July 2017 New Releases in Christian Fiction

Contemporary Romance:

On Love’s Gentle Shore by Liz Johnson — When Natalie O’Ryan’s fiancé books their wedding in her hometown, Natalie didn’t know the only reception venue available would be an old barn belonging to Justin Kane–the best friend she left behind all those years ago after promising to stay. As they work together to get the dilapidated building ready for the party, Natalie and Justin discover the groundwork for forgiveness–and that there may be more than an old friendship between them. (Contemporary Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Their Ranch Reunion by Mindy Obenhaus — Single mom Carly Wagner is surprised to learn she’ll have to share ownership of the home she’s inherited with her first love—and first heartbreak—Andrew Stephens. The man who fled their tiny Western town is back and standing in the way of her dreams to expand her B and B. Now a successful businessman, Andrew has eight weeks to buy Carly out. But Carly’s too stubborn to persuade—and too beautiful to ignore. When fire ravages her inn and she and her daughter move in to their shared property, Andrew’s in over his head. Time is running out and Andrew must decide: leave and chase another deal…or stay and chase Carly’s heart. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Time and Tide by Kristen Terrette — Recovering from addiction and a near death experience, Chad moves to Moanna Island, a small island close to Savannah off the Atlantic coast, to begin a job with his family’s real estate empire, a job he was supposed to have taken years ago. Free-spirited Ryan Mason is a Moanna local girl from a blue-collar family. She’s dropped her own dreams to help her father care for her schizophrenic brother. When Chad and Ryan meet at the rehabilitation center where her brother lives, feelings develop between them. Can their crazy worlds ever fit together once he learns her secret and she finds out he is the sole heir to the Cusher Empire? (Contemporary from Hartwood Publishing Group)


Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh — When a workaholic interior designer returns to her hometown to check on her brother’s welfare, she reconnects with a soldier, secretly in love with her, over a renovation project that will help the struggling town. (Contemporary Romance from Tyndale House)


Cozy Mystery:

A Tempting Taste of Mystery by Elizabeth Ludwig — Judging a pie contest leads Cheryl Cooper and friends into mayhem and mystery after someone begins methodically sabotaging the entries. (Cozy Mystery from Guideposts Publications)

Over Maya Dead Body by Sandra Orchard — FBI Special Agent Serena Jones arrives on Martha’s Vineyard with her family, ready for a little bit of R&R and a whole lot of reminiscing as they celebrate the engagement of an old family friend. But crime doesn’t take a vacation, and she’s soon entangled in an investigation of a suspicious death tied to an antiquities smuggling ring.When her investigation propels her into danger, Serena must stay the course and solve this case before anyone else dies. But just how is she supposed to do that when the two men in her life arrive on the scene, bringing with them plenty of romantic complications–and even a secret or two? (Cozy Mystery from Revell [Baker])

Historical Romance:

The American Conquest (Window to the Heart Sage, Book 3) by Jenna Brandt — Margaret must leave behind her title and wealth in Europe in order to escape and start a new life in the Colorado Territory. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)


Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection by Susanne Dietze, Michelle Griep, Anne Love, Gabrielle Meyer, Natalie Monk, Jennifer Uhlarik, Erica Vetsch, Jaime Jo Wright, and Kathleen Y’Barbo — Journey along in nine historical romances with those whose lives are transformed by the opulence, growth, and great changes taking place in America’s Gilded Age. Nine couples meet during these exhilarating times and work to build a future together through fighting for social reform, celebrating new opportunities for leisure activities, taking advantage of economic growth and new inventions, and more. Watch as these romances develop and legacies of faith and love are formed. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

A Rebel in My House by Sandra Merville Hart — Promises can be impossible to keep–especially when a Confederate soldier trapped behind enemy lines looks to a Gettysburg seamstress for help. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

A Match for Melissa by Susan Karsten — Wanting a godly husband, Melissa’s only choice is to follow her father’s wishes, even when doing so may not achieve the desires of her heart. (Historical Romance from Prism Book Group [Pelican]).

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island by Carrie Fancett Pagels — Moor your heart on Mackinac Island along with resident sweetheart Maude Welling, an heiress trying to prove her worth by working incognito as a maid at the Grand Hotel. Meet Ben Steffans, a journalist posing as a wealthy industrialist who has come to the island to uncover a story about impoverished men pursuing heiresses at the famed hotel. Will a growing love between Maude and Ben be scuttled when truths are revealed in this Gilded Age romance? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Salvation by the Sea by Kristen Reed — Life has been anything but easy for Muirigan thanks to a series of life-altering calamities, but she’s found peace with her new, understated life by the sea. However, the maid’s past comes back to haunt her when she saves the shipwrecked Prince Halvard one morning. Failing to recognize one of his dearest childhood friends, the prince invites Muirigan to live at court as a reward for her valiant heroism. As the two reconnect, something deeper than friendship blossoms, but will their newfound affection survive when Muirigan’s lies are revealed and Halvard learns the truth about what has befallen since their tragic separation? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)


Romantic Suspense:

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble — As a 911 dispatcher, Dana Newell takes pride in being calm in tough circumstances. In addition to her emotionally-charged career, she’s faced enough emergencies in her own life. She recently escaped her abusive fiancé to move to tranquil Rock Harbor where she hopes life will be more peaceful. But the idyllic town hides more danger and secrets than it first appeared. Dana is continually drawn to her new friend Boone, who has scars inside and out. Then she answers a call at her job only to hear a friend’s desperate screams on the other end. Soon the pain in her past collides with the mysteries of her new home—and threatens to keep her from the future she’s always wanted. (Romantic Suspense from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])


Speculative:

The Genesis Tree by Heather L.L. FitzGerald — Deception is rampant, the enemy is subtle, and love dares to tug at Sadie’s heart amid the turmoil that forces her and her family back to the Tethered World below. (Speculative/Contemporary Fantasy from Mountain Brook Ink)

Wading Through by Shelia Stovall

Does he not see my ways And number all my steps? Job 31:4

Photo by Barry Freas (www.barryfreas.com) Used with permission.

I love the long days of summer. When the June Solstice passed last week, my heart dipped a little with the knowledge the days will begin to shorten. We spent the last hour of sunlight floating the creek on kayaks and were entertained by the sight of a doe with twin fawns, a beaver slapping his tail at us, while a rookery of blue herons screeched like teenagers partying. It was a glorious evening, and we lingered on the water through the long twilight. Big mistake.

We put our kayaks into the water at a small branch of the creek that divides our farm. It’s the only place for us to exit safely. Usually, we have to wade out the last twenty yards which is not a big deal, but at one place, you’ll sink to thigh-deep water if you’re not careful. When it’s daylight, it’s easy to avoid the deeper water, but we’d let time slip away, and with leafy sycamore branches hanging over us, we waded through blackness.

There’s nothing in the water to harm me, but my imagination became my enemy. With each step, I imagined a snapping turtle, a water snake, or stepping into the deep hole. The limestone bank glowed in the dim light, and it looked appealing. I stepped out of the water onto the slick rock. Within two seconds, my feet flew out from under me, and I landed with a thud. Then, I said a word a good Baptist would never utter. Go ahead, laugh. My husband did and I joined him. There was nothing to do but wade through the water with my kayak, and yes, I stepped into the big hole, but by this time, I was muddy, wet and hardly noticed.

Life is like that. Sometimes darkness comes upon us, and we allow fear to hinder us, but we can’t avoid the difficult terrain, and we must wade through it. Maybe you’ve received a worrisome diagnosis from the doctor, lost a job, or a loved one is suffering. I’ve learned, it helps to have a guide. We have a little Schnauzer, Lucy, and she’s almost blind. When we take our daily walks, she’s right on my heels. On our daily rambles, our Labrador, Bamboo, is in the lead, Bertie, out little mutt, is on her trail, but Lucy stays close to me. More than once, I’ve stopped and called her, only to discover she’s sitting right behind me in my shadow. My little companion trusts me to lead her home. And that’s what we need to do, stay close to the Master, and trust Him to lead us through the darkness while we wade through the holes that almost drown us. If we follow Jesus, someday, we’ll reach our forever home.

 

 

Forever Friends

I love living in my small hometown where I run into friends who’ve known me all my life. There is no fooling anyone when trying to be something I’m not, so why bother? The people in my close-knit community see me every day and thank goodness I don’t have to dress up to impress anyone. I might be in the garden shop wearing jeans with mud on my plastic clogs, and I’ll still receive a hug. My normal summer uniform at the library is khaki Capri pants with a summer reading T-shirt, and no one lifts a brow. I am blessed with friends, both black and white, rich and poor. What a blessing to live in such a place where it’s been rare for me to notice the racial tension that’s portrayed on the nightly news.

A couple of weeks ago, our mission team hosted a fish-fry fundraiser (try saying that three time times in a row.)  On the morning of the event, I discovered we’d scheduled it on the same day of the local dance recital and my heart dropped. My daughter used to take dance lessons, and believe me, almost everyone in town attends the recital. I’d already purchased a truckload of supplies for our event and it was too late to cancel. “We’ll be lucky to break even,” I mumbled. Then I posted a distress call to my Facebook friends that I was experiencing my normal pre-fish fry jitters and feared no one would come. Guess what?  They came.

The fish fry was a success, but I discovered a blessing far more significant to me than the money we raised. Many friends and neighbors who I rarely see came to support me because of the notice I posted. One person I must mention is Estella, whose path I have not crossed in over thirty years. Her career and life are in Bowling Green, while I keep the road between Scottsville and Franklin hot. When she saw my call for help on Facebook, she told me she said to herself, “I need to go and support Shelia.”

Estella grew up about a mile down the road from me, and we’ve been friends since first grade. She was as sweet then as she is today. When I saw her smiling face at the fish fry, I abandoned my duties in the kitchen to sit down and catch up.  We never missed a beat as we shared about our families, reminisced about growing up on Elliott Road, and attending our rural elementary school, Prospect Hill. What a blessing to have the opportunity to spend time with her.

When I consider the friends I have, near and far, people who will drop everything and come if I need help, it humbles me. I pray I can be the kind of friend Estella is. Kind and generous, one who does what she can to aid a friend, even if she has to drive a distance to do so. Thank you, Estella, for being my friend, and to all the others, too many to mention, who came and supported our cause. Most of all, we appreciate your love, support, and prayers. My bank account may never grow large, but I am rich in friendship and love, and I am thankful.

June 2017 New Releases in Christian Fiction


Contemporary Romance:

Engaged by Julie Arduini — Trish Maxwell returns to Speculator Falls with egg on her face and apologies to make as she tries to determine what’s next, especially when around paramedic Wayne Peterson. (Contemporary Romance from Surrendered Scribe Media)


Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter — When Noah and Josephine Mitchell discover their divorce was never actually finalized, their lives are turned upside down. But when Josephine drives out to Noah’s North Georgia cottage to deliver the corrected papers, they are trapped there during a snowstorm. Things couldn’t get worse…until they are forced out into the storm and must rely on one another to survive. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Zondervan])

Then There Was You by Kara Isaac — Would you give up everything for a life you hate with the person you love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)


An Encore for Estelle by Kimberly Rose Johnson — A former A-list actress seeks to redeem herself in the most unlikely of places—a children’s theater. The writer/director didn’t anticipate a famous actress would ever show interest in his musical much less him. Will their pasts pull them apart or join them together? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

The Cowboy’s Baby Blessing by Deb Kastner — When Ex-soldier Seth Howell suddenly becomes guardian of a two-year-old, he needs Rachel Perez’s help. Though she is gun-shy about relationships, this handsome cowboy and his adorable son break through. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Finding Love by Toni Shiloh — Delaney Jones is putting her life back together after widowhood when in walks Army soldier, Luke Robinson. Luke had a part in the death of Delaney’s husband–will his secrets widen the gulf in their relationship or will he finally find absolution? (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit)


Cozy Mystery:

The Copper Box by Suzanne Bratcher — When antiques expert Marty Greenlaw comes to Jerome, Arizona to search for a copper box she believes will unlock the secrets of her past, deadly accidents begin to happen: someone else wants the copper box, someone willing to kill for it. (Cozy Mystery from Mantle Rock Publishing)


General Contemporary:

Coming Home – A Tiny House Collection by Yvonne Anderson, Michael Ehret, Kimberli S. McKay, Pamela S. Meyers, Ane Mulligan, Chandra Lynn Smith, Linda W. Yezak — Tiny houses are all the rage these days, but what can you do with something so small? Here are seven stories about people chasing their dreams, making fresh starts, finding love, stumbling upon forgiveness, and embarking upon new adventures in tiny houses. (General Contemporary, Independently Published)


Katie’s Quest by Lee Carver — Katie Dennis hopes for fulfillment as a single missionary nurse after the death of her fiancé. She trusts God for a new direction, but she’ll never fall for a pilot again. (General Contemporary, Independently Published)

Historical Romance:

 


A Sweetwater River Romance by Misty M. Beller — Rocky Ridge Stage Stop Manager Ezra Reid is put in a difficult situation when two ladies show up on his remote doorstep seeking refuge, one of them being Tori Boyd, the mysterious correspondence partner writing him letters for over a year now. Tori refuses the most proper solution to their circumstance—marriage. But when danger follows, it will take a lot more than luck to ensure Ezra’s heart is the sole casualty. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin — In German-occupied Brussels, a WWI nurse struggles to keep two life-threatening secrets. She’s in league with the British Secret Service, and she’s harboring a wounded British pilot. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])


Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Husbands Romance Collection by Susan Page Davis, Susanne Dietze, Darlene Franklin, Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Gina Welborn — Meet seven of Turtle Springs, Kansas’, finest women who are determined to revive their small town after the War Between the States took most of its men. . .and didn’t return them. The ladies decide to advertise for husbands and devise a plan for weeding out the riff raff. But how can they make the best practical choices when their hearts cry out to be loved? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Captain’s Daughter by Jennifer Delamere — When a series of circumstances beyond her control leave Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater that is presenting the most popular show in London. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage. A hand injury during a skirmish in India has forced Nate Moran out of the army until he recovers. Filling his time at a stable of horses for hire in London, he has also spent the past two months working nights as a stagehand, filling in for his injured brother. Although he’s glad he can help his family through a tough time, he is counting the days until he can rejoin his regiment. London holds bitter memories for him that he is anxious to escape. But then he meets the beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate can’t wait to leave behind. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

Grounded Hearts by Jeanne M. Dickson — Set in WWII, an Irish woman must choose between her heart and her freedom when she finds a downed combatant pilot. (Historical Romance from Waterfall Press)

Mail Order Sweetheart by Christine Johnson — Singer Fiona O’Keefe must make a wealthy match to support her orphaned niece. Musically talented Sawyer Evans is a self-made, but not wealthy, sawmill-manager. Unwilling to live off his father’s railroad fortune, can Sawyer prove to Fiona he’s the man she needs when she’s already determined to mail-order a rich husband? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Freedom’s Price by Christine Johnson — On a quest to find her mother’s family in Louisiana, Englishwoman Catherine Haynes enlists a dashing Key West man seeking revenge for his own family. When an incredible secret comes to light, she and Tom will face a choice. Can they relinquish their dreams to step forward in faith? (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])

Sutter’s Landing by Betty Thomason Owens — Still reeling from tragic losses, Connie and Annabelle Cross face life with their signature humor and grace, until fresh hope arrives on their doorstep. (Historical Romance from Write Integrity Press)


Romantic Suspense:

Hidden Legacy by Lynn Huggins Blackburn — When someone threatens the baby she’s adopting, Caroline Harrison must rely on Detective Jason Drake, the man who once broke her heart, to figure out why. If Jason wants a chance at a future with with Caroline and her son, he’ll first have to help them outrun a hit man. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Weaver’s Needle by Robin Caroll — Pitted against each other to recover a map to the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, two recovery specialists follow the trail to Arizona. But someone doesn’t want them to find the map. . .or the mine. They must work together despite their mistrust and growing attraction, to save themselves. (Romantic Suspense from Barbour Publishing)


Speculative:

The Revisionary by Kristen Hogrefe — Revisionary or Rogue? To rescue her brother, Portia might have to break every rule in the book she set out to rewrite. (Speculative from Write Integrity Press)


Women’s Contemporary:

Redemption’s Whisper by Kathleen Friesen — Desperate to escape her past, a suicidal young woman flies from Toronto to a Saskatoon pastor’s home, the only people who may be able to help her. If only someone could love her, in spite of all she’s done. On the flight, she meets a young man torn between seeking affirmation in the big city and helping his parents in Saskatoon. Can these two troubled souls gain the peace they need—and in the process, find love? (Women’s Contemporary from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])


Young Adult:

All Things Now Living by Rondi Bauer Olson — Her whole life Amy has been taught the people of New Lithisle deserve to die, but when she falls for Daniel, she determines to save him. (Young Adult from Written World Communications)

Would you like to travel to a Romantic Destination this summer?

By Rose Allen McCauley

I can’t believe my 6th book will be out June 15 in the collection Destination: Romance. Thanks, Shelia for welcoming me to your garden again, where I always find friendship, hope and all kinds of desserts! And I am happy to do a giveaway of an e-book when it releases to one of your commenters. So let’s make the deadline for Shelia to draw a name on the book release date. So get your comment in by June 15th!

Here’s the back cover blurb for the whole book: From a cave in the hills of Missouri to a sandy beach in Grand Cayman, romance blooms for five heroines when they least expect it.

Better Together Than Apart is the title of my novella in the collection.

The blurb for it is: On a K-Love cruise to Jamaica, Natalie re-connects with Ken, a boy she met six years earlier on a high school summer mission trip. Attraction stirs, but opposing goals threaten their romance. Will they listen to God’s leading for their best place of service?

And now, I would like to tell you a little about how this whole collection and my story came about. About 4 years ago, Kim Vogel Sawyer and her husband Don spent almost a week with us while she did several signings in the KY area.

While Kim and Don were here they told us they were going on a K-Love cruise the following January, and invited us to go with them sometime. Finally last year, in January 2016, it all worked out for us to go together. We had two ports of call. Chester and I chose to do a one-day mission trip to Jamaica.  We were blessed to go to an orphanage with many children, who all needed help in various ways. But, they all blessed us with their smiles, laughter and hugs and prayers.

One night outside a concert in progress on the cruiseship, Kim and I brainstormed stories that started on a K-Love cruise. My oldest granddaughter had gone on a mission trip the summer before, and both of my daughters and I have been on other mission trips, so I thought that would be a good and different way to start a story. Then as the story unfolds, I used something I wrote on the back of a picture I gave my husband while we were dating in college, so it comes full circle with parts of my granddaughter’s life combined with mine and my husband’s. I hope you will read it and the other stories in this collection and see how God can work things out for our good, even when we don’t know IF things will work out.

Since I was over my word count, I didn’t put a recipe in this book, but for Thanksgiving Natalie’s Mimi brings a German chocolate cake for her daughter’s birthday like I make for my daughter each Thanksgiving, so I will share the recipe for the icing. The first couple times I made the cake from scratch, too, but decided it was just as good from a mix as the homemade one, as long as the icing was homemade!

German Chocolate Cake Icing

1 c. evaporated milk
1 c. sugar
1 stick butter
1 t. vanilla
3 egg yolks
Combine first 5 ingredients in saucepan and cook over medium heat until it thickens, stirring often. Then remove from heat and add:

1 c. pecans
1 1/3 cup coconut

Beat it all until it cools then spread over layers and top and sides of cake. And, if there is any left, my husband loves to eat it as a topping on ice cream!

About the Author

Rose Allen McCauley started writing over a decade ago when she retired from teaching school to write the stories of some of the characters roaming around in her head. Since joining ACFW in 2002, she has been published in several non-fiction anthologies and devotionals, and now is happy to announce “Better Together than Apart” in the collection Romantic Destinations as her sixth novella. She has been happily married to her college sweetheart for over four decades and is also mother to three grown children and their spouses and Mimi to five lively grandkids. Rose always enjoys hearing from her readers at rosemccauleywrites@gmail.com or her website/blog www.rosemccauley.com and also on Facebook as Rose Allen McCauley and her twitter page @roseamccauley.

 

Reflecting His Light

(21) Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times.” (22) Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22.

A creek borders our property, and I often cross the road to sit on a little platform overlooking the water. It’s about a hundred yards from my front door to the porch, but something mysterious happens when I rest here. I’m able to forget my to-do list.

There’s a special time in the evening, when the sunlight makes the water shimmer, That’s when I’m filled with peace that truly surpasses all understanding.

When I considering how this reflection of light fills me with serenity, I’m reminded  I can offer the same blessing to others by sharing the love of Jesus. He is my comforter. He is my joy. He is my peace.

An angry person crossed my path last week. He behaved in an unreasonable manner, and later I learned his son died the previous week. Please keep this person in your prayers. I often pray for him because he’s rude and surly on a regular basis, and I’m tempted to reflect his unpleasant behavior.

It’s only by controlling my actions through the help of Jesus I have any hope of leading others to Christ. I don’t think it a coincidence our pastor reminded us Jesus instructed Peter, ” to forgive seventy-seven times.” Who can keep track of that? Right. So maybe, we should just forgive.

Anger is all around us. Our only hope is Jesus, and I pray we will remember we Christians are to act differently than the lost. After all, the fruit of His spirit is, ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, forgiveness, and self-control.’

Let’s surprise people and love them, and forgive them, no matter how badly they treat us. I pray we can offer forgiveness, as Jesus forgives us. I’m sure He’s forgiven me more then seventy-seven times. I pray I can reflect the light of Jesus on everyone…especially my enemies.

 

In Everything Give Thanks

Tomorrow is my daddy’s birthday in heaven. In remembrance of him and the upcoming Mother’s Day holiday, I’m re-posting a story I shared a few years ago about parents.

It had been a weekend of celebrations, my niece’s graduation from nursing school and Mother’s Day.  If only I’d known it was to be the last Mother’s Day with Mom. Would I have done things differently?  On Tuesday, Mom fell and broke her leg. People don’t usually die from a broken leg, but a week later, a blood clot ended her life.

I remember little of the next few days other than standing for hours greeting those who loved Mom while smelling the scent of roses behind me. We buried her on the Saturday before Memorial Day in 2003.

For weeks, I instinctively reached for the phone to call her. The patterns of my life had shifted, and I was off balance. While reading scripture, I ran across 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” I pondered this scripture and became angry. “Give thanks! Give thanks for everything. I’m supposed to give thanks to God for Mom dying.” In a rage, I threw my Bible across the room. I was a forty-two-year-old woman having a temper tantrum like a three-year-old. Later, I picked up the Bible and noticed the broken spine. Ashamed, I hid the Bible in my closet. If Mom had witnessed this, she would have sent me to the willow tree for a switch.

It was rare for me to find time to read the Bible, much less to study it, but I didn’t know where else to turn. Mom looked to scripture for comfort. Through her life, she battled illness, she nursed a father with tuberculosis, buried my infant twin, lost everything in a house fire, nursed two sisters through cancer and lost both. Through every trial, she sang praise songs and spent time studying His word. The joy, peace, and hope in the scriptures she embraced were elusive to me.

I’d never endured a tragedy, and discovered I had a shallow faith. I’ve learned that to have a deep faith, you must “Love the Lord, with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5. But to do that, you have to know the Lord. And to know the Lord, you must spend time with him through prayer and studying His word. I’d counted on Mom to pray for me. I’d leaned on her faith, instead of building my own.

God would not let go of me and the scripture “In everything give thanks.” continued to haunt me. What could I possibly find in the loss of Mom for which to be thankful?

Lonesome and depressed, Daddy began to lose weight. I started calling each evening. He’d never been one to talk on the phone, and it surprised me how long we talked. One night, I smiled when I disconnected and it occurred to me, I’d always communicated with Daddy through Mom. Whenever I called their home, I  talked to her. Even if Daddy answered the phone, he would pass the receiver to Mom. Daddy, and I spent more time talking in the months following Mom’s death than the other forty-two years of my life combined. He told me stories about his boyhood and shared suggestions for dealing with my teenagers, but most important, he became my friend. I realized that had Daddy died before Mom, I  would not have truly known him. “In everything give thanks.”  I’d been taught that there is a blessing in every difficult circumstance, and here was the blessing I’d missed. Because Mom died first, I developed a deeper relationship with Daddy. And today I know, if I can discover a blessing in the death of my mom, then I can find a blessing in every trial.

During our last conversation, Daddy and I talked about death. That same weekend, a young man had been killed in a senseless car accident and I worried about my own son’s driving skills. Daddy shared his wisdom. “If you are born, you are going to die, and no one can do that for you. The only hope we have is to have things right with the Lord.” These words have stayed with me and I thought of them as I stood over his grave on the next weekend…Memorial Day weekend. Daddy died of a sudden heart attack exactly a year after Mom’s funeral.

“In everything give thanks.” I pondered these words and discovered I could give thanks. I was thankful his days of mourning were over, thankful that he no longer feared being ill and lingering attached to machines as his own father had suffered. And I was grateful l for his wisdom that I could pass on to my children as I grew older.

After Mom’s unexpected death, I never left Daddy without hugging him and telling him that I loved him. “I love you” were the last words I spoke to him. “In everything give thanks.”

It was to be another difficult year. My younger sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. My older sister had a strange abscess on her thyroid and almost died in an emergency surgery. My brother suffered a back injury and didn’t know if he’d be able to return to work. With each crisis I realized how much I could lose and that I was dependent upon God. “In everything give thanks.”

On the weekend before the next Memorial Day holiday, I visited with my younger sister who had completed twelve weeks of radiation treatments. I studied the sparkling water in her backyard pool on a perfect spring day and said, “If no one I love dies this week, then I’ll be happy.”

The next day at work, the CEO informed me that he’d decided to outsource my department and they no longer needed me. I remembered what I’d said  and tried to smile. “In everything give thanks.”  But I struggled to give  thanks for losing my job?

I went through the festivities of my son’s high school graduation that week. When I study the pictures of me smiling with him in his cap and gown, I look happy, but I was numb and broken. A good description might be “the walking wounded.” But no one could see my wounds. As I recall those long summer days, I see the blessings. I had always worked outside of my home and spending the summer with my children was a gift. But I was still hurt and angry about my uncertain career.

The remnants of hurricane Dennis dumped a week of rain on our farm. When the skies cleared, I went to work in the garden. I hadn’t had the time for a garden in years. My childhood summers had been filled working with my family in our abundant garden. I studied the rows filled with weeds in my own pitiful plot. I wanted to give up, but I knew that would have disappointed my Daddy, the farmer. I’d had hard rows to hoe in my childhood, and Daddy would say “Just keep your head down and before you know it, you’ll get through it.”

I knew the hoe was going to be useless. In my fight with those thick weeds, I had to get on my hands and knees. As I smelled the loamy soil, I was taken back to my childhood. I had to smile as I thought of the elegant boardrooms I’d had the privilege to sit in. If they could see me now on my hands and knees in the dirt! In the back of my mind, I could hear Mom saying “Looks like someone got too big for her britches.” With each weed I pulled through my ‘long road to hoe,’ I thought of my parents and my love for them. A cardinal’s song reminded me of Mama singing as she worked. As squirrels ran above me in the trees, I reminisced of my brother and sisters playing in the woods as children. A robin pulled a worm and fed her babies and I remembered to thank God for being able to provide for my family. With each weed I pulled, I thanked God and started singing. When I got to the end of the last row, I sat back and looked at the wilted weeds strewn to the side, and I could see the beautiful garden. “In everything give thanks.”

I keep the Bible with the broken spine to remind me of the valleys I’ve crossed. It reminds me of Jesus and his broken body. There have been more trials in my life, and I wish I could say that “in everything I give thanks,” but I’m stubborn. I’ve learned to try to look for the blessing in each hardship because I know that if I can find blessings in the deaths my parents, then I have the hope of finding a blessing in most any circumstance. The other lesson I learned is that when I want to give up, the place to be is on my knees thanking God. It could be that He needs to pull the weeds that are choking me. It may be painful, but it is His will that must be done, not mine. “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

 

Where True Hope Lies

By  Cynthia Roemer

When the special weather report interrupted the president’s State of the Union Address, my husband and I knew something big was happening. A huge tornado had formed in eastern Missouri and had demolished one small town with more in its path. A hundred miles to our south, the tornado didn’t pose us any threat, but I whispered a prayer for those in danger.

As the tornado trekked to the northeast, my thoughts turned to my son down at college. Some of the town names being scrolled across the bottom of the screen sounded a bit too familiar. So, I pulled out a map and started tracking the path of the storm. My heart began to race as I realized, if the tornado continued in the direction it was headed, it would hit the very town where my son was staying. His upstairs apartment would offer little protection if the half-mile wide tornado plowed through.

Three hours away, there was absolutely nothing my husband and I could do but pray and trust God to protect him. I called our church prayer chain and a few other trusted prayer warriors to join us. Our only hope for our son’s safety rested with the Lord.

Soon after we started praying, the tornado took a distinct shift in direction, veering away from the town where our son was staying. The Lord had answered our prayers and shown grace and mercy for which I will forever be grateful.

In my debut novel, Under This Same Sky, my main character, Becky Hollister, faces the devastating effects of a tornado that leaves her feeling hopeless and lost. Much of the storyline involves how God intricately weaves the events of Becky’s life to restore her hope and woo her back to Him. It’s a story of friendship, and of renewed faith, hope, and love. One I pray will touch the hearts of readers.

About Under the Same Sky by Cynthia Roemer

      ~ She thought she’d lost everything ~ Instead she found what she needed most. ~

Illinois ~ 1854

Click on Cover to link to Amazon

Becky Hollister wants nothing more than to live out her days on the prairie, building a life for herself alongside her future husband. But when a tornado rips through her parents’ farm, killing her mother and sister, she must leave the only home she’s ever known and the man she’s begun to love to accompany her injured father to St. Louis. Catapulted into a world of unknowns, Becky finds solace in corresponding with Matthew Brody, the handsome pastor back home. But when word comes that he is all but engaged to someone else, she must call upon her faith to decipher her future.

About the Author

Cynthia Roemer is an award winning inspirational author with a heart for scattering seeds of hope into the lives of readers. A free-lance writer since 1988, she has over 100 short-stories and articles printed in various Christian publications. Her love of history and writing culminate in this, her debut novel. Under This Same Sky is Book One in her upcoming Prairie Sky Series. Cynthia writes from her family farm where she resides with her husband, Marvin, and their two college-aged sons.

Cynthia Roemer can be contacted at:

Website:  http://cynthiaroemer.com/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com@cynthiaroemer
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCynthiaRoemer/

Purchase information:
Under This Same Sky can be purchased at:  Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/Under-This-Same-Cynthia-Roemer/dp/194509415X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493637471&sr=8-1&keywords=under+this+same+sky+by+cynthia+roemer

Unexpected Friendships

By Regina Merrick

In my book, “Carolina Dream,” Sarah’s best friend is Lucy, who she met in high school. They were inseparable. They even teach in the same high school – the one from which they graduated. Here’s a snippet from a deep conversation between the two:

“Girl, what’s with you? If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were back in tenth grade mooning over Jimmy Henderson in biology class.” Sarah had to laugh at Lucy’s reminder of those awkward days of crushes and acne. Sarah had the crush. Jimmy Henderson had the acne.

“Sorry. I guess I wandered off for a bit, didn’t I?” She reached for her bottle of water. She wanted to find something, anything, to do to keep her busy.

“Wandered? That’s an understatement, Sarah. This is me, Lucy, remember? We’ve told each other everything since ninth grade chorus. You are the one who got up the nerve to tell me I couldn’t sing, and guess what? I’m still here! If that didn’t run me off from being your best friend, nothing could.” A comical expression graced Lucy’s face, but there was a hint of seriousness in her words. “You know, I have noticed that it doesn’t matter what is the topic of discussion, the subject always comes around to Jared Benton.”

Lucy is that friend who will tell Sarah the truth, and will support her no matter what. I like to think that everyone has a friend like that. You know, the one that it doesn’t matter if you’ve hit a dry spell and don’t seem to be nurturing the relationship, they will come to you and give you a big hug and say, “we need to get together – soon.”

Those are the keepers. I’ve had a few of those in my life. I patterned Lucy after one particular friend, although she is one of the sister-friends that I have now, that I never knew existed when I was in high school. And you know, we might not have been friends, then, though I like to think we would have. We became friends through church and motherhood, and we have mothered all four of our girls until they are like cousins instead of friends.

She’s the friend that inspires me to TRY. To KEEP GOING. To go out of my comfort zone. She asks the deep, unexpected questions and makes me laugh at the same time. If you wonder who she is, check the “Acknowledgements” page of Carolina Dream.
Find a friend who is a keeper – and KEEP HER.

About Carolina Dream by Regina Merrick

Sarah Crawford wants more from life than to attend the wedding of her ex-fiancée. An unexpected inheritance in South Carolina comes at the perfect time, just as Sarah is willing to use any excuse to get out of town.

When she meets potential business partner Jared Benton and discovers that a house is part of the inheritance, she is sure that God has been preparing her for this time through a recurring dream. But will a dream about an antebellum mansion, many rooms to be explored, and a man with dark brown eyes give her the confidence to take a leap of faith, leaving friends, family, and her job behind?

About Regina Merrick

Regina Merrick began reading romance and thinking of book ideas as early as her teenage years when she attempted a happily-ever-after sequel to “Gone With the Wind.” That love of fiction parlayed into a career as a librarian, and she is currently the director of a small public library in Marion, KY. She began attending local writing workshops and continued to hone her craft by writing several short and novel-length fan-fiction pieces published online, where she met other authors with a similar love for story, a Christian worldview, and happily-ever-after. Married for 30+ years and active in their church, Regina and her husband have two grown daughters who share her love of music, writing, and the arts. Visit Regina on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or on her website at https://reginamerrick.wordpress.com/

Signatures By Donna Hix Bewley

And His Mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation. Luke 1:50 NKJV

“Signatures”

By Donna Hix Bewley

There’s a large closet in my house with many shelves. In the top is a square box that I found one day while cleaning. I opened it eagerly, not remembering what was inside. However, I knew whatever it was; years had passed since the box was placed up high.

It was such a surprise to find wedding shower cards and gift cards. Each had a different signature from our wedding shower. It would have been held the summer of 1978, 39 years ago this year.

The signatures belonged to so many people that had already passed. Great aunts and grandmothers that are missed so much. Dear friends that I don’t see except maybe every 10 years.  

I could smell the scents of the old cards and see the unique designs. Picturing the person along with the cards was such a special treat. I treasure the cards and the memories they bring back. When you get older you find yourself trying to grasp anything to make those memories come alive.

About the Author:

Donna Hix Bewley is a retired Registered Nurse. In 2010, the Lord inspired her to begin writing poetry. Two years later, she stepped out in faith and retired from her nursing career, and responded to the call to write. Today, a collection of her poems are compiled in a book, How He Touched My Soul:  A Collection of the Lord’s Poems.

Note to Readers:

Donna Hix Bewley will be at the Allen County Public Library, 106 W. Public Square on Saturday, April 22, 2017, during the Jacksonian festival.  I hope you’ll stop by and visit her and consider purchasing her book of poetry.  All proceeds from her book sales go to Living Hope Baptist Church’s missions’ fund. “Signatures” is included in her book showing how old cards and notes hold a message from the past.