Thursday, December 29, 2011

Whither Thou Goest, I Will Go ...

 Beautiful words spoken by a young woman thousands of years ago.

The story of Ruth from Moab is quite an amazing slice of history. Mainly because Ruth is mentioned in the genealogy of the Lord Jesus Christ. What an honour!

Married to the son of a couple of Israelites who left their country because the land had fallen on hard times, she soon faced the trauma of losing her young husband. As a young widow what should she do?

Her sister had married her husband's brother who had also died.  A double tragedy. No help from a generous government in those days! Go back to work and look for another husband seemed the only way out. Their mother-in-law, also widowed and determined to return to her own country, decided to return alone. But Ruth took a step of faith. She'd heard all about the God of Israel and His kindness to His people, even though they had often strayed from Him. She decided to follow her mother-in-law. An embittered Naomi did not give her any encouragement. She even told her to go back to her old gods, but Ruth would not be shrugged off. She clung desperately to the older woman, saying:

"Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go, and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God."

To condense this lovely story, after Ruth returned with Naomi, the Lord took a hand in their destitute situation. A wealthy man named Boaz was attracted to this stranger in town, and with the help of Naomi's match-making, he committed himself to Ruth in marriage.

Read this inspiring story yourself in the eighth book of the Bible. It shows how the Lord had a special interest in a young woman - a former heathen - who discovered faith in Him.

Friday, December 23, 2011

CHRISTMAS The Blessed Season

What a blessed time of the year!

God sent His love to us in such a tiny, tiny package those two thousand years ago. And when Jesus grew to be a man, He fulfilled every one of His blessed Father's promises to mankind.

It's such a simple message. He wants us to turn back from where we strayed. To ask His forgiveness and truly repent of our sins. And yes, the forgiveness is already there waiting for us to claim it. He is our Saviour, our God, and our dearest Friend.

Our prayer for you is that you'll discover this love afresh in your heart this Blessed Christmas Season. And may His love fill you to overflowing into the lives of those around you who most need His love.

What a clear statement from Scripture:
His Name shall be called JESUS for He shall save His people from their sins.

What other religious leader could offer such a thing? Only God has the power to forgive sin. And none other could ever claim to do this. All teach a striving after wholeness of mind and soul by good deeds, and by this path gaining merit in the hope of reaching some sort of heaven  But it is never promised.

Only those who come to the Saviour of mankind, the Lord Jesus Christ, have this sure hope for now and for Eternity. So why not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and accept His salvation? He has already paid the price for your sins by giving His own life to set you free.

My dear husband,George, and I wish you a very Happy, Blessed Christmas Season!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Making Music Together......Brenda Anderson

I love music: singing, playing guitar or piano, or just listening to other musicians. My whole family loves to sing, and we even harmonize with each other. My best friends are musicians. I believe God uses music to speak to the heart.

My husband, however, grew up in a family that absolutely cannot sing. They appreciate music, and most play some instrument, but when they try to sing? Cringe. If you enjoy listening to ten sliding keys sung at once, then you’d appreciate their rendition of Happy Birthday. It’s seriously painful.

Ironically, my husband can sing. So, when planning our wedding, we knew it would be filled with music. I tapped my two best friends and an aunt to sing prelude solos. My aunt and a friend shared organ duties, while another played flute. I had a quartet sing Lutkin’s The Lord Bless You and Keep You.  We had a couple of congregational hymns, and I even sang Roger Copeland’s The Bridal Prayer immediately before the processional.
We also had a duet planned following the lighting of the unity candle. The pastor and the pianist were the only people who knew who the singers were. My husband and I lit the candle then took each other’s hand as the pianist played the introduction to He Has Chosen You For Me by Pat Terry. Marvin and I took a deep breath … then started singing to each other.

Unbeknownst to us was the waterfall of tears
dropping all around the church. My mother-in-law said she kept looking for the singers then finally realized it was her son singing. She teared up. My bridesmaids all cried. The groomsmen sniffled. Even the pastor wiped tears. And yes, the video has proof.
The duet was our gift to each other and to the congregation. 23 years later, people still remember our wedding.
I’m thinking maybe when we celebrate 25 years together, we’ll have to try it again.

Thanks for sharing, Brenda. I hope you and your husband make that duet together on your 25th anniversary! I'm amazed at your courage in singing on your wedding day. Honestly, I think I'd have burst into tears with the sheer emotion of it! We had another friend, a fine baritone, who sang during the signing of the register. But I was so caught up in everything, I can't even remember his performance.

Friday, December 9, 2011

My Wedding Began with a Rainbow - Roseanna White

A storm raged up the coast the day before, littering the sand with seaweed and our minds with worry. We’d been praying for months we’d have fair weather for the beach wedding.
I told myself it had gotten it out of its system—and the rainbow that appeared validated our hope.

A collection of thirty family members and friends had made the drive down to the Outer Banks of North Carolina in Kitty Hawk, right across from the dunes where the Wright brothers first took to the skies. They brought fresh strawberries from my grandparents’ farm, chocolate to dip them in, a cake from our favorite bakery, and a willingness to help. We all tossed up decorations, barbecued the wedding feast, and figured out the logistics of the ceremony. Though I loved the idea getting married in the sand, the practical side of me said, “Let’s do it on the deck that looks out over the dune.”

Though traditional in most respects, one superstition I hated was the “the groom can’t see the bride” thing—so we went to breakfast the morning of our wedding, just the two of us. It was a perfect start to a beautiful day.

My groom had forgotten his shoes (I’m still not convinced that was an accident), so he and his guys stood barefoot on the deck in black pants, white collar-less shirts, and burgundy vests, My girls came out in classic burgundy gowns and pearls. I had that perfect strapless dress with the embroidery I’d dreamed of. The vacationers in each of the houses next door gathered on their decks to watch with grins and cheers at the ready. The ceremony was short and sweet. The pictures were on the beach and hence gorgeous. The food was simple and fun. And as we ate it, the dolphins came out to wish us well. After the usual festivities, the day ended with a bonfire on the beach

I had dreamed all my life of the perfect wedding and as I watched the ocean turn golden in the setting sun of my special Day, as I listened to the easy laughter of those closest to me, I was so thankful for the Lord's blessing. A beach wedding, with its natural beauty, had sounded romantic and perfect . . .

And it was.

Roseanna M White is wife, mommy, writer, reviewer, and lover of all things literature-related. She makes her home in the mountains of Western Maryland with her husband, two kids, and the colony of dust bunnies under her couch. Learn more about her and her books at:

Friday, December 2, 2011


Kimberly Woodhouse shares...

I actually met my newborn, would-be niece before I met my husband…

Now, before you turn your brain inside-out trying to work through that puzzle, let me ‘splain. I met my husband the very first day of Bible College (for me) – he actually carried in a few of my boxes. So romantic, yes, I know. But see, behind the scenes there was a greater power at work. (Yes, God was definitely at work, but I’m actually talking about my mother and her constant-prayer-matchmaker line to God.)

My mom, being the hopeless romantic that she is, was determined to send me off to college to get married, since my older brother and sister were not married yet. Me, in my teenage stubbornness, decided that I wouldn’t date—because I definitely wasn’t going to Bible College to get married!  Ha! Following me so far?

Well, it was a small Bible College. Everyone knew everyone. And Jeremy and I became fast friends. Then best friends. Then? Well, I was too stubborn to admit how much I liked him, because I was determined to prove my match-making mother wrong – and he was too afraid to admit how much he liked me because we were best friends and he didn’t want to mess that up.

Love won out. (Don’t tell my mom she was right!)

Four months later we were engaged. And almost nineteen years ago, we were married.

Now you might be wondering how my niece figures into all this? Well, I met my sister-in-law and her newborn baby in our church months before I ever met Jeremy, and we didn’t put all the pieces together until we were planning the wedding. He showed me a picture of all his family and I pointed at her and said, “I know her! And I’ve already held my niece! How cool is that?”

 Kimberley Woodhouse is a wife, mother, author, and musician with a quick wit and positive outlook despite difficult circumstances.

 Just goes to show that a faithful mother's prayers hold sway with the Lord!

Friday, November 25, 2011

When the Years Creep Up with a Perceptive Husband Jennifer Slattery

Ouch! My thirty-fifth birthday tipped me over the edge.

Thirty-four was bearable. It was just below the halfway point. Far enough away from forty to prevent a mid-life crisis and close enough to thirty to round down. And then came thirty-five. No more fudging the numbers. No more mathematical games. 

I think aging is harder for women than it is for men. Gray hair makes men look intelligent. Bald heads look mysterious. On women? Not so much. So we die our hair and apply oodles of make-up only to find our crow’s feet accentuated and our roots more pronounced. And yet, how assuring, how downright heart-melting, to hear your husband tell you after fifteen years of marriage and twenty or so pounds worth of cheesecake and hot fudge sundaes that he still finds you beautiful. Oh, what would we do without those tender accolades from our men?

The other day while my husband and I were driving to the gym (Gotta fight that cheesecake somehow!) I started talking about one of the characters in my latest novel—a middle-aged woman who struggles with low self-esteem. During the conversation, I mentioned how difficult it was for women, in general, to age. I swear my husband’s a mind reader! Either that, or he’s just amazingly perceptive, but he quickly saw past my “characterization” into my heart. And he spent the rest of the day combating the insecurities that I never quite articulated.

Our first stop was the hair salon. Actually, we went there twice. (I chickened out the first time and had to be brought back kicking and screaming.) I have naturally curly hair, which leaves the door wide open for error. The words, “Oops, let me fix it,” have popped out of many a hairdresser’s lips. Luckily, this time was different. By the time I was done, donning a young, perky, even trendy, hairstyle, I felt like a new woman!

But my husband wasn’t through with me yet. The rest of the afternoon he dragged me from one clothing store to the next until my arms were loaded down with stylish outfits to match my new do. Our day ended with a wonderful lunch where I sat and listened to my husband shower me with compliments. All because I casually mentioned how one of my characters struggled with aging. Don’t you just love those men who take the time to read between the lines?

Jennifer Slattery is a novelist and freelance writer who happens to have a very caring husband!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Wholeness From Brokenness - Kimberly Zweygardt

Kim and her extended family
In 1979 I left behind my small home town in Kansas and followed the "yellow brick road" seeking fame and fortune. But I didn't find it and instead found heartache. I came home to raise my three year old daughter and putting my dreams on hold. Though I thought I'd given up my dreams of "happily ever after", instead, God made my dreams come true.

With my history of disastrous relationships I only wanted what God wanted for me, but I didn't know how to find it. So I made a list. Everyone I dated was like a job interview. Like, "What are your views on this?" Check! "What are your views on that?" Minus!

I wasn't even sure I should look for love as I'd failed so often. I even thought God wanted me to remain single. But my little girl had other ideas. She wanted a Daddy and began to pray that God would give her one. And it's hard to argue theology with a four-year-old!

Finally a friend said, "Kim if that is the desire of your heart - to have a godly husband - ask for it! After all, God wants to give you the desire of your heart." I went home that night and got out my prayer journal and poured out my heart's desire to God.

Kary lived about 40 miles away. And though he'd been alone for 5 years he wanted to find a special someone. But he'd made up his mind he wouldn't settle for less than God's best. He would simply concentrate on raising his two sons and wait on God. A mutual friend gave Kary my number, but he didn't call until months later. But when he did, we talked for over three hours. We had so many things in common it was uncanny. We talked about our kids and our hopes and dreams. We talked about the Lord. And by then I knew this guy was something special.

After some time he called again inviting my daughter and I on a date and to meet his two boys. We all had a wonderful time. And when we got back to the car Kary decided to kiss me good night. Now this was with 3 kids in the back seat!  "I think he's gonna kiss her! Yes, he is! Yes, he is! He's kissing her!"

Kary got so flustered, he missed my lips and kissed my eye! But I thought it so romantic. And how brave to kiss me in front of two five-year-olds and a nine-year-old!

By this time Kary decided to propose, but our evening out was cold. When we got out of the car I reached for his coat. "Can I borrow it?" But, "No!" he said. "I'm cold." and whipped it away from me.

Wow! What happened to chivalry? Ah, but I didn't know the ring and roses were hidden in his coat, until he knelt down before me. Well my answer was exactly like, "Yes! Yes! Yes!"

We've been married for over fifteen glorious years, now. Kary still makes me laugh like no other and fun characterizes our family. God has brought wholeness from brokenness in both our lives and I praise Him for it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Irena Sendler - A Saviour of Children

During WWII, Irena got permission to work in the  Warsaw ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist.

She had an 'ulterior motive'. As a German, she KNEW what the Nazi's plans were for the Jews.

Irena smuggled infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried  and also in the back of her truck a burlap sack, (for larger kids).

She also had a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto.

The soldiers of course wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the kids/infants noises. During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 kids/infants.

Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she smuggled out and kept them in a glass jar, buried under a tree in her back yard. After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived it and reunited the family. Most had been gassed. Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes or adopted.

Last year Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize. She was not selected. 

President Obama won one year before becoming President for his work as a community organizer for ACORN and Al Gore won also--- for a slide show on Global Warming.

It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in  Europe ended.

This is a memorial in memory of the six million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians and 1,900 Catholic priests who were murdered, massacred, raped, burned, starved and humiliated! 

And still, more than ever and despite the overwhelming evidence, strident voices claim the HOLOCAUST to be 'a myth'. 

 I received this amazing story via email and felt it must be shared. This dear woman gave her life to save others. And so we also celebrate the death and resurrection of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, who died to save us from the penalty of our sins and give us abundant life here and a future in Eternity.

Friday, November 4, 2011


Who would have thought that a discussion of a character from “To Kill a Mockingbird” would be the start of a romance?

But there I was, immersed in a conversation at the home of the youth pastor, discussing my roommate Cindy’s cat named “Boo.” Out of the blue, I heard a male voice ask, “Boo Radley?”

I peered over the sea of teens and young adults to see a long-haired, bespeckled man with a moustache and an impish grin. I returned the smile.

“You know Boo Radley?” I asked in surprise. Here was someone who knew the full name of one of my favorite characters in my all-time favorite movie. Who was this guy?
This guy named Steve quickly grabbed the opportunity to engage in further conversation.  A reporter for the local newspaper, Steve was witty, funny, and nothing like other guys I’d known or dated before. He was also a brand-new Christian. I was less than a year old in my walk with the Lord. We were babies in our spiritual growth but I had already learned enough from Bible studies and sermons to know that Christians did not act like unbelievers. We were supposed to have standards of behavior.

So when Steve asked me out to dinner soon after our meeting, I was both thrilled and scared to death.

How are Christians supposed to act on a date? I pondered this with a certain amount of fear and trembling. Brushing my waist-length hair in preparation for our first time out, I remembered guys from my pre-Christian walk. It was the 1970’s and social mores had “freed” many from the traditional constraints that God-fearing individuals knew were nothing less than sin. And the Bible says that sin makes you a slave, not free. My new freedom in Christ meant that I was no longer “free” to sin.
But how to keep things restrained in our new freedom in Christ?

I’ll bring my Bible, I thought. I was impressed with my brilliant solution!
Steve looked at me curiously as I picked up my Bible and carried it out to his little turquoise Honda. Slinking into the small car, I set King James in between us, right on the console. He never complained about difficulty using the stick shift, but I’m certain it was a little awkward. He never balked once about the Word of God sitting there between us.

Our dinner was wonderful. And there were many more dates after that, although I relaxed enough to trust Steve’s intentions without the Bible set between us. That date was the start of our long and fruitful romance. A couple of years later, our good friend Lloyd Simpkins laughed when we told him about our first dinner together. By now we were married and we visited with Lloyd and Emma Simpkins regularly. They were a wonderful couple from church that opened up their house for a home-cooked meal every Sunday.

“Well Steve,” he said to my husband after hearing the account of that first date, “I guess she figured you’d have to jump over Matthew, Mark, Luke, AND John to bother her on that date!”

That unforgettable date led to the marriage of two Christians committed to the Lord and to each other. And Steve and I still carry the Word of God with us—literally and in our hearts.

Elaine Marie Cooper lives in the Midwest with her husband Steve, her three dogs and one huge cat. She has two married sons and triplet grandbabies, who are often referred to (by her) as “the most beautiful grandbabies in the world.” Elaine’s only daughter, Bethany, passed away in 2003 from a brain tumor. A retired registered nurse, Elaine has been a magazine freelance writer for many years.

Thanks so much for sharing, Elaine. I wonder if our readers have had a funny experience with a first date?

Friday, October 28, 2011

HOW KIDS DEFINE LOVE - Lorna Seilstad shares

A group of professionals posed this question to a group of 4 t0 8 year-olds, "What does love mean?"

A few of their answers:

"When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love." Rebecca - age 8

"When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth." Billy - age 4

"Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on after shave and they go out and smell each other." Karl - age 6
"Love is when you kiss all the time. And then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My mommy and daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss." Emily - age 8

"Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is okay." Chrissy - age 6

"Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well. " Tommy - age 6

"I was on stage for my piano recital and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and then I saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore." Cindy - age 8.

"Love is when my mommy sees my daddy all smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford." Chris - age 7

"If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend you Hate." Nikka - age 7. (Yes, we need a few million more Nikkas on the planet.)

"When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out." Karen - age 7

"You shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot." Jessica -age 8

A four-year-old lived next door to an elderly man who had recently lost his wife. One day the boy saw his old neighbour crying. He went over, climbed into the old man's lap and just sat there.

When he came home, his mother asked what he had said to the man.
"Nothing," he said. "I just helped him cry."

We could all learn from that little boy's compassion. And as they say...'out of the mouths of babes...'

Thanks, Lorna, for sharing these lovely insights. You can follow Lorna at  http://inkspirational

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Silversmith Refining and Purifying - An Inspiring Truth

There was a group of women in a Bible Study on the book of Malachi. As they were studying chapter three, they came across verse three which says: "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."

This verse puzzled the women and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God.

One of the women offered to find out about 
the process of refining silver and get back to the group a their next Bible study. That week this woman called up a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest or her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities.

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot- then she thought again about the verse, that he sits as a refiner and purifier of silver. She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered "yes," he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eye on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left even a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?" He smiled at her and answered, "Oh that's easy. When I see my image in it."

If today you are feeling the heat of deep disappointment, betrayal, pain, loss of a loved one, or financial reverses, just remember that God has his eyes on you and holds you securely.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Regina Merrick shares her story when asked, "When did you two meet?"

When I was about six months old, I was taken to a church picnic.

A toddler wanted to trade his brother for me, because I was cuter and more active than his brother.

But it was his OLDER brother, all of five-years-old, who snuck up to his mother’s ear and asked how old he would be when I was eighteen. He knew that eighteen was the magic number, since his mother was eighteen when SHE married! Well, as it happens, I didn’t get the oldest brother, or the youngest, though I love them as much as if they were my own brothers. I got the middle brother. Funny thing that!

We grew up together, went to church together, went to the same schools with him being three years ahead of me, grade-wise. After years of playing together after church, and my being considered his younger brother’s contemporary, we started to “notice” one another when I was a freshman, and he was a senior in high school. Our youth group put together a play, and of course both of us were in it. I couldn’t figure out WHY I seemed to stammer and giggle my way through my part every time we were on stage together.

We didn’t start dating until after school was out for the year. I kid him that he just didn’t want to be known for dating a freshman in high school, so he waited until I was officially a sophomore.

So that’s the story of how we met. The rest, as they say, is history . . . .

About Regina: Regina is Christian, wife, mother, musician, librarian, writer . . . still trying to connect the dots and constantly in wonder at how they all fit together.” A follower of Jesus since age 8, Regina has been a wife to the love of her life since age 19, a mother since age 25, and a college graduate since age 35.

Thanks for sharing your sweetly amusing story, Regina!

Friday, October 7, 2011

GOD HAD OTHER PLANS - A Romantic Ever-After by Anne Greene

While at the beach gaining a tan, I met Don.

Soon, I was dating him and other guys in my life faded into the background. We dated two years. I discovered his leadership qualities, his wonderful family, his love, his integrity, and oh, yes, the man did have a temper. We shared a similar life outlook, though he was a farm boy and I was a city girl. We were both Christians, and he was baptized in my Church. We married, followed the Lord together, had a beautiful daughter and a wonderful son.

One day we were jogging together, he had a massive heart attack and died. I felt I had been split in two. Our marriage had been so sweet, but so short. But I will see him again. He will meet me at the heavenly gates when I go to be with the Lord.

I thought my life ended, but God had other plans.

Two years later, I entered a new Singles  Fellowship Class at a new Church and was immediately surrounded by a group of men. One man stood out. We started talking. He grew up near where my book, Trail of Tears, had occurred. He knew all about the things I had written. He was easy to talk with and I was immediately attracted. But he took two long months before he asked me out.

Our first date he flew me in a little Cessna to a lodge on a lake and we had a romantic dinner. Impressed me! We went roller-skating and to art galleries and really fun places. He took my picture—a lot. That impressed me. He had so many good qualities and was a committed Christian. His two sons were loveable and well-behaved. And he didn’t have a temper. He could fix anything around my home—and did. We fell in love. When a hurricane struck the night of our wedding, I almost backed out. Did I mention, I almost backed out of my first marriage? Really cold feet both times.
Second marriages, with children on both sides, require really difficult adjustments. But our God is good. Larry Greene and I learned together that we can do all things through Christ Who strengthens us. We have a truly romantic happily-ever-after.

About Anne: ANNE delights in writing about wounded heroes and gutsy heroines. She writes both historical and suspense novels. After falling in love with several countries and their people, Anne set a number of her books in exotic locations. She and her hero husband, Army Special Forces Colonel Larry Greene, have visited twenty-five countries, including three communist countries.

Thanks ANNE for sharing this wonderful story of God's grace.

Friday, September 30, 2011

THE RING Jennifer Rogers Spinola

In Brazil Jennifer's engagement ring is worn on the right hand
While interviewing volunteers and speaking to Brazilians through interpreters, I felt something come alive in my heart. Something amazing, bold, beautiful that I’d only hinted at in my dreams. What if? What if? I began to wonder, as I put down my notebook scribbled with notes and interviews, and linked dirt-smudged hands with settlers’ brown-skinned children.  

What it would be like to say yes? To take a step further? To leave my job and comfortable American surroundings behind and set foot in foreign soil, committing years of my life to serving God through international missions? I went out on the flat hotel roof, still warm from the sun, overlooking orange adobe tile roofs and houses fading in the twinkling golden sunset, and sat with God.

As I began to sort through the now-open boxes in my life, packing and questioning and praying and saying good-bye, the tables shifted suddenly. Instead of sending me back to Brazil as I’d hoped, God seemed to be opening the way to… Japan? Yes, Japan. Through past relationships, coincidences, thoughts, and prayers. Chance meetings with Japanese Christians who urged me to tell the Japanese people about Christ.

So instead of boarding the plane for Brazil, I waited anxiously in the cold terminal of Newark Airport for a plane bound for Tokyo. Shivering with fear and nerves, and wondering if I’d ever find my way back to the country of my dreams. The country where God called me. Where smiles ran in our veins like blood. Hand clasps and kisses and hugs and tears.

I’ll never forget the day I sat there at my computer, staring at a blinking row of text: “I want you to meet someone there in Sapporo,” an acquaintance from Tokyo had written, knowing nothing about my past or my secret plans. “He’s a really wonderful Christian! You’ll like him. And he’s from Brazil! I’ve told him about you, and he’s waiting for you to call!”   My heart stood still.
 Of course it started before that, back when I was serving as a short-term missionary in Sapporo, Japan, and nearly ran smack into that nice Brazilian foreign exchange student an acquaintance from Tokyo had mentioned. Right in the middle of a (very rare, in Buddhist Japan) Christian bookstore. Athos and I had spoken on the phone a couple of times, including one talk that lasted until around five in the morning. Never, ever in my life have I talked that long to any man. Probably to any female, for that matter.

Our wonder and questions bloomed, over the following months, into something sparkly and nerve-tingling, always alive with the awareness that in my missionary program, crafted especially for young singles, dating was disallowed. Completely. No smooching, no make-out sessions, no getting engaged and making promises. We could meet, of course, in ministry or as friends, which we did with increasing frequency.

But after boarding my final flight to the U.S, suddenly, here we were: continents apart. Yet the following morning I answered the phone to Athos and we talked about this mystery called marriage. “I've been in a jewelry store,” he said. “Looking for engagement rings." I felt my heart leap into my throat, mouth too dry to speak. We had never discussed rings. Never talked about engagement. Not yet.

We had never kissed on the lips. Even once. Only on the cheek. Even the day he brought out that beautiful ring into the sunlight, glinting there in its box, and slipped it on my finger.

Why did we forgo kissing? I don’t know. I’m not such a wise or holy woman. I have made my share of mistakes and messes. But this time we wanted something new. Something different. Something neither of us had ever done, all fresh, like an unbroken path set out before us.

Which is what took us to the front of my Richmond, Virginia church on Valentine’s Day. February 14. Candles quivering, the sanctuary smelling of flowers.We had sung, prayed, joined hands, and stood before the church, presented now as a married couple in the sight of God and friends and family. A calling as glorious and heavy as the silver wedding band I slid on his finger.
            “You may now,” said the pastor, “kiss the bride.”

Jennifer is married to Athos, her Brazilian husband, who she met while serving as a missionary in Japan. Athos studied politics and law at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, where he met Jennifer, and is a political analyst at the Embassy of South Korea in Brasilia. She’s lived in Brazil since 2004. They have one son, Ethan, who they’re in the process of adopting from Brazil. Athos and Jennifer are active in Brasilia International Church, where they’ve been members since 2005.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Humour & Hard Work Won Her Heart - Grant and Verna O'Donnell

Grant & Verna  -  Montreal, May 1997
Verna was born in Montreal and came to Australia in May 1996 on a working holiday with a good friend.  They came to work at Teen Ranch, a Christian youth camp, located outside of Sydney. 
At my prompting, she tells her story:

"While there, with a little bit of adjusting to the Australian lifestyle/culture, my friend and I loved meeting these incredibly  
hospitable Australians, eager to show off their wonderful country. And Grant was one of the full-time staff members.

It wasn’t love at first sight, but I think we both experienced a certain curiosity towards each other. I had been told that a fair few girls had chased him in his short time at the Ranch, so I kept my distance for a while – even though there was always an unmistakable nervousness whenever we were around each other.

Grant was a quietly funny guy – he and a few of his friends were often ‘bunging it on’, keeping my friend and me constantly amused!  Humour was big in my family, so in some ways my initial attraction to Grant was probably because he could make us laugh. He was also a very hard and conscientious worker – a trait I noticed right away. He worked harder than most - very obvious in a place where people came and went so often it was easy to not carry your load … and it showed me that he took the work of the Lord seriously.

While these qualities were important, it was discovering how hungry he was for God that really drew me to him. And after being there for a few weeks, we got the opportunity to hear him lead morning devotions for the staff, where his knowledge and passion for the Lord was profoundly evident. This made it increasingly difficult to ignore the growing attraction I was having for him – he really stood out.

We both knew that this relationship was very different than anything else we had experienced, and we had no doubts of God’s hand in bringing us together. Grant took me up to Chinchilla, Queensland, in the October holidays to meet his family, and while we were up there he proposed. My parents flew us back to Canada for two weeks, so that Grant could then meet all of my family. We were married in Montreal, at my home church, on May 17, 1997. Grant’s immediate family flew over, and we had a few other Aussies at the wedding too, which was neat.

With Hudson, Kelsey and Rory
 We returned to Australia at the end of July, and settled into our life back at the Ranch, only now as a married couple. There were plenty of ups and downs, of course, being newlyweds in communal living. In many ways it wasn’t ideal, but knowing God was behind our relationship helped us through many of the more difficult times. Our first child, Hudson, was born in 2000. I became an Australian citizen in 2002, the same year as our daughter, Kelsey, was born. Our youngest son, Rory, was born in 2005.

Not knowing what we were going to do in the immediate future, Grant enrolled in Bible College for 2 years. He has always had a heart for ministry work, so this seemed a logical step. Meanwhile, I became involved in leading the church's music ministry. Then, after college, our church offered Grant part-time support as he ministered as a hospital chaplain and in various capacities within and without our congregation."

I always wondered how these two met, so thanks, Verna, for sharing your story! 

Friday, September 16, 2011


Wedding Day, August 11, 1974
After a rebellious year during high school, I gave my life wholeheartedly to the Lord. One of the first things I felt God asking me to do was break up with my boyfriend, who wasn't a Christian. I was heartbroken, but at peace because I knew I was being obedient to God. Still, I'd always dreamed of marriage and a large family (I wanted 12 kids!) so I prayed that God wouldn't make me wait too long to find a husband.

The summer before I went off to college, my best friend was dating a guy from a neighboring town. This guy just happened to have an older brother who'd recently broken up with his girlfriend. He was heartbroken, and my friend and her boyfriend figured the two of us may as well be heartbroken together, so they set us up on a double date with them. I'm not sure I believe in love at first sight, but it was definitely "intense like" at first sight. One of the first things I discovered about this guy was that he'd given his life to the Lord about the same time as I had. So we had much in common, and just really liked each other from the get-go.
Even though Ken and I parted ways at the end of the summer to go off to different colleges, we kept in touch through daily letters and occasional visits, and at Thanksgiving, 6 months after we met, we got engaged. We were married 10 months later. Best decision I ever made!
Ken and Deborah now

Ken and I have raised four amazing children and now God has blessed us with four precious grandchildren! (All under 5!) We celebrated our 37th anniversary in August and if we match Ken's grandparents' long, long marriage, we still have 45 more years to go!! His grandparents fell 18 days short of celebrating their 83rd wedding anniversary before Grandma died this year at the age of 100. God willing, Grandpa will turn 102 later this year. They've left us quite a legacy!
Next May, on the weekend that would have been Grandma and Grandpa's 84th anniversary, our youngest daughter will get married. Ah, the circle of life. : )
Thanks for sharing your story, Deb.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Paralegal Christian Romance Writer

Who could resist a story about a gal with an irresitible smile and a yellow rose between her teeth? JoAnn Durgin-author.

I like to say I’ve been around in the nicest sense. Meaning that I’m a native of southern Indiana, but have also lived in Texas, California, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. More specifically, I lived in Big D when J.R. Ewing sat on the wall outside our downtown office building at noon and ate lunch with us lowly working types. I met my husband, Jim, when he was a student at Dallas Theological Seminary, wore a Stetson, answered to J.D. and swaggered – just a little. By the time we married in 1987, it was a case where the girl from Indiana met the guy from Rhode Island in Texas, married in Kentucky, honeymooned in Hawaii and then settled in California.

I started writing full-length fiction and enjoyed being a stay-at-home mother and youth pastor’s wife for six years. Then on to cold but quaint Burlington, Massachusetts, where my husband became a senior pastor of a lovely white church on a hill. I counted it a blessing to drive by Louisa May Alcott’s girlhood home on my way to my part-time legal position in historic, gorgeous Concord.

 In November 2005, we made the move back home to my roots, home in my heart. We call it Kentuckiana where the Ohio River separates Indiana from Louisville, Kentucky. It’s home, and the people are usually friendly and mannerly – except when behind the wheel of a car. I work as a full-time paralegal and part-time at the local arts theater for Broadway productions, the orchestra, opera and ballet. Jim and the children are all thriving here, and still laugh when school is called off for one spotting of a snowflake. But they love it as much as I do. Thank the Lord.

And thank you, JoAnne, boots and all! You can follow her at

Friday, September 2, 2011


This Historical Romance has been some years in the making. I've come to really know and understand why my characters act the way they do. As in real life, their past has so much to do with their present.

As an art student I'd wander through the cell-blocks of the Old Darlinghurst Gaol wondering about its previous inmates. I'd heard about The Bloody Code and how it was enforced. Incidentally, the famous 19th century actress, Sarah Bernhardt was given a tour and it highly amused her to discover the jailor's cat was in reality a cat-o'-nine-tails!

Years later, after simmering away in my subconscious, the idea for this story had me scrambling to do some thorough research. Scrolling through various Ticket-of-Leave documents, I found my heroine, and as they say, "the plot thickened". I knew it was a real saga and only a trilogy would capture all the various twists and turns in her life and the life of those she loved. Also, in a marvellous God-incident one eventful day I "happened" to attend a High Court hearing of a murder case. The court room had apparently been built early in the 19th century which gave it the exact atmosphere I could have wished for. I hung on every word of that judge and from notes taken, I was able to quote much of the judge's manner in the handing down of his verdict.

As in so many historicals, the story begins in England. And on our return from an evangelism conference in Amsterdam, my husband and I spent 3 short days in London. We traipsed the back streets, lanes, parks, and famous landmarks all part of 19th century London Town. We visited the British Museum and Windsor Castle and the details I gained from soaking up the atmosphere in those particular places I  used to great advantage in Books II and III. Being there is great, but if you can't manage the travel, an author's fabulous 21st century tool, the Web, is a far cheaper and more convenient alternative.

Signed Sealed Delivered, released  by Ark House Press, is Book I of the Watermark Women Trilogy. Pre-order from your Christian Bookstore or Koorong.

*Read the prologue at and click BOOKS.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Placing Our Spouse's Needs Before Our Own - Jennifer Benson Schultz

If you think it's possible to love your spouse too much, you probably haven't loved enough.

What can you do to serve the one you love?

The apostle Paul understood the significance of humility and how it holds us together. This is especially important in marriage. Paul said to reject "me-first" urges : "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition" (Phil. 2:3). Instead, we should value our spouses more than ourselves, and look out for their interests.

Humility in action means serving our spouse and no act of service is too small or too great. After all, "Jesus humbled Himself ... to the point of death, even the death of the cross." His selflessness showed in His love for us.

So what can you do to truly serve the one you love? What really proves to them that your love is steadfast and not subject to the storms of life?

Maybe it's as simple as giving him his favourite dinner, or as difficult as helping him or her through a long illness. Letting them know you'll stick through "thick and thin." Giving them the confidence you'll always be there for them no matter what. Of course this takes a lot of physical and emotional effort.

But whatever we do, placing our spouse's needs before our own confirms our commitment to them through Christian humility.

In marriage we will honour Christ by following His lead 
Of sacrificial love and care to meet the other's need.  - Sper.


Saturday, August 20, 2011


We authors constantly immerse ourselves in God’s Word
 so that our Christian message inspires a blessed faith walk in our readers. That’s the “Christian” part of the equation.

That leaves the significant question of what we’re inspiring with the “Romance” part of the equation. How are we presenting the “Romance/courtship” message so that it, too, is a blessing to our readers?

We all love a classic Cinderella story. Girl meets wonderful boy. Wonderful boy cares for girl. The lovely glass shoe fits the heroine’s foot. Wonderful boy and girl marry and live happily ever after.

Over the years, that same premise has increasingly become a romance novel staple. Unfortunately, so have young couples, quick courtships, and marriages based primarily on the emotion love. Real life has mirrored this fictional path, and high divorce rates and broken lives have resulted.

Critics of the genre have called romantic fiction idealistic, unrealistic, and misleading of readers’ viewpoints on courtship, love, and marriage. Are they right? Do some Christian romances’ portrayals of romance, courtship, love, and marriage skew readers’ viewpoints of real life? Does repeated exposure to unrealistic portrayals ingrain fictional expectations in unmarried readers’ minds?

God has gifted us—and charged us—to write Christian Romance, to guide readers in both their Christian lives and their romantic lives. So how can we craft our Christian Romance ministries to guide readers in their romantic lives?
Young Couples
The current real-life trend: finish high school, start college, get married, have kids. The problem here is often age, but perhaps more often the problem is maturity. Despite couples’ levels of maturity, or lack thereof, countless weddings takes place, and kids usually come fast on the heels of “I do.”

Does it occur to young people to wait to marry until they mature, or to first discover who they really are, so that they can discover what they really want in life?

Oftentimes, no.

Does it occur to young people to wait to marry until they first discover what they really want in a spouse, and discover if they want to be married at all?

Oftentimes, no.

Why not? While pondering this mystery, I asked my mom, “Why did you and Dad get married and have kids?” Her expression went blank. Then she answered, “That’s what everyone did. You got married and had kids.” Many young people continue this trend today because they don’t see, hear, and read enough examples to show them there’s another way . . . perhaps even a better way.

One of my lifelong friends (also in her forties) married for the first time two years ago. I have zero doubt that she found the right man, because she took her time searching to be certain she picked the right one. Today, she is a college graduate, and she and her sister are both highly successful in their careers, and both took their time picking good men.
To read more of Tammy's commonsense views, see

Saturday, August 13, 2011

HOPE UNSEEN - A story of a man of true vision & a wife who wouldn't quit

A story of faith & courage.    
"I love you, but I really don't like you now."
Those words were wrenched from Tiffany Smiley, Scotty's hurting wife.

Captain Scott Smiley lost the use of both his eyes when a suicide bomber blew himself up thirty metres in front of Scotty's Stryker vehicle in Iraq.

Doctors told him he'd never see again. Scotty said he was so shocked and disillusioned that he blamed God. He was so mad that he quit praying and fell into a deep hole of depression. He refused to communicate except by proclaiming the unfairness and cruelty he'd been subjected to. Why him? A good soldier. It was then that Tyffany, who'd stuck with him throughout his agonising trial, challenged him.

Finally, though blind, he saw " light at the end of the tunnel" and asked God's forgiveness for hurling accusations against his Maker. It was then that God's peace flooded his heart and soul. Sympathetic to his war wounds, the Army said, "You've done your work and made your sacrifice. You can retire. But Scotty was adament he still wanted to be productive and serve his country.

A recipient of the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart, he recently taught the core course in leadership at West Point and now commands the Warrior Transition Unit at West Point's Army Medical Centre. Scotty, a true man of vision, and Tyffany, a nurse, are the proud parents of two boys.

You can read about their story at  and purchase the book, pictured, from Amazon.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Author Lisa Harris' Personal Story

For as long as I can remember, I had my life completely planned out. From who I was going to date, to when I was going to get married, to where I was going to live. And for a while, my plans seemed to be perfectly on track. Another part of my plan was to travel the world as a missionary. So when I met this good-looking French major with an accent to boot, it didn’t take long for me to be completely hooked.

We’d been dating about nine months when we spent a summer in Africa on a mission trip. While we weren’t a part of the same group, we both were convicted that summer that God was calling us back to Africa—together. My future husband proposed a couple months later and the next summer we married in a beautiful ceremony in Colorado.

I couldn’t have been happier, and things continued to go according to my plan. We moved overseas to work as missionaries. I learned French, taught Bible classes, and loved our life. It didn’t take long, though, for me to discover that the control I thought I had over my life was simply an illusion.

One of the things I wanted more than anything else was a child. But year after year went by and that long-awaited child didn’t come. We tried infertility treatments, but doctors couldn’t find anything wrong. Finally, after several years of marriage the pregnancy test came back positive. I was ecstatic. But at three months, we lost the baby, and I was left devastated, wondering where God was.

Looking back, it’s still amazing to me at how God can take grief and pain and turn it into strength and renewal. Which is exactly what He began to do with my life. It was a long process that took many years, but He took me from the depths and taught me to trust Him. He taught me that I couldn’t rely on my own strength, but only on His. And that my plans were rarely His plans, but if I allowed Him to, He would be my strength.

Is it always easy? No, and there are still times when I try to take the reigns back. In the process, though, I’ve stopped (for the most part) planning out my life moment-by-moment, allowing instead Him to lead. His time, His way. His purpose.

After twenty-one years I’m still married to my best friend. Together
we’ve traveled the world and served side-by-side on the mission
field through the good and the not so good. We have three lovely
children, two by adoption, and a third ‘surprise’ gift from God.
The future might be unknown, but when things get tough, I can look
back and remember that He is always faithful.   

“Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will
 help you.” Psalm 37:5  (NLT)

Thank you, Lisa. Be sure to read her fascinating website and blog   and

Step Away From the Ordinary

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Teacher's Pet

The Tylers: Emily, Greg, Sarah & Mitch Hoskins,Sharon, James & Lucy
 Her eyes said "Yes", but her lips said "No". That's the way it seemed to Greg Tyler just four weeks after meeting her! Sharon laughed when he proposed and told him,"My parents would kill me!"

 Greg  was already working as a primary school teacher when he first met Sharon. But she had only just completed her first year of teacher training. They came across each other at a children's camp where they were invited to be helpers. It soon became apparent that apart from a mutual attraction, these young people shared similar interests and goals. They also shared a love of music and a strong commitment to family. And more, they were both interested in serving God wherever He led them. So within that first month they were deeply in love and knew that God's plan was for them to be together.

Some months later, he asked that momentous question again ... and this time she simply couldn't refuse! Ah, but only on one condition, because she needed to be able to focus on her studies, she insisted the wedding should not take place until her teacher training was complete. This was a complete shift of attitude for Sharon as she'd always envisaged living and working as an independent woman. She'd planned to settle down some time in the future, but what to do when your heart tells you otherwise? And another reason, they both believed it was God's timing that had brought them together, and they were also convinced that His plan was always the best and most perfect one.

Twenty-seven years later, that knowledge still holds true for Sharon and Greg, as they enjoy life and continue serving God together. Sharon is unequivocal when she says, "The Lord is the bedrock of our relationship. He has kept us strong and stable throughout some of life's fiercest storms!" Life has brought them some serious challenges, but these have been balanced by great blessings. Sharon goes on to say, "Our greatest blessing is knowing that God is with us every minute of every day. He provides whatever we need, moment by moment, and in Him our lives find true fulfilment."

They have raised four children, Lucy (24), Sarah) (23), James (21), and Emily (14). And by the grace of God all are string Christians actively involved in church life. Recently they welcomed another member, Sarah's husband Mitch, [see "Together Forever" post,] who has become like a son and brother to this family.

Their favourite verse: Delight yourself in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Rollercoaster Romance? Not Exactly ( But had to be there somewhere.)

Ane Mulligan
Here's a gal with a Southern-fried sense of humour! In her own words:

When Rita asked me to tell you my story, I noticed her blog theme was Inspirational Romance. Now, when I think of romance novels, I think of lovers. When I think of lovers—stay with me here, I do have a point to this—I think of romantic heroes from books. But where do these amorous men come from? Don't try to tell me real life, I know better. So do they all come from our imaginations? Maybe the better word would be our fantasies—but I won't go there for obvious reasons.

Borrowing a term from the late author Kristy Dykes, my "hero husband" is a Brit. But don't conjure up images of Hugh Grant. Believe me ... not all Brits are romantic like him. Now, don't get me wrong; my Brit tries, but somehow he's not the model for a novel hero.

What? You think I'm mean? No way. I'm just realistic. You want proof you say? All right ... here's what happened the night I met him. It was a blind date and I was paired with the other fellow. When it came time to go on the rollercoaster, neither of us was willing. I don't do rollercoasters and neither did he. When the other two came off, we remained in the new pairing. A few months later, we were married. So I guess you could say a rollercoaster brought us together, and his motorcycle cemented it, but was it romantic? Uh ... no. But I can say that we've been married 40 years and counting.

And he stuck with me when I took up this crazy world of writing. Of course, it was all his idea. I guess he figured anyone who could read 200 books a year (no exaggeration) should be able to write one and recoup some of that money. Boy, did he have that wrong ... the recoup part, I mean. Y'all know what most novelists make. And it isn't a quick trip to stardom.  He thought it might be like my plays. The first one I wrote was published, and after that, my editor at LifeWay bought everything I sent her. Novels, on the other hand, are a whole different subject. I've been on this journey for 8 years. I've been to editorial committee and pub board so many times they've installed a revolving door for me.

But the hubs stuck with me through it all, and even through my "rollercoaster" search for my birth family. After finding my mother, who did not want a relationship, I honored her wishes and didn't contact her again. But I knew I had some sisters out there and would have loved to know them. Having no idea of their names, it was an impossible task.

I gave it over to God and forgot about it. Well, not entirely. A few times each year, I would think about them and wonder. Ten years after I found my mother, a friend of my sisters found me. The whole story is on my Adoption Share blog, if you're so inclined to read it. I flew to Seattle and met them. It was like we'd always known one another, we're so much alike.

Whatever your dreams are, I can testify that God is able and trustworthy with them.

Thanks, Ane for sharing. Sometimes we can go overboard on the romance. It's the love shown by commitment in the "stickativeness" through thick and thin! (Your Brit deserves a medal!)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Wartime Romance - World War I

Beatrice, Rene, and Dora Dunsford
Beatrice Dunsford and her sisters enjoyed their
happy family existence until their father suddenly died. With their mother widowed and money scarce, they each searched for a job that would help the family finances.

Their little brother, Dickie, was a concern to his mother because he cried so often for his darling daddy, and she also never got over the shock of losing her husband for many years. She clung to her faith in the Lord, a real comfort in her grief, and always looked for His Second Coming.

The eldest sister, Dora, married first, and left to begin a new life with Charlie a clever banjo-mandolin player.
The second girl, Beatrice, became an excellent typist and with her looks attracted many young men. However, heartbroken after a failed romance with a handsome young Jewish man, she turned to another young man who told her he was going to marry her on their first outing. Flattered, she finally agreed. But by that time he had joined up as a volunteer. Their romance and courtship was all too brief, and they barely had a week's honeymoon before Harrie Mackie Kinnear was shipped abroad to fight in the Great War. No wonder Beatrice looked so sad in their wedding photograph... Harrie was one of the fortunate ones who returned at the end of that awful time to find he was a daddy. In those days soldiers weren't counseled for the traumas they suffered, and Beattrice never could quite understand his silences, nor he sudden flares of anger. More children followed, but two tots died as three-year-olds. One was lost to diptheria and a childhood accident took their beloved little girl from them. It was only then after a sweet Christian lady visited them that they too found a faith in the Lord and that one day they would again see their little ones. Because of their love for these little ones, they began a Sunday School in their home. It wasn't too much longer before this began a small church of believers in the nearby suburb of Russell Lea.

Harrie enjoyed his work as a signwriter and for many years his work was on public view on the small metal signs naming the variety of flora in Sydney's Botanical Gardens. Some years passed before the NSW government accepted them for the position of matron and manager of various Aboriginal reserves, as they were called in those days. And long after Harrie "retired" he was still involved at painting jobs in Christian camp sites. Their long life together was severed on this earth when Harrie went to be with the Lord. Now they have both joined all their children and their friends in Heaven as they enjoy the Lord's Presence.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Tears sprang to my eyes at Jon and Teri Anne's story, so here it is in her own words.

"News of a fatal car accident involving a young church member buzzed around the office that blustery October morning. Less than six months before, I had accepted the invitation to join the staff of my former church, moving back across the country where I taught in a Christian school, to Arkansas, where I became the director of children’s ministries. 

In a few moments, a tall young man suddenly entered the reception area where I sat.  He swiftly stepped inside out of the wind and shut the door behind him.  Glancing up from my notes, my eyes met his momentarily.  In that moment, the thought came to mind, “That is the man you are going to marry!”  His eyes were blue, but somewhat dazed.  His sandy-colored hair was windblown. When I noticed a wedding band on his finger, I could only be thankful no one could read my mind.  Dismissing my thought as random, I greeted the young man and asked how I could be of help.  As soon as he mentioned his name, my heart jumped!  That October morning and the events that led up to it changed both our lives forever.

My parents had always shared with me the love of Jesus and that He had a perfect plan for my life. They instilled in me the importance of keeping myself for the man He had for me to marry one day, and they instructed me to pray for that young man as he was growing up, too. As I neared the end of my college career, the burden to pray for the man I was to marry strengthened. That burden took on a new dimension when a close friend and mentor married a young widower in our church.  The concept of marrying a widower was new to me, and her experience gave me pause. Could it be that the Lord had a similar plan for my life?  The man before me in that church office was the one who had just lost his wife in that tragic accident the night before. He was there for an appointment with the pastor.

It didn’t take either of us long to realize that Jon’s appointment that day was also a Divine appointment. In the course of the following weeks, Jon and I both received nudging from friends and church leaders to consider the other. I mentioned Jon to my parents, and together we began praying for him.  I felt loneliness, too.  I frequently wept and shared with the Lord during this time how much I longed for companionship—someone to love, someone who needed me! 

Meanwhile, Jon’s Sunday School teacher finally convinced him to attend the singles’ Christmas party.  I also decided it was better than staying home alone...again!  As I descended the stairs to join the party that evening, there stood Jon.   He caught my eye and in no time had initiated a conversation with me.  We enjoyed some wild ping-pong competition and we laughed a lot.  That entire evening he gave me his undivided attention. Over the next several weeks, we shared many sandwiches as we talked, read Scripture, and prayed together.  It was a glorious, whirlwind romance!  And soon, we were engaged.  With the encouragement and full approval of our families, pastor, and friends, we were blissfully married. Yes, the Lord had answered my prayers in a miraculous and timely manner.

Some time later, we learned that we would soon welcome a new little life…we were going to be parents!
It was a very arduous pregnancy, and my health continued to fail.  I was hospitalized five-and-a-half weeks before my due date, and my doctor elected to induce labor.  Even so, Jonathan David arrived healthy and strong.  The Lord had again answered our prayers. 

Within the first five weeks after Jonathan’s birth, as my health continued to fail, three specialists confirmed a diagnosis of systemic lupus.  That was the beginning of a long episode of health issues which only spurred our faith and trust in our Heavenly Father.The following year after successful surgery for endometriosis, I became pregnant with our second baby! Jonathan, then five, was going to be a big brother at last. Within the first trimester, however, our precious little one silently slipped into the arms of Jesus. Eighteen months later, we mourned the loss of yet another baby. My systemic lupus flared with each pregnancy, causing the babies' hearts to fail. Each time our hearts were broken, too.

But the Lord was not finished showing His greatness and mercy. We were surprised to learn we were expecting yet another baby.  By now I was considered high risk. One of my specialists actually told me to go home and wait for this baby to die, too. The lupus was already active, and he gave me no hope for a full-term pregnancy. Once again, Jon and I turned to the Scriptures for comfort and encouragement. We pleaded with the Lord to spare this child and show His power. Eight long months later, Jonathan finally became a big brother to little Jeffrey Duane, who arrived in perfect health and with the strongest newborn heart the pediatrician had ever heard!  The Lord had again answered our prayers.      
Both boys have grown into committed Christian young men who passionately love the Lord. And as Jon and I now face the empty nest, our prayers continue for our boys and for the young ladies the Lord has for them to marry one day. May they find the kind of love with which we have been blessed these past 28 years.  It is now 2011, and our love continues to grow!"

This is a wonderful story of the Lord's faithfulness and how two young people grew closer together through all their trials. Thanks for sharing Teri.