window and called to her. Melalla, beamed her brilliant smile and approached us.

Melalla and Sabrina spoke for a moment in Zarma, and when I asked her if she remembered me, she shook her head. This didn’t surprise me because it’s been six years since the kid’s club, and she met many Americans as she lived close to the missionaries. My heart lifted to see her smile. It’s not important she remember me, but I hope and pray she remembers the words she heard about Jesus. There’s no doubt in my mind that God’s hand is upon her. My sister snapped a picture, which I cannot share because she might persecuted for associating with Christians. We waived and said, “Calantonton-see you later,” with big smiles on our faces.

To stumble upon little Melalla, among the mass of holiday shoppers in the traffic snarl is a miracle. Even if I’d tried to find her, the task is impossible as I had no idea of the village to visit. Keep in mind, there are about 1.2 million people in the city of Niamey. God arranged for me to meet her again.

Even though Melalla has not professed a faith in Christ, I know she heard the gospel many times. Maybe, God wanted to remind Melalla of the words she heard when living next door to the missionaries. Maybe, God wanted to encourage me to keep sowing seeds. Maybe, someday, I will see Melalla again, in heaven, and we will worship God together, in the language that is understood by all, the language of love.

God is faithful to answer our prayers.  I will continue to pray for Melalla, and I will ask you to do so too. Many friends think my time in Africa is a waste of time and money. Sometimes, Satan tells me the same lie. But time after time, God reminds me that He is with me. Jesus sacrificed his life that I might have life, and I am blessed to be able to share His love and plan for salvation with others. I can do nothing without Him, and He’s made it clear to me that He can do anything.

 

September 2017 New Releases in Christian Fiction


Contemporary Romance:

Planting Hope by Brenda S. Anderson — Jess Beaumont is trying to get her separated parents together again by restoring the family cabin gardens that helped them fall in love. Luke Harrison inherited his Gran’s candy store, but would rather have a Vice President position in his family’s land development business—a sure sign of his father’s approval. To get the promotion, he must acquire the land on both sides of his store within five months, including the Beaumont cabin. As Luke gets to know Jess, he realizes buying the Beaumont cabin and land will nip their blossoming romance in the bud. Even worse, it could end her parents’ marriage. But if he doesn’t succeed, he could be trading his corner office for the candy store counter…for good. Is their romance doomed? Or could the classic combination of chocolate and flowers solve everything? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

An Amish Christmas Love by Amy Clipston, Kelly Irvin, Ruth Reid, and Beth Wiseman — Fall in love this Christmas to the gentle pace of Amish courtship. In Winter Kisses by Beth Wiseman, six lonely hearts find healing in the Stoltzfus homestead basement while waiting out a Christmas Eve storm. In The Christmas Cat by Amy Clipston, a group of young people and a forbidden house cat bring reminders of love and hope to a grieving widow at Christmas. In Snow Angels by Kelly Irvin, A young woman’s prayer for a Christmas proposal is delayed by the appearance of her potential groom’s first love, whom me met on his rumspringa. In Home for Christmas by Ruth Reid, an Englisch woman thinks she’s breaking into the house her aenti left to her, only to discover she’s trespassing upon an Amish widower and his young daughter, whose quiet way of life tempts her to stay. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Magnolia Storms by Janet W. Ferguson –Maggie Marovich lost her father to Hurricane Katrina, so she’s dedicated her life to meteorology and plans never to return to the Mississippi Coast or the ship pilot she once loved—until a family crisis sends her running headlong into a storm. (Contemporary, Independently Published)

The Christmas Admirer by Laura V. Hilton — Susanna’s left with three options: one, go with Daed to his new home with a new mom; two, stay in Jamesport, Missouri, as an old maid; or, three, the best yet, flush out her mysterious secret admirer. But how could she be with anyone else when her heart is still with Benaiah? (Contemporary Romance from Whitaker House)

Finding Love in Friday Harbor, Washington by Annette Irby — Professor Mikaela Rhoades has a plan: she’ll encourage her students’ marine biology research through an exclusive program while helping an old family friend’s whale touring business stay afloat. The challenge is the tour captain is her first love and ex-fiancé. Mikaela longs to help his family in the wake of his father’s death, but she’s keeping secrets. Captain Hunter Cahill has taken over the family touring business after his father’s death. Unfortunately, he’s drowning in grief and accumulated debt. To make matters more difficult, he’d promised his father to pursue Mikaela if she ever returned to the island single. But what will it cost him to spend the summer romancing Mikaela? (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

Returning Home by Toni Shiloh — Jo Ellen Baker is shocked to find out that the boy who teased her mercilessly throughout high school, has returned to their hometown of Freedom Lake, and he’s missing a leg. When his mother asks her to renovate their carriage house to give him a place to gain his independence back, she wants to say no. But one look at him brings a rush of forgotten feelings. Evan Carter can’t believe he has to return home and live with his parents. Every hope and dream he ever had dissipated in a car crash that cost him his leg. Stuck in a wheelchair, he’s forced to reexamine his relationship with God and the local carpenter, Jo Ellen Baker. Will renovating his home open the door for a mended relationship, or are some wounds too deep to heal from? (Contemporary, Independently Published)

All This Time by Melissa Tagg — Ten years ago, Bear McKinley gave up everything—his freedom and his reputation—for his mess of a family. But after years of distance and too many attempts at starting over, he finally has a new life doing noble work in Brazil . . . until his past catches up to him. Raegan Walker is happy working a slew of part-time jobs, still living in her childhood bedroom and rarely venturing from her hometown. At least, that’s what she tells everyone . . . and herself. But she can’t help wondering what might’ve happened if she hadn’t abandoned her art so many years ago—and if Bear McKinley had never left. When Bear returns and she’s commissioned for a painting that just might revive her artistic ambition all in one week, it’s time to finally reach for more. But doing so means facing the fears that have held her back all this time, including admitting the secret she’s kept from Bear and her family. With her dream and her heart on the line, how much will Raegan have to risk to finally chase her happy ending? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Home All Along by Beth Wiseman — Charlotte has made a home for herself in Amish Country with Daniel. But unforeseen events rock their fragile world and may move them even further away from the life they long for. Charlotte, an Englisher, is living in Amish Country, and fallen in love with an Amish man. But just when she is considering a permanent conversion to the Amish way of life, her world crashes around her. An unexpected death and a mysterious visitor unsettle Charlotte, and she begins to question her faith and her choices. Will Charlotte and Daniel’s relationship succumb to the many pressures around them, or will their faith and community help them become strong enough to build a life together? (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)


General Contemporary:


Mercy Triumphs by Jana Kelley — Mia, an American Christian, has lived in Sudan so long that persecution, harassment, and danger have become commonplace for her. Her tough outer shell threatens to harden her heart while her newly Christian friends, Halimah and Rania, former Muslims, are forced to live in exile outside Sudan. All three quickly discover that escaping danger in one place only means facing even greater challenges elsewhere. As God’s mercy becomes evident in their lives, they must choose whether or not to offer mercy to those who don’t deserve it. Based on real-life events, Mercy Triumphs reveals some of the struggles Christians face when living under Islamic law. (General from New Hope Publishers)

Life in Chapel Springs by Ane Mulligan — Is it a midlife pregnancy or … cancer? Claire will keep her secret until she’s sure but it isn’t easy. Neither is trying to buy a home pregnancy test without anyone finding out. Between her twins double wedding, the caterer cancelling, a looming nationwide art tour and her health, Claire s life is upside down. Meanwhile, shy Lacey Dawson faces the emotional effects of traumatic injuries requiring facial reconstruction, and rumors of gold in Chapel Springs have greedy investors clamoring to buy all the homes in town and mine the gold. Will life in Chapel Springs ever be the same? (General from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)


Historical:

A Conspiracy of Breath by Latayne C. Scott — What would it have been like to be a woman, a Gentile, and someone onto whom the Holy Breath moved – to produce what became the mysterious Epistle to the Hebrews in the Bible? (Historical from TSU Press [Trinity Southwest University])

Queen of Sheba by Jill Eileen Smith — King Solomon meets his equal in the Queen of Sheba and does his best to give her everything she seeks to find, but will he be able to give her the deepest longing of her heart? (Historical from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing)

Historical Romance:

These Healing Hills by Ann H. Gabhart — When life takes an unexpected turn, Francine Howard finds work in the mountains as a midwife where healing and love await her. (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing)

12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep — Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation and is promised a sum of five hundred pounds if she will remain a guest at Bleakly Manor for the duration of a twelve-day Christmas celebration. Then she learns Benjamin Lane, who left her at the altar, is also in attendance. Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whomever stole his honor. Torn between money, revenge, and love, will Clara and Ben last the full twelve days at Bleakly Manor and learn what matters most at Christmas? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)


Mystery:

When the Bishop Needs and Alibi by Vannetta Chapman — Amish bishop Henry Lapp eagerly awaits the annual arrival of 20,000 sandhill cranes to the San Luis Valley of Colorado. But his visit to the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge reveals more than just a miracle of God’s creation. Hidden among the bulrushes and cattails is the deceased body of a young woman. As the local authorities attempt to unravel the mystery, Henry feels God’s calling to use his extraordinary talent to aid in the investigation. His ability to draw from memory in photographic detail could help solve this puzzling case. Henry’s closest friend, Emma Fisher, has always urged him to embrace his gift. As their relationship deepens, Henry realizes his involvement could put him and those he loves in the direct path of a killer, one who is willing to do anything to cover up a brutal crime, including framing the bishop. (Mystery from Harvest House)

The House Next Door by Susan Page Davis — As Jennifer’s due date approaches, Harvey decides to invest in real estate, unaware of the terror this will cause his family. A hidden cupboard isn’t so bad—in fact, it’s almost fun to try to solve the little mystery inside it. But will any of their loved ones want to live next door after they learn what’s in the basement? (Mystery, Independently Published)

Solve by Christmas by Amber Schamel — Detective Jasper Hollock thought he wanted nothing more than a real case. But when the man who raised him stands on the brink of suicide and mysterious incidents sabotage the factory, Jasper has 24 days to unravel the malicious plot and convince his employer that life is worth living. (Mystery, Independently Published)


Romantic Suspense:

Justice Buried by Patricia Bradley — A security specialist is accused of murder and must clear her name or her career is over, but her investigation draws her into the path of a killer, and she finds herself fighting for her life. When a man from her past is called in to investigate, she may find that he’s the biggest security threat yet . . . to her heart. (Romantic Suspense from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing)

Rescued Hearts by Hope Toler Dougherty — An innocent bike ride leads to a hostage situation, jeopardizing an undercover mission and two stubborn hearts. (Romantic Suspense from Mantle Rock Publishing)

Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan — A female attorney hires a former Army Ranger turned private investigator to help research an alleged pharmaceutical cover-up. As the case deepens, both hearts and lives become endangered. It appears someone is willing to risk everything–even murder–to keep the case from going to trial. (Romantic Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])

Uncharted Hope by Keely Brooke Keith
Sophia Ashton must prove herself in her new job while researching the gray leaf medicine and dealing with her toxic family. (Romantic Suspense from Edenbrooke Press)


Thriller/Suspense:

Crown of Souls by Ronie Kendig — Perhaps the only person as skilled as Cole “Tox” Russell is Alec King, a rogue Special Forces operator who vanished months ago. Now he’s back, and he’s out for justice. Furious with orders that got his men killed, he intends to make those responsible pay. And he insists Tox join him, believing they are the same breed of soldier. Afraid his old friend could be right, Tox battles a growing darkness within himself as he and his team are forced into another deadly encounter with antiquity. It appears Alec is harnessing the power of a mysterious artifact, a crown that history has linked to some of the worst slaughters in humanity. Racing to stop Alec before his vengeance is unleashed, Tox must fight the monster without becoming one. (Military Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])

Witness Protection by Carol Kinsey — After four years in witness protection, Ty Westgate’s identity has been exposed – with the help of a struggling nurse, the ex-lawyer with a new faith must work to unravel the truth behind his adversaries before he’s silenced permanently. (Thriller/Suspense, Independently Published)

 

 

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