Remembering Oma

IMG_0595Fond memories of my Oma (grandmother) stir my mind today as Mother’s Day approaches. She loved to tell me stories, and greatly influenced my love of storytelling (writing). There was always a book or magazine nearby, for she loved reading.

My Oma’s character would make a great heroine in any novel. Her life was filled with hardship, but she always looked for ways to bring joy to those around her, while holding tight to her faith in God. She was a survivor, a helper, an encourager, who refused to allow herself to be defeated. Instead, she emotionally rolled up her sleeves and faced her battles head on. A wonderful blend of strength and delicacy was my sweet Oma. And I was the granddaughter who was blessed to sit beside her and learn from her.

Oma, I still can’t pass by wildflowers without hearing your words, “Anne, you must take time to see the flowers along the path. God planted them there for your enjoyment.” On my walk this week, I saw violets displaying their purple blooms in the forest and I thought of you, my precious Oma.


Climbing Stairs and Trusting

NSHMjz8NTcORAYdJXEGBqgAs my grandson began climbing stairs, I stayed one step behind, prepared to catch him if he falls. After every one step up, he took a quick peek to assure himself I was still there.

Another month older, and he’s become more trusting. Now he’ll take the steps without looking back, except to see if I’m far enough away, which I never am, so he might have time to crawl to the outlet and pull out the nightlight. He’s certain I’m close enough to catch him if he falls, but maybe far enough so he might be able to try something that’s a no-no.

God is your loving Heavenly Father who watches over you. He said, not even a sparrow falls from the sky without His awareness (Matthew 10:29). Of how much more value are you than a sparrow when God sent His own Son, Jesus, to die in your place? He cares for you beyond human imagination, and He’s never far away.

Just like my grandson must learn to obey in order to stay safe, we must obey God. His guidance, correction, and discipline are always for our good. How wonderfully reassuring to know we serve a God who cares for us.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 KJV

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21 NIV


Happy Thanksgiving!


“The more I come to recognize my story’s place in God’s grander Story, my once-bewildered questions are turning to psalms of thanksgiving at the wonder that I have been included in what He is doing.”  ~ Gloria Gaither

THANK YOU to all of you who have encouraged me this year with my writing. Thank you for the wonderful reviews, speaking opportunities, words of encouragement, and for taking the time to read what I have written. This new venture I’m on is amazing because of all of you!


I’m especially grateful for my husband and children, who have been supportive all along the way. And I’m tickled pink to have become a grandmother this year!! There is nothing like it!

Finally, I am blessed beyond measure by the comments from my readers who have said they have received spiritual encouragement while reading my novel and/or reading my blog. I agree with Gloria Gaither in her quote above. I’m so glad to be included in what He is doing. I am eternally grateful for how He continues working in me. Jesus doesn’t give up on me because of my weaknesses. Instead, He encourages, strengthens, helps, and keeps me. Any accomplishment in my life is all due to His amazing love and grace toward me.




A Love That Endures

people-2583943_1920Walking at the mall today, I saw an old man in a wheelchair. There was nothing strange about that, of course, but what caught my attention was the fact that he was using his legs to move the wheelchair. No one was pushing him. His wife walked a few steps ahead of him.

She stopped, turned to him, and said, “Am I going too fast?”

He answered, “No, you’re fine.”

At this point, I was along side of the wife. We caught each others’ eyes, so I smiled and said, “Walking sure has changed, hasn’t it.”

She understood what I meant and smiled at me. “It sure has,” she said. “But would you believe my husband was bedridden for two years and in hospice?” She went on to explain how they had a doctor who would come to their house regularly to check on him. The wife had been caring for him at home on her own. Over time, he improved so much that they finally asked the doctor to stop coming because her husband wanted to go visit his own doctor.

When they arrived at the doctor’s office, his doctor said to the wife, “What have you done to him?”

“What do you mean?” She asked, afraid she’d done something wrong.

The doctor asked, “Did you study medicine?” When she shook her head “no,” he said, “Your husband should never have been able to get out of his bed.” He was amazed at the progress his patient had made.

She continued telling me about the various things she did to help her husband regain his strength. I was deeply touched by the dedication of this woman and the perseverance of this man. They were probably in their late 70s or 80s. He sat somewhat bent forward in his wheelchair, but he would look up and smile at us. One eye only slightly open and the other aged, yet in that wrinkled face I sensed a zest for life. He was not ready to stop living. There was plenty of fight left in him.

He looked at me with a slight smile and said, “They wanted to give me an electric wheelchair, but I wouldn’t hear of it. I can still use my legs.”

Standing their looking at this couple and listening to their story, I longed to ask them about their faith. Do they believe in God? I suspected that they did, but I wasn’t certain. So I asked the wife, “Where did you find the strength to take care of your husband?”

She smiled, pointed her finger upward, and said, “My strength comes from up there.”

I told her,  “I had a feeling you are a praying woman.”

“Oh, yes!” she said.

I was curious to know how long they’d been married.

With a bright smile, she said, “We’ve been married 58 years.”

I told her, “You have stayed faithful to the vows you made to each other for better and for worse. What a wonderful testimony your life is!”

She said, “That’s true. We have. And my husband helped me a few years ago when I had hip surgery.”

I knew I was looking at a love that had endured time, trials, and impossibilities. I saw before me a man whose body was withered, but he didn’t let it stop him. I saw a woman who didn’t complain about all she had to do for him. Instead, she joyfully stated, “I have dedicated my life to helping him get better.” She was obviously proud of her husband and I would venture to say she was his loudest cheerleader, encouraging him every step of the way.

As I was saying goodbye to them, she let me know, “Soon we will go camping again.”

I imagine they will.


Change with Change


I love fall with it’s vibrant colors and the last warm weeks before winter sets in. It’s a feeling of coming home. We prepare our gardens for winter and we get a long break from having to mow, weed, and water our plants. As fall progresses, the weather grows colder and we come inside and spend time together. We start to prepare for the holidays that will soon be upon us. I love the crisp air, the crackling of dried leaves beneath my shoes, the mums and pumpkins that decorate the front of my house, and hot apple cider becomes my favorite drink. Fall brings change, but it’s a change I welcome.

I can’t say that about every change in my life. Some change I’ve wanted to resist. Like seeing my children leave home and move away or watching my parents grow old and face the challenges that come with their aging. Come to think of it, I’ve been combating some of my own signs of aging, and unfortunately have lost the fight in some aspects of this battle. Breaking a habit is another difficult change. Have you ever tried changing your diet? Then you know what I’m talking about.

Yet change is inevitable and it all comes down to my attitude, doesn’t it? I realize some change is so devastating that you need time to mourn. I get that. I’ve been there. But I can’t stay in that depressed state for long. If I cannot hinder the change from occurring, I must resist the feeling of hopelessness. But how do I do that?

Many refer to 1 Corinthians 13 as the love chapter, but the verse that most profoundly affected me when I first read this chapter was verse 13. “Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.” The reason this verse stood out to me was the word “hope.” I totally get it that I need faith in God and I need love. Indeed, how empty my life would feel if I had no faith and no love in my life. But think for a moment what life would be like without hope. When change brings a negative outcome, I need hope that things will get better again. Hope gives me a reason to move forward and to make new plans.

So how do I keep myself from feeling hopeless? I’m certainly no expert, but I have a few suggestions.

  1.  Talk to God: When you have a personal relationship with God, there is nothing you cannot talk to Him about. It isn’t that He’s unaware of your difficulties or changes, but He wants you to come to Him because He wants to have fellowship with you. That’s how He set it up. Often, as I talk to God about what I’m going through, I find the answer as I pray. “Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.'” (Matthew 11:28 NLT) “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 NIV) I have come to God over and over again, and He has proven Himself faithful to me. He renews my hope.
  2. Refocus:  Look for ways to help others. Meet new people. Find a new hobby or do something you’ve always wanted to do, but never had the time. Take a course and learn something new. (I wrote a novel when I needed to accept a huge change in my life. I always wanted to do this, so I finally did it.)
  3. Work: Repaint and redecorate. The change will do you good. Work on gardening. Make some changes around your house. (When my kids moved out, instead of keeping their rooms as shrines in their memory, I repainted and redecorated them as guest rooms for when they would come home to visit. I loved the new look.)
  4. Exercise: This is a huge help to get rid of stress and get some happy hormones (endorphins) flowing through your body. Ask a friend or neighbor to join you. In the process, you may help them face their difficult changes in a healthy way, too.

In closing, I have one more word of advice. Change with change. Sounds strange, right? But what I mean is, when change comes your way, change with it. For instance, your adult child moved to another state. Don’t sit with a photo album on your lap staring at your loss, or watch all the home videos of your children’s childhood. There is a time for that. Do it when they visit you, and watch the videos together. You can all laugh at how adorable they were. In this way, you will make new happy memories with them of all of you watching the videos together. When your child calls you, don’t go on and on about how much you miss them and how lonely you are. It’s okay to say that you miss them, since it will make them feel loved and appreciated, but show them by example how you have also moved on with your life. In the process, you will be teaching your children how to accept change and move forward. So when change comes your way, change with it.

IMG_0991You cannot resist the fall season so that winter will never arrive. Whether you like it or not, if you live in Michigan, winter will come, ready or not. It’s best to embrace and enjoy the fall season and then do it again when winter sets in, because in every season there is something to enjoy. In the same way, when change comes into your life, you must embrace it and prepare for the next phase. It may be the opposite of what you long to do, but it is what you must do for yourself and for your family. Make the new phase enjoyable by the attitude in which you embrace it.

He Bought Me a Smartphone

“You need a smartphone,” he told me.

“Why?” I responded. “This phone does everything I need it to do. It lets me call people and receive calls from people. Everything else can wait until I get home and sit at my computer.” 


When it was time to get a new phone, he bought me a smartphone. I use it all the time! What was I thinking? Life is so much easier with a smartphone.

“You should get a Kindle. It’s so much cheaper to buy books and it’s convenient, too,” he said.

“I love holding a book when I read. I’m on a computer for my work. Another screen in my face is the last thing I want when I find time to read,” was my response

He said, “You need an iPad. It’s so convenient. You can use it wherever you are. It’s more handy than a laptop.” (Which I didn’t have yet, since I thought a desktop was good enough for me.)

He bought himself a new iPad, so I decided I may as well give it a try. I inherited his older version and — I loved it!! It was SO CONVENIENT!! I could use it to find recipes and then place it on my counter as I cooked. I could do all kinds of research on it. And since the Kindle app is free, I decided that I may as well try that, too. Now I love reading on the Kindle app! I rarely buy books in hardcopy anymore. I can download tons of books and switch to whichever one I feel like reading. I can even highlight in my book. And if I don’t know the meaning of a word I come across, I only need to hold my finger on it and it gives me the definition!!! How exciting is that?!!!

If you haven’t caught onto it yet, the “he” I’m referring to is, of course, my husband. He keeps pushing me to educate myself about electronic devices, apps, and programs. If it were up to me, I’d probably still have a “dumb” phone and be typing in my Word Perfect program. (Anyone remember that one?)

You would think he would be content with his successful endeavors in my education, but no. He pushed me to start a blog. I’m on Facebook and on Twitter because of him. I now own a laptop — an Apple, of course. He said it only makes sense since I already have an iPad and an iPhone. I do my grocery list on my Reminders app. This was also his idea since we can share the app. He just types in whatever he needs me to pick up for him on his phone and it shows up on my phone. Oh, my friends, the list just keeps growing.

When I started writing my first book, he told me I needed to learn the Scrivener program. Everything within me wanted to rebel. I don’t want to learn another program! I have enough to do! But he started to explain how convenient it is for writers. He sent me information about the program with testimonials. Needless to say, I wrote my first book on Scrivener — and I’m so glad I did! It was so easy to move around in my book when it came time to edit. I effortlessly made character pages, a setting/scenery page, and so much more. I felt organized and not overwhelmed. When it came time to publish, the compile feature was amazing, and adaptable to whatever type of compiling I needed to do (PDF, Kindle, paperback, etc.).

Sssshhhhhh!!!! Don’t tell him, but I’m so glad he pushed me over the years. He was right! He has made my life easier, broader, more functional, very exciting, and practical! I love things that are practical! I love not feeling behind-the-times. And I love my man!!

An Amazing Vacation

fullsizeoutput_1cc8My husband and I just returned from traveling to Europe for two weeks to celebrate our 30-year wedding anniversary.








We started out in Munich, Germany.











Stayed a couple nights in Grindelwald, Switzerland and enjoyed some amazing scenery.










We traveled down to Lago Maggiore, Italy, and stayed at a lovely Airbnb.






Finally, we drove to Altach, Austria and visited some of my family.





It was an amazing vacation we will never forget. We had the opportunity to use the German language again, which was a lot of fun. We met many people in our travels, and each one played a part in the enjoyment of our trip. From the workers in hotels and restaurants, to our Airbnb host in Italy, to a young mother and toddler at a rest stop in Austria, to a street sweeper in Germany, my family, a priest, a 90-year old Austrian lady, and four young boys asking us to check out the goods they were selling in their backyard — everyone added to the richness of our experience in Europe. Even my aunt’s dog, Chuck. (After we left, my aunt told me Chuck walked around the house whining. Poor dog…)

On our last Sunday, we attended a church in Switzerland: Glaubenszentrum St. Margrethen. People greeted us as we walked up the stairs to enter the building. More people greeted us as we walked into the sanctuary. It was a warm and welcoming church. They sang the same songs we sing at our church in Michigan, except in the German language. The message was solid and the building was packed.

Now that we are home again, I want to contemplate all that I saw, tasted, felt, and experienced. Perhaps some of this will be implemented into my writing at some point in the future.


When Things Go Wrong

I wrote an entire blog post, and let me tell you, it was a rather long post. I had read it through a few times, made changes, and finally felt it was ready to be published. Looking it over one more time, I decided it needed one more picture. I don’t know what I did wrong, but in the process of choosing the image and uploading it, I deleted my entire post! I’m sure you know how I felt at that moment. I went searching all over the place trying to find it. It was no where to be found. It was gone for all time and eternity, and it was late at night. Shutting my computer off, I went to bed.

It’s been a couple of days now, and I’m finally writing a new post. I needed a little time before I was ready to start over again. And guess what? I decided that maybe I wasn’t supposed to write that last blog post. Perhaps it was more for me than for anyone else who might read it.

I realize this was a minor thing in the greater scheme of life. We all have faced worse circumstances than these. We feel helpless. There is no quick fix. The problem will not quickly resolve itself, and sometimes it will never go away. It turns your life down a path you never wanted to take. You’re stuck. You can’t go back to yesterday when everything was better.

You cannot help what comes your way, but you can choose how you will respond. You cannot stop the emotions that will rise up in you or the tears that will fall. Your heart may break and you may grieve. But you know you cannot stay in this place. You have to move forward or you will be swallowed up by despair. You must decide how you will go on, and that decision will impact your future far more than the circumstance that brought you to this place.

For many years after my siblings and I got married, we moved far from my parents’ home. We have the best parents and they created a wonderful home for us to grow up in, but our jobs and marriages took us far away. Whenever we drove the hours and hours to go visit my parents, the best part was arriving. They must have been waiting at the window because as we drove up the driveway, the door opened and they came out to greet us. Our kids squealed with joy and ran to them with outstretched arms. It seemed every hour was filled with laughter, joy, and conversation. Yet it was inevitable that we would have to leave again. This was the hardest part. It broke my heart each time we backed out of the driveway and turned to look out the window to see my parents waving from the porch…alone. We were leaving them, and their house would feel empty. (My eyes are filling up with tears as I write this.)

Moments like these are hard, but I learned a very valuable lesson from my mother. I called her as soon as I got home (this was before cell phones) and I asked how she was doing. She told me she sat down for a good cry as she talked to God, and then she got up and cleaned the house from top to bottom. It was therapeutic and she accomplished something practical at the same time. As she pounded the pillows into place and scrubbed the bathtub, her pent up frustration was released and soon praises to God fell from her lips. She thanked Him for her family and for the wonderful time we had together. Her house was back in order. Everything was back in its rightful place. She had the pictures to look at and the memories to reflect upon. Now life would go on and we would all choose to be happy. You see, the lesson I learned from my mother was, I always have a choice as to how I will respond.

She could have moped and complained. She could have walked around in the gloom of her loneliness and made my father’s life miserable. She could have complained to me and made me feel guilty for having moved away. Instead, she chose to find joy in whatever circumstance she found herself in. My mom chose to trust God to help her and to bless her.

Isaiah 41:10 NASB “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”


In the novel I just published, Reluctant to Wed, the main character, Emma, is faced with a heartbreaking situation and she must choose how she will go on. Here is a line from the book that reveals Emma’s thought process: “Rehearsing that conversation in her mind would cause her to become bitter or paralyzed with self-pity. That was not for her. Life was meant to be lived to the fullest, and that’s what she would attempt to do.” Emma made the choice not to wallow in self-pity, but to move forward and attempt to find joy again.



It is in these difficult moments that we prove if we really trust God. It’s easy to talk about faith when everything is going well. But when the doctor report isn’t what we were hoping for or when the bills are piling up or when we lose a job — there are countless difficulties people face every day — it is in these moments we need to run to God and not turn away from Him in anger. God’s own Son was not spared the trials of this world. But God has promised to be with us through the trial.

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I can tell you from personal experience that Jesus will give you supernatural peace and joy in the midst of what you are going through IF you will turn to Him and trust Him to carry you through whatever you are going through. NOTHING is too difficult for Him. He can take the situation that had the potential of destroying you, and turn it around for good. NOTHING is too difficult FOR HIM!

Jeremiah 32:17 “Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You.”

Do you have a verse that has especially helped you at a very dark moment of your life. Please share it with me in the comments, or any other thoughts you may have. I’d love to hear from you.


Becoming Aware

IMG_1019I had a flashback today while walking on a bike path near my home. Scooter, my Yorkie-Poo, and I love to walk this 40-minute walk almost every day. (Except on the days when I don’t love it. When I’d rather be a couch potato. On those days, he loves the walk and I only go because it’s good for me and I’m tired of his begging.) Normally, my 81-year-old mother joins me, but since she wasn’t feeling well, it was just me and Scooter today. Without someone to talk to, I began noticing flowers along the sidewalk I hadn’t seen before. Suddenly, my mind flashed back to a conversation I had with my grandmother years ago.

IMG_1014When we lived in Germany, my grandmother came for a visit and we decided we needed some exercise. I put my youngest in the stroller while my five-year-old walked beside me holding my grandmother’s hand. We walked from our townhouse through a quaint German neighborhood and then across a field to get to the canal that led to a water reserve, which was a great place for exercise. As we walked across the field, my grandmother said, “Anneliese, look at the flowers.” I looked at the pretty wild flowers she pointed out to me and admired them. She said, “You must always notice the flowers around you. God put them there for your enjoyment.”

IMG_1020Years have gone by since that day. My children have grown and married, and my grandmother has gone home to be with the Lord, but her words have stayed with me. As I’ve faced various stresses in life, I’ve tried to make a point of noticing the flowers along my path — the blessings in my life. No matter how difficult the circumstances, if you seek Him, you will find Him. Even if it’s in the flower along your path.

“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” (Luke 12:27 ESV)

IMG_1012Jesus told us to “Consider the lilies.” Become aware of nature around us for there are lessons to be learned. Jesus was addressing our anxious thoughts in this verse. If God cares for flowers and grass that are here today and gone tomorrow, how much more will He care for you. So the next time you go for a walk, notice the flowers and remember how much you are loved and cared for. Call out to Jesus and ask Him to bring you through whatever trial you’re facing. Then ask Him to help you to become aware of His presence. He will help you not to feel alone. He will encourage you.

IMG_1023As I walked alone with Scooter today, I pulled out my iPhone and began taking pictures of the things I saw. I was amazed at how many flowers I pass every day and never notice them because I’m distracted by life. I’m grateful for my grandmother who shared her wisdom with me and helped me to experience the love of Jesus today through words she spoke to me long ago. “Anneliese, look at the flowers.”

Writer’s Hideaway

IMG_0896.JPG-1.jpegThe days slip away as I cook meals, straighten the house, grocery shop, care for family and pets, run errands, go to church, talk on the phone, answer texts and emails, etc. I haven’t even mentioned conferences, weddings, showers, graduations, birthday parties, and the list goes on. Distractions to keep me from writing surround me. The clock keeps ticking and another week flies by.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not complaining. I love caring for my family and I love my life. I wouldn’t want to change it for anything in the world. But I also believe I can make time for the things I really desire to do. I don’t need to give up my aspirations when it’s possible to enjoy both. It’s a matter of managing my time.

I’ll be honest with you. I’m a great procrastinator. I’ve learned to be very good at it over the course of my life. As a teenager, my mother would ask me to clean my bedroom. What she meant was, she wanted me to make my bed, dust, vacuum, and put away any clothes lying around. What I ended up doing instead was, cleaning my desk drawer out and going through old letters, reading them, and deciding which to keep and which to throw away. Then I made the bed and put away my clothes. But that made me aware of how messy my other drawers had gotten, so I would refold all my clothes and stack them nicely in each drawer. Finally, I would get to dusting and vacuuming. By the time I finished cleaning my room, my mother had cleaned the entire house, cooked and baked, and worked on laundry, too! Why, she probably even washed the windows, mowed the lawn, and cleaned the garage! Thankfully, I’ve grown up since then and can clean my whole house in a day, plus cook a meal, and even work on laundry. But the temptation to procrastinate is my constant companion. So how can a procrastinator manage time? Here are some things that are working for me:

  1. Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wiseIt’s an old saying, but loaded with wisdom. If I go to bed early enough, I wake up early, which allows me to get things done so I have more time for writing.
  2. Most days are filled with activity and I have to snatch time wherever I  can find it. If dinner has to cook for thirty minutes or an hour, that’s a good time to write. Thirty minutes here and thirty minutes there. I write when I can.
  3. Sometimes in the writing process, it’s absolutely necessary to devote a huge chunk of time if you want to make some fast progress. On those days, and I admit they are few and far between, I will stay in my lounging pants and tell my family I’m hiding in my room to write. And that’s exactly what I do. They know they can call me if there’s a fire, but they also understand I need some uninterrupted time alone. It’s so easy for those around you to invade your workspace if you are at the dining room table or sitting on your recliner. But if you hide in your bedroom and close the door, it may cause them to think before they interrupt your thought process. As I said IMG_0897.JPG-1.jpegalready, those days are few and far between, but this method works well when necessary.
  4. The final thing that has helped me with writing for hours at a time is a writer’s hideaway. For example, my husband and I rented a vintage studio apartment in a small obscure town only a couple hours from our home. We only stayed a couple of nights, but it was for the express purpose of using this as a writer’s retreat. Its vintage appearance was a great inspiration for a historical fiction writer like me. Its seclusion allowed for a feeling of isolation conducive for creative thought processing. My husband and I would take long walks to talk, explored artists’ galleries, and observed the people around us, then returned to our quaint and peaceful room. With a warm, gentle breeze blowing through the cranked-open vertical windows and the sounds of birds in the trees, I placed my fingers on the computer keyboard and allowed inspiration to carry me away — uninterrupted — in my writer’s hideaway.

If you’re reading this blog post, you are either a writer or perhaps your creativity is in a different direction. Whatever it is, don’t allow the busyness of life to keep you from your dream. You certainly must not give up the people who are counting on you and the things you are responsible for, but I’m certain there are activities you can set aside to pursue your goal. How much of your time is spent on Facebook, TV, searching the internet, talking on the phone, and so on? Be completely honest with yourself. Is there something useless or unnecessary that is robbing you of valuable time that could be spent on learning something new to help you obtain your dream? I love the quote by Reinhold Niebuhr.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”