The Beauty That Remains

I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.

Anne Frank

Looking back on this year, my heart aches for all the changes and losses. But we’re still here. I’m reminded of the time we visited Mammoth Cave. The tour guide turned out all the lights, plunging us into total darkness. Then he struck a match. That single, tiny flame lit the room.

Sometimes, the tiniest blessings can brighten our day. I was unpacking Christmas decorations, and came across one of my snow globes. When I picked it up, the music box started to play “Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem.” Dozens of childhood memories flooded my mind.

Blessings abound. Schools are closed again in our area. I have my grandchildren two afternoons a week. I love spending time with them, though some of that time, they’re doing school work or otherwise occupied. The two older ones could have stayed home, but chose to come here. That blesses my heart.

These are tiny, match-flame blessings that light up my world. When I’m overwhelmed by the losses, I remember them and allow hope to renew in my heart. Like Anne Frank, I try not to think of the misery. I focus on the beauty that remains. What a beautiful lesson, when we know what her misery involved.

This week’s question:

What’s your favorite Christmas tradition?

Hope is Coming!

Hello, Thursday Morning!

In the beginning, I thought it would be easy to write one post per week. Just three hundred words or so. What could be hard about that? At first, it was easy.

Until the year 2020.

Week after week passed, and I had nothing to say.

Nothing.

At first, I tried to force it. I hunted for verses, poems, or photos to fill the page. I even tried to be funny.

Then I realized, I was just filling a page. Maybe, in these overwhelming times, it was better to leave it empty.

You know those front porch moments when you’ve exhausted all the words that can or should be said, so you just sit together in quiet companionship?

They say we’re all in this together. Well, yes, we are but we all handle it differently. Some are strengthened by time alone. Others need fellowship and communication just as much as they need food and water.

I’m a borderline introvert, so I’m usually content being alone. For a while, but not forever. Weeks pass, and I miss my friends. I miss gatherings and visits and dinners out. Phone calls, texts, and online meetings just aren’t quite the same.

Hope is coming.

In the darkest days, hope stirs in my heart. I choose joy. Joy is not necessarily laughter and merriment. It can be—but most often for me—it is quiet exultation blooming in my soul. It feeds hope and keeps it alive. Sometimes the best way to keep it going is to share it. Talk about it with someone.

Let’s talk.

I’ll start the conversation. It can be short, that’s okay. For these last three or four weeks of the year, I’ll end my post with a question. I hope you’ll play along, and please consider sharing so others can join in.

What is the best Christmas gift you’ve ever received, and why is it your favorite?

You’re Reading about What? Researching One Lilac Christmas

Hello, Thursday Morning readers! I have a guest today. Historical author, Pamela Ferguson, has recently published a historical novella, One Lilac Christmas. Here’s what she has to say about it–

When I agreed to write a sweet Christmas historical romance, I knew at once I would set it during World War II. I’d already published two World War II romances (His Scottish War Bride and His French War Bride) and enjoyed researching that time period. Between the beginning and end of the war, four Christmas holidays were celebrated. That meant there would be lots of material to inspire plot ideas.

My previous historical romances explored the lives of soldiers who went to war. This time I was drawn to the stories of Americans on the home front who helped the war effort. I read about gasoline rationing and nylon stocking shortages, weapons arsenals, and officer training. I learned about women who enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps, and people who resented them for doing it. When I stumbled upon the story of an engaged couple who’d attempted to enlist together—only to have the recruiters reject the man and accept the woman—I knew I’d found the primary conflict for my two main characters, Amity Belmont and Zachary Flynn.

Next, I needed an external conflict. My historical romance characters are all linked to a fictional Virginia town called Lilac, the setting for my contemporary romances. Since One Lilac Christmas was a historical romance, I explored what was happening in the Blue Ridge Mountain region during World War II. I read about Civilian Public Service Camps where conscientious objectors voluntarily served the United States during the war. This would be the historical basis for the conflict involving Amity’s younger brother, who admits that, like their mother, he is a pacifist.

I never know what historical detail will provide the germ of an idea. I’ve learned to be comfortable with starting a writing project without knowing exactly where I’ll end up. Each time the research process has led me to interesting events that I can add to a plot.

Now you know the background of One Lilac Christmas. Here’s the book description:

December 1943. When Zachary Flynn suggested that he and Amity Belmont enlist together, he never dreamed the recruiters would reject him because of his flat feet. Now, Amity’s off fighting the war, and he could kick himself for letting his bruised ego get in the way of telling her his true feelings. If he had, maybe Lilac’s well-meaning matchmakers wouldn’t be trying to hustle him under the mistletoe with someone other than Amity.

Sergeant Amity Belmont never should have confided her fears to anyone in her Women’s Army Corps unit. When her commanding officer gets wind of Amity’s concerns, she recommends Amity set things right at home before taking on her new assignment. Of all the people she’s disappointed, Amity is worried most about Zach. She cannot ask him to forgive something she doesn’t regret. Will her surprise visit to Lilac bring the Christmas miracle they both need?

What historical time periods are you interested in?

E-book, print, and audiobook buy links:

One Lilac Christmas (Amazon)

One Lilac Christmas (Audible)

Award-winning author PAMELA FERGUSON writes contemporary and historical romance fiction. Wings of Love, her first novel set in the fictional town of Lilac, won the 2017 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® Award for Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements. Readers can meet relatives of her contemporary romance characters in her World War II-era historical romances. She collaborates with two fantastic vocal artists, Stephanie Dillard and Rebecca Fine, to produce audiobooks for all her stories. She loves to hear from readers. Find her on one of the social media platforms below. To keep up with the latest news about her books, visit her website, and sign up for her newsletter.

Website: www.PamelaFerguson.com

Social Media:

Facebook

Goodreads

Twitter

Instagram

To Learn a New Task

When changes come, I usually balk and declare, “I will never…”

No Way

But then I do. I adapt to the changes, (sigh) listen to tutorials, (sigh) study…whatever it takes to learn the new way of doing things.

Life is like that, even when you’re in your sixties. Always learning something new. Hey, it’s actually good for you. Keeps your brain active.

I’m feeling a little sheepish…

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.

Michelangelo

So, here I am learning new things. I delayed it as long as possible and then life added more delays until I actually became anxious to get started.

A new path

It kind of sucks you in, doesn’t it? You want to see where it goes. In case you’re curious, I’m mostly talking about this new blogging experience, using those “blocks” to build my post. I balked at first. Didn’t like it at all.

So, I watched some tutorials and kind of got the hang of things. Now I’m kind of (sort of) having fun with it.

But that’s not the only new path these days. After heart surgery, my husband had to make some major changes to his diet and lifestyle. So, I’m learning to cook a new way. It really didn’t require a lot of work. We use a few different ingredients like healthier oils, herbs, and spices instead of salt, heavy on the veggies. We are both benefiting from the changes.

And then of course, there are these other things going on in the world. We’ve adapted to wearing masks everywhere. It’s really not that bad, I tell myself. I miss my visits with Mom. We have to communicate by phone for a while. Quarantines are not my favorite things.

But those are just things that come and go. All told, I’m doing well and hey–I’m writing! Yay! Getting back to it and looking for those illusive two words, “The End.” I hope to find them soon and then I’ll tell you all about it!

I am still learning.

Michelangelo
alarm, time, grass, red, green
It’s time to set your clock back. Sunday November 1