The Promise of Easter

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, Thursday Morning! I hope you’re having a wonderful Holy Week. A time of remembrance and thankfulness. Sing Hosanna!

We are a joyful people at times, especially when we remember the sacrifice. And the ongoing sacrifices of those around us, who give of themselves on a daily basis to keep the message strong and vital. He is risen!

I’m looking forward to Sunday’s special service. But this is also a time of remembrance for me. I keep recalling my cousin’s sweet but silly telephone greeting, “Happy Easter Egg!” Whenever anyone called on Easter, he’d greet them in that way. This is his first Easter in Heaven, thus the reason for my reflections.

The joy of sacrifice. We’ve all been there, especially if you’re a mom or a spouse. Sometimes you’re called upon to give up something, like your leisure time, or that last cookie that had your name on it. Many of you give up something important for Lent. It’s a time to think and pray and remember the greatest sacrifice of all. The One who gave up everything but gained the greatest thing of all. Life everlasting, not only for himself, but for all who believed in Him.

So, Easter is a celebration, but it’s also a time for reflection. I hope it’s a reset for you, like when you reboot the computer or your phone. A renewal that will set the tone for the rest of your year and maybe the rest of your life.

In the final chapters of the last book in my Kinsman Redeemer series, Annabelle Cross gets a lesson in renewal and a second chance. She alone has the power to change her life going forward. In the book, she sings the beautiful hymn, Great is Thy Faithfulness. God never changes, His compassions never fail. His mercies are new every morning. And as Annabelle sings the final verse, something truly special happens. To find out what that is, you’ll have to read the book. 🙂

Pardon for sin
And a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer
And to guide
Strength for today
and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside
Great is Thy faithfulness…

P.S.: As promised, a bit of exciting news! The final book in the Kinsman Redeemer series has a name! Yes, Annabelle’s Joy joins Annabelle’s Ruth, and Sutter’s Landing to complete the series. Expected release date is August, 2019.

Also, I am signing a contract with Write Integrity Press for another series. This one will be suspense. Tentative series title: Journey Home, Book 1 title, Illusion. Possible release date for Illusion is Fall, 2020.

A Great Thought

Who inspires you? Who has planted that great thought that changed your life or way of thinking about something?

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, Thursday Morning readers! Welcome. I hope you’ll leave here this morning, encouraged to go out and make a difference in the world.

One easy way to do that is to let joy shine out from you.

Here’s a simple truth: If you have joy inside, it will find a way to show off. 🙂 Sometimes a smile is all it takes. A heartfelt one is especially effective.

Notice how the light flows through this open window? Imagine the dark room as your neighbor, a coworker, or friend who’s going through a difficult time. You can be the source of that light.

2 Corinthians 5:20-21 says this:

“We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.”

Who inspires me?

I have a couple of dear friends who are going through tremendous difficulty. Yet, whenever I see them, they’re smiling. Not the bland, forced smile, either. The all-out, joy-down-in-my-heart smiles.

I’m smiling right now at the memory! Whenever I’m tempted to feel sorry for myself, I think about them and the countless others who endure daily pain and tribulation.

I’m most inspired by the Word of God that gives me daily strength and inspiration.

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;—Psalm 16:11

So, make someone’s day better today. If you make the effort and are rewarded with a smile, that will make your day better too.

Big news next week! See you then.

Hello Again Annabelle

Hello, Thursday Morning! It’s Spring Break in my area of the country, and oh, what a busy week. We’ve had beautiful weather so far. Today, I’m taking a break after spending too many hours on the computer finishing the final book in the Kinsman Redeemer series, due for release in August. So, I thought I would run a reprint of the original post for the first book in the series, Annabelle’s Ruth.

Annabelle’s Ruth, Book 1 Kinsman Redeemer Series – the book of my heart.

My mother and father had a “meet-cute” — an event that brings a “fated” couple together for the first time, usually in a cute, romantic way. She worked at the candy counter in a movie theater in Seattle. He was a cocky, slightly inebriated sailor, just in from Korea.

He flirted with Mom’s best friend, who already had a steady boyfriend, one who was due to walk through the door at any moment. Mom to the rescue. What are best friends for? She stepped over and distracted the handsome but too happy young sailor. Her mission accomplished, she felt pretty good. When the young sailor sobered up, he came back. Several times. And then they eloped.

They eloped all the way to Biloxi, Mississippi. At the end of Dad’s furlough, he left Mom with his family in West Tennessee. My dad was not totally honest and up front with his young bride (she was only seventeen, he was nineteen). He talked long about his home (as in long, tall tale). He told Mom that his mother and step-dad lived on a ranch in the rolling, green hills of West Tennessee. They had horses and cattle.

IMG_4622In actuality, they were sharecroppers who lived in a rickety house. The cows weren’t theirs, and the horses–work horses that pulled a plow. And that house–no indoor plumbing. A fireplace for heat. Bare bulbs hanging from the ceiling. Grandma cooked on a wood stove. And they raised cotton and corn and everything they needed to live. They worked hard all day long, every day.

No rolling, green hills either. Flat. Dirty. Muddy. Mosquitoes. Snakes. Yuck.

My Mom was from a broken home. She lived with her Mom in urban Seattle and spent summers at her Dad’s in urban L.A. They were middle class. She dressed well, ate well, and was popular in school.

Culture shock. Dad went back to the Navy. Mom stayed with his eldest sister and her husband and young daughter, in a slightly better abode closer to town. With summer came heat and humidity the likes of which, Mom had never experienced. And she was pregnant.

I’ve wanted to tell this story for a long time. I’ve wanted to write it, but each time I tried, I failed. Not long ago, after I had finished re-reading the Book of Ruth, an idea popped into my head–a “what-if.” What if this happened in more modern times. What if I set it in West Tennessee…in the 1950’s? I could combine the two stories I loved so well.

I talked about it–a lot–to everyone I knew. Mom shared more memories. My older brother (the baby in the above narrative), helped me research it. I got excited about it then sat down and began to write.

But wait–I don’t want to leave you with a negative idea of West Tennessee. Seen through Mom’s young eyes, it was not her favorite place, but she spent most of her life there and ended up loving it. My dad could never be far away from it, especially while his mother lived. And its roots are deep in my heart. I don’t live there anymore. I live in Kentucky with my husband of more than forty years. I love it here, but I still like to visit West Tennessee, where I have family still. The place holds precious memories of Grandma, Uncle Bud, the aunts, and numerous cousins.

It gets under the skin of my heroine in Annabelle’s Ruth, too. She finds a reason to love it, sets down roots, and stays.

I hope you’ll love the story I’ve woven from these two threads.

Sutter’s Landing continues the story begun in Book 1. Soon, I’ll announce Book 3 (as yet untitled), the final in the series.

Painting a Story

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, Thursday Morning! It’s an hour earlier in the day, and a week closer to spring!

When someone asked me to name a few of my all-time favorite books, I realized there was no easy answer. I usually say Jane Eyre, because that is my overall favorite for a variety of reasons.

There are so many wonderful stories that have touched my heart and maybe even changed my life a little, or at least my way of thinking. One of the most beautiful is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Of course, it’s a literary novel—I always seemed to prefer those. This is a work of art that follows a young girl coming of age in the early twentieth century.

It’s not a sweet story, though there are moments of sweetness. Francie Nolan is the daughter of an Irish immigrant living in the inner city, at a time when life wasn’t easy for the Irish in New York. Her father struggles with alcoholism and finds it difficult to provide for his family.

Even though my early life bordered on poverty, the Nolan’s situation made me feel as though we’d been rich. Life-changing. I read it more than once and loved the movie version (1945).

What makes a story unforgettable? Have you ever watched an artist paint a picture? It’s fascinating. Especially when the picture is created from the artist’s imagination. You watch in awe as they add layer upon layer of color, shadow, light. Gradually, a scene emerges, sometimes stunning in quality.

You can say the same about a really good story. The writer translates his or her imagined tale into words and builds a world on the page that can be achingly real. The reader is caught up in the story and forgets that it’s only a story.

That’s how I feel when I read stories like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I feel the angst, the hunger, the humility, the encroaching darkness when all seems lost. I keep turning pages, enthralled and then, there it is—fresh hope—like the light at the end of the tunnel. I love happy endings, but it doesn’t have to be rose gardens or even lottery winners. Hope is the key to a great ending, in my humble opinion.

Which book, novel, screenplay, or story changed your life? Left you breathless and filled with hope for the main character? You may have read or watched it numerous times to discover every nuance, every hopeful thought, like licking the crumbs from the plate after your favorite dessert.

P.S.: Congratulations, Susan Mills! She won a copy of Annabelle’s Ruth for her comment on my blog post/giveaway last week! I also sent her a bonus book, Rebeccca’s Legacy. Happy reading, Susan!

Chasing Spring

One day it looks and feels like spring, next day, it’s the deep of winter. That’s the weather so far this year. Life can be an adventure!

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, Thursday Morning!

I just celebrated a birthday, and oh! I received all the things girls love. Coffee, chocolate, flowers, jewelry, a new purse, and a comfy pillow. I’m not usually swayed by material gifts. In fact, when my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I told him, “…time with my sons.”

Well, I received that, too. We had a wonderful dinner at a nice restaurant, and even remembered to take pictures. Yep. How often do you get together with loved ones and afterward, remember no one took a photo of the event? It’s so frustrating.

Chasing The End. I’m back at my desk, working hard to finish the final book in the Kinsman Redeemer series. I’m down to the last couple of chapters.

This has been a labor of love. When I wrote the first book, Annabelle’s Ruth, I never expected it to become a series. But that’s how it goes in the book world these days. So, I was able to finish the story and hopefully leave my readers with a smile on their faces.

So, I’d better get back to work on that. One day soon, I’ll happily announce that I’m finished. In the meantime, help me celebrate my birthday month! In just a few days, I’m giving away a book on the Inspired Prompt blog. Rebecca’s Legacy is the featured book on March 15. Here’s a link to the website: Inspired Prompt

Throughout the month of March, the writers of Inspired Prompt are giving away books, so pop on over and check it out.

And, if you’ve never read Annabelle’s Ruth, leave me a comment below (on this blog post) for a chance to win a copy. Here’s more information about the book:

Annabelle’s Ruth, Book 1, Kinsman Redeemer
Published June, 2015

“If you think you can come back here and throw yourself on my mercy, you are quite wrong.”

After their husbands perish in a fishing boat accident, Connie Cross determines to follow her mother-in-law, Annabelle, from Southern California to Tennessee. Her misgivings begin as they cross the bridge over the muddy Mississippi River. In their new town, where living conditions are far below their previous expectations, they must set up a household and hunt for work to survive. Thanks to the kindness of Annabelle’s handsome, young cousin, life begins to settle down. But Connie has a secret that could uproot them once again.

Inspired by the Book of Ruth, Annabelle’s Ruth is a 1950’s era “Ruth” story, set in western Tennessee. How will Connie adapt to her new life amid the cotton farms, racial tension, and culture shock?

And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. –Ruth 1:16-17