My Readers Respond

iced tea Not many weeks ago, I posted titles of new books available for summer reading pleasure. At the time I also invited my readers to suggest authors whose names and works might be unfamiliar to me. To my delight I have three authors—Ann Gaylia O’Barr, Camille Eide, and Frieda Wampler—to introduce to you. Each one is published through a smaller publishing house.

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Foreign Espionage

I first met Ann Gaylia O’Barr at the Mount Hermon conference in San Jose, CA in 2009 and then again at a ACFW conference in Dallas, Texas. Her books intrigued me because Ann writes from the depths of fourteen years of experience as a Foreign Service Officer in the United States Department of State. Her assignments included tours of Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Canada, and Tunisia. The first novel included not only espionage, but detailed descriptions of historic sites her characters lived around and worked within.

Ann has two new books out in a mystery and family series that features Mark Pacer, a young man from Appalachia who journeys outside his comfort level to join the Foreign Service. When he arrives in Washington, D.C. for diplomatic training, he is an outsider. His academic credentials from a Southern  university are brilliant, but his accent sets him apart. His father has accused him of choosing a “highfalutin” profession. He falls in love with Reye, a woman in his training class who has no interest in a hillbilly. Should he give up and return home? This story, Where I Belong, was a finalist in the Selah awards from this year’s Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference.

If Winter Comes-coverwebThe second, If Winter Comes, carries Mark and Reye through their first separate Foreign Service assignments, two weeks after their marriage. Reye witnesses the buildup to the eventual takeover of the Tehran embassy, while Mark deals with an abused American child in a custody case. Can their marriage survive the separation so early? Will Mark break the law to help the child escape?

Both books can be found at http://anngayliaobarr.net/about-my-books or on Amazon.com.

 

Inspirational Romance

Named the best inspirational romance of 2015 by Romantic Times and awarded a rare five gold star top pick rating as well, The Memoir of Johnny Devine by Camille Eide has received rave reviews. Set in the 1950’s, when women were supposed to marry, stay home, and take care of their household, unmarried and educated Eliza Saunderson is committed to her career and to making a difference in social justice. Her sensitivity, intelligence and grace endear her to her boss, Johnny Devine.The Memory of Johnny Devine

Kristin Wise of Romantic Times says Eide “has managed to intertwine a beautiful love story, the desire to build a personal relationship with God, and the necessity for social change into one fantastic read.” Published by Ashberry Lane, the book is available from Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.

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Great Depression Memoir

When my high school friend, Larry Wampler, approached me with the memoir he helped his mother, Frieda, who is 97, write about her childhood growing up in Westlake, Oregon, I had to investigate. After reading the tale, I knew my readers would want to know about this delightful look back into history.

Westlake Girl: My Oregon Frontier Childhood is a charming tale about a girl who struggles against the barriers facing her because she is female and living during the Great Depression. The daughter of a Hungarian immigrant, she grows up helping her father run a general store, complete with a two-seater outhouse and a Sears Roebuck catalog. She navigates a boat on the lake, tames a pet seal, and cuts her hair because it is more convenient to wear it short, and not because the flappers are adopting the style in the East. The family photos included with the story are priceless.

Published this spring by Globe Pequot Press under their TwoDot imprint, the story is available from Amazon.com. More of the story can be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/WestlakeGirl/

Izetta book cover

And for my e-book readers:

True Love Story

My writing colleague Tammy Bowers recently published an e-book, Izetta, who was her aunt, a tragic love story based on true events of passion, murder, and the power of prayer.

In southern California in the late 1950’s a Marilyn Monroe look-a-like named Izetta meets Joe Conkey. The magnetic pull to this man is nothing she’s ever experienced before. There’s one problem: Joe is the best friend of her fiancé—Ford. Izetta dumps Ford and elopes with Joe. This is her second elopement, the first ended in disaster. This second one seems perfect, except for the dark cloud of Ford. Her millionaire ex isn’t bowing out nicely.

Izetta can be found on Amazon.com at:  https://www.amazon.com/Izetta-fictional-novella-passion-murder-ebook/dp/B01J4WKZZ4/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1469809693&sr=1-1&keywords=izetta#navbar

 

 

 

Enduring Death’s Sting

bibleThe call came mid-morning. 

The male voice belonged to our nephew, the choked speech from his inner child. His mother, my husband’s sister, lay dying. She’d suffered a heart attack and collapsed. When the paramedics broke down the door, she’d lost consciousness. Now life support stood between her and eternity. 

After she’d estranged herself from the family more than fifteen years before, we had little contact—an occasional phone call or a request for money. She’d found drugs, alcohol, and other men a better lifestyle than the wife and mother she’d been. Her adult children abandoned her, raising their children without the influence of a grandmother who’d strayed.  

It hurt. My nephew’s sobs testified to that.

 In earlier years, we knew she’d heard the gospel message. We’d taken her children to church, she’d counseled with our pastor, and she’d lived where daily chapel services shared the good news. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31) Did she ever accept that message?

 Anybody who seeks forgiveness will be given it. John 6:37 says, “All that the Father gives me shall come to me; and him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out.” Did she have regrets?

Eternal life is for all. John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” God still loved her.

Now as we stood by her bed, my husband shared those verses again. Reassured her that heaven was waiting. All she needed to do was say yes.

The nurse affirmed that those in a coma do hear. They’re aware of their surroundings even if they can’t respond. My sister-in-law’s pulse elevated when my husband spoke, her breathing became uneven. As though she were telling us she heard.

She hovered three days after life support was withdrawn. Her son and daughter stayed by her side, the time spent telling their mother they forgave her for what she’d done. Cleansing tears were shed and two broken children were released from the burden they’d carried too long.

We’ll not discover the end of this story until we stand in God’s presence. But we do know this woman had every opportunity to respond to God’s call. That will be our consolation.

It’s never too late to mend a fence or rebuild a bridge. Who is waiting to be forgiven in your life? Don’t put it off.

 

 

 

An Anniversary Remembrance

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This week I congratulated a young woman who told me she and her husband celebrated their fifth anniversary on the fourth of July. The milestone day stretched into the night while she tended to a toddler with a sick tummy. I assured her that future anniversaries would not all be sidetracked by young children and that celebrations would become more couple-centered. I ought to know—my husband and I will mark our forty-first year of marriage next week. 

I well remember how anniversaries in our earlier years often were determined by the health of our children, the wealth of our checkbook, and the demands of others on our time. We spent several years tending to aging family members who were facing life-threatening ailments and needed our care. We weren’t always free to celebrate our marriage as we wished, but we always took time to remember the day of our wedding. Sometimes a home-cooked meal with a fresh baked cake proved to be the extent of our festivities.

God ordained marriage. He saw that man should not be alone and he made woman to be his helpmate. In Genesis 2:18 the Lord says, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him.”

He wanted men and women to be faithful to each other. In Hebrews 13:4 he tells us: “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled.”

In Proverbs 19:14 we are told: “House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.”

I would tell my friend who just completed her fifth year of marriage that she is on the right track. Two people striving together to live the life they were given will bring rewards as well as trials, but be assured God is growing you together for Him. He has a plan for your life as a couple. 

When my husband and I take time to remember our anniversary this week, I will thank God for his wisdom in creating the wonderful relationship possible between a man and a woman in the institution of marriage.

I might even bake a cake.

 

 

The Ultimate Connection

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Drought across the region, wildfires burning acreage by the thousands, and flooding in other parts of the country have brought many of us to our knees seeking intervention by a divine power. I’ve prayed for rain to begin for my friends in California, and for the rain to stop for friends who have suffered loss in the flooded areas of Virginia. Different needs in different places. James 5:16 says the “prayers of a righteous man availeth much.” Will God understand my duplicity?

Today I am praying for a three-hour break in an unexpected summer storm across my home state. A young woman I know, who has spent the last several months planning her outdoor wedding in a beautiful garden setting, is facing the possibility of mud splatters on her gown and soggy flowers on the altar. Her outdoor buffet may easily become drenched plates of delicacies on water-soaked tables. Her dream ceremony may end in disaster. How sad. I don’t know how God will answer, but still I ask.

Praying about rain in such extremely different capacities may seem like the words of a double-minded optimist who beseeches the God of the heavens on a whim. But scripture shows us that the loving creator of the universe welcomes our petitions, even when it involves something so personal as a wedding ceremony.

In Luke 11:9 we read: “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find, knock, and it shall be opened to you.” God tells us to beseech Him.

In Matthew 6:25-27, we’re told: “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air: they do not sow or reap or gather into barns—and yet our Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” God has everything under control.

In John 14:13-14 God promises us an answer.  His response may be yes, no, or wait, but whatever it is, we can be confident that our Heavenly Father has our best interests in mind, helping us to grow to maturity in him.

As I post this, the sun has broken through the clouds, the air is warm, and every possibility for a wonderful nuptial service exists. I can’t say if this will last, but God in his wisdom will provide.

 

A Prayer for Independence Day

4th of July 15 001If those who signed the original Declaration of Independence in 1776 could see America today, I wonder what they would think of what we have become. Would they be impressed with our technology? Would they find our economy amazing? Would our infrastructure of highways, air traffic, and train travel surprise them? Would they be proud of the nation they helped launch?

On this fourth day of July, freedom is a catch word for a lot of causes. Freedom from tyranny. Freedom to live as we wish. Freedom to hop in our car and drive the width of the continent without a checkpoint at every state border. Those who have been born citizens have never known what it is to be oppressed, to be afraid of an outside power, to go to sleep at night and wonder if we’ll see the morning come.

We live in a culture which is the envy of the world. People who want to become citizens far outnumber those who would choose to live elsewhere.

Yet there is strife and anxiety. Many fear our freedoms are in jeopardy. Many think America has lost her original zeal. That she will fail as a nation. That her children will become enslaved in another ideologyone that does not support the traditions set forth by our founding fathers. Religious freedom will become a thing of another time and another era.

In I Chronicles 7:14 God makes us a promise. “If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

This July Fourth will you join me in beseeching the great God of the universe to hear our petitions, forgive us for our wrongdoings, and heal our land? America has not yet been lost, it has merely strayed from its original path. God will guide us back.