It’s so easy when we look around to absolutely freak out at what we’re seeing, hearing and believing.
The God that created the duck also created you and me.
As I watched this little guy travel around the lake in Speculator, New York, I realized what a picture of peace he is.
And he might look lazy but I think under the water where I can’t see, he’s getting the job done.
I might not be the loudest voice on your newsfeed but I can say this: underneath the water, I’m praying.
For the root cause behind the flags and the rainbows. For wounded people wounding people. And so much more.
Prayer is key.
Prayer changes things.
Prayer gives peace.
May Christ’s peace be yours today.
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.
This week I’m featuring interviews with the characters from my debut romance, Entrusted. If you need a stocking stuffer for the reader in your life, I hope meeting these fun characters will encourage you to purchase this Adirondack surrender read.
Entrusted starts out with you getting in a bit of trouble. Is that what you’re about, Jenna?
You spent most of your life in Youngstown, Ohio. What made you leave the area for the mountains?
I spent most of my childhood with an elderly neighbor who was a dear friend. Florence Owens made me promise before she passed away that I would live life to the fullest. After her death I looked around and realized my job didn’t leave room for advancement. I needed change. I found an ad in a rural magazine about a job opening and I called. When the call ended, I had a new job in Speculator Falls, NY.
One of the first people you meet is Carla Rowling. Tell us about her.
I was scared of her at first because she was meeting me on official business as the sheriff, but I quickly realized she was going to be a great friend. She’s warm, funny, sensitive and a great mom to Noah.
You seem to worry about not belonging, yet Pastor Reynolds comes to you for advice. How did that make you feel?
Honored. He’s a respected man in the community and I don’t think what I did by moving to Speculator Falls was that inspirational. And given how Ben reminds me at every chance that I’m not from the area, I’m sure there were better people to talk to than me. But I’m happy he chose me.
Speaking of Ben Regan, tell me about him.
Well, the first meeting didn’t go well. Nor did the second or probably the third. But once I realized it wasn’t so much personal against me but protecting himself from further hurt, he was easier to take. And those muscles from stocking shelves, that’s a perk to visiting JB’s. Ben also has the richest brown eyes. Like chocolate.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
Interacting with the senior citizens. They are wonderful people and I’ve learned a lot from them. At my old job in Ohio I didn’t have a lot of direct and consistent contact with them. I’m building deep relationships with everyone at the senior center and I love it.
What do you love about Speculator Falls?
That it’s like family here. The smells. I can’t begin to describe how wonderful it smells outside. The pine and air is so pure and fresh. Sara Bivins took me to the hunting cabin and showed me the journal everyone signs when they visit. That’s a precious memory for me.
What’s your biggest challenge?
I have a few. The senior center needs updating and that costs money. Ben is on the council and he’s definitely not rooting for the center to make it. Quite the opposite, actually. Howard Wheaton is a senior who is a bit grumpy with me, but I think he’s a teddy bear. Kyle Swarthmore is a mogul from New Jersey who has a summer home in the area. He’s nice to me, but I think he has an agenda. I’m on a campaign to have the food service to realize that a dessert is not a fruit cup. It’s chocolate. And, I’m homesick. I miss my parents and sister.
Jenna, thanks for sharing today. I think readers got a great glimpse of you and Speculator Falls.
Great! I hope readers take a chance on us and purchase Entrusted today.