"Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord"
~ Ephesians 5:19
When I think of my dear mother—with the Lord seventeen years now—one of the first things that comes to my mind is her love for Jesus.
She often demonstrated that love in worship at the piano or while playing the organ in church. My mother also composed lyrical praise songs to our Lord, some of which I still remember to this day. She lived her life for Christ, extending herself to her family even when she was weak and suffering from terminal cancer. Softly, she sang her devotion to God in her sick bed and quoted Scriptures, viewing them as nourishment when her body rejected food.
As a little girl, I remember removing my shoes before going into her bedroom and tiptoeing, since even the least amount of sound caused her all the more pain, she was that ill. “Jane might live six months,” the surgeon told Daddy after performing the exploratory surgery that revealed a cancerous tumor with tendrils spread throughout her vital organs. My book The Sunroom chronicles our faith-filled journey of that time in a fictional way . . . with its true-to-life miracle ending.
One of the hymns that deeply touched Mother's heart during this challenging time was "Beautiful Savior." While she hoped for healing, she reached out to Jesus the Healer more because she loved His comforting presence. And the Great Physician honored her many prayers, as well as those of others who were interceding for her around the world. My mother lived to see her daughters grow up, and her grandchildren and two of the great-grands. She also celebrated her eighty-fourth birthday with all of us. Miraculously, cancer never returned!
In honor of my sweet, godly mother during this month we celebrate mothers, here are the lyrics to the hymn that spiritually buoyed her during her darkest days. May it strengthen and encourage you, as well.
Fairest Lord Jesus, ruler of all nature, Thou of God and man the Son, Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor, Thou my soul's glory, joy, and crown.
Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands, Robed in the blooming garb of spring: Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer, Who makes the woeful heart to sing.
Fair is the sunshine, fairer still the moonlight, And all the twinkling starry host: Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer than all the angels heaven can boast.
Beautiful Savior! Lord of all nations! Son of God and Son of Man! Glory and honor, praise, adoration, now and forevermore be Thine.
~Lyrics by Joseph A. Seiss
God's abundant blessings!
1) I am currently reviewing the final pages for The Orchard, my novel releasing this September 6. You may preorder at your favorite online stores, as well as anywhere books are sold. Some preorder links are below:
2) The first draft for The Heirloom, featuring Ella Mae Zook, Hickory Hollow's Wise Woman, is well on its way. I'm really enjoying Ella Mae's wit and wisdom—so much fun "visiting" with her and having peppermint tea again! This stand-alone novel releases Fall 2023.
3) Don't forget: Mother's Day is May 8. My uniquely handcrafted quilted easel card (Mother's Day 2022) and Box Garden card are perfect for the Amish enthusiasts on your Mother's Day card list, friends. My backstory features additional personal memories of my mother, Jane, with the Lord since 2006 . . . but never forgotten.
"The angel said, 'Don't be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn't here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid His body.'"
~ Mark 16:6
If you were born on Easter, as I was, you may be as thrilled as I am to have a birthday linked to that wondrous day we commemorate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ!
As a young girl, I often wondered how long I'd have to wait for my birthday to fall on Easter again. Finally, when I turned 11, it happened. My parents even had a special birthday party, and sometime after that, I asked my mother when I could celebrate my birthday on Easter again. "How long must I wait this time?"
Amazingly, somehow, she was able to determine that it would be many years away—not until the year 2022. This was decades before Google, of course, and my response to her is still implanted in my brain. "Well, I doubt I'll live to be that old!"
Through my growing-up years, I remember my pastor-father calling my sister and I early on Easter Sunday mornings, "Rise and shine, it's Resurrection Day!" with such a jubilant tone in his voice.
So, you see, Easter has always been a day of expectation and rejoicing for me and for our entire family. I still have goose pimples when I blend my voice with the congregation singing joyfully, even tearfully, "Christ the Lord is risen today. A-lle-lu-ia!" The powerful message of the Cross and the empty tomb never grows old, does it, friend?
Christ's conquering death gives us hope as believers. He broke the chains so we can be free from the grip of sin. Our Savior Jesus is alive and intercedes for us, cheering us on, to our heavenly Father. Amen and amen.
2) I'm already well into the writing of my Fall 2023 novel titled, The Heirloom, which features Ella Mae Zook, Hickory Hollow's Wise Woman, as a secondary point of view character. More about that later.
3) My handcrafted Easter cards are available through April 9. They're going fast, so place your order today at our secure website: www.AmishCheer.com
4) Thanks, as always, for your enthusiasm for my novels and for the Amish Cheer cards. Your prayers continue to mean everything to me. Blessings abundant!
"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." ~ Jeremiah 29:13 (NIV)
Ah, springtime in Amish farmland. There's nothing quite like it!
Growing up, I eagerly awaited the appearance of mule teams plowing in Amish fields near our home. The earth was bursting with new life! And there were new baby chicks, goats, bunnies and calvies, too. I also loved (and still do!) seeing the early-flowering dogwood and cherry trees, and the peach orchards "waking up" with thousands of pink, frilly blossoms in mid-April.
The remarkable cover for my new novel, The Orchard, captures the sights and scents of springtime in my beloved Lancaster County. Ellie Hostetler, the main character in this stand-alone novel set in Bird-in-Hand, PA, in the early '70s (during the Vietnam War), loves her father's orchard, and as as a young girl declared that "the Lord God Himself must surely dwell there—the most splendid spot on earth!"
Like tenderhearted Ellie, have you ever felt that close to God? He will certainly be found by anyone who sincerely seeks Him with all their heart, as the scripture states in Jeremiah 29:13.
This spring, and every season, we are truly thankful for our heavenly Father who is waiting and ready to meet us where we are. And ready to be all that we need: body, mind and spirit.
I'm so thrilled to show you the gorgeous cover for my September novel, The Orchard, dear friend!
You may begin preordering now, using the retailer links below. You'll also be happy to know that Baker Book House is offering 40% off the price of my book, as well as FREE shipping, a wonderful incentive that simply cannot be beat!
Baker Book House: https://bakerbookhouse.com/products/433697
Thanks, as always, for being my amazing and loyal readers all these many years. It continues to warm my heart, and I cannot thank you enough!
"All of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude." ~ I Peter 3:8 (NLT)
As Christ-followers, we are instructed to pay attention to the attributes in the verse above, just as the persecuted Christians to whom this letter was first written were.
My Amish friends are taught from their earliest years to obey these commands all the days of their lives. For instance, before coming together for communion, they gladly spend time in prayer and fasting, preparing their hearts to be united "in one accord" (of one mind). When it comes to sympathizing with other members of their community, they immediately take up the slack for a person who is sick or grieving. They do this often by bringing food for several weeks or longer and lifting the workload off the farmer's shoulders by doing ALL his chores for as long as necessary. Think of that!
Loving another person as if they were your own sibling is simply having their back... being committed to them as you would in a family setting, even if you're not necessarily fond of that brother or sister. All the same, you are kind and unconditionally loving, which pleases God.
To some of us who are sensitive souls, having a tender heart comes quite naturally. We weep when others are sad or suffering and are willing to help carry their burden, (Galatians 6:2) and we want what is best for them.
Again, the Amish folks I call friends know what it means to put God first—then others, and lastly, themselves. There is no hesitation in helping at any cost, even sacrificially, supporting and caring in practical ways. Kindness is paramount. There is no "me first" attitude, which is so prevalent elsewhere.
During this month of love, what if we too followed closely the path of the instructions laid out for Christians in 1 Peter? Isn't that why we're here, friends... to do everything we can to point up the light of Christ that is so appealing and beautiful that people are compelled to embrace it with all of their hearts?
Blessings and love,
I'm happy to share with you an ebook special for The Fiddler—$1.99 between February 1-28. Search your favorite retailers to order.
Also, thanks very much for putting The Beginning on the ECPA bestseller list for four straight months! I'm so grateful.
Well, I've completed the synopsis for my Fall 2023 novel. And...I'll tell you a little secret: One of the main characters is Ella Mae Zook, Hickory Hollow's Wise Woman. Since so many of you have asked (pleaded) for a book focusing more on her, I hear you. :) I can't wait to write it. Thanks for being so amazing, friends!
AMISH CHEER CARDS ANNIVERSARY and a GIVEAWAY! It's the anniversary month for the launch of Amish Cheer Cards two years ago, and to show my appreciation to you, we're giving away one FREE "Little Things" card with each $20 purchase, including Valentine cards. (A $40 purchase = 2 FREE, etc.) This giveaway is available from February 1-8.