Hello Thursday Morning News Corner

Hello, Thursday Morning readers! I’m doing something a little different this week, ’cause it’s the holidays!

Stating the obvious, we are just a couple weeks from Christmas. Are you ready? Have you bought all your gifts yet? I’m well on my way. Just need a few more of those “perfect things” to finish it off.

A few days ago, I sent out the holiday edition of my newsletter and offered up a couple of gift cards in a random drawing. Since the holidays are right around the corner, I decided to choose my winners early and announce them here.

I was surprised and pleased by the number of entries. Even more amazing was the fact that not one name was repeated. How cool is that? I logged into my random name picker and took a few spins. I love doing that! I’ve already notified the winners by email.

Katherine L won a $10 Amazon Gift Card!

Paula S won a $5 Starbucks Card!

Thanks, all of you who took the time to enter. I’d love for everyone to win, but my funds are limited. 🙂  Not to worry, I’ll come up with another fun giveaway for the next mailing, so be sure and try again.

My email subscribers receive newsletters once a quarter, and also to announce a release or other big news. I often include a drawing for free prizes on the newsletter. If you’d like to become a subscriber, click the fancy black entry box on the right side of this blog. It’s so easy! All I ask for is your email address. You do have to confirm the subscription and then it will come to you each quarter. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Are you aware that I am also a co-founder of the Inspired Prompt blog? It’s a teaching blog of sorts. A wonderful group of writers, both published and unpublished, discuss ways to improve your writing, among other things. We love to inspire our readers and also give them a place to publicize their upcoming releases. Here’s a link to that blog: Inspired Prompt

If you’re a writer, check out the Guest post guidelines to see what’s offered. Our guest posts and 3 Questions interviews fill up fast! You can reach us via the contact tab.

More big news

At our local ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Christmas gathering, I arrived as Vice President/Secretary and left as President. It’s funny to me, because I completely missed the meeting the day I was elected VP/Secretary. At least I was present on this day (though I’m not in this picture). But my big news also means that Ralene Burke (second from left, back row), the woman who started it all here in our hometown, is stepping down.

Thank you, Ralene, for all you’ve done!

As we approach the holiday, I pray God’s blessing over each one of you, my readers. May you find His peace among the hurried, harried moments that lead up to the celebration of the birth of Christ. From my home to yours—Merry Christmas!

 

 

To the Woman in the Prayer Room

Jennifer Hallmark, Linda Yezak, and me at ACFW
Jennifer Hallmark, Linda Yezak, and me at ACFW

While attending the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference three weeks ago, my heart was heavy. My husband was ill at home and I felt some anxiety over that. ACFW always provides a prayer room, so I found it and entered. My good friend, Linda Yezak was the volunteer in charge at the moment. I didn’t bother her, but crossed the room and found a seat. I just wanted to spend some time in prayer. There was only one other person there–a woman, unfamiliar to me.

As soon as I sat down, I was surrounded by a tangible peace and something else–a sweet spirit–that’s the only way I can describe it. I sat there, barely able to pray, just absorbing the atmosphere. It was precious. I felt loved and lifted up. After a few minutes, the other woman got up and walked out of the room. Though the peaceful atmosphere remained, that sweetness left with her.

I don’t know who she was. I never saw her again.

But I’m grateful. That feeling sustained me and I remembered it often over the next few days.

In last week’s blog post, I hinted that something unexpected had occurred in my life, and interrupted my regular blog schedule. I’d completely missed a week. When I returned home from ACFW on Sunday afternoon, I found that my husband had not improved. He’d grown worse. He was shaking in hard chills and struggling to breathe. I wanted to take him to the emergency room right away. He wouldn’t go. He wanted to wait until morning and go to his doctor. He’d been to the doctor the previous week and had tests run.

A little backstory– he’d been sick on and off for over a year and had lost a significant amount of weight. But the doctor had not been able to find the cause. No one had. Early Monday morning, his doctor called and ordered him to go to the hospital. My husband was in acute renal failure.

In the hospital, after the crisis
In the hospital, after the crisis

Unexpected. We were in shock. This had to be a mistake. How could something like that happen? He was admitted and rushed through numerous diagnostic procedures that revealed blockages in both kidneys. Without an emergency dialysis treatment, he was hours from death. I was devastated. I’d seen my dad go through kidney failure–years of weekly dialysis–and a kidney transplant that succeeded until he died suddenly of a blood clot in his lung. I didn’t want my husband to have to go through that.

I prayed. I called on all my friends and family to pray. And often, throughout the next few hours, I remembered that sweet presence in the ACFW prayer room.

I meditated on it as I sat at my husband’s hospital bedside while his blood ran through the dialysis machine. I was consumed by peace. I laugh now, remembering myself sitting there eating a veggie sandwich from Jimmy John’s while my husband endured the procedure. Okay, I was really hungry, but I had an assurance that everything was going to be all right. He was sleeping, by the way.

We had no idea what the future held. Would he have to continue receiving dialysis? Were his kidneys permanently damaged? These fears danced through our minds on and off over the next couple of days, as prayers rose on our behalf, throughout our sphere of influence.

A lighter moment - sharing a meal in Cuenca, Ecuador this summer.
A lighter moment – sharing a meal in Cuenca, Ecuador earlier this summer.

God answered. The unexpected thing brought to light a problem my husband had had over the last couple of years. Kidney stones. They’d almost completely blocked his kidneys. This was making him very sick, as toxins filled his body. Once this issue was addressed, he began to recover. Rapidly. He still has to go through some things, but he’s getting stronger every day.

And he won’t need additional dialysis.

Yes, we were shocked by the initial news, but our trust is in God. He brought us through. I’m thankful to Him and to all our friends and family who prayed for us and with us during those days of uncertainty. And I’m thankful for that unknown woman in the ACFW prayer room. It’s possible she was there praying for herself, but God used her as a vessel–a conduit. The sweetness spilled over onto me. God’s presence stayed with me through a very difficult time.

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