Friday blessings: Blessed. Beyond. Belief.

What prompts me to write this morning is a scene that happened outside my window. I can’t describe how blessed I feel right now. I have no words strong enough to thank God for the people He’s put in my life.

We have a two-car driveway, but between my husband’s truck, our son’s, and our tenant’s car, there’s no room for all three vehicles. A neighbour told us to park at his place since he doesn’t drive. So my husband parks down the street. In exchange we shovel for him.

A Nor’easter swept across the area yesterday afternoon. We received approximately 6-8 inches of snow, but wind caused a lot of drifts and made it look more like 12. The mild temperatures brought hail and very wet snow which, in the end, was very heavy.

Rather than wait until the storm’s over, we always shovel more than once. I went out around 4 pm. It was still coming down heavy. We went back out around 7, and then again at 9 after the plow went by and closed off the entrance. At 5:45 this morning, hubby went out to reopen the entrance, and did a quick pass between the truck and our tenant’s car before he headed off to work.

Fast forward a couple of hours. I looked out my front window. A different neighbour was struggling to push his snow blower up the hill. Despite his severe arthritis, that sweet man often plows other neighbours’ driveways. He once told me he suffers for the next few days, but it doesn’t matter to him. He feels led to do this.

Sitting at the kitchen table, my son heard me say, “Awww… did his blower break down? I wonder what happened.” He jumped up and joined me at the window. Before I could say much more, he turned and headed out the door. The scene that unfolded made my heart swell and want to explode with thankfulness for my son as well as for our kind-hearted neighbour.

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Together they pushed the blower uphill to his driveway. I watched as he trudged through thick snow to his shed and returned with a container. I soon found out he’d run out of gas. Where? The driveway where my husband parks. Of all places! He didn’t have to do that.terrence and arthur mar 23 18 (2)

After he refilled, he went back out to plow. As if he hadn’t done enough, he stopped and widened ours too before he went home.

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Neighbours helping neighbours. Isn’t that what we’re here for? To be there for each  other? Always. In the good times. In the bad.

God knew what He was doing when He led us to this area. Little did I know the impact the people around here would have on us. Directly across the street, another set of neighbours have blessed us time and time again. I’ve been working for them since last July (cook/childcare). They’ve been absolutely amazing, and have always been there for me. I’m so thankful. More than that. I’m blessed beyond belief.

Count your blessings this morning. Then pause, and thank God.

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Dream. Seek. Ask. But Never Ever Ever Give Up ~

How often, when wanting something real bad, have you asked, “Why bother? It’ll never happen!”

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Some time ago, best-selling author Davis Bunn impressed on me the importance of attending Christian Writers Conferences, and suggested a few. I did a Google search and what I read amazed me so much, I wanted to attend each one at least once. Yeah right! That’ll never happen! so I thought.

I never imagined I’d ever go to Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference (BRMCWC). Why? I collect “flyer points.” They entitle me to free flights. It helps a lot since I’d want to attend two conferences a year. But there are two problems flying with these points:

1. Destinations are limited;
2. Only 8% of the seats on any given flight are “free points flights,” regardless how many ‘regular’ seats are left on the plane!

When I looked into BRMCWC, I wasn’t surprised that Asheville wasn’t one of the destinations. My consolation, though disappointed, was that there are other great conferences out there. I attended Write to Publish (2012), Mt Hermon (2014), ACFW (2014), and returned to Mt Hermon this Spring. I can’t say enough about these amazing conferences, nor can I thank Davis enough for mentioning them. I enjoyed every moment, learned a great deal, and would do it all over again. And God knows my heart. Inside and Out.

Recently, a picture of the Blue Ridge Mountains in a magazine rekindled my desire. I mentioned it to Ane Mulligan, a dear friend and writer. She said she wished I could come. Then out of the blue (no pun intended), knowing I couldn’t fly to Asheville, she  asked if I could fly to Atlanta. I felt a nudge. So strong, I knew it was God’s. I heeded, and checked the flights. I could get there but couldn’t get back. Huh? What was He trying to say? I searched all weekend, nothing. Monday came, still nothing.

Refusing to give up on what I knew was God’s voice, I sought His guidance, and checked 3 other airports. Nothing. Then a 4th. P.T.L. One seat. 2 1/2 hours away from home but still… one seat. Scheduled two days later than I’m supposed to report back to work, but still, there was one single available seat. And I couldn’t even book it! I had to clear it with work first.

I asked. She said no. Disappointed, I nodded my reply in understanding…sort of. Until… moments later, she gave me the go-ahead. I booked my flights, many thoughts going through my mind. Thoughts of God’s Greatness; His provisions when I thought there was no way. He’d provided by putting the right people in my path at the right time:

– Davis Bunn who told me about Christian writers conferences;

– Ane Mulligan who offered a drive, a place to stay before/during/after the conference;

– A husband who supports my writing 200 percent.

But best of all, God showed me His unending love for me. He knows the desire of my heart–Psalms 37:4–and even though I had pretty well given up on Blue Ridge Mountains, thinking it simply wasn’t possible, God hadn’t given up on ME. He made a way.

God has big plans for our lives. Jeremiah 29:11 says that God has: “…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

This is not to say He’s going to say YES to everything we ask, nor is He going to open every door. Yes, it may hurt when He says no. Keep in mind, though, He knows what’s behind that door better than we do.

So when you feel His nudge, heed his calling. Even when things seem impossible. Keep dreaming. Keep seeking Him. And keep asking.

In closing, here’s an amazing video. FLAWLESS by Mercy Me

Until next time,

Blessings,

Renee-Ann <><

Small Blessings – Things That Make Me Smile

One of the first thing I do every morning, is check the weather forecast. Specially lately. It’s November but feels more like September at times. It’s hard to know what to wear first thing in the morning because later in the day, the temperatures go up, and quite high for this time of year. At least here, in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.

Okay, let me define high… Yesterday, we reached 12 degrees Celcius (53 Farenheit). For November 15, that’s high! Considering that many of the Western provinces have had a good dumping of snow, as did Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec, and Newfoundland. Our first snow–if you want to call a few flurries that melt before or as they hit the ground and turn to rain within 5 minutes snow–was November 10. That was about all we had. Two days later, the same thing happened, a lot of snow mixed with rain, came down in the space of 3-4 minutes, and then the sun came out.

I love winter and could say I’m jealous of those who have a lot of snow on the ground. I love its beauty, as it blankets the trees. But what I love more than snow, is that this 12 degrees is good ‘Clothesline’ weather. 

Before heading to work yesterday, I put two loads of laundry on the line. Later, when I folded the towels, the fresh outdoor scent hit my nostrils, causing me to smile. That’s one of the simple pleasures that has this effect on me. My husband thinks it’s funny because I can’t fold laundry without first burying my face into the towel and breathing in its fresh outdoor scent.

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Another things that makes me smile is my grandson’s laughter. Is there anything more contagious than a child’s laughter? I downloaded a ringtone app for my cell phone: a baby laughing. It gets me every time my phone rings.

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Something else that makes me smile is seeing my son with his son. Now that’s a sight to behold. I don’t know if there’s anything that tugs at my heart more than watching Terrence reading to Aidan John. Oh how he loves that little boy. And that child absolutely adores his father. Just like Aidan John loves me to bits, oh my, does he ever love his Papa (that’s what he called my husband, his grandpa).

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Speaking of Papa (Aidan John calls his grandfather Papa), I still smile when I look at the pictures of Aidan John, feeding Papa some Cheesies (I’m smiling now!). “Just one,” my husband, had said. “I’ll only give him one.” I watched as hubby pulled the bag of Cheesies out of the cupboards, sat on the floor with Aidan John and let him dig into the bag. He pulled one out of the bag, fed it to Papa, then pulled another and ate it. But then 1 turned into 2…3..and 4… I looked at my husband inquisitively. He said “Yes dear, 1 bag!!!” I’m still smiling.  

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Now, who can resist a sunrise or sunset. Has God created anything more beautiful than that? I love to sit in my recliner in the morning to do my devotions. My time with God is precious to me, and part of that time is looking out the window at the beauty of his creation. It always amazes me to see an array of red, oranges yellow, pink, and purple in the sky.  I find it absolutely magnificent. I must apologize, this picture doesn’t do it justice. But don’t take my word for it, get up early in the morning, and take a look at the sun rising over the horizon. Then drop me a line and tell me:

What are some of the simple pleasures of life that make you smile?

I look forward to hearing from you. Until then, blessings to all of you. Smile! Renee-Ann <><

Share The Book, part VI – with Guest Greg Millwee

Until recently I didn’t know Greg Millwee.  I was on Twitter one day last month and came across a tweet about his book, The Alleyway Preacher. The title caught my attention, so I looked it up on Amazon. I’m so glad I did because the synopsis hooked me even more.
I decided to tweet about the book and then contacted him. Since then, we’ve had several conversations about our writings. And since I usually feature Christian authors on Fridays, it was in the midst of one of our conversations that I asked him to share his story. Here’s what Greg had to say.
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How did you get into writing and why?
Ever since I was a little boy I loved to write.  Sometime in the fifth grade is when it really started to take root in my heart.  I used to write little short stories.  I always used the same main character.  He was just a normal boy named David that always seemed to find trouble and adventure.  I guess it was just a way for me to escape.  I had a wild imagination when I was younger.  Often times I couldn’t control it.  I would be sitting in class and be wisped away to deep space, a race car, or some other magical journey.  So I got in trouble in class a good bit.
What genres do you prefer writing and why?
I prefer to write books that are from a Christian back ground.  Not so much the whitewashed faith that gets so much lauding and attention, but the other side that no one likes to bring up.  The side where there are people who really love God but have struggles, pains, and hardships.  To me, those types of stories really speak to me.  They can speak hope into a life.  They can give strength to endure, but most of all they can build faith.
Who are your favorite authors?
Two of my favorite books are Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness.  They are masterfully written books that deal with the struggles that we go through and the war that is being waged for us that we can not see.  I also love to read any Ted Dekker book.  He writes in such a way that draws you into his stories and really gets you to think.  Dekker can really challenge your thoughts and I love that.
Where did you get the inspiration to write?
The biggest part of my life is my faith in God.  I want to tell stories that are entertaining and fun to read, but I want to say something more with my writing.  God has brought me out of a lot of dark places in my life.  So to honor what God has done in my life, I want to pass that on by hopefully being a light to someone else that is in a dark place.  It doesn’t matter where you are, or where you have been, God still loves us and has a purpose for our lives.  We just need to take His hand.
What inspired you to write your book?  
I normally get a lot of crazy looks when I tell this story, but I have to be honest.  I had just recently lost my job and things weren’t looking too great.  I had a wife and two small boys at the time (Now we have three boys).  I had gone up to the church we were attending everyday to pray and help out around the church.  After about a month of not finding a job and going to the church everyday, they decided to help us out by giving me some odd jobs to do.  The pay wasn’t ever much but it really helped.  We had no extra money in the bank, but we did not go hungry and we didn’t have a single bill that was late.  God provided.  However, things at home started to get strained.  Though we had everything provided for, it was a bit stressful especially for my wife.  When the strain seemed to be at its worse, I was awoken at around 4 am.  It was like God had crammed a movie into my mind.  I saw all of the high points and direction of a story that was inspiring and God spoke to my heart.  “If you write My book, I’ll give you a job.”  That story was The Alleyway Preacher.  It took a lot longer than I had anticipated to write it (about 4 years).  Life and disappointments intervened and stole some of my thunder, but God always brought me back to the story.  It is because of this that I sign every book “To God be the glory” because it’s His book.  He just chose me to type it.
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Thanks so much, Greg, for this inspiring story.  You’re not going to get any strange looks from me.  Your testimony is a beautiful example–or should I say proof– that God is faithful, and His Word never fails.  

Personally, I can’t wait to read your novel. Greg will give away a copy of his novel, The Alleyway Preacher,to one random winner who posts a comment.  We’ll announce the winner next Wednesday, Oct 16.

You can reach Greg on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gmillwee

Follow him on Twitter: @GregMillwee

Check out his blog: http://millweebooks.com/

The Alleyway Preacher is available on Amazon. Click here to get your copy today.

Until next week, Blessings, everyone. Happy Writing.

Share The Book, Part V: With Guest Author Eva Marie Everson

Welcome back, everyone. This week, I’m delighted to have as a guest, Eva Marie Everson, author of the Cedar Key series. I met Eva Marie when I attended Write to Publish Writers’ Conference in Wheaton, Illinois. I read one of her earlier books, This Fine Life, which I reviewed in this blog. And of course, I was hooked and knew I’d have to get whatever she wrote. And I did.

It’s always nice to learn about the authors we read, to get to know them a little more. So now, I’ll let her tell you–and me–about herself.

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va at BRMCWC

 

 

I came to Cedar Key because of the 2004 hurricane season, which hit Florida like … well, a hurricane. Four of them. Most of the places I went to “getaway” along the east coast had been destroyed or badly damaged. When I lamented to my hairdresser about it, she mentioned that another of her clients raved about Cedar Key, Florida, which is located on the west coast of Florida.

I called a writer-friend, award-winning author Janice Elsheimer, and asked if she would like to go with me to “check it out.” She said she would. And so we set out …

Along the way we stopped at antique shops and thrift stores and little cafes for coffee. But when we turned down the long stretch that calls itself Highway 24, we realized we were leaving all “civilization” behind. And happily.

The road is bordered on both sides by foliage. Miles and miles of it. Then, marshland that stretches to the open water of the Gulf of Mexico and on to the horizon where the sun either rises or sets. Because of its location, Cedar Key boasts the morning sun easing itself out of the water and, at night, that same sun exploding in color as it sets on the other side of the island. Early birds often gather at the docks to watch it ascent, but it seems that nearly the whole island–locals and visitors–gather on the west side to watch it set.

So, I fell in love with Cedar Key. On our third trip, I opened a magazine for a little afternoon reading and came across an ad for Liz Claiborne Spring Whites that showed five women dressed in white and sitting in a beach house. A complete story line flash across my mind, seriously, just like that. I held up the magazine and said to Janice, “Do you see the story here?” And then I shared it with her. These were the Claybourne (yep, I sorta stole that!) sisters … all but one. They live in Orlando, vacation in Cedar Key in a home owned by their father that rises along the marshes.

I took the story to my editor at Baker Publishing Group (Revell imprint) and three books later, we have not only the Cedar Key, but the multiple-award winning Cedar Key Series–Chasing Sunsets; Waiting for Sunrise (which finaled for a Christy); and Slow Moon Rising.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Writing the novels was, for me, almost cathartic. I’ve been writing professionally since 1997 when I started writing for a children’s ministry. At the same time I started penning my first novel (the third book I had published), which took most of 1997 into 1998. In 1999, with a little nonfiction book idea, I ventured into what was then called “CBA” (Christian Booksellers Association Convention), where I met with Susan Schlabaugh of Barbour Publishing. We hit if off immediately and, 9 days later, she called and offered me a book contract.

In 1997 I also went to the very first meeting of what would become Word Weavers International, Inc., of which I am now the president. WWI, which started with only five wannabe writers meeting around a dining room table, is now 35 face-to-face chapters, about 3 Online Chapters (and constantly growing), in both the United States and Canada. In about 1999, as our little group of 5 which had become 25 floundered, I formed “Word Weavers,” served as their president for six years, then in leadership as it became more than just an Orlando-based group, then continuing in leadership when it was acquired by Jerry B. Jenkins’ Christian Writers Guild, then took the presidency again when Jerry turned the organization back over to us.

In 2013 Word Weavers acquired Florida Christian Writers Conference and I became the director along with Mark Hancock (who will be very happy if I mention his brilliance here … LOL). Mark also serves as WWI, Inc. Vice President.

My writing life has blessed me. I have always written. Always wanted to be a writer. For various reasons I went into another field after high school. Married. Had kids. But the writing was always there. It was something I always did.

I’ve learned, more than any other lesson, that God’s timing is beyond perfect. Had I done things “my way,” I would have gone to college and studied creative writing or something like it. I would have moved to NYC and become an editor … or something like it. But God said, “Just wait. Just wait and you can do not something like it. You can do it.

And so I have.

 

Slow Moon Rising over Cedar Key

Slow Moon Rising over Cedar Key

 

Thank you so much Eva Marie for sharing your story. It’s been a blessing having you here today and I trust many will also be blessed by your story.

Until next week, be blessed.

Renee-Ann  <><

Share The Book Part III – With Guest Rose Chandler

It’s Friday and time for me to share with you about another author and her book. I’m delighted to have Rose Chandler Johnson on my blog this week. She’s the author of God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea. I met Rose at the Write To Publish conference, in Chicago last year. 

Rose Chandler Johnson’s devotional journal, God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea: Experiencing God in the Midst of Everyday Moments was released in July 2013.  Her devotions, poems, and articles have appeared in numerous Christian publications. She enjoys writing for her popular blog, Write Moments with God, and engaging with her readers.  Rose is from a small Georgia town and has lived in Martinez, GA for the last twenty-eight years.  She has been a French and English teacher for the last twenty years.  Rose enjoys baking, gardening, and spending time with her six children and their families.

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About her book:  

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 In the South, nothing is more refreshing than a glass of sweet iced tea. Nothing, that is, except experiencing God in those small, everyday moments. God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea is a deeply personal collection of spiritual treasures designed to help readers experience new mercies each morning. Seasoned with insight and grace, this tender devotional points to the divine presence of God in everyday moments. Whether purchased as a personal resource or given as a heartfelt gift, God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea will help readers develop a daily habit of turning to God in those quiet moments of reflection.

1.            Is there a story behind your book God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea?

I was reading some of my old journals recently and I came across an entry from 1979.  It was a prayer in which I told the Lord I wanted to write a book that was relevant and encouraging and that would “point others to the heart of God”. I believe that the Lord gave me that desire and that God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea is a realization of that desire, even though I wasn’t thinking of that consciously when I wrote it.

2.            Why did you write a devotional? 

When I decided to make Jesus the Lord of my life, in 1977, I started reading a devotional every morning.  It was just what I needed to help me focus and structure my time. I’ve incorporated devotional reading in my quiet times with God for decades. I think most people could benefit from that format.  So, I think that comes back to my desire to be relevant and encouraging.

3.            What is the significance of “sweet iced tea”?

I love sweet iced tea. I feel like I can’t do without it.  I literary drink a pitcher a day.  Nothing is more refreshing than a glass of sweet iced tea.  Even more so, I can’t do without the Lord who is with me through every moment of my day.  The presence of God in my life restores my soul.  And those moments where He shows Himself as the most refreshing.  The “sweet iced tea” says it’s personal.

4.            What started you on your writing journey?

I always wanted to be a writer.  I received my first undergraduate degree in 1977 with a BA in English.  In the late 70s and 80s I wrote a little, but motherhood, work, life in general got in the way of that dream.  I only began writing again in 2008.

5.            Why do you write now?

I am a journal keeper.  Writing is a passion. Devotion writing is a way to communicate to others what I know about God, as a living reality. It’s more or less an overflow of what I experience as a Christian. I want to share that.  I also like to write fiction, and I’m working on a novel, but that doesn’t seem as vital to me as my devotional writing.

6.            Who do you want to reach with your book?  Which audience?

This devotional is uniquely appropriate for working mothers, but it’s also for anyone who wants to put their Christianity into practice in their everyday moments and go deeper into God’s word.  As Tiffany Colter said, this devotional is simple enough for the newest believer, yet deep enough to make a life-long Christian feel challenged to go higher.

Thanks Rose for this wonderful glimpse into your journey with God and your writing.

You can connect with Rose by visiting her Blog, or catch her on TwitterFacebookPinterestGoodreads.

God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea is available for sale on Amazon, and Barnes & Noble

My life as a Christian! My life as a Writer!

If someone asked me “What do you do”, I’d be hard press to answer. Let’s see, I am a Christian, wife, mother, grandmother, writer, baker/chef, scrapbooker, and part-time genealogist. Oh, and did I mention I work fulltime 40-hour-weeks outside the home as well?

I recently had a discussion with a friend of mine who’s not a Christian.  Joe knows I’m a social butterfly, but he also knows I prefer to be a homebody. I always did. He says I live a sheltered life. That like a hermit, I’m closed in all the time and I don’t do anything. Part of me wanted to laugh because honestly, there are not enough hours in the run of a day to do everything I want to do, let alone do the things I need to do.

So I decided to take a walk down memory lane and look back on my life. Then, I’ll ask you to answer the following question: is this what you would consider a sheltered life? Am I missing something ?

I was 16 years old when, in 1977, my dad and I watched the new movie Roots: Saga of an American Family. I couldn’t believe what I saw, heard, and how they treated these people. I don’t think there’s a strong enough adjective to describe how I felt. At the end of the movie, I vowed that one day I’d go to Africa. I even said I’d marry an African. God had someone else in mind for me and He blessed me with a wonderful husband. He and I joke about that sometimes. He knows I’ve always had an immense love for these people.

In 1984, my great-uncle, who was involved in genealogy for many years, passed the “genealogy bug” down to me. Years later, when he passed away, my great-aunt gave me all his work. Wow… I love digging, and looking for a link between families. It’s a lot of fun.

In 1989, I opened my heart to Jesus. I’ve never looked back. This is not to say life is always rosy. Where in the Bible does it say that Christians don’t go through trials? It doesn’t. But, I loved my life as a follower of Christ. He’s always been there to help me through the trials, and when wall was too high for me to climb, He led me to walk around it. And when the load was too heavy for me to bear, He carried me… Load and all.

I’ve done many things as a Christian I more than likely wouldn’t have even thought of had it not been for Him. When we joined a church, I joined the choir, met awesome people, learned sign language, and got involved with the church’s Deaf ministry. Twenty four years later, I’m still there, “interpreting” on Sunday mornings for our deaf congregants. My first calling? Perhaps.

It took me 21 years before I realized my African dream, but with God, I did it… and not only once but twice. In 1998, God honoured the desire of my heart by opening a door.  I joined a team of World Vision volunteers for a short-term mission “trip of a lifetime” to the beautiful land of Zimbabwe, Africa. I spent the entire month of July there. But it wasn’t long enough, so He opened it again in Nov/Dec 1999. This time I spent six weeks there.

It was around 2003 that I started scrapbooking. Of course, one of the first albums I did was my 1998 African journey. Then, I moved on to our family heritage album, created an album for each of my boys. Now, we have a grandson. Is there anything more satisfying than mounting pages for his album? I forget how many albums I have for him now. I take so many pictures of him.

In 2010, we wanted to buy a house. We looked at many but each one had something one of us didn’t like. So we looked at the possibility of building instead. We made a list of the things we both wanted in preparation to meet with a contractor. Just a few days before we were to meet with him, our Realtor showed us this house. God has a true sense of humor. EVERYTHING from our list is in this house. And more!

In 2012, I attended Write to Publish in Chicago. I published my first book. I’ve written for many years, ‘just for fun’ but never took my writing seriously until the past few years. I entered a challenge, met the 50K in 30 days, entered the story in a publishing contest twice, shortlisted, worked with an editor and finally published it on Amazon. Now, I’m working on another story which I hope to pitch to an agent next year at another writers’ conference. God willing, of course!

These are but a few of the things I’ve done. I traveled across Canada twice, to the USA on different occasions. I’ve always been a go-getter and when I put my heart to doing something, I normally do it.

Sadly, poor Joe walked away from God many years ago and he no longer knows Christ as the personal Saviour of his life. That breaks my heart. I’ve talked to him about God on several occasions, but he doesn’t believe in what I believe. To be honest, he doesn’t seem to know what he himself believes. I wish there were a way I could convince him. But he doesn’t want to talk about it.

Ideally, it would be nice if he met a Christian who could lead him to Christ.  Will you please pray for Joe? Please pray, since he won’t listen to me, that God will put someone in his path.

Kate’s Song by Jennifer Beckstrand: Five Stars and Two Thumbs Up

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I can’t believe how time flies and I haven’t been here for months! Wow… been so busy with family, a visit from my sister who lives about 5000 miles away, Spring, gardening, work, and of course scrapbooking my grandson’s pictures (he’s my one and only), I’ve had little time for anything else. But I did read an absolutely awesome novel I want to share with you.

When I sat down to read this book, I was in the mood for a good Amish story. I always liked reading of their ‘simple way of life’, the kind most of us can’t begin to imagine, especially in today’s day and age of technology. After going through my eReader—where I have several—I chose this one. I’m so glad I did because I’d give it 10 stars if I could. No Amish story moved me the way this one did.

Kate’s Song, by Jennifer Beckstrand, is a constant page-turner-can’t-put-it-down kind of book. Superbly written, with great twists from beginning to end, and is sure to delight everyone. Personally, I can’t say enough about it. The author paints an amazing picture of the Amish community, and brings the readers into the story, so much so that one can’t help but love the characters, feeling their every joy and pain.

The first of a three-part stand-alone series, Kate’s Song tells the story of a young Amish woman who chooses a path different than the one most expected her to take. She has a deep passion for music and decides to leave home for Milwaukee to take voice training. She later returns home, battered and bruised, and haunted with a secret.

Now home, she struggles with her choices: giving up her dream to sing and be baptised… or her family… She rekindles old friendships, with people she’s left behind. One of them is a young man she’s known forever and a day. She grew up with Nathaniel King, a former school friend who’s now giving her more than enough attention.

When a friend from Milwaukee needs her help, Kate runs to her side, but things really don’t go the way she thought they would. Will she pursue her dream and sing, or will she stay home, be baptized live the life she’s expected to? Can she find her place in this world, and understand God’s will for her life?

Very well written, Jennifer Beckstrand had me in tears, some joyful ones, and some very sad ones.

I could say so much more but I don’t want to give away any spoiler. But what I can say is this: Buy the book. You’ll be so glad, you’ll want to read the other two: Rebecca’s Rose and Miriam’s Quilt.

Falling In Love With You – New Anthology

Over the past months, I’ve written several book reviews. I’ve enjoyed reading and reviewing each amazing authors. Readers/Authors participation was awesome too. This morning, I want to shift things a little and add a twist to my post. I want to introduce you to a newly released anthology called Falling In Love With You, by Oak Tara Publishers. It has beautiful TRUE love stories that will bring a smile to your face.

This one, has The best real-life falling-in-love stories, guaranteed to make you smile and say, “Ahh…”

I love love stories, no pun intended. I enjoy stories that touch and move me to tears. And I know many others do to. But there’s a reason why this book is extra special to me. Mine is one of the 41 short stories in this anthology with such an illustrious group of authors. And as an aspiring author, not only is this a first, it’s huge.

Those of you who follow this blog know that I went to the Write To Publish conference in Chicago last June. As a result, I found out about a contest with OakTara Publishers. I made note of it, and later picked up a fact sheet with all the information. When I got home from the conference, I got busy and wrote a story I love to tell, one that is very dear to my heart. Then, I sent it in.

Imagine my surprise, when I received an email stating they’d selected my story.  What an awesome feeling.

I urge you to take a peek at this wonderful new book and get you copy right HERE at discounted price. You’ll be glad you did. For Canadian Orders, please contact me.

Blessings,

Renee-Ann

Happy Thanksgiving 2010 To All My Family And Friends

Thanksgiving weekend always brings mixed emotions for me. While I’m thankful for the wonderful blessings God has bestowed upon me, I’m also reminded of a tragic loss in our family. Thanksgiving weekend 1984, on October 7, my brother passed away in a house fire. I miss him dearly.

A mere 18 months later, we lost Dad. And in February 2007, we lost Mom. But I’m thankful for the years we had together. Now there’s only Sis and I left in our immediate family.

On this Thanksgiving weekend, I thank God for:

1. My husband of many years (married 22, together 25) – so many people are alone;

2. My children – some women can’t have any;

3. My sister (and her family) – there were 3 children in our family, but only 2 remain;

4. My in-laws – some people just don’t get along with theirs;

5. My old friends – Janice, Cheryl, Mike, thanks for always being there for me;

6. My new friends – Ruth, Lina, Barbara, Janet, writing gave me the opportunity to meet published and aspired authors;

7. My home – not just the roof over my head but the bed I sleep in. Some sleep on the street;

8. The food that I eat – I’ve been to Africa and have seen first-hand what hunger can do;

9. My job – many can’t (or refuse to) work;

10. My health – there’s always someone worse off than I am.

And for all the things which more often than not I take for granted – the beautiful Autumn colours that leave breathtaking scenery; the sun that shines through my window and makes me feel cozy and warm inside while it’s cold outside; and so much more. I could go on but will stop and simply say:

This is my list. What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving weekend?