"That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings. . . ." – Philippians 3:10
My new novel, The First Love, features Maggie Esh, an Amish girl who secretly loves an Amish boy named, Jimmy Beiler. But because Maggie is sickly, she fears Jimmy's interest comes only from pity. So she declines his invitation, believing he deserves a strong and healthy wife.
In the summer of 1951, when tent revival meetings come to Lancaster County, inspired by Billy Graham's own crusades, Maggie sneaks off with her Mennonite cousin and hears, for the first time, a message of salvation...and of healing testimonies. She sees people weeping and walking the sawdust aisle to the altar. There, in her seat, she embraces the hope that she might be healed...and, if so, she could then be worthy, at last, of Jimmy's seeming affection.
The First Love's setting is inspired by my own experiences as a young girl attending my pastor-father's tent revivals, where evangelists preached the message of salvation boldly, and where prayer for the sick was offered. I saw, firsthand, the long healing lines, people waiting expectantly for a miracle, some in wheelchairs, others on crutches...and I wondered why God healed some, and not others.
Recently, this story began to form in my heart as I asked myself: How should we respond when it seems that God doesn't answer our prayers? And is the question of healing a matter of (enough) faith or the sovereignty of God?
One of my favorite love stories to date, The First Love will warm your heart as you witness Maggie's tenacious hope to live a normal life with those she cares about...and you may find yourself opening your heart wider to the Lord Jesus Christ, along with her!
Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts with you, while I eagerly look ahead to my Fall 2018 Book Tour to Michigan, September 5-13. Hope to meet many of you there!
"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" – 1 John 3:1
God does not loves us because we live good, clean lives.
God does not love us because we give to the poor, the needy, and the unlovely.
God does not love us because we measure up or put our best foot forward.
He does not love us because we are helpful and kind...or go the second and third mile.
God loves us because He is our Father.
A blessed August to you!
"Taste and see that the LORD is good. Blessed is the person who takes refuge in him." – Psalm 34:8
Many times, during my childhood, I heard this verse quoted. It was one of my mother's favorites. You see, my mother was very ill for much of my early years and could not digest physical food after her diagnosis of inoperable cancer, so she absorbed spiritual food, found in God's Word, for her daily sustenance...and for her eventual healing. (Her faith-journey is chronicled in my book, The Sunroom.)
Twelve years ago, at the age of eighty-four, my dear mother joined the Church Triumphant, yet her unyielding determination and unwavering trust in God continues to be an encouragement to me, and to our family, as well as thousands of souls she and my father's lives touched through their many years of pastorates and missions work overseas. She was tested and tried and came through that personal fire a strong and devout woman of courage and faith...and the cancer never returned. A true miracle!
To God be the glory!
"But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In His hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind." – Job 12:7-10 (ESV)
Recently, while on a getaway to Estes Park with our twins, we noticed six large moose resting beneath a grove of trees not far from our hiking trail, their massive antlers alerting us to their presence. Another family saw them, too, and began taking pictures from a safe distance. But it was interesting to see the cars that simply flew by on the nearby roadway. Hadn't they noticed this once-in-a-lifetime sight? Were they too busy to stop? How could you not stop?
If you are captivated by the sight of a fuzzy, baby gosling...the sound of hummingbirds zooming for the feeder...or the sweet song of birds in early morning, then this blog is for you. If you stop in amazement at the slanting rays of sunlight in the midst of a deep woods...if you want to simply stare as baby robins-turned-fledglings leave the nest...if the wings of a bee or dragonfly grab your attention...if the trill of a frog in a pond makes you stop walking and look...if these things, and many more, make the world fall away for you, then you and I are very much alike, dear reader-friend. And we find it easy to believe in miracles, too.
By his example, my father taught my sister and me to appreciate nature from our earliest memories. He even pitched a tent in a wilderness and held a summer kids' camp where we were taken on hikes of all kinds. The ones that took place at night seemed to bring us closer to the sky, the stars, the hush of the forest creatures, and opened our hearts wide to our great Creator God.
This splendid month of June, I hope you'll make time to get away from the busyness of life to hear birdsong fill the air, to find beauty in a pristine meadow, to soak up the tranquility of a dense woods while small creatures scamper about, and most of all, to find a place to be alone with God in nature. It is the surest way to alleviate stress, I promise.
Happy Father's Day to all the dads, and a happy first month of summer to everyone else!