"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."
~ Ephesians 4:32
Acts of kindness are long remembered.
I'll never forget the day a helpful woman came over to my car outside the grocery store and offered to take the shopping cart back to its stall for me. She had obviously seen me putting my three-year-old daughter and nine-month-old twins into their respective car seats, not to mention lugging the groceries into the back. I was so grateful, I thanked God for sending an angel in human form to help me!
Many other unexpected kindnesses have happened to me over the years—and to you, too, I’m sure. During my junior year in college, while on a date at a nice restaurant with a fellow music student, I was surprised to learn that a gentleman and his wife at a nearby table had picked up the tab for our dinner. The waiter informed us after the benevolent couple had left, so there was no way to thank them. The generous gesture made me wonder what had inspired their random act of kindness. All the same, I was struck by it.
The verse in Ephesians 4 isn’t just a suggestion, is it? As believers in Christ, we are expected to be kind and compassionate to one another, as well as to everyone we meet. How much better our world would be if we all followed this verse daily!
You may recall that I chose kindness at the start of the new year as “my word” for 2022. With the bright and brisk autumn season upon us, let’s remember to be caring and kind to each other. There are so many ways to do that, if we just take a moment to think about it. Giving of our time and energy to someone in need of our companionship, or offering our assistance to get to and from a doctor appointment, for instance. Volunteering at a food pantry, buying groceries for a shut-in or sending encouragement cards are other ways. Or we might offer to wrap Christmas gifts for a friend or neighbor who is ill, or give a caregiver or a single mom a much-needed break by stepping into that person’s shoes for a few hours at a time. It really doesn't take much to make a difference in someone else’s life.
This month of October, I am truly grateful for your complimentary remarks about The Orchard, my latest novel set in Lancaster County Amish country. Your kind words have inspired my writerly heart, especially hearing how Ellie’s story journey has lifted your spirits and encouraged you to trust our heavenly Father for even the smallest things.
I'm presently working on revisions for The Heirloom, my fall 2023 stand-alone novel set in Amish Hickory Hollow and featuring Ella Mae Zook. Many of you have requested a look back into the Wise Woman's past, primarily her courting years, and I'm excited to say that what I've discovered is very intriguing! More on that later. Meanwhile, thanks very much for your keen interest in dear Ella Mae's life!
Now, for your autumn card-gifting, I have developed three new products with Barbara, my sister/artist. See more views of these new cards below at: www.amishcheer.com
1) "Scarecrow" 5X7 pop-out card with poem on back—for all ages.
2) "Harvest Home Blessing"—folk art style.
3) "Special Note of Thanks" in time for Ministers Appreciation Month (October).
Look for a new Thanksgiving 5X7 card coming in mid-October. I'll post the announcement on my Facebook page for your convenience. FREE SHIPPING continues for orders of $40 or more.
"Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom."
~ Psalm 90:12
In many ways, September is the new January. If you think about it, September offers us a chance to start over--a new school term, back to work after vacation, more time to tackle the goals we haven’t accomplished so far this year, or to start a fitness plan to trim up and slim down. Some of us make schedules for blogging or outlining a new book; others create spreadsheets for their company's goals or for the upcoming Christmas season.
Toward the end of this month, my Amish friends will be picking apples for baking, saucing and snacking. The women will be cleaning the house from top to bottom, tending to a variety of colorful mums, and sewing new dresses, capes, and aprons. The men will be busy with a third cutting of hay, baling and storing it for the winter.
Novelists like me build our work week around daily writing goals and deadlines, slipping in time to rest and reflect after completing another manuscript. Aside from writing, I also plan ahead for fall housecleaning and window washing, sort through closets, organize my office, and make gift and card lists for a head start on the holidays. As always, I also set aside precious time with the Lord each morning and/or evening.
Our Lord Jesus is the Giver of second chances. With great mercy, He picks us up in our frailty and discouragement. He extends forgiveness when we fail to follow His ways. And He mends our broken hearts and whispers divine peace.
In this month of autumn's amazing advent, I'm delighted for the release of my newest novel, The Orchard, set in Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania—the heart of Amish farmland—during the Vietnam War. This story may be the most ambitious of my career to date, and I hope you are inspired and blessed by it.
If you don’t already have a copy set aside, you may still pre-order at these retailer links before September 6:
Thanks for your wonderful support and encouragement!
Wishing you a blessed autumn,
1) DON'T MISS my Online Launch Party, Tuesday, September, 6 at 7 Central Daylight Time. Exciting things will be happening, as well as giveaways, and I can't wait to join you there.
HERE'S THE link if you'd like to sign up: https://www.facebook.com/events/1992233670968364
2) DISCOUNT FOR MINISTRY: If you participate in your church's card ministry to shut-ins, I would be happy to offer a generous discount for my handmade, Amish-themed greeting cards.
"Then God said, 'Let the land sprout vegetation--every sort of seed-bearing plant and trees that grow seed-bearing fruit. These seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.' And that is what happened."
~ Genesis 1:11
When I think back to growing up in Lancaster County, the month of August sparkles in my memory. My parents' huge, organic garden (before organic was even a thing!) and fruit trees, meant we were well-supplied with delicious fruits and produce. So, my younger sister, Barbara, and I helped by weeding, harvesting and selling some of the excess at our little roadside stand. There was sweet corn, fresh cut basil, patty pan squash, specialty eggplant, heirloom tomatoes, apples, hot and sweet peppers, and watermelon. A bountiful harvest toward summer's end, for sure. And plenty to can for the fall and winter months.
Anticipation (for those who sowed the seeds and the consumers who purchased the produce), was part of the arduous process, as was prayer. I remember cleaning the soil off the potatoes Dad would dig up—and even the bugs—both Barbara and I working happily alongside him in the hot sun, thanking God for another harvest. Ah, the fruits of our labor!
Our Amish friends and neighbors entrusted their crops to God, much as we did. They prayed for the right amount of rain and sunshine. And when drier summers came, or even drought, hail or floods, they continued to offer gratitude and never complained. "The Lord will supply our needs," they would often say, and they believed it. They were filled with hope for the next summer and the next...a wonderful-good way to live, and quite different from our modern society's way of thinking, jah?
Hope is an essential part of all our lives. It offers courage to manage daily stress, anxiety, and even helps us cope with difficulties. Hope guides us to believe and to trust, I know this firsthand. "The hope of the righteous is joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish." ~ Proverbs 10:28
I pray this month brings you the blessings of hope, anticipation and, perhaps, harvesting your own produce or visiting a nearby farmers' market.
1) THE WAIT is nearly over! In just 1 month, you'll be reading The Orchard! You may still pre-order at these retailer links:
3) LOOK AT this new Amish Cheer card Barbara and I created for you, friends! It's a versatile card and a bookmark/gift. Order yours at: www.amishcheer.com and FREE shipping when you spend $40.
Thanks for your ongoing interest in my novels and Amish-themed cards. You are truly the best reader-friends ever!
"Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone."
~ Romans 12:18
I remember my childhood fondly, growing up close to Amish farmland. Summers were lazy and fun—riding bikes with my sister, visiting with cousins, playing volleyball and Ping-Pong, picking sweet corn with my dad and sister, and harvesting oodles of tomatoes, berries, potatoes, and squash. The homegrown produce that made its way to Mother’s kitchen table was delicious, and my father’s beaming face was priceless as we sat down to say the mealtime blessing.
We always spent the Fourth of July with extended family and/or our church family. Kinfolk came together to share the fruits of their gardening labor in the form of casseroles and delicious desserts. (My mother loved making strawberry-rhubarb pie to share nearly every Fourth. The recipe is found on pg. 143 in The Beverly Lewis Amish Heritage Cookbook.)
Sharing with and caring for loved ones, extending empathy and encouragement, discussing plans for future get-togethers, enjoying time together while rejoicing in God’s goodness . . . these precious things still linger in my mind all these years later. As I look back on those idyllic summers, life seemed far less complicated, but of course, I was a young girl without family responsibilities and writing deadlines, though I was already secretly writing on my own! (And I did pick a lot of potato bugs and dig up dandelions for Dad, too, so it wasn’t all fun and games!).
Aside from the close relationships back in Lancaster County, the peace I experienced during my childhood summers is what I now cherish most in this busy phase of my life. A refrain from an old hymn we used to sing in my father’s church comes to mind as I reminisce with you today. “Oh, the peace that Jesus gives never dies: it always lives. Like the music of a psalm, like a glad, eternal calm, is the peace that Jesus gives. Is the peace that Jesus gives.” (Lyrics by Haldor Lillenas, 1885-1959).
Have a peaceful and happy Fourth of July . . . and all summer long!
1) I’m looking forward to the launch of my next novel, The Orchard, this September and enjoying promoting it, too. And writing my fall 2023 novel—set in beloved Hickory Hollow—is going well. The Heirloom features Ella Mae Zook, the Wise Woman you may recall from other books, and her Indiana Amish niece, Clara Bender. I can't wait for you to meet them and the rest of he cast of characters!
2) My sister, Barbara, and I have created two more unique cards for summer: In honor of our mother's birthday. "Birdhouse" is available to order now at www.amishcheer.com. "Watermelon" card will be available on July fifth.
Thanks very much for your enthusiasm for our Amish-themed card lines, friends, as well as for my novels. You are the best!