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

 

First Line Friday #23

The book I’m featuring today on First Line Friday is probably one of my all time favorite novels. It’s part of a wonderful series, but each novel can stand alone. The Knight and the Dove by Lori Wick is a beautiful Christian historical romance where love comes after the marriage vows have been spoken.

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Prologue

Windsor Castle

1531

“What of Vincent of Stone Lake? He’s a loyal lord.”

The king commands Bracken to take Megan of Stone Lake as his wife. He is captivated with her right away, but he’s unskilled in love and isn’t used to sharing his thoughts and feelings. He’s more used to giving commands and expecting immediate obedience.

Megan is rather independent and used to being pushed away because of the dysfunctional home she grew up in. She spent more time away from her family than with them.

They marry because the King commanded it, but now they must find a way to understand and get to know each other. Love slowly grows in both main characters. She tries to please him by finding ways to help make his castle more efficient, which only causes him to think she doesn’t believe he knows how to run his castle. On the other hand, he tries to protect her by taking some of her freedoms, but doesn’t bother explaining why he is doing so. Lack of communication leads to misunderstandings until he almost loses her.

There are fascinating side characters in this novel. I loved Bracken’s family. Where Megan’s family is a sad situation that causes her no end of heartache, his is warm and wonderful. They welcome her with open arms and she experiences the warmth of family her heart has always longed for.

This is a beautiful story that was worth every moment of my time. Loved it!

First Line Friday is something every reader can participate in. Pick up a book near you. Type the first line in the comments, along with the title of the book and the author. Then check out the books other readers have featured in the comments on this blog and on the Hoarding Books link at the end of this post. You might find a book you would like to read simply by reading the first line. You can also click on the title of the book above and it will take you to Amazon so you can see what the book is about, read the reviews other readers have shared, and purchase it if it interests you.

 

Conversation With a Taxi Driver

I’ve never sat in so many taxis in one week! On our family vacation in Dubai, we chose not to rent a car, so taxis were the handiest means of transportation for us. Since this city is amongst the most international in the world, our drivers were from various countries: Kenya, India, Pakistan, Jordan, etc.

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Given the current political strife between the USA and Pakistan, when our driver from Pakistan found out we were Americans, he turned the subject to President Trump and politics. We gave him the opportunity to share his views and were sympathetic toward his situation. We laughed together when talking about life in general. Finally, when we were almost at our destination, he said in his broken English, “The people get along with each other and even like each other, while our governments fight.”

I saw a wonderful movie once that portrays this perfectly. It was a Hallmark Christmas movie I highly recommend called Silent Night (made in 2002). American soldiers during WWII find shelter in a cabin inhabited by a German woman and her young son. Before they can leave, a couple of German soldiers arrive seeking shelter as well. It is Christmas time and the woman insists the weapons be placed outside until they can all leave. The soldiers reluctantly agree. It’s a stirring film, forcing these soldiers to look beyond the political disagreements, propaganda, and prejudices, and finally seeing each other as human beings. The movie is thought-provoking and deeply moving.

Over the past 30 years of our marriage, my husband and I have opened our home to people from various parts of the world, often from countries where our governments are not allies. We’ve shared many meals and conversations with people who, politically, should be our enemies. The wonderful thing about opening yourself up to people from different cultures and backgrounds is that it forces you outside of your little box. You are compelled to see the world through someone else’s eyes. You are stirred toward compassion for the plight of others and gain an enlightened understanding.

God doesn’t look at the world through an American lens or even a western lens.  His view encompasses the entire globe and His plans are for His Kingdom — not ours. This is how God instructed the children of Israel to treat the foreigners among them. “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 19:33-34 NASB)

We must never forget we were once foreigners. Maybe you, yourself, were not, but your forefathers were. How would you have wanted them to be treated? Treat others that way. I didn’t say, “How were your ancestors treated?” I asked, “How would you have wanted them to have been treated?” Jesus said, “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.” (Matthew 7:12 NLT) Again, he didn’t say to treat them as they have treated you, but rather, as you want them to treat you.

When I moved to this country years ago as a young girl of almost eight, I briefly attended a school in Philadelphia. I was a minority there and one girl in particular had it out for me. She picked on me whenever she found the opportunity. Not knowing the language yet, I could not defend myself well. A few months later, after my family moved to New Jersey, I  attended a school in the suburbs. My second-grade teacher taught me to read in English in the back of the classroom while the other students were working on an assignment. When I became fluent in my reading, she instructed me to read a page of the book in front of the classroom. After I finished, my classmates started clapping for me. I felt accepted and welcomed. It was a wonderful feeling! Now I had a choice. I could treat others, including foreigners, as my classmate in Philadelphia had treated me or I could encourage them as my classmates in New Jersey had encouraged me. My choice determines my future.

There isn’t much we can do about how our governments treat each other outside of the voting booth, but there is much we can do for the foreigner in our town or neighborhood. Why not show kindness and let them feel welcomed? If you see someone being impatient with a foreigner or unkind, why don’t you step in and try to help them? Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”

I doubt I will ever meet the taxi driver in Dubai again, but I’m glad we gave him a good impression of people in America. Should someone ever speak ill about Americans in front of this man, maybe he will remember the American family he enjoyed chatting and laughing with for a few minutes in his taxi cab in Dubai. It may not make a difference globally, but if everyone reaches out in love, imagine what an impact that would make over time.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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“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!

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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.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, EVERYONE!!!!

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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.