"Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." – 1 Corinthians 15:58
My Dear Reader-Friends,
Happy, splendid autumn!
Vividly, I remember raking leaves of every hue and color as a child in Lancaster County, only to jump into the enormous pile with my little sister, Barbara, squealing and flinging leaves high, having loads of fun. Here in Colorado, the aspen trees are at their peak for golden color this week, and against a deep evergreen backdrop, well, it is a sight to behold.
I’m home from my recent Michigan book tour, wrapping up revisions for my April 2019 novel, The Tinderbox, and starting the outline for my next novel, coming in September next year. There is usually a new story idea brewing in my mind, as you know.
But I want to pause and thank everyone who made the book tour possible—Amy Green, my publicist, who worked so diligently behind the scenes; Steve Oates and Noelle Chew who were an enormous help to me…and a great support especially on the three-library-events-in-one day!
I discovered that Michigan must be the rheumatoid arthritis capitol of the country—so many readers said they could empathize with my Amish leading lady in The First Love, Maggie Esh. Many, in fact, were deeply touched by this story of my heart. One woman, a recovering alcoholic, said that my books take her to another place, a safe place from the cares of her life. She has not had a drop of alcohol in nearly nine years!
Another reader whispered that she had found the courage to live after her husband died, while reading my book, The First Love. There was also a lady who said she only read my books, and I told her she was missing out on some wonderful writers and promptly introduced her to all of my Bethany House author friends online!
I enjoyed a fantastic dinner, prepared by Dwight Baker, president of Baker Publishing Group, at his home, where good fellowship and like faith was shared around his family’s long table!
Oh, and the 8.2-mile bike ride around the perimeter of Mackinaw Island; all the beautiful brides and their dashing grooms riding in horse-drawn carriages (by horses that had once pulled Amish buggies in Lancaster County, PA!), and the Oklahoma! sing-a-long in the van between my author events back on the mainland.
I was so blessed to meet many reader-friends who are struggling with various life issues, and with tears glimmering, they thanked me for writing God-honoring books that lift the spirit and make a difference in their lives. To God be the glory!
Thank you for being such an encouragement to me, all these years. I am delighted to call you my friends and not just my fans.
Many blessings for October!
"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!