Book Pick–A Home for My Heart by Anne Mateer

One of the first things capturing my attention in A Home for My Heart, by Anne Mateer, was the intriguing setting— a turn of the century orphanage.  Raystown Home for Orphan and Friendless children is a refuge not only for those whose parents are gone, but for those whose parents are unable to care for them.

The main character, Sadie Sillsby, came to the home as a youngster and now works as the assistant to the matron. She’s in love with her beau, Blaine, who once resided at the home, and dreams of marrying him one day. But when the matron announces her engagement, Sadie is next in line for the job. The position is a dream come true for this young woman who hopes to make the world a better place for children in circumstances much like hers once were.

But Sadie faces a dilemma—matrons cannot be married. If she accepts the position, can she give up her desire to become Blaine’s wife and raise his children? Can she meet the demands managing the home will require? Keeping books, raising funds, and staying within the law will all weigh heavily on her limited skill set. When it is discovered the home is spending more than it takes in, can Sadie prevent the house’s closing?

Published by Bethany House, the book will raise the reader’s awareness of how indigent children were cared for in the early 1900’s. As someone who has researched foster care in our century, I found many of those early guidelines refreshing—the nurture of the child’s emotional state as important as meeting physical needs. Sadie is motivated by what she experienced in her past and the children in her care are better off for it.

This book would make a wonderful Christmas present for someone who likes romance, turn of the century lifestyles, and a story with many twists and turns. Available from Amazon, Christian Book Distributors and wherever good books are sold.

Christmas in a Shoebox–Operation Christmas Child

When our church announced it would participate in a missions outreach called Operation Christmas Child sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse, my husband and I decided to investigate. The missions statement intrigued us: “Operation Christmas Child demonstrates God’s love to hurting children in a tangible way by partnering with churches worldwide to deliver gift-filled shoeboxes and the Good News of Jesus Christ.” 

What we found was a surprising worldwide ministry to children at Christmas.  Since 1993 more than 100 million boys and girls in more than 130 countries have experienced God’s love through the power of simple shoebox gifts. With the recent typhoon in the Philippines, the need had reached urgent status.  

It sounded so simple. Fill a box with toys, school supplies, and hygiene items and send it to a gathering sight. We were drawn to the simplicity of the project and could easily imagine children without anything receiving the gifts we sent.

 My husband brought home an empty box, deciding he would fill one for a young boy. After he went shopping, he became excited, impressed with how much one little box could hold. We returned to the store and together bought gifts for two other children. I filled one for a girl and my son filled one for a pre-teen boy. I don’t know when we’d had so much fun shopping together for someone we didn’t know.

The third week of November is collection week and we stacked our boxes with those brought in by other church members.  The middle school, high school, and college departments fill sixty-eight boxes by themselves. The colorful red and green shoeboxes were as beautiful as any Christmas tree could have been.

 But more than the gifts, and the unconditional love represented inside, I imagined the faces of the children who would receive a gift they’d never expected. Knowing our boxes might change the lives of hurting children, we were the greater blessed.

 In Matthew 19:14 (NKJV) Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

For more information about Operation Christmas Child visit   Franklin Graham, President

Are You Part of the Thankful Countdown?

Thanksgiving is upon us. For the past two weeks, I’ve watched as Facebook friends each day list what they give thanks for. This week I became thankful for a youthful friend who has a giving heart. I wonder how many other thirteen-year-olds like her exist. 

While interviewing her for an article I’m currently writing, I was given the candy image in the picture. The “turkey” consists of a wrapped sucker on a stick attached to a chocolate kiss in foil, two eyes, and a maple leaf for a tail—a  Tootsie Turkey. The young woman and her siblings made a bunch of these to distribute at nursing homes in honor of the holiday. The verse reads: Philippians 1:3 “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.” 

Statistics tell us many elderly residing in care facilities never receive a visitor, let alone meet a caring teen bearing gifts. Imagine how blessed some senior will be when he or she receives one of these cute gifts from the hands of a loving young person they don’t know. That young woman blessed me with her giving heart. 

Who will you bless during this season of thanks? What unselfish act will you perform? Does some person need your gentle touch, a helping hand, a card remembering them? However you feel led to show appreciation for another, do it. Make this Thanksgiving brighter for someone close to you.  

And if you are the person who needs someone to care, think of this young woman and her candy turkey, and know she would visit you if she could.  Let her warmth warm you. 

Above all, give thanks.  

Honoring Our Veterans with Thankful Hearts

This is a repeat posting from November 2012, but it remains true.

Every November my husband and I make our yearly trek up I-5 to watch the Annual Veterans Day parade in Albany, Oregon. With more than two hundred entries and as many as 40,000 spectators, the parade boasts of being the largest of its kind west of the Mississippi. The event is organized and run by volunteers from the Veterans Commemoration Association, a local group.

The variety of entries never fails to amaze me. The Viet Nam veterans led the parade en masse on motorcycles of every make and size. People around me estimated the group of riders to contain at least two hundred bikes. The noise suggested the group might even be larger.

Veteran soldiers from wars past and present rode like royalty inside cars with signs posted on the vehicles telling of the soldier’s service, rank and the war in which he or she served. Marching units included all the branches of the military, men and women alike. Families of fallen soldiers rode in memory of their loved one, his or her picture mounted for all to witness.

Even the Civil War was represented by re-enactors dressed in period costume. Confederate and Union soldiers walked or rode horseback. Women dressed as wives, widows, and sweethearts followed. Marching bands from the local schools, a sheriff’s posse, and local businesses completed the parade.

The commemoration is a reminder our freedom to live as we do in the United States came with a price tag in the form of human lives. The strength of our military has protected us from aggressors who would like to see our way of life destroyed. No one likes war, but the sacrifices made by these men and women, past and present, should not be forgotten or taken for granted.  They gave that we might live. Psalm 27:1-3.

 Have a thankful Veterans Day.

When Someone Dies–A Reality Check

Death visited our family twice this past month—two women, each married to one of my husband’s older brothers, exchanged this world for the next.

One of the deaths surprised us. The woman had fought a virus for two weeks, and when she didn’t improve, visited her doctor. He diagnosed her with small cell carcinoma and scheduled an appointment with an oncologist ten days later, an appointment she wouldn’t keep. She died the following Thursday.

 The other woman had battled dementia for nearly twenty years. Though her body lingered with the living, her mind departed a decade earlier. Her death was a release, especially for the third daughter who stood vigil over her mother, seeing to her every need for an eon of time.

 As usually happens with a death, lives slowed, people taking time to express their regrets and renew relationships faded with neglect. Relatives I had known as children when I married into the family, came to the memorial service as grandparents, their little ones frolicking between the headstones, a poignant portrait of the beginning and end of life.  More than once I heard someone say, “I haven’t seen you in ages.” An outsider listening in might have thought the gathering was a party and not a memorial service.

 Death has a way of making us stop and think about our lives. In the frantic scurry of busy schedules, we often forget that all of us will meet an end someday somewhere. Death is a reality check, a reminder that this life will pass and the next one will begin.

 The Bible promises that those who have discovered the truth of the Savior Jesus Christ will spend eternity with Him in heaven. Physical death of the body is not the end—it is a new beginning.

 I Corinthians 15:55-57 (NKJV) says, “O Death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 Readers—This week give someone a hug for me, will you? Enjoy those relationships now and don’t wait for tragedy to bring you together. Have a great week.