Sunday, April 28, 2019

Sunday Scripture

Second Sunday of Easter

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, Caravaggio, 1601-1602,
Sanssouci Picture Gallery. Berlin. [PD-US]

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, "Peace be with you."
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you."
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
"Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained."

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord."
But he said to them,
"Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."

Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you."
Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe."
Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!"
Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples
that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
John 20:19-31

If you have any prayer needs, please mention them in the comments section so we can join you in prayer. You do not need to include specific names or situations of a private nature, just say that you have a prayer request. The Lord knows your heart and the needs you have. It is a privilege and honor to pray with you and for you.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Changes

Hello friends!

I am so happy to join you on this wonderful Friday! I don't know about you, but this year, Easter was very poignant for me. I keep thinking of a comment the reverend at my church said. He was talking about the fact that even though we tend to read the same Scripture passages and celebrate the same holidays each year, they shouldn't feel the same. Why? Because we should be growing in our relationship with God, which means that the Scriptures always have something new to teach us.

To grow means that something has to change. Change is often a scary word. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not always thrilled with the changes I see. Such as my kids getting ready to graduate and move on with their lives. That's a hard change. Or when I see yet another strand of gray hair in the mirror.


Aren't they beautiful? As much as I struggle with letting go, I love the people that they are becoming and that God is in control of their lives. The changes happening in their lives are enough to fill my heart and soul with gratitude and joy. Even while my mother's heart wants to worry and fret.
This year, however, I am trying to embrace the changes and to see God's purpose in them. How is He asking me to grow and change so that our relationship will become stronger?

One of the changes I have implemented is called Morning Pages. Since I have dabbled with journaling in the past, it seemed like a good fit for me.  Simply put, it's a stream of consciousness journal. Except I do it as a prayer journal. So before I look at my phone, before I start my day, I have a free flowing conversation with God. I bring my praise, my prayers, and my intentions and I put them all there in my journal. Then I pray about my priorities for the day. I try to do my planner at the same time. My goal is to allow my day to start with God and to allow Him to plan what is the most important in my day.

My journaling doesn't happen every day. Sometimes life gets busy. But my goal is to let Christ be the center of my day, and of my life.

I am so grateful for the many blessings He has poured out upon me. One thing that constantly amazes me is that I get to write books and share them with readers. It never gets old seeing a new cover or holding a book in my hand that I wrote. In June, my 9th book with Love Inspired Suspense will release.

An Amish witness to murder
Another riveting Amish Country Justice book

On the way to deliver a baby, Amish midwife Lizzy Miller witnesses her driver’s murder—and now someone plans to silence her. Lizzy knows better than to trust strangers, but she must depend on former Amish turned Englisch police officer Isaac Yoder. And there’s nowhere safe to hide…unless Isaac reconnects with the Amish community he left behind to protect the woman he’s falling for.


I am very excited about this book. My characters have to do some changing and growing before they can get their happy-ever-after, but it's worth it in the end.

Thanks for joining me today!

Blessings,
Dana R. Lynn

About Dana R. Lynn
Dana R. Lynn believes the power of God can transcend any circumstance.  She is a bestselling, award winning author of fifteen books and views her writing as a ministry to show His love can bring healing and peace. She writes romantic suspense for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense line. She has been on Publisher’s Weekly Bestseller lists three times, and her 2017 title Plain Target won both the first place for her category and the overall Grand Prize winner in the New England Reader’s Choice Awards. She is a 2019 Selah Awards finalist. Dana is a member of RWA (Romance Writers of America), ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers and Sisters in Crime. She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Literary Agency. In 1996, Dana met her husband at a wedding and told her parents she’d met the man she was going to marry. Nineteen months later, they were married. Today, they live in rural northwestern Pennsylvania with enough animals to start a petting zoo. In addition to writing, she works as a teacher for the deaf and hard of hearing and is involved in several ministries in her church.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Christian Fiction Readers Retreat



Several weeks ago I traveled to Rockville, Maryland to participate in the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat. A hundred readers and forty authors gathered, "Honoring God through Christian Fiction." The two-day event featured speaker sessions, author panels, breakout sessions, prayer, worship and author signings.
It was great to spend time with Love Inspired authors—Debby Giusti, Lisa Jordan, Ruth Logan Hearne and Jean C. Gordon among others. CFRR offered authors and readers the opportunity to meet and chat about our favorite topic—books!



 The event included food, games, giveaways and lots of free books. Every attendee received a copy of His Secret Daughter, courtesy of Love Inspired. I so enjoyed being able to put faces to readers who, over the years, have contacted me about how much Love Inspired books have meant to them.



I participated in an author panel called, "Historically Speaking." The panel shared interesting research experiences and stories-behind-the-story. One of my most interesting research "field trips" involved once meeting America's top moonshiner. I kid you not.



For the first time since becoming empty-nesters, my husband was able to go with me to the retreat. We made a weekend of it. We traveled to nearby Annapolis and toured the Naval Academy. My uncle graduated from the Academy just before World War II. He served along the Atlantic Seaboard, safeguarding Allied convoys from German u-boats. Tragically, after the war he died of a brain aneurysm at the age of thirty-six. He died long before I was ever born and I never met him, but it was very special to be able to take a walk in his footsteps on the path of heroes at the Academy.



We also visited Mount Vernon. It was a beautiful spring day in Virginia. The tulips and daffodils were blooming. Garden tours are one of my favorite kinds of excursions.


It was a lovely weekend. And I came away from the retreat so humbled and grateful for my fellow Love Inspired authors and especially, Love Inspired readers. Thank you for reading our books. Thanks for all you do to support Christian fiction authors.

Happy Reading,
Lisa


As a Southern romance writer, Lisa has definite opinions on serious issues like barbeque, ACC basketball and the whole Pepsi vs. Coke controversy. When she isn't writing, Lisa enjoys traveling to romantic locales. She also enjoys quilting and researching her next romantic adventure. www.lisacarterauthor.com

Join her mailing list for info on book happenings at Newsletter. Follow her on  BookBub to receive notices about new releases. 




Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Hope Keepers


Hope Keepers

Easter, that glorious event when we deepen our faith, renew our hope and embrace our gratitude for what the Lord has done for us, is over. Easter was Sunday. This is Wednesday and like most humans, our hope and good feelings are starting to dim. Life has a way of slowly sapping our joy, our confidence and our hope.
            I’m normally a very optimistic person. The glass is always half full, the sun will come out tomorrow, the clouds have silver linings etc. But I’m coming out of a season where medical issues have drastically changed my way of life. Thankfully, nothing was life threatening and all the issues have been fixed, but the recovery time is slow and frustrating. Some days I take three steps forward only to take two backwards the next. It’s easy to get discouraged.
            Over the years I’ve collected many encouraging poems, essays, and quotes that help me remember that hope is always there and to hold tight to my faith. I keep them close by as daily reminders. I’ve collected some to share in the hope that they might encourage you too.

So, who is responsible for our joy falling away so quickly? Could it be….
Satan’s Plan -
Doubt – Makes you question God’s Word and his goodness.
Discouragement – Makes you look at your problems rather than at God.
Diversion – Makes the wrong things seem attractive so that you will want them more than the right things.
Defeat – Makes you feel like a failure so that you don’t even try.
Delay- Makes you put off doing something so that it never gets done.

Things to remember-
In the Bible Jacob was dishonest, Peter had a temper, David committed adultery, Noah got drunk, Jonah ran from God, Paul was a murderer, Gideon was insecure, Miriam was a gossiper, Martha was a worrier, Thomas was a doubter, Sara was impatient, Elijah was moody, Moses stuttered, Zacchaeus was short, Abraham was old, and Lazarus was dead. Now what's your excuse? God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called! God is still working in your life.

Sometimes I need to be reminded that God has a bigger plan beyond my own. This helps me remember.

And God Said “No”
            I asked God to take away my grief, And God said, “No”.
He said it was not for Him to take away, but for me to work through.
            I asked God to make my broken heart whole, And God said “No”.
He said your spirit is whole, your pain is only temporary.
            I asked God to grant me patience, and God said “No”.
He said that patience is a by-product of tribulation. It isn’t granted, it’s earned.
            I asked God to give me happiness, and God said “No”.
He said He gives blessings. Happiness is up to me.
            I asked God to spare me pain, and God said “No”.
He said “Suffering draws you apart from worldly care and brings you closer to me.”
            I asked God to make my spirit grow, and  God said “No”.
He said I must grow on my own, but He will prune me to make me fruitful.
            I asked God is He loves me, and God said “Yes”.
He gave His only Son who died for me, and I will be in Heaven someday because I believe.
            I asked God to help me love others, as much as He loves me,
And God said,
“Ah, finally, you have the idea.”

This quote isn’t scriptural but it opened my eyes and changed the way I look at things.

 “My fears were like a thundering herd of elephants. Then when I got them out and looked at them, I saw they were really mice with megaphones.”  Dr. Bruce Rahtjen

So hold tight to your hope and Just for Today, keep these thoughts in mind:

Make up your mind to be happy,
Accept life’s irritations.
Care for your body.
Exercise your mind.
Do something kind for someone in secret,
and do two things you do not want to do.
Smile, and be positive and pleasant.
Work on today – not the problems of tomorrow.
Work on some goal or plan.
Have a quiet time.
Praise the Lord, and do not be afraid.

I hope these might encourage you in some way.

God Bless. Happy reading. Thanks for stopping by.
Lorraine

Monday, April 22, 2019

Saying Goodbye: Memories of a Ranch Kid




Fred Navarro at the Frio River
Jolene Navarro here, checking in from the Texas Hill Country. My writing view this weekend. 


I went with my husband to Leakey Texas. His siblings (nine boys and two girls) were gathering to remember their parents. April makes the 15th year of their dad’s passing, and they wanted to honor his memory. After church, we went to their parent’s graveside. After prayer and recalling memories, Joe (the youngest) read a letter he had written on May 10, 2004. This was the first time he shared it with his brothers and sisters.

The letter and memories reminded me why I love this life and write about small-town, cowboys and ranchers. 

There is something solid and good about people that work the land.  I met my husband 33 years ago and had the pleasure of spending time on the ranch. This place shaped the man I married. In honor of the Navarro family and the life that has influenced my stories, I wanted to share Joe’s story. He's the baby of eleven surviving children.
The Siblings standing in birth order. 9 boy and 2 girls

Joe & wife, Letty Navarro

May 19, 2004
My dear Brothers and Sisters:

This past Saturday, Fred came to Leakey, while we were visiting the phone rang. A woman speaking Spanish asked for Jesus Navarro (Their father). I asked her name. She just repeated her question. I wanted her name, but she told me to hold. A man’s voice came through the phone, he also spoke Spanish. When he also requested to speak with Jesus Navarro, I asked the man his name. He hesitated, and we spent some time in this cycle of not answering each other.

He finally identified himself and went on to tell me that Dad used to give him work on the Fair Ranch whenever he passed through. He was in Kerrville and wondered if there was any work for him on the ranch.
It was that awkward moment when I informed him that Dad had died on April 15th and the Fair Ranch had sold five years ago. The man offered his condolences and we ended the call.

Jesus Navarro Working on the Ranch Early Winter Morning


Fred and I talked about how much influence our father had on immigrants passing through. The Bible tells us to care for travelers and those in need. Our parents didn’t just teach us this lesson, they showed us through their actions. They would fix a plate of food, making sure to wrap up extras in foil. My dad would give them work, pay them and then send them on to their next destination. It didn’t matter if they were a stranger passing through or the ranch owners’ esteemed guest, our parents treated everyone with respect.
Joe, David and Andy Navarro

This phone call set with me for a couple of days. Restless, I drove out to the old Jacoby/Fair Ranch where I grew up.

What an experience, to drive on that familiar winding Ranch Road 336, through the Texas Hill Country. The sound the cattleguards made when I drove over them jarred memories long buried.
Turning on to Ranch Road 3235, the Ivey Ranch sat on the right, a bit further down Buckle Fryar’s Ranch was followed by the Tooter Trees' Ranch.

As I passed Tooter’s Ranch sheep crossed the road, just as they did day in and day out, as we made the long trips between the ranch and town. They forced me to slow down.
Black Buck Antelope ran along the side of the road, disappearing into the brush.

As the caliche road took me closer to the old homestead cattle and axis deer took me deeper into my childhood.

Nostalgia clogged my throat. In the distance, the house Dad and our Tios built rose on the horizon. It was green now, not the bright yellow with blue trim that we knew. A lock on the gate stopped me about 200 yards from my childhood home. Determined to reach the old home, I drove to the house where Chencho used to live.


He was gone, but I knew the current foreman lived here. His name was Francisco Briones. I had met him two years prior. Today as luck would have it, he was outside working on a deer feeder.  I informed him of Dad’s passing and how I wished to go to the house I grew up and walk the land. In the years since the sell of the ranch, it had changed owners four times in three years. At one time the ranch was over three thousand acres, now it was sub divined int 50 to 100 acre “ranchettes”.

The new owners of the land the house sat on bought it last month and only been out on weekends. They had asked Mr. Briones to “keep an eye” on the place.
Texas Hill Counrty


He opened the gate for me on the back side where the corrals were located. Together we walked passed the fences and barns. I paused for a moment to take in the fact that I was here. I hadn’t even realized how long I had been waiting to do this.

As I pointed out places and what we had done I became a tour guide of my childhood memories. I told him how we stacked bales of hay in the barn, the corrals where we’d round up the Charolais cattle. We went to the place where the machines had once been set up to spray the cattle with the medicine for ticks. As we walked further on to the property I showed him where Dad kept all the tools he worked with. We went into the room where we unloaded sacks of feed – corn, milo, pellets for the cattle, horses, sheep, deer, chicken and more. There were a lot of feedings that happened every day.

In the tack room the wooden saddle seats were still there, but empty. The leather and gear were long gone. The old Jacoby house that was once red was now pink. Not far was the chicken coop where I would gather the eggs each morning, before going to school.

As we walked to the house, so many memories flooded my head and heart. I told Mr. Briones, this is where we all played baseball in the open field when we had family gatherings. Dad always pitched.


Crossing the yard to the house, it all looked so abandoned, so unkempt.

 But that didn’t stop the memories from toppling out, one over another.

The tree where Dad had nailed a basketball goal was still there, but the wooden backboard was gone. We had spent hours playing basketball. At the fence part of the ladder, Dad built for us to climb over was still there.


The house was locked, but I managed to sneak a peek through the window into the kitchen and dining room area. In my mind's eyes echoes of the people from my childhood were rushing around, working, eating and laughing. The smells of a busy kitchen surrounded me. How many hours had my mother stood at the stove? So many daily moments I had forgotten rushed back.
.
We walked around the side of the house and I told him which room belonged to who. It was time to leave. As we walked back I noticed the gas tanks were gone. Then there was the water tank and the well where we got our drinking water. There was a large fenced area where Dad would plant corn, tomatoes, squash, carrots, and so many other vegetables. There was the fish pond, where we once had goldfish and tons of tadpoles depending on the time of year.

It is now filled with trash and empty beer cans.  There was the tree where Dad killed a Spanish goats and gut and skin them, so our family had meat on the dinner table.

Overall the old Jacoby/Fair Ranch looks run down, unkempt, abandoned. The corrals are missing boards. The grass was waist high throughout the property. We passed two canovas and I remember the early mornings when it froze, and Dad would break the ice with a big shovel so the livestock could have water to drink.


We spoke about how all good things must come to an end. I shared with him that Dad left a legacy behind, he left us with rich memories. He had an impact on the ranch and on so many people’s lives.
We passed a field overgrown with prickly pears and cedar bushes.

Dad would have been upset and would have put us to work to clear that out. There was always work that needed to be done. I can hear Dad saying, “Que no esten dioquis, hay mucho que hacer.” There was always something to do.

I thanked Mr. Briones for opening the gate and letting me walk through my memories.

As I made my way back down the caliche road I looked in the review mirror of the green house, that was still yellow in my eyes. A sadness I wasn’t expecting tightened my chest. I had said goodbye to a friend that in reality had been gone a long time.

Looking to the sky I began talking to Dad. I told him how much I loved him. That was something I had never done in person while he was alive. I thanked him for everything he did for us. I told him that I missed him greatly.

I was a young child again, that wanted to go back to a life that was in some ways so much easier. As a teen, all I wanted to do was grow up so I wouldn’t have to deal with ranch life anymore. On the ranch, life seemed so dull with nothing but hard work.

Now I wish I could go back just for one last time and experience the ranch as it was.  The air, the animals, my parents, my brothers, and sisters all the extended family and the workers that joined us.
What was awesome about today was that I did go back. Today I walked through the past, remembering things I had forgotten.

All the hard work, people, joy in simple things that shaped me.


As I turned from Ranch Road 3235 on to Ranch Road 3361 I could hear Dad say… “Que se persinen.” I made the sign of the cross to remember that God is always with me.


 Love your “Baby” Brother,
Joe





Mom with her 11 children, their spouses, children and grandchildren


My new release will be in story May 21. It is up for pre-oder now. 
You will get to meet the De La Rosa family. They have a family ranch on the coast of Texas. I will be giving an early copy away Wednesday April 24 to someone that leaves a comment.

 Did you grow up in a city, small town or way out in the country?

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Sunday Scripture

Easter Sunday
The Resurrection of the Lord

Resurrection, Luca Giordano, after 1665, Salzburg, Austria. [PD-US]
On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark, 
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter 
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, 
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb, 
and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter 
and arrived at the tomb first; 
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him, 
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, 
and the cloth that had covered his head, 
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in, 
the one who had arrived at the tomb first, 
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture 
that he had to rise from the dead.
John 20:1-9

If you have any prayer needs, please mention them in the comments section so we can join you in prayer. You do not need to include specific names or situations of a private nature, just say that you have a prayer request. The Lord knows your heart and the needs you have. It is a privilege and honor to pray with you and for you.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

In with the new, by Myra Johnson

In my January blog, “Out with the old,” I wrote about going through drawers and closets and generally getting rid of anything—whether tangible or emotional—that no longer proved useful. At that time, my husband (“Project Guy,” as he’s affectionately known) and I were in the early stages of contemplating a major move, and paring down our possessions was a necessary first step.


Moving day--loading up in NC on March 13

As of mid-March, our move became a reality. Our North Carolina home sold quickly, and we’re now settling into brand new (to us) digs back in our home state of Texas! We had been away for 13 years, and I couldn’t be happier to be living in the gorgeous Texas Hill Country, where we once again have several family members close by. We are more than ready to embark on this new phase of our lives!

Texas bluebonnets!

But “new” also means change, and we’ve had a lot to adjust to. We’ve downsized a bit, and I’m having a terrible time finding spaces for all the bookcases to shelve the boxes and boxes of books I brought along! (Project Guy keeps telling me I need to pare down my collection, but really? Get rid of books???)

My new office--before I started getting it arranged (looks a lot better now!)

And that’s just the beginning. We’ve had to memorize a new address, zip code, and phone number. We’re learning new streets, restaurants, and shopping areas. We need to find new health care providers. We’re working hard to remember the names of our friendly new neighbors, and we’re looking for a new church home. 

Poppy & Penny explore their new backyard

Letting go of things that were familiar and comfortable to make room for new possibilities is both exhilarating and scary. That’s exactly what the heroine of The Rancher’s Redemption, my latest Love Inspired romance, finds herself faced with. Single mom Erin Dearborn seeks a fresh start after ending her abusive first marriage, but the challenges of striking out on her own soon overwhelm her. It’ll take a lot of faith, along with the encouragement of kindly but quiet rancher Kent Ritter, to rebuild her self-confidence and open her heart to another chance at love.

Have you stepped out of your comfort zone recently to try something new? How did it feel? What did you learn from the experience?


* * * * *

Native Texan Myra Johnson writes emotionally gripping stories about love, life, and faith. She’s currently at work on a new Love Inspired mini-series, Hill Country Haven, with returning characters from Her Hill Country Cowboy and Hill Country Reunion. The first book in the series, The Rancher’s Redemption, releases next month. Book two, Their Christmas Prayer, will be out in October.

Also look for the updated editions of Myra’s earlier romances:

Myra is a three-time Maggie Awards finalist, two-time finalist for the prestigious ACFW Carol Awards, winner of Christian Retailing’s Best for historical fiction, and winner in the Inspirational category of the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Awards. After living five years in Oklahoma, then eight years in the beautiful Carolinas, Myra and her husband are thrilled to be back in the Lone Star State enjoying spring bluebonnets, Tex-Mex, and real Texas barbecue! The Johnsons share their home with two very pampered rescue dogs who don’t always understand the meaning of “Mom’s trying to write.” They’ve also inherited the cute little cat (complete with attitude) their daughter and family had to leave behind when they moved overseas.
Sign up to receive Myra’s e-news updates here!



Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Through the Fire - Notre Dame by Belle Calhoune

The post I intended to write was always meant to be about Notre Dame, but it wasn't supposed to be like this.  Never like this.  As we all know by now, Notre Dame suffered tremendous damage on Monday when a fiery blaze broke out in the upper portion of the cathedral.  Although Notre Dame suffered catastrophic damages, many parts of the cathedral, along with religious artifacts and symbols, were spared. God is good!

Three weeks ago I visited the sacred cathedral with my husband and two daughters on our epic London-Paris trip.  Having dealt with fear of flying that hindered my ability to get excited about the trip prior to it, I was awestruck by the presence of God on my trip.  It was most evident on my trip to Notre Dame.  The moment one walks into the cathedral, you know you are in the presence of God.  You feel Him surrounding you. You see Him all around you.






First, let me say that this was my third and most poignant visit to Notre Dame. The first time I was sixteen years old, and although I enjoyed the beauty and solemnity of it, I really was too young to fully comprehend what I was experiencing.  This most recent trip was special and my husband and I truly were awestruck by the beauty of the French gothic masterpiece.  Having studied French for ten years and traveled throughout France extensively, I am a Francophile.  I feel such a connection to the French people and I have ever since I took my first French lesson as a child. As a Catholic, there are few places as sacred and awe inspiring as Notre Dame.  Visually, I was mesmerized by the beautiful stained glass windows.  And how amazing that they survived the heat and flames!









We took a moment to light a candle and offer up prayers.  It was a serene and comforting experience.



The beautiful interior of the cathedtral.  A mass was being held as we visited.  Even though the priest spoke in French, you saw people of all nationalities worshiping and listening to his every word.





Priceless religious artifacts were on full display.  Irreplaceable artwork, ornate and intricate in their details.









I thought these two pieces were simply stunning in their beauty.





Notre Dame is still standing.  It survived, much as it has carried on through wars and revolutions. And the French people, and the entire world, will assist in the renovation of Notre Dame.  It is a symbol of hope and of God's love for all of us.  The glowing cross that was shown in the rubble is a powerful reminder of HOPE.

God was there when Notre Dame was consumed by flames.  He was there in the aftermath when people were outside singing and praying. He protected the pompiers (firemen) as they raced to extinguish the blaze.  He aided the French chaplain, Jean-Marc Fournier, as he entered the burning cathedral to salvage priceless religious artifacts. He was there, making sure all wasn't lost.

Sadly, Notre Dame won't be open to the public for six long years.  I feel humbled and grateful that we were able to make this visit.  I am thankful to God for guiding me on this journey.  There are no accidents in life, and I truly feel that God was showing me that something wonderful awaits you if you push past your fears and embrace all the world has to offer.

Blessings! Happy Easter!


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Saying Good-Bye to the Old and Saying Hello To the New by Jo Ann Brown

Life is a woven tapestry of having to say good-bye to one aspect of it and saying hello to another. I always thought that a graduation ceremony,
instead of being called “commencement,” should be more of “Hail and Farewell” as we had in the military when a high-ranking officer cycles out and another takes her or his place. A celebration of both the leaving and the arrival. Throughout our lives, we have periods of time when we are settled and times when we’re packing up and moving on.
Sometimes, this is literal. We find we have to move from our home to another place. It might be a job change or retirement or even going to college or simply buying that RV and seeing the world. Right now, we’re helping my father with that good-bye. He’s getting ready to sell the house, the only one my parents ever owned, that he’s lived in since the early 1970's. It was part of our family even before they bought it, because my mother’s parents rented the downstairs apartment before it was converted to a single family. Nearly fifty years later, he’s realized that taking care of that big house is more than he wants to deal with,
so my sisters and I are helping him sort through years of possessions and deciding what he wants to keep, what he wants to sell and what he wants to give away. For all of us, it’s a farewell moment, a reopening of the past as we look at photos and through items we’d once been familiar with but had forgotten or simply put out of our minds. His “hello” moment will be when he moves into his new apartment at my sister’s house and no longer has the responsibility for a big house...though he still intends to keep busy by doing things like mowing the grass and puttering in the garden.
Life is made up of these moments of change. Change caused by outside circumstances, change caused by others, change caused by ourselves. After all, isn’t that what our romance stories are about...how someone is changed by someone who comes into their life at a pivotal moment? It’s always so comforting to me, as a reader, to see how the hero and heroine (and their families and friends) step up to confront change and make it work in a positive direction for them.
Though there’s always that moment when a reader is hoping that everything doesn’t crash down in disaster!
Right now, I’m facing a few endings and beginnings of my own. In life and in my writing.
My upcoming book The Amish Widower’s Twins will be final book in my Amish Spinster Club series. Releasing in mid-June in print, it’s a book that I felt really sorry to finish because I have enjoyed writing about a new Amish community set near my home town. On the other hand, I’m now working a new Amish series, Green Mountain Blessings, that will begin in December 2019. I’m getting to meet a whole new collection of characters and work with them as they go through their own endings and new beginnings. Just like when we read a book by a favorite author, it’s sad to have one series come to an end, but, oh, how delicious it is to begin something brand new! Who knows what waits us in the days to come?