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.

Hope Despite Anxiety or Depression by Janet Ferguson

In my mid-thirties, after being involved in a bad car accident, I began having panic attacks while driving on the interstate.

I’m an open person, so I’ve shared my experience with this anxiety problem when it felt appropriate (or when asked to drive on the interstate, ha). As a result, I met many other people plagued by either anxiety or depressive disorders. Needless shame tends to go hand-in-hand with these problems. Sufferers are embarrassed that they can’t just get over it. Outsiders don’t understand or know how to help.

But don’t give up hope. I’m positive God can use anyone no matter their particular difficulty or perceived weakness.

Leaving_Oxford_I wanted to share an encouraging story for people with serious anxiety problems. Leaving Oxford is what came of it. I knew that God had still been able to use me as a children’s minister, a youth volunteer, and in so many other ways despite my weakness. I wanted other people to know they weren’t alone, and no matter where they were in life, they were still precious in God’s eyes.

I tend to add a bit of Mississippi-style humor to all my life as a way to get through it, so you’ll find that sprinkled through my story.

I hope and pray that at least one person is encouraged by my story.

If you or someone you care about has dealt with anxiety or similar issues, you may enjoy this clean but quirky romance set in Mississippi. If you buy it and enjoy it, I’d be honored if you would leave a review on Amazon. You can sign up for updates and other of my odd personal stories on my newsletter page. http://www.janetfergusonauthor.com/under-the-southern-sun

Thank you for having me on your blog, Shelia!

Leaving_Oxford_Here’s the link and a description of the story.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DJJKRJM

Releasing in April 15
Amazon EBook Pre-Order Discount available now for 99 cents.
Leaving Oxford
Southern Hearts Series ~ Book 1

Escaping home to Oxford, Mississippi, seemed like a good idea. Until it wasn’t.

A year after a tragic accident in Los Angeles flipped her world upside down, advertising guru Sarah Beth LeClair is still hiding away in her charming hometown of Oxford, Mississippi. And she may well be stuck there forever. Suffering from panic attacks, she prays for healing. Instead, her answer comes in the form of an arrogant football coach and an ugly puppy.

Former celebrity college quarterback Jess McCoy dreamed of playing pro football. One freak hit destroyed his chances. Although he enjoys his work as the university’s offensive coordinator, his aspirations have shifted to coaching at the highest level. His plans of moving up are finally coming together—until he falls for a woman who won’t leave town.

As the deadline for Jess’s decision on his dream career looms, the bars around Sarah Beth’s heart only grow stronger. But it’s time to make a decision about leaving Oxford.

 

They Call Me “Mama” by Connilyn Cossette

Conni032editThank you Shelia, for your invitation to share a story of hope from my life. It was quite easy to come up with a story to share, since the two main characters live in my home and call me “Mama”.

I’ve been married to my husband Chad for over eighteen years and we were always aware that adoption would be the way our family would grow.  Since I was adopted at birth as well, it was an exciting, wonderful prospect. But, as young as we were and just starting out in life together we had no more than a couple of pennies to rub together. It would be seven long years of waiting. Truthfully, more often than not, that wait was not at all patient on my part and sometimes quite painful.

The longer we waited, my friends began to marry and get pregnant and as much as I rejoiced with them, there was honestly an edge of jealousy in my heart—a smile on the outside at the news, paired with weeping on the inside.

“Lord!” I said, “Why would you give me this great desire to be a mother if you won’t bring me one of my own?”

There was one event that was particularly painful for me. A co-worker’s daughter was caught up in circumstances where she was unable to care for her child and there was a possibility that we might have a chance at adopting the little girl. When everything fell through, I was devastated. I had gotten my hopes up, again, only to have them dashed to the ground.

But my God, He is faithful. And He is the origin of hope.

The next day, I was doing laps in a swimming pool and pouring out my heart to him about the crushing of my dream. And he said to me, in such a clear voice, directly in my mind, “Do not grieve over that little girl. She isn’t the one. I will bring you a daughter some day.” I was so stunned. It was first time in my life that God spoke to me in a voice that almost seemed audible. I stood up in the pool and looked around, half-wondering if other people had heard it too.

So, I waited. And I waited. I taught pre-school for many years and poured my mama heart into my students.

And then one day, one of my girls from the Youth Group I worked with got pregnant.

I was devastated. Simply wrecked. I went home, laid on my face in my bedroom and literally screamed at God, “Why? Why would you rub my childlessness in my face? It is so difficult and so impossibly expensive to adopt! It will NEVER happen!” (It was not my best, most trusting moment to be sure).

But, even in that ugly moment my loving God said to me, in another clear voice, “What if I chose not to give you a child? Will you still trust me?”

After a deep struggle between my desires and his challenge, I surrendered my will. “Yes, Lord. I will trust you, even if you never bring us a child. “

“And, If I do chose to make you a mother,” he said. “Will you take any child I bring you? In which ever way I chose?”

“Yes! Lord, any child! No matter what! No matter how!” and then I added, “But we are so broke Lord, if you do want me to be a mother, you will have to drop one right out of the sky.”

And so, he did.

Within a month, our Pastor approached us to say he had received a call from a lawyer friend who was searching for an adoptive family for a client. I ran home that day  (I worked at the church preschool), wrote up an adoption portfolio and by the end of the next week, we had been selected by our son’s birthmother and met her in person soon afterward.

The adoption looked nothing like I thought it would. I expected an agency would be involved in everything and we would just sign some papers and get a baby.  But this was a private adoption; I took the birth-mom to the doctor, helped her find an apartment, drove her to the grocery store, met her family and got to know her personally. It was the opposite of what I expected.

But what a blessing! I got to be there in the doctor’s office and hear his little heartbeat for the first time. I got to stand in the aisle at the grocery store and feel her belly as he kicked and squirmed.  The hospital even gave us our own room down the hall and allowed us to feed our son for the first time and snuggle with him and bond with him for the first 24 hours before his birth-mom signed the papers. All with her, and her family, congratulating us on the birth of our son. It was beautiful. It was miraculous.

Oh, and by the way, the Lord provided every penny we needed through friends, family, and our church to pay for the entire adoption. Our boy truly came right out of the sky.

But wait a minute! Didn’t God say he would give me a daughter?

That he did. I was almost shocked when the lawyer told me the baby was a boy! But God wasn’t done with his miracles.

Two and a half years later, we had moved to Texas. We were a little bit more settled into life and thought, our son needs a sibling! So we signed up with an agency and were told that the average wait time was 9-12 months. “Great!” we said, “We have plenty of time to gather the necessary funds.”

Thirty days later—the phone rang. “You’ve been selected by a birthmother, come meet her!”

And so we did, and crazily enough, the next morning she went into labor.  But, although we went through the whole birth with her, the next day she changed her mind. The baby, a little boy, was not meant to be our son.

Again. Devastation hit me like a ton of bricks. It was almost as if we’d had a miscarriage. Our hopes had been so high, and we’d snuggled and loved on and named that little boy.

But God wasn’t done with his miracles.

One week later, the phone rang. “Another birth mother has selected your family. Come meet her!”

And we did. This young girl was so adamant that we were the right family for her baby that she assured the agency she would not change her mind after hearing what we had been through.  We met her, promptly fell in love with her, and spent the next three weeks anxiously waiting for another baby to be born.

And I’ll be honest. It was tough. We were terrified she would change her mind. We hadn’t had all the necessary pennies saved up since it happened so fast and we worried it would all fall through for that reason.

But the Lord reminded me of his promises. He reminded me that he was a giver of good gifts and he reminded me that he owned the cattle on a thousand hills and a few thousand dollars was no problem for him. Within the time allotted, God brought us every single penny we needed. We had people we barely knew hand us checks for a thousand dollars. One complete stranger gave us twenty-five hundred dollars, which ended up being the exact amount left on the total. I actually ended up giving back donations! Our cup ran over!

But again, the adoption was nothing like we expected. It was a newer agency, there were a few glitches, a few stressful moments, and since I bonded with this very young birth-mom over phone, messaging, and in person, I became tied up emotionally in the grief she was dealing with over such a weighty decision. I was a mess.

But then, the day came. The baby was born.

And it was a girl. My beautiful daughter, promised to me in a swimming pool years before.

God’s promises never fail. He is a God of Hope. Our ways may not be his ways. Our plans may look different than his. We may have to wait, a long, long time before answers are revealed. And there may be some suffering along the way, some  dredging up of the sin, some work on our fickle, untrusting hearts.

But as one of my characters in Counted with the Stars says “As long as we have breath in our bodies, there is always hope.”

Kids with Book _edited-1I am blessed beyond measure by my two miracle children. And blessed that Shelia had given me the chance to share my story of hope. I hope it encourages you in whatever situation you find yourself today.

Sheila also asked that I included a recipe to add to the theme of “Friendship, Hope and Fried Fruit Pies”. I must confess; I am not a very good cook. I am too impatient, I abhor measuring and dishes are the bane of my existence. But, since my first book Counted with the Stars takes place in Ancient Egypt I did some research and found an ancient recipe for candy! This recipe was apparently found on an ostraca (a broken piece of pottery used for writing) from 1600 B.C. My daughter and I made these together and they are very easy and really yummy!

date_candypic2ZxMP2Ancient Egyptian Date Candy

Ingredients:
1 cup of chopped fresh dates
1 tsp of cinnamon
1/2tsp of cardamom
1/2cup of fresh ground walnuts
Small amount of warm honey
Dish full of fine ground almonds

Procedure:
Mix the dates with some water to paste
Mix in cinnamon and cardamom
Knead in the walnuts
Form balls, spread with honey and cover in the ground almonds.

About Connilyn Cossette:Conni032edit
When she is not homeschooling her two sweet kids (with a full pot of coffee at hand), Connilyn is scribbling notes on spare paper, mumbling about her imaginary friends, and reading obscure out-of-print history books. There is nothing she likes better than digging

into the rich ancient world of the Bible and uncovering buried gems of grace that point toward Jesus. Although a Pacific Northwest native, she now lives near Dallas, Texas.

Her debut novel Counted With the Stars will be releasing in April 2016 with

Bethany House Publishers. Connect with her at http://www.connilyncossette.com

Counted with the Stars – Back Cover Copy: Releases April 5, 2016CountedWiththeStars_mck.indd

Sold into slavery by her father and forsaken by the man she was supposed to marry, young Egyptian Kiya must serve a mistress who takes pleasure in her humiliation. When terrifying plagues strike Egypt, Kiya is in the middle of it all.

Choosing to flee with the Hebrews, Kiya finds herself reliant on a strange God and drawn to a man who despises her people. With everything she’s ever known swept away and now facing the trials of the desert, will she turn back toward Egypt or surrender her life and her future to Yahweh?

Counted with the Stars can be purchased at the attached links.

http://www.amazon.com/Counted-Stars-Egypt-Connilyn-Cossette/dp/0764214373/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1459763266&sr=8-1&keywords=counted+with+the+stars

http://www.christianbook.com/1-counted-with-the-stars/connilyn-cossette/9780764214370/pd/214370?event=ESRCG

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/counted-with-the-stars-connilyn-cossette/1122232787?ean=9780764214370

http://www.lifeway.com/Product/counted-with-the-stars-P005784774

 

Yogurt Pie

Thanks to guest author, Alice V. Roberts, for dropping by my garden today to share her recipe for Yogurt Pie which goes great with any fruit.  I can just imagine enjoying this delicious summer dessert at the beautiful Hilltop Inn, the setting for Alice V. Robert’s new book, The Hilltop Inn: A Wedding.   It’s available in both paperback and Kindle at this  AMAZON.com link.

 

Yogurt Pie
1 container of Cool Whip- thawed
3 small containers of yogurt with fresh fruit in it
1 graham cracker crust
1 extra Cool Whip- thawed and stored in frig for serving

Directions:
Mix yogurt, fruit and Cool Whip together and pour into the graham cracker crust.
Freeze over night. 20 minutes before serving remove from freezer and set on counter. Put  a sliced piece of yogurt pie on dessert plate. Top with a spoon of Cool Whip and fresh fruit the same as in the yogurt. Great summer recipe that is cool and refreshing.

The Hilltop Inn: A Wedding by Alice V. Roberts is available in both paperback and Kindle at
AMAZON.com

The Hilltop_Inn_A_Wedding_Nine months ago, Jackie Bowers, now widowed for almost three years, had moved from California to Ponderosa, a small town located in Northern Arizona. Jackie had purchased and moved into The Hilltop Inn, a bed and breakfast, satisfying a long time dream.

When her washer died she went to Soap Suds Laundromat where she met widower, Brian Williams, a contractor, when he came to pick up his grandmother, Gram.

Brian did all the renovations at the Inn. During the course of the renovations Jackie and Brian fell in love and are now engaged to be married.

An Open House and a Chamber mixer were held for the community to announce the Inn is ready for guests. The renovations are complete and the Inn is officially open for business.

Neither Brian nor Jackie ever thought they would fall in love again, especially since they were almost sixty years old. But they have had nine months getting to know, love and respect each other. And falling in love felt so right to them. Love can come at any age and be so fulfilling and Jackie and Brian area testament to that. And both of their families have come together and are excited about the up-coming wedding.

As guests come and go, Jackie and Brian must deal with serious family health issues, bad weather conditions and planning a wedding. Will their love and faith help Jackie and Brian to face and conquer these challenges?

Will it all come together? Will Jackie and Brian have the beautiful wedding of their dreams?

About Alice:
Alice V. Roberts was born and raised in Los Angeles, California around the entertainment industry living her entire growing-up years in Hancock Park. She attended Third Street Elementary School, Marymount Junior School for girls and Marymount High School for girls. She spent her weekends at the family ranch in Vista, California where she used to read books and dream about writing.
Alice has previously published two other books in a different genre. The Hilltop Inn, a Novella- is the first in a three book series. The Hilltop Inn was Alice’s debut into the Romance genre and she is excited for this new adventure.

She had a dream to write Romance and her father told her to follow that dream. And so she dedicated her first Novella to her late father which was published both in paperback and e-book format in October, 2014.

Alice’s husband died January 2, 2015, but he made her promise she would complete the three-book Novella series. Book two, The Hilltop Inn – A Wedding is dedicated to her late husband and was released in February, 2016, both in paperback and e-book format. Alice is currently writing short stories that will only be available on e-readers. The final book in the series, The Hilltop Inn -The Cottage will be available in September, 2016.

Alice is a member of The Arizona Author’s Association, Romance Writers of America and the Desert Rose Chapter for Romance Writer’s of America in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Alice lives near the “Red Rocks” of Sedona, Arizona with her Siamese cat. She has two daughters and six grandchildren (one boy and five girls).

To learn more about Alice V. Roberts, stop by her website  at https://alicevroberts.com/#thehilltopinn

#thehilltopinnawedding

You Don’t Need Luck

I hope you had a fun time celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day.  I believe Saint Patrick would agree with me.  You don’t need the “Luck of the Irish,” if you have Jesus.

If you were born in America or any Christian nation, you’re blessed. Psalms 33:12  “Blessed is the nation who’s God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage.

You can be blessed with every spiritual blessing. Ephesians 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”

You can be blessed as a co-heir with Jesus Christ: Romans 8:17: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his suffering in order that we may also share in his glory.”

 Ephesians 1:4-6: “(4) even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, (6) to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”

Regardless of your circumstances, you can be blessed, and be co-heir with Christ.  It’s as simple as the ABC’s we learned in first grade.

  • Admit you are a sinner. Romans 3:10 “None is righteous.”
  • Believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He died on the cross to pay your sin debt.   John 3:16 “For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
  • Confess and tell others about Jesus Christ and His love for you and them.                    Romans: 10:9 “Because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

I pray that you will pray a simple prayer and invite Jesus into your heart.  Then you can forget about luck, because you won’t need it.  You’ll be blessed beyond measure.