Friday, March 30, 2012

Freedom & Jeff

This is not a story of romance, but rather one that is so truly inspirational. Jeff goes on to share it with you:

Freedom and I have been together 11 years this summer. She came in as a baby with two broken wings. Her left wing doesn't open all the way even after surgery. It was broken in four places.

When Freedom came in she could not stand. She was emaciated and covered in lice. We made the decision to give her a chance at life, so I took her to the vet. From then on, I was always around her. We had her in a huge dog carrier with the top off,  and it was loaded up with shredded newspaper for her to lay in.  I used to sit and talk to her, urging her to live, to fight; and she would lay there looking at me with those big brown eyes.  We also had to tube feed her for weeks.

This went on for 4-6 weeks, and by then she still couldn't stand. It got to the point where the 
decision was made to euthanize her if she couldn't stand in a week. You know you don't want to cross that line between torture and rehab, and it looked like death was winning.  She was going to be put down that Friday, and I was supposed to come in on that Thursday afternoon. I didn't want to go to the center that Thursday, because I couldn't bear the thought of her being euthanized, but I went anyway, and when I walked in everyone was grinning from ear to ear. I went immediately back to her cage; and there she was, standing on her own, a big beautiful eagle.  She was ready to live.  I was just about in tears by then.  That was a very good day. 

We knew she could never fly,  so the director asked me to glove train her. I got her used to the glove,and then to jesses, and we started doing education programs for schools in western  Washington. We wound up in newspapers, radio, and TV. 
 Jeff shares how he was diagnosed with non-hodgkin's lymphoma but was eventually free of the disease.

The first thing I did was get up and take the big girl out for a walk. It was misty and cold, and we went out front to the top of the hill.  I hadn't said a word to Freedom, but somehow she knew. She looked at me and wrapped both her wings around me to where I could feel them pressing in on my back  (I was engulfed in eagle wings), and she touched my nose with her beak and stared into my eyes, and we just stood there like that for I don't know how long.  That was a magic moment.  We have been soul mates ever since she came in.  This is a very special bird.

We may not own a pet eagle, but the Bible gives us a wonderful promise:

They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; 
they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.  Isaiah 40:31


Friday, March 23, 2012

Coincidence or God Incidence? Kara Isaac's story

I asked Kara to share her unusual story as it's inextricably, linked to her writing.

My pastors were in Sydney (ironically enough teaching at a marriage retreat). On the Sunday night they met a guy at church, were having a bit of a chat with him when his father came up and said "Can you find my son a nice Kiwi wife, because I'm not having any luck finding him one over here!"
For some reason they both thought of me. And so, upon their return, my pastor took me out for coffee and starting waxing lyrical about this great guy they had met in Sydney. Mostly
I laughed at her. There was no doubt that he sounded great, but he was in Sydney, I was in Wellington, and neither of us had any plans to be in the other city anytime soon.

The guy my pastor was raving about had the same name as the character in my manuscript that I was smitten with. Josh. Not only that, but they lived in the same city, were the same age and the same occupation. Of course, proving that God does have a sense of humour, the real Josh looked nothing like the fictional Josh, but looked exactly the same as one of the other main characters in the manuscript.

Two months later, God orchestrated a whole lot of things to bring Josh to Wellington, and me back from overseas early, where we met for the first time at the exact same place my characters meet - Wellington Airport. Whilst it wasn't quite love at first sight (it was at second, in Sydney three weeks later) there was definitely something there that could rival any good romance novel.

 I haven't quite gotten around to finishing the manuscript yet because God has been a bit busy writing my own love story with my fiction come real hero - Josh and I got engaged then he moved to New Zealand and soon after we get married! But you never know, hopefully one day I'll get around to writing the happy ending for my characters that I'm busy living!

Isn't that a lovely story of how the Lord works in His children's lives? I'm so glad Kara shared it with us. And don't you love that newest  addition to their family? This isn't just a happy's also a great beginning!

Friday, March 16, 2012


1959: Billy Graham had just finished his amazing crusade in Melbourne where my faltering faith had been rekindled . In my second year at Geelong Teachers' College, I was now a member of its Christian F/ship. My friend was not well enough to attend the Easter Conference at Belgrave Heights so she offered her accommodation without cost to me.

What a wonderful experience! listening to challenging speakers and enjoying christian  fun and fellowship.  We sang choruses at night by the light of the log fire, accompanied by  the guitar playing of a student pastor from Ballarat. Don Prout was always at the centre of the group with his guitar, ukelele, infectious laugh and sense of humour. My heart missed a beat or two when I heard him singing...

I invited Pastor Don to be the speaker at the youth group in my church at Newtown Baptist (Geelong). Then our group visited his church...and so it started. We wrote copious letters. Don was writing a commentary on all the books of the Bible, which he finished many years later.  Each day he sent me his notes that I used for my daily devotions and he often spoke at my church.

We grew closer and eventually married in 1962. My Donald even played his guitar at the wedding reception. I never dreamed I would be frequently harmonizing with him in duets, even learning to play the ukelele on our honeymoon! The Lord led us through many remarkable
adventures. And we have three children, (one already home in Glory), and five grandchildren.

As well as pastor, teacher, author and "Walk Thru the Bible instructor, Donald was a journalist for New Life Christian newspaper for over twenty-five years. He reported on Christmas and Easter conventions, wrote many in-depth pieces, and interviewed many overseas speakers.

After his death, I was asked to report on conventions and my first write-up was in Easter 2009 -decades after I first met my wonderful husband.

This year would have been our fiftieth wedding anniversary, but the Lord called Donald Home five years ago. Just two days before he died, he used the music therapist's guitar in the palliative care ward of the hospital to sing his last song...

                                               Thank you Jesus, death ain't no big deal."

Thank you so much for sharing with us, Barbara. We will never forget Don's deep spirituality, his cheerful spirit and sense of fun. Truly, both of your lives have been a real inspiration to us!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Student President Snared by First Year Student.

Ray and Mary Hawkins as fresh-faced students
Congratulations to one of our rare male contributors, author Ray Hawkins. He's also made some very courageous assertions...brave man that he is! And I couldn't resist a few comments of my own.

I was elected as Student President at the end of 1962. At that time four or five male students formed a ‘B.O.’ club. This stood for ‘Bachelors Only’. As you can imagine it was a very exclusive club. (For a limited time.)

That 1963 Bible College year began as other years. Principal Stephenson gave the opening devotions. He was a great man and fine Principal. The next day was my turn as Student President. If memory serves me correctly, I said that Jesus was our Master. He had the right to send us wherever. I never noticed any of the three young ladies who had become students for that year. (Oh, really?) Apparently one of them thought the President had the makings of a minister. 

Over the next few weeks Mary was teased by her table mates because, apparently, her eyes were often focused on the head table. Being president of the B.O. club made me immune to all such frivolity. (of course.)

Suddenly strange apparel appeared in my drawers. A woman’s sock, Mary's books, jumpers etc. She found similar things of mine in her room. As we exchanged such things a little sheepishly, I began to notice her. My B.O. membership was becoming threatened. I put up stiff resistance.( So you say, Ray!)

Then a health scare gripped college as one of our students became infected. Mary one of three nurses. Each student had to be punctured by a needle at their hands. This took place in a small room with a notice board. The Missionary Committee had a sign, ‘Love’s Labour is never lost – Pray!’ (Excellent advice!) As Mary jabbed me, I pretended to faint – not a good idea for a nurse who apparently knew more about anaphylactic shock than I did. Some guys carried me out, all laughing at our joke. The girls weren’t impressed. The next day someone changed the sign – Love’s labour is never lost – Ray!’ (Had to be the guys.)

Slowly but surely this girl from Toowoomba, Queensland, together with the conspiracy of match-making friends seriously threatened my determination to bachelorhood. (Aw, he never stood a chance.) The end came at a Churches of Christ State Conference session. All students were expected to go, so off we went. Four came in my Mini Minor car. After I pulled up the others hurried inside. Mary had gone in another vehicle and stood nearby as I locked the car. It was what the song ‘Some enchanted evening’ spoke about. You would see her across the crowded room. Well I saw her just down the empty footpath. Mary went inside. Not long after, I entered the church building, saw where the students were sitting, muscled one of them aside who was sitting next to Mary and sat down. (High five, here!)

After the Conference session, the students crowded into a Combi van and took off, leaving Mary stranded so she had to travel back to college alone with me. That was the first time we spent time by ourselves and of course, amongst “other things”, discussed the many embarrassing match-making efforts of the students. Needless to say, I was soon stripped of my presidency of the ‘B.O.’ club!

(Oh yes, they were very soon joined in holy matrimony in case you wondered.) And thank you Ray for sharing forty-nine years later your experience from the male Point of View. Refreshing!

Here is Ray's latest release. It can be purchased as well as Mary Hawkins Australian Baragula Romance series at

Friday, March 2, 2012


He sat on the far side of my high school classroom, leaning up against the wall, watching me with puppy dog eyes. I wasn't interested, but he was patient. Very patient.

Jim and I attended a Christian boarding school in Canada in the mid 70s. This school had strict social regulations that limited conversations between girls and guys outside of class hours. Under these circumstances, it took nearly a year for me to start eyeing him back, and there were limited avenues for growing a relationship. Certainly no smooching in the corner, holding hands, or even lengthy getting-to-know-you talks.

At that time our home towns were half a province apart, but soon after high school graduation in 1977, our families both moved, settling in towns separated by a mere ninety miles. This provided a much more conducive setting for a romance to develop--and develop it did! We married a little more than three years out of high school and promptly leaped into parenthood with the birth of our daughter 13 months later. Two and a half years after that we welcomed our son, and we're tremendously thankful for both our kids.

Who knew how much we had in common back then? Not us. We're so grateful to God for joining two people who passionately love nature, especially oceans and streams and mountain lakes. We both prefer rural living and are content on our forty-acre farm where we grow much of our own food. Both of us had parents who farmed, gardened, and preserved food for winter. We'd grown up loving homemade breads, soups, and healthy meals made from scratch, and have passed on this priority to our kids and their spouses. In these days of local food advocacy, we're in a position to teach others some of the skills we've been practicing over thirty years.

* Valerie Comer's life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie grows much of her own food and is active in the local foods movement as well as her church. She only hopes her imaginary friends enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, gardening and geocaching with her husband, adult kids, and adorable grandchildren. 
In her debut novella, "Topaz Treasure" her main character loves real food as well. She has woven in a boldness for her talking to people about their eating habits while shy about sharing her faith. What will it take to balance this in her life? See