My Story of Hope by Rebecca Waters

Rebecca“I hope my parents will let me go to the lake with my friends.”
“I hope I get an A in math.”
“I hope Tommy asks me out.”

My teenage definition of “hope” was mere desire without any assurance.

I’ve grown up. A lot. In fact, I think it fair to say that I only truly began to fully understand the true meaning of hope over these past two years. Let me explain.

My life changed on a beautiful, sunny, autumn day. A Wednesday. After lunch, my husband, Tom set out on his bicycle ride. He rode fifteen to twenty-two miles every day for exercise. That day he rode less than a mile. His front tire slid off of the pavement and threw him into a tree. Yes, he was wearing a helmet. In fact, when I arrived at the scene, I could only see scratches on his left arm from the tree. But he was having difficulty breathing. The paramedics rushed him to the hospital. I won’t go into all of the details here, only to say the internal bleeding was extensive. The loss of blood sent him into cardiac arrest.

Two hours. Exactly two hours from the moment I received the phone call until they told me there was nothing more they could do. They stopped CPR. They turned off the machines. They walked in silence around me as I held onto the lifeless body of my precious husband. They quietly cleaned up the area and dismantled the life saving equipment. It hadn’t worked anyway.

My daughters gathered around me. My mother cared for me. Family and friends brought food and comfort. We planned the service. How? I don’t know. For months I lived in a fog. A hope-filled fog.

I came to understand that hope isn’t wishful thinking. Hope is assurance. It is peace. Hope is confidence and trust. Confidence that I will indeed see Tom again and total trust in God. I trust He has my back. In fact I have substantial evidence God is looking out for me at every turn.

Our days are numbered. October 29, 2014 was the day Tom was to leave this earth. The day he was to meet Jesus face-to-face. How cool is that? When I look back at the months…no, when I look back at the years leading up to that date I can see God’s fingerprints all over our lives. The decisions we made, praying all the while for God’s will. The conversations we had and the connections with people even in that last week were all part of the plan. All part of the evidence that God is in control and knows what is going on and what is to come.

Oh, so you want examples? Here are a couple. We put our house on the market. Three months before Tom died he replaced the flooring in our bedroom. He asked me what I wanted.

“If I we were staying here,” I told him, “I would want laminate floors because of my asthma.”

“We’re not staying, so what color carpet do you want?” he asked.

The next week, while I was out of town visiting one of our daughters, Tom installed laminate floors. My oldest daughter asked him about it.

“Well, if for some reason your mother winds up staying here, I want her to be able to breathe,” he said.

Two days before Tom died he gave me the user names and passwords to all of our accounts. It was unusual. “You should have these anyway.”

I can offer you at least a dozen decisions we made the week Tom died that point to God leading us to that day in October. I can share at least a dozen experiences since that day that could only happen with God’s intervention.

I hold these as evidence that God loves us so deeply He prepares the way for us. If we listen. If we trust. If we hold steadfast in our hope. Hope is assurance. And in assurance I find peace and joy.

Yes, I miss my husband like crazy. But I live with this strange and powerful peace; a comfort. I am confident this is part of a plan bigger than me.

And I am not alone. I read about Job’s loss; his suffering. He has that assurance we call hope. I read Paul’s letters in the New Testament and see that same assurance that is beyond our human understanding.

I read God’s words in Hebrews 6: 19. Hope is my anchor.

Did my parents let me go to the lake with my friends? It was long ago. I can’t say.

Did I get an “A” in math? I don’t remember.

Did Tommy ask me out? Oh, yes. I met him when I was sixteen, started dating him when I was seventeen, and married him when I was eighteen. We were married for forty-three years. I now know it was part of the plan.

About Rebecca Waters

BOHO front coverRebecca Waters’ freelance work has resulted in two stories in the popular Chicken Soup for the Soul books, articles in Standard Publishing’s Lookout Magazine, The Christian Communicator, Church Libraries, and Home Health Aide Digest. Breathing on Her Own is Rebecca’s first novel. As a published author, she shares her writing journey in her weekly blog, A Novel Creation. To learn more about Rebecca or to read A Novel Creation, visit her website at http://www.WatersWords.com

To buy Rebecca Water’s Book, Breathing on Her Own, click on this link to snag the book.

Learn more! Visit my site & Read my blog

Let’s connect! Follow me on Twitter & Like me on Facebook

When you want to go on a mission trip so bad, you make up one.

janetprofileBy Janet Ferguson

In my first book, Leaving Oxford, I researched Honduras and Guatemala. A character was impacted by the death of his caretaker from that area of the world due to dengue fever. The disease is a mosquito-borne disease with no current cure or vaccine. When I started writing the novel four years ago, the Zika Virus was unknown to me and probably most of us. Vector-borne diseases were seemingly a thing of the past for the U.S. Now we have more of a reason to care about those diseases as they make their way northward.

From my research alone, I fell in love with the people. I interviewed many friends and relatives about their mission trip experiences. One thing was clear. Mission trips impacted those going on the mission probably as much as they impacted the people they were “ministering” to. Research has shown mission trips to be one of the highest rated events that affect the faith of young people.

That said, I wanted to go on my own trip to Honduras or Guatemala. Really badly. But the timing or finances didn’t seem to be right. Can you relate? So, I sent my characters in Book Two of the Southern Heart Series on a mission trip instead. I figured I could live vicariously through them. And I did, ha!

Guatamala.1Then something amazing happened. Our youth minister announced a trip for our teens to Poptun, Guatemala. I had a senior in high school who wanted to go, and they needed chaperones. But would my eighteen-year-old son want his mom to go? With a huge chunk of maturity, he told me before I even asked that he knew I would want to go, and it was okay!

The trip was amazing. The people we met were amazing and certainly ministered to us, as well. Yes,Janet_Guatamala I added a few tweaks to my novel, but much of the trip was as I’d imagined. I hope you get the opportunity to travel on a mission trip, but while you’re waiting, check out Going Up South.

What’s your mission trip experience? If you haven’t been, would you like to?

About Janet’s New Book. https://www.amazon.com/Going-South-Southern-Hearts-Book-ebook/dp/B01DOREISA

Going_Up_SouthNo one told him he had a son.

Actor Dylan Conner is furious. Not only has he been left out of his child’s life, the baby boy has been given another man’s last name. Determined to be a better father than the sorry guy who’d left him and his mother, Dylan fights to ensure a significant place in his son’s life. Unfortunately, his bad-boy reputation overshadows his good intentions. Only one woman in this small town sees beyond his Hollywood image. And he’s falling for her. Too bad she’s the custody mediator.

After her scandalous divorce in the small town of Oxford, Mississippi, attorney Cassie Brooks has no intentions of practicing law again. The humiliating experience left a bitter taste for love, marriage, and her profession.

Now friends need Cassie’s help in a custody negotiation, and her role demands she remain objective. She never expected to be drawn to Dylan Conner—the actor who everyone warns is bad news. Not only is the mediation at stake, but so is her heart.

You can connect with Janet Ferguson, by clicking on the links below.

 https://www.facebook.com/Janet.Ferguson.author
http://www.janetfergusonauthor.com/
https://www.pinterest.com/janetwferguson/
https://twitter.com/JanetwFerguson
 
Faith, Humor, Romance
 Southern Style
 

A Visit with Michelle Ule

MichelleA hope came true recently and I visited the lovely town of Fairhope, Alabama, set on the eastern banks of Mobile Bay.

I went to visit a friend and enjoyed our travels about town as she pointed out the beauty and pleasure of the small town life.

I’d loved the name ever since Kim first told me where she lived and when I wrote two novellas for The 12 Brides of Christmas and The 12 Brides of Summer, I “borrowed” her town’s name and gave it to a small frontier town in Nebraska circa 1874-1875.Twelve_brides

Fair and hope make such lovely words to describe a young town, don’t they?

The town’s name in the first novella, The Yuletide Bride, is ironic given the story takes place in the fall and winter of 1874. But another meaning of “fair” also works in this story because the love interest’s father gives her would-be suitor a fair deal when Ewan asks for Kate’s hand.

“Ewan, you’ve had a rough go of it, but you’re just a grasshopper of a boy. You’ve no land, no prospects, no money. All you’ve got is your fiddle and a willing heart. It’s not enough to court my daughter.”

But Mr. MacDougall knows the two are devoted to each other, so he softens his stance and gives Ewan just enough hope to be fair:

“I knew your family, good people. I’ve always been sorry for your loss. But unless you can earn seventy dollars by Kate’s Christmas birthday, I cannot agree to a match.”

$70 was a huge sum to earn in three months for a young man without a job, but Ewan applies himself. He also knows MacDougall is being more than fair since Kate has a wealthy suitor in banker Josiah.

When Kate learns of her father’s agreement, she learns to be a good “helpmeet” for the man she loves, all the while trying hard to be fair to Josiah.

Since bagpipes get involved, humor turns up as well.

You can learn how in The 12 Brides of Christmas.

The 12 Brides of Summer includes sequels to the Christmas stories, and in The Sunbonnet Bride, Fairhope once again is an ironic twist when a tornado runs through the neighborhood and upends local farms.

In this case, Kate’s brother Malcolm is a teamster—to whom Ewan gave hope of a future in The Yuletide Bride—with an eye on a seamstress hoping to build a business.

Sally’s dreams are dashed when the family farm is flattened, but through her father’s encouragement and that of Malcolm and Josiah, she learns that all is not lost even when it looks grim.

With two suitors vying for her attention, both with strengths and ways to encourage her hopes, life continues.

The Sunbonnet Bride explores how Sally tries to be fair to both as well as to her future hopes.

Both novella collections are stories full of inspiration, faith and hope for people in challenging circumstances and/or love.

It’s always a fair hope when people allow God to care for them, their lives and their circumstances.

Isn’t it?

MichelleMichelle Ule is the best-selling author of six books. She’s currently writing a biography, Mrs. Oswald Chambers, which is also full of fair and faithful hope. For fun stories of historical research and every day life, check out my blog:  http://www.michelleule.com/

To buy The 12 Brides of Summer Collection, click on the link below.

https://www.amazon.com//1634090292/ref=nav_timeline_asin?ie=UTF8&psc=1

51XzxR4sFOL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_12_brides_christmas_

Finding Hope in the Darkest Pit

IMG_8591-By Karen Pashley

I’ve always considered myself to be a woman of deep faith. A woman who loved God and would trust Him no matter what twists or turns I might encounter on my journey.

Then, seven years ago, my life took a major detour when I was diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease.

A somewhat rare condition, Meniere’s is a progressive, degenerative condition with no known cause or cure that causes hearing loss, ringing in the ear, and sudden attacks of violent vertigo. The vertigo hits with no warning. The intensity of an attack is difficult to articulate and unlike what most people associate with the word vertigo. Suffice it to say, it is torture.

The room spins, my eyes twitch back and forth (a condition called nystagmus), I am pinned to one position, often on all fours on the floor. Movement of any sort is impossible, and I must keep still, not even able to move my lips or hands less the spinning increases. Severe vomiting accompanied by flushing heat and alternating shivering lasts several hours until I am too weak to hold my own head up. Any light or sound in the room only magnifies the symptoms. Mercifully, the attack ends in extreme exhaustion, and I fall into deep (though still very dizzy and unable to move) sleep for four to six hours.

Over the years, despite my best efforts to control the condition with medication, diet and lifestyle changes, the attacks became increasingly more severe, more frequent, and my overall wellbeing between the attacks was declining.

I’ve followed the Lord for many decades, and I’ve come to know Him as a compassionate, loving God, who has the power and desire to heal us physically, emotionally, mentally, and in our relationships—God is a faithful healer, the Great Physician.

So why then, in all my crying out and all my suffering, was my Healer not healing me? Why would He sit by and allow this condition to rob me of so much? I was in the prime of life—I took excellent care of myself. I had goals and dreams, a family to care for, and a half-finished manuscript for a novel waiting to be completed. My desperate cries during an attack bordered on panic. “God, help me,” I would whisper in the darkness.

Oddly, it was during one of the most severe attacks that I experienced the peace that passes all understanding, and somehow, in the midst of my suffering, my hope was renewed.

As tears ran down my cheeks, I thought, “God, I’m all alone in this dark pit. Why won’t you rescue me?”

I sensed Jesus saying, “I know your pain. I’ve experienced torture, and I understand your terror. I’m here in this dark pit with you, and I won’t leave you. Take my hand and we will walk through this pit together.”

Okay, so the God of the universe, who had the ability to heal me in a nanosecond was saying, “let’s walk this difficult walk together”. I could have questioned that offer. I could have argued my point—that His own Word said He was my healer, and I wanted healing—I deserved healing!

But something inside me chose to yield my desperate need for physical relief and to trust that the One who created me, and knew me, had a reason and a plan for me that was good.

In short, I chose hope.

What I learned that day, and the many days that followed, is that hope is not a bet we place. It is not our wishes and dreams pinned to a desired outcome.

Hope is in the person—Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. Hope cannot fail us, because Christ in us Is the Hope of Glory.

I continued on with the journey, experiencing ups and downs in my illness, and in my personal life, all the while knowing that Hope would not let me down. Last summer, I had a procedure done that has halted the progression of the illness for the time being. The reprieve allowed me to finish and publish my novel, which not coincidentally, is a story of God’s merciful love, unfailing grace, and the hope we have when we trust Him through our darkest days.

I know now that my journey through the pit has equipped me to share hope with others through my books, blog and speaking to women around the country. I thank the Lord every day for continuing to hold my hand through the storms of life.

Hope is our greatest resource, and in Him we have all we need to thrive.IMG_8591-

About Karen Pashley:

Karen Pashley writes and speaks with wit and candor about relevant, often gut-wrenching topics that resonate with women of all ages. PreciousinHisSight_CVR2Her new novel Precious in His Sight is hailed as “a story of betrayal, heartbreak, and reconciliation with unrelenting themes of grace, forgiveness, and Christian duty” by Publishers Weekly. A mother to four amazing young women, and grandmother to one perfect toddler, Karen lives with her husband and youngest daughter in Nashville, Tennessee, where they enjoy the rich culture, glorious landscapes, and the occasional celebrity sighting. Read more at  http://www.karenpashley.com/fiction/

Order Karen’s inspiring novel HERE

Like Karen on Facebook HERE

Follow Karen on Twitter HERE

 

 

A Week in North Carolina

1980-01-01 00.00.43-2This week, I’m attending the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.  On my way here, I passed signs advertising the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina and decided to tour the estate before checking in at the Ridgecrest Conference Center. It’s my understanding that some of the Vanderbilt family still live on the estate. What an amazing inheritance? The Biltmore mansion was designed to impress. 1980-01-01 00.00.27My jaw dropped when I stepped into the massive entrance hall. The luxurious family rooms caused me to sigh, and dream about what it must be like to live in such surroundings. Enormous bouquets of fresh flowers sat on tables in every room, and music drifted through the hallways as a pianist serenaded the visitors.1980-01-01 00.00.58 The opulence overwhelms the senses, but nothing within the walls of the home compares to the beauty of the gardens and the mountains surrounding the estate. God is the ultimate artist.

When I think of the responsibility of having so much wealth, it makes me shudder. “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” Luke 12:48 NKJV

Visiting Biltmore made me consider all that God has given me. I am blessed with a comfortable home, children, and health. I’m here to learn about the craft of writing, and I’d love to sign a book contract this week, but my first priority is to seek opportunities to encourage other writers.  Believe me, everyone who writes gets discouraged, and needs encouragement.

I may not have the millions the Vanderbilts inherited, but I have a better inheritance, because of Jesus Christ. There are many writers here with more talent than I could ever hope to possess. I still wonder why God gives me the opportunities to travel to such wonderful places. Maybe He brought me here to lift up his gifted writers. My question for you is, ‘What does God want you to do this week?’ I pray you are open to his calling.

#brmcwc

Running the Race Set before Us

by Ann H. Gabhart

My current release is a cozy mystery, Murder Comes by Mail. 9780800727055_p0_v2_s192x300Many times you can tell if a mystery book is considered a “cozy” by whether a cat or dog is included in the cover art. Cats made it onto the covers of my Hidden Springs Mysteries, but my main character has a dog. Generally, when one of my characters has a pet, it is a dog like Michael’s Jasper in the Hidden Springs mysteries or Asher in The Innocent. You see, I’m okay with cats, but I’m really a dog person. I love dogs. Here’s a picture of Oscar, my current dog buddy.Oscar at the creekb

In my Heart of Hollyhill books, the main viewpoint character is a thirteen-year-old girl. In the opening scene you find out she wants a dog so much that she has what she calls her dog prayer. “Lord, please send me a dog.” How Jocie feels in that scene was taken straight from my own life. I don’t remember praying for a dog, but when I was around nine or ten, I did want one so much that it hurt.

I begged and begged for a dog until a friend of the family brought me a pup. I was so excited and grateful I named the dog after him. Only later did I realize that might have been a dubious honor for him. Ollie was my first walking dog, always ready to explore the woods with me as I discovered the wonders of nature. Since then, other dogs have come and gone but they’ve always been walking companion dogs.

One, a cocker spaniel named Jody, started following after me when his puppy legs were so short he sometimes needed to hitch a ride on my arm back to the house. He grew older and stronger until he was running circles around me as he scouted out the smells in the fields and hunted terrapins, the only “wild” animals he could catch. I always wondered how long it took the poor terrapin to walk home when Jody got tired of carrying it around or if the poor thing just decided to settle in a new home wherever it was dropped. Jody was a great walking dog. Always ready to go for a run, yipping with eagerness when we headed toward the fields and woods. He’d run out a ways and then hurry back to see what was taking me so long.

But dogs get old faster than their humans. One day when we went out walking, Jody was the one lagging behind and I was the one waiting for him to catch up. He started taking shortcuts across the field to meet me on down the trail. The terrapins no longer had to fear being relocated. And then the day came when we started out and Jody sat down in the path and stared at me with mournful eyes, no longer able to even pretend to keep up. His spirit was still eager, but his body was failing him.

The same thing happens to all of us as we age. We walk and run our circles in life until we can no longer move the way we wish. While we are able, we need to run the good race the Lord has set out before us, because one day we’ll be sitting on that path, our bodies old and frail, looking ahead at the Lord waiting for us on the path ahead. And then He’ll beckon us home, maybe carrying us on His arm, with the promise of eternal energy and new trails to walk.

But until then, I hope to use the gift He’s given me to shape words into stories about characters who live and love and hope. I like writing for the inspirational market where I can include the faith journey of my characters, even when the stories are cozy mysteries with cats on the cover.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. …Hebrews12:1 (NKJ)

a.gabhart.1

Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of many novels, including Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, and Love Comes Home, the 2015 Selah Book of Year winner. She’s also known for her Shaker novels and Heart of Hollyhill books. Now, as A.H. Gabhart, she is writing the Hidden Springs Mysteries set in a small town much like the Kentucky town where she grew up. Ann and her husband have three children and nine grandchildren and still enjoy country life on a farm near that small town. To find out more about Ann’s books or to follow her blog, visit www.annhgabhart.com.

 

For Those Who Grieve

Mother’s Day is finally behind me, but today would have been Daddy’s Birthday, so my heart will still be heavy. To me, grief is something like an added layer of skin, always there, and something I cannot shed, but there are seasons when it’s thicker. May and December are those times for me.

If being sad wasn’t enough, jealousy plagued me too, as I saw pictures of happy friends with their mothers on Facebook. I’m reading through the Bible and the book of 1 Samuel made me cringe as I noticed  the same jealousy that plagued King Saul in my life. Funny, how God sends us to the scripture that opens our eyes to our sinful nature. Ack! 

My thoughts turned to an acquaintance who recently lost a daughter. Please lift a prayer for her. I cannot imagine such a loss. Another friend pointed out that she has always longed for children, and Mother’s Day is a difficult day for her. May God forgive me for my selfish nature. I am blessed beyond anything I deserve.

As I prepared for bed last night, I reflected on the day and said a prayer of thanks. I had the opportunity to spend time with my both my children, grandchildren and other family members.  My son and daughter are healthy, happily married, and enjoying their careers. If I am called to heaven today, they will be fine without me as they are both children of faith. Thank you, Jesus.

Today, God led me to this scripture. “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. (4) For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.(5) We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when when you obedience is complete. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.

matthew_lost_toothI will turn my thoughts to thankfulness. The first thing I saw this morning when I opened Facebook was this beautiful picture of my grandson.  He lost his first tooth on Saturday and then another one Sunday morning. This photo made me smile and I could have enjoyed it yesterday, had I not been focusing on my losses instead of blessings.

Thank you Jesus, for loving me, and for giving me such wonderful people to love. Fill my heart with thankfulness. Comfort those, who like me, still grieve for loved ones lost. Comfort those who mourn. Help us to trust you in all things. I place my hope in you. Amen.

They Go Where I Cannot

20160415_080856_resizedA couple of weeks ago, my sister was sifting through Mom’s pictures and she ran across this old photo. It’s a picture of the missionaries with whom we worked last year in Kenya. This picture was taken over twenty years ago when they first entered the mission field. I had no idea my mother knew them.  On the back of the photo Mom wrote, “Pray every day. They go where I cannot.” 20160415_080907_resized

I often wonder why God called me to go to Africa and keeps asking me to return.  If someone had told me ten years ago that in 2016 I’d be planning my fifth short-term mission trip to Africa, I would have rolled my eyes. I’m a librarian, not a Bible scholar, and there are many people more qualified than I to share the gospel. Maybe Mom’s prayers for the missionaries had an influence on God calling me and my sister to go to Africa. Mom went to heaven thirteen years ago, and I wish I could tell her about our experiences Kenya and Niger. Perhaps, she can see it all from heaven.

Mom never had the opportunity to travel on the foreign mission field, but she still served as a missionary at home. For years, her little church rented a trailer in a large trailer park in our community, and she visited weekly to teach children about Jesus.  She loved each and every one of the children and taught them that Jesus loved them too. Many came to know Christ through her teachings.

If you are a Christian, you too have a calling. You may be someone’s only hope to hear God’s plan for salvation. As I said, there’s nothing special about me, other than I have a Savior, and I want others to have the same hope that I have in Him.

Please pray about where God will have you to go to share the gospel. It may be to across the street,  across town, across the country, or across the ocean. Only God knows, so you must listen to the Holy Spirit to discover the answer.site-logo

#africanmissions, #kenyamissions, #friendshiphope&friedfruitpies

 

A Legacy of Hope by Ramona Richards

Six weeks after my mother’s funeral, I still had not done anything with the boxes and furniture I’d brought home with me from her room at the assisted living facility. My brother and I had had to empty the room in less than a week, so much of it went to charity. My brother took a few items, and the rest sat in my living room, the memories too painful for me to deal with.

But I knew I needed to do something with them. Especially the quilts. A lot of quilts. More than twenty of them waited to be rolled properly and stored in my VERY small apartment.

Mother had taught me well, giving me strict instructions on the care of quilts. Use gloves. Roll, not fold. Pillowcases for storage…NEVER put them in plastic. One reason she’d been so precise with her instructions is the age of several of the quilts, some of which are more than 100 years old. And as I rolled and prepared the quilts, I remembered the stories she’d told about each of them…and the women who’d made them.

Writer that I am, I soon became distracted with the tales, and I started writing them down. Mother had always worried that the love and faith that went into the quilts would be forgotten. As I wrote, I realized that not only my mother but all the women who stitched these treasures deserved to be honored. So I set out to turn the stories into devotions that would reflect their deep faith.

My grandmother, for instance, had spent months working on a cathedral window quilt. Already in her 70s and in failing health, my grandmother started the project, knowing that she might not live to complete it. “I can’t stand on what might happen,” she told me once. “That denies my trust in God. I’m not going to second guess Him. My hope has always been in Him. Not going to change that now.” And she stitched on. She finished it…and it wasn’t even her last quilt.

One of the quilts has three blue squares in a field of pink and brown. This isn’t a mistake; instead, it’s a built-in flaw, a reminder that humans are never perfect. Only God is. Another quilt, dating to the 1830s, has a thick wool batting, an indication that it was made in North Carolina and brought to Alabama when a young couple moved west, hoping to build a new and better life.

Quilt after quilt spoke of the skill, love, faith, and hope these women had that God would love and guide their families. They stitched with hope for a better world for those who came after them.

Mother, too, had a devout faith based in hope. Anytime I’d mention a problem to her, she’d respond with Scripture, and an encouragement to lay it all at God’s feet. “Have you talked to Him about it yet?” was a frequent question. If I said, “No,” she’d just look at me over her glasses as if to say, “What are you waiting for?”

She lived Psalm 147:11: “The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love” (NIV). She’d tell me, “God has big shoulders and warm arms. Let Him have it.”

So, as I worked on writing the devotions, I gave it to Him with one request: “I want to honor this legacy. Show me how.”

Less than two weeks later, I had the opportunity to pitch My Mother Quilts to a publisher. The resulting journey of writing the book reconnected me with my cousin, Becky, who’s a quilt historian, and her daughter, Mary, who took the photographs of the quilts.Ramona

In turn, they arranged a family reunion, putting me in touch with relatives I’d not seen in forty years. All of them had even more stories of women who worked hard to provide for their families, all the while passing along a faith that held up hope over hardship.

Without the quilts, none of this would have happened. In looking backward, at the women who’d come before us, we discovered a legacy built on faith and hope.

It’s now our turn to pass that along to our children.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

My_Mothers_QuiltMy Mother’s Quilts by Ramona Richards may be purchased at the attached links.

http://www.christianbook.com/mothers-quilts-devotions-legacy-family-faith/ramona-richards/9781617956126/pd/956126

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/my-mothers-quilts-ramona-richards/1123110542?ean=9781617956126

http://www.amazon.com/My-Mothers-Quilts-Devotions-Needlework/dp/1617956120/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1461593864&sr=8-1&keywords=my+mothers+quilts

Ramona Richards is the author of ten books, including her most recent release, My Mother’s Quilts. Her devotions have appeared in such publications as Fulfilled: The NIV Devotional Bible for the Single Woman, Trusting Jesus Every Day, Wonderfully Made, Heavenly Humor for the Woman’s Soul, Heavenly Humor for the Dieter’s Soul, and several others. Ramona has worked on staff or as a freelancer with more than 20 magazine and book publishers, including Thomas Nelson and Abingdon Press. She now works as a freelance editor and writer from her home office in Nashville, Tennessee. You can subscribe to her blog at: http://thefridgefront.blogspot.com/2013/01/welcome-to-front-of-my-refrigerator.html

Looking Beyond a Bird’s-Eye View

By: Brandy Heineman
Last summer I went to see my grandmother at a rehabilitation facility, the kind of place where people go after catastrophic health events, strokes and amputations, for whatever measure of recovery the Lord intends for them.

I always think of “hope” in the future tense, but for that trip to New York, hope seemed out of place. Everything had already happened. We prayed for healing, but God said no and allowed a door to click shut that no one but He can open again. I planned my trip in a hurry and went, afraid of what hesitation could cost.

Gratitude for the time with my Grandma was tinged with sadness. The facility was very clean and as homey as such a place can be, but our time felt like endless waiting—waiting for meals, waiting for a staff member to tend to her, waiting for bingo to start, waiting for bingo to end. We went for walks back and forth, outside until it was too hot, inside where afternoon activities kept the residents entertained. During almost every visit, I took her to the bird cabinet to see the finches and waited until she was tired of looking at them.

Those finches. They lived, ten or twelve of them, in a glassed-in hutch. The cage was very clean and decorated with bright pink silk flowers that made it almost homey. The birds flew back and forth, perching on a pair of swings meant to keep them entertained. Being a writer and all, I often see the world in metaphor, and to me, those colorful little birds looked utterly hopeless. From their limited viewpoint inside the hutch, they had no future that looked any better than their present.

If you’ve ever felt boxed in by circumstances beyond your control, you’ll know what I was feeling for my dear grandmother as we watched the finches last August. Sometimes, there really isn’t a way out.

It’s a good thing, then, that not everything is a metaphor. The finches are fine, and hope doesn’t have anything to do with circumstances. After all, this oft-quoted reassurance—

“‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope,” –Jeremiah 29:11

—was given to His people while they were in exile. A seventy-year exile, at that. God told them to build houses, plant gardens, have families, and basically wait it out as a people. Many of them were not going to live to see the change in their circumstances as individuals, and for these people, this waiting was an act of faith.

brandy heineman photo 2The world outside the rehab facility kept on at its usual speed, of course. I reveled in rare joys—like precious time with my sister and her family, and especially getting to know the amazing people my nieces and nephew are becoming. We bundled up against a dip into the forties (in August!) at the drive-in theater—a novelty of the highest order for this Georgia girl. I made sure my husband knew I missed him by blowing up his phone with pictures of a car show over the weekend, and I took an afternoon to myself to visit a historical society for some local interest research.

For that week, I did what I could to bring the outside in for my Grandma, but for the most part my role, a bit part in a story that wasn’t about me, was to join her in faithful waiting for the hope of things unseen. Like the finches, we’ve got a narrow field of vision—but we also have the tender words of Jesus assuring us that we’re worth more than many birds and a promise that one day, faith will be made sight.

BRANDY HEINEMAN loves stories of faith and family history. She’s a graduate of Wesleyan College and an author with Elk Lake Publishing. She is also a first-generation Southerner who occasionally gets caught saying things like, “Y’all want some pop?” Brandy lives in metro Atlanta with her husband, Michael. Visit her online at brandyheineman.com.

Whispers in the BranchesIf you hurry, you can get both of Brandy’s works in Kindle editions for less than the price of a cup of coffee! Her new eShort, His Pepper Heart, is available for free through tomorrow, and her full-length debut novel, Whispers in the Branches, is just $0.99 now through April 19 (8PM PST). 

It’s wonderful to have Brandy visit my garden today. I’ll draw a name from my subscribers on Saturday, April 23, 2016, and someone will win a copy of  Whispers in the BranchesI’ll announce it on Facebook.