"He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us." - 2 Corinthians 1:4
During the past four and a half months, our twins, Janie and Jonathan, have been home with us, following the temporary closure of their special-needs campus due to COVID-19. As you can imagine, they have endured the stress and sadness of missing their beloved staff and long-time friends; the strange, if not chaotic, transition to a schedule of Zoom classes instead of in-person instruction; and being "safe-at-home" instead of freely coming and going (don't we all miss this?). Some days there are tears of frustration and fear, and, like all of us, comfort and extra love is needed. And prayer.
In my office here at home, there is a lovely, old chair that belonged to my dear mother, where she often sat and prayed for my sister and me, especially when we left home for college. One of my precious reader-friends, Judy Headings, made a delicate doily for me years ago with the sweetest name in all the world very visible. I call it the "Jesus" chair, where Janie and Jonathan can take turns coming to sit with me and open their tender hearts, and where they say soft prayers in the quietude of this special space. I, too, love to sit in this cherished chair and pray for my readers who send in their prayer needs.
God, our "Abba" Father, invites us to come to Him for comfort. If what's going on in our lives matters to us, it certainly matters to Him! So, we gratefully carry our concerns, our stress, and, yes, our greatest fears to Him. Just as a kind and loving parent is always available for their children, our heavenly Father is always there for us. We can totally depend upon the One who listens to our hearts' cries and takes our hand and walks with us through these difficult times...who knows the end from the beginning.
Trusting with you in the God of all comfort,
The Stone Wall releases in just five weeks: September 8. My new stand-alone novel is set in idyllic Strasburg, Lancaster County's Amish farmland, and is unique in many compelling ways. For readers who yearn for the up-to-date activities of Old Order Amish, you'll enjoy this one, and for those who crave my page-turning plot lines (and two love stories!), you'll treasure it. And if you're interested in pre-ordering it, Christianbook is giving my readers a special offer: anyone who pre-orders a paperback copy of The Stone Wall from them will automatically receive a paperback copy of my novel The First Love. You can find that purchase link here.
My Amish Cheer greeting cards with my sister-partner, Barbara, continue to spread encouragement all over this country. Stock up on these Amish-themed, hand-crafted cards, featuring my original photography and personal backstories at: www.amishcheer.com. The proceeds for this quarter go to Crossfire Ministries (Christian food distribution center in Colorado Springs, CO).
"I will be your God throughout your lifetime. . . I made you and I will care for you." - Isaiah 46:4
Our great God and heavenly Father is forever unchangeable—tender, affectionate, wise, and all-knowing. We can trust His plans for us to be exactly what is best, and never doubt that He alone is in control of this spinning planet called Earth and everything that happens to us. So we don't need to fear. Like a kind and loving parent, God is for us. And He has gone ahead of us, knowing the outcome of any trial or difficulty we may face or are facing. We can count on Him to be with us, and, as I've often said, to gather us into His arms and carry us when we're too weak and wobbly to walk.
I think so often of my wonderful parents, gone to be with the Lord now for some years. They nurtured and taught me, bringing me up in the faith. I remember Daddy telling me, when I was a little girl, to give all the days of my life to the Lord Jesus, and that I would never regret it. How true his words were then. . . and continue to be to this day!
When my mother was called Home, and later, Daddy, I felt like an orphan, missing them dearly, even though their sweet spirits remained in my memory.
On the other hand, God's care continues on for as long as we have breath, and beyond. His promise never to leave us or to desert us is absolutely true. His Holy Spirit teaches us everything we need to know, comforts us in challenging times, and makes it possible for us to live a righteous life. He is our advocate and intercessor. Just think of that! The precious Holy Spirit is praying for us, cheering us on, before our Father in heaven each and every day.
During these very trying times, I have been praying that you and your family embrace these truths and cling to the hope found only in Christ.
A blessed Fourth!
My newest novel, The Stone Wall, releases September 8 (soon!), and I can hardly wait for you to read this story set in Amish farmland in idyllic Strasburg, PA, not far from my shunned grandmother Ada's childhood home. (The Shunning is loosely based on her excommunication).
Meanwhile, I am closing in on the halfway point of my current manuscript, The Beginning, coming Fall 2021, set in Hickory Hollow and featuring cameos of beloved Ella Mae Zook (the Wise Woman)!
BIG NEWS! My Amish-themed birthday cards are here from Amish Cheer!
Since the launch of my all-occasion cards last February, customers have requested even more of these one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted cards to purchase. Now, five brand-new birthday cards have been added to the line. Even better, inside each card is a scripture verse and sentiment you will love. As always, my whimsical stories appear on the backs. With ten cards to choose from now, you may still mix and match when ordering packs of five cards at www.amishcheer.com (Shipping is free on orders of three or more packs).
"Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness." - 1 Chronicles 16:29
Are there certain places that remind you more of God's presence than others? I'm thinking of some of the impressive cathedrals I've visited, where shafts of light shine through colorful stained-glass windows. Perhaps a pipe organ is playing softly in the background, and the sheer beauty of it makes me want to whisper, "Surely, the presence of the Lord is in this place."
Other locations of worship may be less imposing, but nevertheless still indelible in my memory. My father's summer tent meetings at Maple Grove in Lancaster County come to mind. I remember kneeling in the sawdust at the rustic altar, and the feeling of being wrapped in God's love, like Amish Maggie Esh in my novel, The First Love. And there was a lone willow tree in our yard where I asked for the Lord's guidance for all the days of my life, and where I sat and wrote my longish short stories and shared them with my cousin Joyce on weekends when she and her mother visited. Also, as a little girl, I liked to pray while standing in the east-facing window of the bedroom my sister, Barbara, and I shared, asking God every morning, "Is Jesus coming back today?"
There must be special places, besides a church building, where you feel close to our Lord. Perhaps while you walk along a country road, like dear Rhoda Miller does in The Timepiece, or, like Jesus did, on a mountainside. Your special place to worship might be strolling barefoot in the surf at the ocean or in your own kitchen as you cook or bake.
Recently, while our children are home from their school, during the pandemic, we've been spending time out on the deck at sunset, talking about the beauty all around us—and pointing out God's fingerprints on our lives in the midst of the world's present chaos.
The amazing thing really is that we don't have to go anywhere at all to worship our great God, do we? We can offer praise and worship no matter where we may be. And prayer is so needed now, for all of us to come together in a spirit of unity. Remember, He sticks closer than a brother; He is our Comforter, our Counselor, our Strength, and our Song!
I'm also thinking about my dad this month of Father's Day, so very grateful for everything he taught my sister and me about the act of worship, the power of prayer, and being an instrument of peace by reaching out to those who need our Lord Jesus most. le you so desire, in His way and time.
A most wonderful Father's Day to all the dads!
I'm well into the writing of my Fall 2021 novel, The Beginning, a stand-alone Amish novel set in Hickory Hollow. My upcoming novel, The Stone Wall, is set to go to the printers and is releasing on September 8.
I also post almost every day on my official Facebook page, and I’ve launched a brand new "thank you" card in the Amish Cheer card line with my sister, Barbara. Take a look at amishcheer.com. There's a very special surprise on this one, by the way, and another interesting backstory, too! We're shipping every week, spreading much-needed encouragement and cheer!
"She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness. Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: 'There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!'" - Proverbs 31:25-31
In the midst of the seemingly non-stop news cycle of data and concern over COVID-19, I want to step back and reflect on the qualities of a godly woman, particularly a mother very dear to my heart.
When I was growing up, my mother often shared the wisdom that was passed down to her from her own mother, and her grandmothers before her...to me, and to my sister, Barbara. These devout women are an integral part of my spiritual heritage, just as each of us who are mothers and grandmothers strive to be for our own families. They were Christ-followers, indeed. Not perfect by any means, but their focus was the Lord Jesus, and their purpose in life was leading the lost to the "saving grace."
My mother happily shared many things with my sister and me: Her family recipes (I still have the original wooden recipe box her mother gave her—a treasure, indeed!), her love of the old hymns of the church (I have one of her family's hymnals on my grand piano), and her love of nature, particularly flowers, which she and Daddy grew in their large flower gardens. My mother also introduced me to the joy of reading, opening up a whole new world of information and stories that stirred up my own creativity at a young age.
But the greatest things my mother shared were spiritual ones. Intangible, yet mighty, like the gift of discernment and the incredible power of prayer. And the wisdom of hard work and putting others first before oneself. ("Jesus, others, and you...what a wonderful way to spell joy," as the old lyrics go). And the characteristics of respect, responsibility, and trustworthiness, too.
So, today and always, I am thankful for a mother who loved God and her family, above all else—my dear and gracious mother, Jane, gone to be with the Lord fourteen years ago this summer. I miss her, yes, but her legacy lingers on, influencing her daughters, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and everyone who knew her.
Happy Mother's Day to all of you who are mothers—biological and adoptive. And to those whose hearts ache every, single day to cradle your child in your arms, I was once in that very place, yearning, waiting, and praying earnestly, until my grieving heart was at long last blessed by the amazing gift of adoption. At this moment, I'm asking our Lord Jesus to surround you with His tender love and comfort, and grant you the miracle you so desire, in His way and time.
With blessings and love,
At this writing, I have completed the final review of my September 2020 novel, The Stone Wall, already deep into the writing of my Fall 2021 novel, The Beginning, a stand-alone set in beloved Hickory Hollow, PA.
Also, my Amish Cheer cards are bringing, yes, cheer, and encouragement to many, and we've shipped to 20 states, so far. These Amish-related cards are winging their way to moms and grandmothers for Mother's Day, May 10—a wunnerbaar-gut gift idea! See more about them at amishcheer.com.