"God has made everything beautiful for its own time."
~ Ecclesiastes 3:11
When our daughter Julie was just a little girl, I taught her a sweet song and accompanied her on the piano when she sang it as a solo at church. The song was “Beautiful, Beautiful, Jesus Is beautiful,” and Julie was more than a little nervous that evening about singing it to such a large crowd.
I remember praying a simple, heartfelt prayer with her in the foyer of the church before the service, and God gave her the courage to sing it with tender expression—and perfect pitch, too. There were tears in the audience as people were touched by the important message of the song.
Someone might ask if we ought to go to the Lord with small requests in our everyday life. What do you think?
Honestly, I would answer that there is nothing our heavenly Father looks upon as unimportant when it comes to His children. We know from Scripture that there is no difficulty or problem too small (or large) for our Lord—no struggle too slight for you to share with Him in prayer. In fact, God invites each of us to share every aspect of our lives. His ear is always open; He never slumbers or sleeps. He is always listening. What a true blessing and comfort!
So then, whatever is on your heart, tell all of it to the Lord who made you, knows you, and understands.
Blessings for springtime and always,
1) You've been waiting for the cover reveal for my new novel, The Heirloom, releasing this September. And here it is!
2) In keeping with The Heirloom's story line, I've created a special pop-up card, “Ella Mae's Tea Cup,” with my sister, Barbara. You may order yours at www.amishcheer.com and use it for most any occasion, as you wish. The backstory is an excerpt from an Ella Mae scene in The Heirloom. A little sneak preview!
3) Well, I've nearly completed my review/edit of the Designed Pages (the final opportunity to see the story before it goes to one last proofreader). You may preorder your copy now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Baker Book House.
I am continually grateful to everyone who saw the movie version of The Confession Musical in theatres last month. For those who missed that grand event, you will have the opportunity to view it on Up Faith and Family TV this spring. Please stay tuned for more information.
"You have shown me the path to life, and You make me glad by being near to me."
~ Psalm 16:11
I was nine years old when I first began writing stories, around the time I learned of my maternal grandmother Ada’s excruciating shunning. Being ousted from her Plain church community and the only people she’d ever known was heartbreaking. Her father warned that if she removed her prayer covering and wore a gold wedding band—forbidden for them—she was never to darken the door of their home again. Eventually, this led to the bishop putting her “off church” permanently.
As a child, I had no way of comprehending what this shunning meant to Grandma Ada and to our family. Years later, as a young woman—and a budding novelist—I was curious about the Lancaster County Amish and Mennonite traditions and lesser-known practices like shunnings, and I began to conduct extensive research. It was at that time my now-famous Old Order Amish protagonist, Katie Lapp, was birthed in my heart. You see, Grandma Ada’s sadness planted the seeds for Katie Lapp and my series "The Heritage of Lancaster County", starting with the first book, The Shunning, and its sequels, The Confession and The Reckoning. And now, out of that has come The Confession Musical, which is showing in movie theaters across the country on Presidents’ Day, February 20—for one night only.
(Go to ConfessionMusicalMovie.com for tickets, theater locations, and times.)
When I think of what my grandmother endured, my heart is tender, knowing I am truly a recipient of her brave move to follow the Lord’s call on her life to become a minister’s wife. And I am certain I would not be writing stories set in Amish farmland otherwise, for nearly thirty years now. Ada’s love for her husband and her dedication to the Savior transformed half of our family tree and, decades later, set me on a path of writing what became a new sub-genre: Amish fiction.
I often think of the above verse of Psalm 16, thankful for its confirmation on my life. There surely are similar verses in God’s Word that have encouraged you, as well, dear reader-friend.
During this month of the celebration of love that is Valentine’s Day, let’s extend our gratitude to the precious Lover of our souls, our Lord Jesus Christ, and spread His love and the Good News of salvation in this dark and needy world.
1) Be sure to order your tickets at FathomEvents.com to see The Confession Musical, a movie based on my Katie Lapp’s journey. The epic drama, the flow of scenes, and the soaring music will have you clapping right along with the live audience. I laughed so hard during “What a Mess” and brushed tears away at “Where You Are,” a deeply touching showstopper sung by Katie Lapp; her Amish mamma, Rebecca Lapp; and her birth mother, Laura Mayfield. The song “My Heart Has Found a Home” will echo in your mind long after the credits, as will the toe-tapping opening and finale, “Something ’Bout a Life That’s Plain.”
For sure and for certain, you must see this movie musical to discover just how wonderful it is!
2) To celebrate the third anniversary of Amish Cheer Cards, my sister, Barbara, and I are giving away one FREE card per week this month with each $25 purchase. Here’s a peek at our first free card, available February 1-7. Enjoy! Also, thanks very much for your thoughtful appreciation of our handcrafted, Amish-themed cards, friends! Happy Valentine's Day!
"You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
~ Psalm 16:11
I remember how happy I felt when we moved to a house that had a bona fide office where I could dream up my storylines without interruption and create my novels long into the night. The delight of having the space to set up my PC and arrange research books on shelves and have built-in files for book ideas and outlines, lists of titles, and so on (before the cloud and online resources) gave me a real boost.
But as the days and months passed and I settled into my little office, I realized all of that was merely happiness, not a lasting joy. Having a room to write in did not influence long-term contentment, spiritual or otherwise. On the other hand, joy came from my daily devotional time, writing letters of encouragement to struggling friends and family members, anticipating the coming of our first grandchild, and hearing from my readers, whose hearts were touched by my stories.
True, there was a great sense of happiness, too—something coming to fruition that I had longed for, but true joy far surpassed the happiness of having my first real writing room.
Happiness is fleeting—we all know that—and joy is eternal, a deep-down, satisfying contentment. Joy fills up one's heart to overflowing, whereas happiness brings only momentary pleasure.
So, for this year's word, I've chosen JOY. Joy at being a prayer partner for many reader-friends around the world, and joy in lifting my readers' hearts with the stories I write.
Will you join me this new year in embracing and striving for the joy our Lord promises His children?
Happy joyful New Year!
1) I'm looking forward to soon seeing the cover for my September 2023 novel, The Heirloom, set in Hickory Hollow and featuring Ella Mae Zook as one of the point-of-view characters. Also, there is a wonderful ebook deal for The Orchard—$1.99 starting January 1 and running through the end of the month. Find your discounted ecopy anywhere books are sold including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple/iBooks, and Google Books.
Also, the physical copy of The Orchard is available at your local Walmart and Hobby Lobby, and also online on their websites:
2) It's also a delight to reveal my new Amish Cheer card for the New Year—"Winter Wishes". Order yours for birthdays and most any occasion at my secure website: www.amishcheer.com
3) Thanks so much for giving my books such wonderful homes, dear friends. And, during this Christmas Season, for your thoughtful expressions of kindness and love. A very Happy New Year 2023 to you and your family.
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"
~ Luke 2:14
As I write this blog in my home office, twinkling lights nestled in soft, green boughs shine forth the joy of this blessed Advent season. Carols are playing somewhere in the house, and snow is in the forecast for later tonight. Oh, to have a white Christmas! It has been too many years since snow has fallen to blanket our region for Jesus' birthday.
I'm thinking now of past Christmases and embracing the joyful memories. Once again, I'm a wide-eyed little girl, thrilled to see Daddy bringing home a freshly cut tree on Christmas Eve for our small living room. All of us carefully place long, glittering strands of icicles on the branches. (Remember those?) Fast forward to my tenth Christmas, and I'm playing carols on the piano at home as my parents and sister, Barbara, sing "Angels We Have Heard on High" in four-part harmony with me, a tradition we kept for decades—even performing this lovely carol a cappella in church and elsewhere.
Years later, my own children—Julie, Janie and Jonathan—took turns placing the angel atop the tree while sitting on my husband's shoulders, creating new traditions to cherish. And my dad’s (Grandpa Herb to them) reading of the Gospel of Luke's account of the first Christmas in Bethlehem was another precious tradition. As we heard Dad read the names from the Scripture, all of us took turns holding up the tiny finger puppets my sister made representing Mary, Joseph, the Baby Jesus, and the other memorable cast of that most Holy Night.
Of course, our children are grown now, as is our granddaughter (turning 23 soon), but the true meaning of Christmas continues to warm and soften our hearts, as does the sweetness of being together to celebrate Christ's birth. To think that the Creator God broke through the darkness to reach us, offering His wondrous Gift of Light embodied in a baby in a manger. The Christ Child, though sinless, grew up to carry the sins of the world in His own body on a cross . . . taking our place!
I have always loved these triumphant lyrics: “Joy to the World, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare Him room. And heaven and nature sing!”
My prayer this Christmas is that we will know and bow our hearts in adoration of this Jesus, the Christ, who gave all to redeem us and bring us into sweet fellowship with our heavenly Father for all eternity.
1) Writing-wise, I have completed my work on the pre-galleys for The Heirloom, releasing in early September of 2023. I can hardly wait to reveal the beautiful cover, whenever it's ready. Also, if you'd like to give copies of The Orchard for Christmas, Baker Book House still has a wonderful deal going.
Shop now: https://bakerbookhouse.com/products/433714
2) I have added a variety of lovely Christmas cards and gift cards at my secure website, www.amishcheer.com. Thanks very much for spreading cheer and lifting hearts through my unique and handcrafted cards. Barbara and I truly appreciate your encouragement and your business. Blessings for Christmas and the new year!