Monthly Archives: June 2016

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

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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

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