NOTE: If you receive this blog via email, the sale might already have started.
Although Ohio has seen 90+ temps already (and snow in May,) it is now summer. One of my favorite things to do is watch our daughter swim and have a book on the deck.
And now, I want to put a couple books in YOUR hands.
If you enjoy the feel of a “real” book, I priced ENTRUSTED and ENTANGLED so you could buy both and spend less than $20. Typically, you would see a full length novel sell for $15 each. I believe that much in these stories getting to people and changing lives.
If you have a Kindle, or a tablet, laptop, desktop or phone that you use for reading, I am having a sale on the ebook versions of ENTRUSTED and ENTANGLED Monday, June 20 and Tuesday, June 21. Remember, if you don’t have a Kindle, download the FREE Kindle app to your device and start reading!
ENTRUSTED will be FREE. Yep, no cost at all.
ENTANGLED will be .99. You can purchase both books in the Surrendering Time Series (book 3, ENGAGED, due later this year) for .99 ebooks. That’s how to say hello to summer!
Purchase Link: http://ow.ly/RGOs301mVag (Please check to make sure you’ve selected preferred format, and that the ebook sale started. It is slated to begin Monday, June 20, approximately 12am Pacific.)
“You need to go home, city-girl. You don’t belong.”
Jenna Anderson, sassy city-girl from Youngstown, Ohio, plows–literally–into Adirondack village, Speculator Falls, with a busted GPS and a determination to fit in as the newest resident. She wants to live a life without regret and make a difference. Moving to become the senior center director is the biggest risk she’s ever taken, and she believes her ideas are worth investing in. The senior citizens have been hurt by the last director, so Jenna has to work hard to earn their trust. When they embrace her, she thinks it’s time to show the seniors she intends to stay and make the center beautiful for them.
Town councilman and grocer Ben Regan is as broken as the flower box Jenna demolished. He’s grieving from the double loss of his grandfather’s passing and his former girlfriend leaving town without saying goodbye. His grief is so strong he wants to shut down the senior center before there’s too much change and heartbreak. Re opening the senior center and hiring a new director was never his plan. Jenna isn’t a Speculator Falls local and she has too many plans that will cost money the village doesn’t have. She’s too excited about his dream to expand the store his grandfather built. The harder he tries to keep Jenna at a distance, the more they are thrown together to work on community projects. They build a slow relationship, but the council needs to vote on the senior center’s future. Can Jenna show Ben both her and the center are worth trusting?
Purchase Link: http://ow.ly/1ryi301mVyX (Please check to make sure you’ve selected preferred format, and that the ebook sale started. It is slated to begin Monday, June 20, approximately 12am Pacific.)
“You need to leave me alone. It’s the least you can do.”
Carla Rowling has been given her dream of attending cosmetology school. The gift is so generous she feels unworthy because of choices she made as a teen. The pressure mounts as Carla juggles school, is a single mom, helps her best friend Jenna plan her wedding, spends time with boyfriend Will Marshall, and deals with the fact that her son’s father is back in their lives.
Will Marshall is the one Speculator Falls resident everyone can count on. His truck deliveries are reliable. He’s the first to help friends like Ben Regan with boat work or be a card partner with Bart Davis. Will’s ready to settle down with Carla, loving her is natural. He’s bonded with her son, Noah. But when Carla starts cosmetology school, she puts emotional distance between her and Will.
Can Carla release her past and create a future full of highlights, or, will she burn her options worse than a bad perm?
Most everyone knows I’m from Upstate NY. Although my hometown is Corning, I received my BA from the State University of New York at Geneseo. It was 1990-92 when I was there.
The school for the most part was divided into two categories: Upstate NY and NYC/Long Island. Now remember the time frame. Come Superbowl time, it was the Buffalo Bills and NY Giants. Talk about a battle. No, not the football teams. My friends.
When it came down to that one kick that unfortunately didn’t give the Bills a win, my dorm shook. No lie. The uproar between upstate and downstate probably scored on the Reichter scale.
Those were the Jim Kelly years and Geneseo was close enough to Buffalo somehow as an Upstate-er I felt a connection. There were times we heard the players used our track or were on their way to party at the exact places we were at. We had friends of friends of friends who had been to parties. He was part of my college scene by association and again, with that Superbowl moment, embedded into my college memories for life.
It seemed fitting as I graduated and moved on, the Bills kind of faded as well, at least as far Superbowl invitations and national fanfare. I’d hear Jim Kelly news here and there but I was busy carving out my place in Upstate NY.
The next phase where I felt a connection was after college, after marriage, after children. I was evolving as a woman of faith—not as tied to approval as I once was, but still not where I am today. It was the darkest time of my life. My dad was dying. My husband was on the precipice of moving to Ohio for a new job. Our baby was still sick with multiple breathing issues that often had her hospitalized. I wasn’t healed from her near death and how it came at a doctor’s hand. I heard about a women’s luncheon at our local radio station where Jill Kelly would be sharing. I knew Jill was married to Jim and that they had the little boy, Hunter. I thought it would be a nice break to see what she had to say.
Jill’s testimony remains a spiritual marker in my life. As she shared life with Hunter she talked about how each ER visit to them could mean his last. Our situations were different yet I knew that fear she spoke of. How many ER trips we’d endured. Our pede even gave me his personal cell in case I needed it. He had to convince me she was going to live to see her first birthday. When Jill spoke, the grief imploded and I sobbed as she spoke. She was so honest about her past and where her faith was at that moment. Where Jim was at spiritually. Then she shared a verse that was helping her through it all—the therapies, the ER visits, caring for her daughters, encouraging Jim.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8
I grabbed that verse and held on for dear life as we navigated more grief, sickness and change. I followed the headlines as Hunter left this world. I never forgot that verse. As our daughter stabilized I prayed for the Kelly family. I couldn’t even fathom the depth of their grief.
Fast forward and I then read about Jim’s cancer. I lifted up prayers and continued to follow headlines. When I read the cancer came back, I felt my gut drop. I wanted to do something for them, still remembering how Jill’s talk gave me the courage to move forward in faith. How so many great college memories were intertwined with Jim and the Bills. The only thing I could think of was to pray. I wrote one out on the Facebook page, returning that same verse to them in their great time of need.
During this time I saw Erin’s posts on social media. As difficult as her situation was, a young woman already fluent in grief, sharing their journey to encourage others. I saw such a gift in her writing and a maturity in her faith.
And here we are. Kelly Tough is Erin’s account of her life and faith and I want to say more than that, but I’ll wait for my review tomorrow. But for a family I’ve never met, somehow when I read the Kelly name, I always perked up.
And I think I always will.
As we settle into life taking this route on a daily basis, we still feel more change is to come as we seek “revive” on a personal level.
It’s easy to get caught up in the questions.
What kind of change?
Will it benefit all of us?
And on and on I could ask.
But as I drive this road full of twists and turns, snow and clear, smooth and pot holes, one thing keeps coming back:
He always directs our path.
We’ve decided to trust in Him, and He’s never let us down.
He’s given answers in His way, His time.
And even if our address changed, He hasn’t lost us.
And if you’re feeling out of sorts, know He hasn’t forgotten or lost you.
One of my favorite poems is Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken. Probably because I can relate. The wide path everyone else takes? I was never one to follow. I was the pioneer taking the narrow way rarely understanding why I wasn’t like everyone else.
Thing is, the path God gives you, it’s not going to be laden with golden brick.
That’s heaven, and you aren’t there yet.
Life is muddy. There is change. Loss. Challenges.
Enough to consider, if only for a moment, about taking an easier route.
Thing is, those muddy moments produce growth.
The valleys brought me way more wisdom than the mountains.
My faith in Christ and His track record moves forward because He moved me in the hardest of times.
If you’re stuck in the mud, don’t despair.
The road you’re taking isn’t an accident and not meant to destroy.
In fact, it’s the fast trek to faith and trust with the One who created your road.
My mom has a saying I heard a few times.
“It’s okay to look at the past, but don’t stare.”
That makes a lot of sense. I’ve watched a lot of people waste amazing potential because they still remember that great football game from high school, that one relationship that got away, that one rejection that nearly broke them.
On Monday most everyone will celebrate Memorial Day, and they should. But for our family, it marks ten years since my dad passed away.
That’s surreal on so many levels and there are little details long suppressed that are coming back as the date approaches. We recently lost someone that was close to dad who was so good to us after dad was gone. It brought us back in a lot of ways to 2004.
That season was horrific. For my husband, me and the kids, we were in such transition. Tom was in a brand new job on the OH/PA border living in a crappy apartment above a hot dog shop. Everything about the job was different than what he came from. I remember panicking when I heard the apprehension.
He celebrated his tenth anniversary a couple weeks ago.
I was back in Upstate NY with a kindergartner I was homeschooling and a baby that was recovering from croup. RSV. Pneumonia. Near death. Hypothyroidism. She was receiving therapies three times a week. I remember them encouraging me to speak more so she could hear verbalization. But back then all I had to offer was stunned silence and tears.
I worked on selling the house while Tom tried to find one in OH. There were many trips to look at new homes. Fights because we were grief stricken, shell shocked and bone tired.
Someone came to my sister and me and tried to pit us against us each other to see who was grieving more. She was a true Daddy’s girl who learned her work environment was changing while we made funeral arrangements. She found out about the change when boxes were delivered.
We did a lot of ministering to others because so few knew Dad was sick, and there they were at his funeral. He looked great. It was a very small circle that knew his fight.
Mom woke up the day after the funeral realizing after a life time of caring for so many people, she had no one to care for. That was her role, what she did. Who she was. And that was gone.
Once our move was complete I remember sitting in our new bedroom staring at those towers with blinking lights. Deep down I’m a country girl so I still don’t know what they are. But I couldn’t wrap my mind around it all. I had no idea how I got there.
And if I’d even survive.
While I set our toddler up with therapies and doctors and made sure our first grader adapted well to school and made sure my husband felt encouraged in his new job I grieved. I missed everything my family was. This new normal was so radical I had trouble trusting God. My husband worked through a Bible study on Job with me to help me take the pain and find the purpose.
And I’m so glad he did.
From that pain, grief, sadness, shock and everything in between I clung to Hosea 2:14. Basically it says when in the wilderness, God will speak tenderly to us. In that season I learned to lean on Him. Listen. Realize it was a season and He did have a purpose. It wasn’t a joke at my expense. I understood it as a preparation season, too. A visual learner, I pictured every tear going into a warehouse that Jesus will show me in heaven, and explain it all to me on that warehouse tour. I picked up His challenge to take that brokenness, knowing I will never see life the way it was, but in that new way, share that broken place with others.
Had I not lost so much on a level so deep, I would not be writing. In that season I surrendered everything, even fear. From there I started writing with no more fear of rejection or people pleasing. I trust God’s timing and words He gives, and am a literal scribe. I’ll put myself out there so people can see there is hope. They can survive this. Thrive, even.
As I emerged I was reading Get Out of that Pit by Beth Moore and I realized I was involved in something toxic that threatened to keep me in 2004 even though a couple years had passed. There was someone not just looking back, but staring. She wanted me to stare too. And when I decided not to, she didn’t like it.
Each year when we mark dad’s passing, it’s always different. This year is a little more pronounced. A decade I think is a milestone to remember. Losing someone so recently that meant a lot to our family brought feelings and memories back. As much as I miss dad and think of so many things every day that we could talk about, I know he’d be proud of how we’ve carried ourselves. Mom took on a project that was his dream and handled every single detail until it was completed. My sister is a mom and her little guy would be a delight to his grandpa. Dad would be proud of how my husband’s worked to provide for us and look out for his family. Our kids? There is so much in our son that is my dad. Our daughter was a kindred spirit to dad. She was less than a year old when he passed, but the bond was deep.
I am who I am because I’ve been emptied and made new. I’ve cried enough tears to fill that heavenly warehouse. Or 4.
But at this special remembrance, I look back.
And thank God I didn’t stare.
If you’re struggling with grief, I highly recommend griefshare.org. This was also key in my healing and moving forward.