Monthly Archives: May 2016

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)

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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