Surprise! I am officially a published author now.
I know I've disappeared from this blog for a while, but that doesn't mean that I stopped writing. In fact, I've been writing a lot. Some of my writing has been editing old stories, while some of my writing has been crafting new stories. I have learned a lot since I first started this story writing journey and I know that I am not done learning yet. I hope that every time I write, I get a little better and learn just a little more.
But like I said, I am a published author now. Ella Pursued is a short story that I started writing last year then I put it on hold for a while. But after growing a lot in my writing, I decided to pull that old manuscript out and try freshening it up a bit. Then I sent it off to several beta readers, who helped me strengthen it even more. After that, I sent it to an editor who helped it shine even more. And here it is finished and published by God's grace.
Ella has narrowly escaped a fatal marriage once, but she plans to never be caught in that web again. It’s been easy to evade the young men of her church so far, but Joe is different.
Can Ella keep avoiding the ever-persistent Joe, especially when she knows her own heart is pulled toward him? Can she trust Joe and, more importantly, can she trust God? Is she willing to face her fears or will she continue to run, breaking more hearts than one?
How to Help
You can help by purchasing the story for 0.99 cents on Kindle or reading it for free on Kindle Unlimited here.
If you do read it then please leave a review if you like it. If you aren't able to read it, then help me spread the word about it and tell your friends.
The above photo is not my new home, but isn't it adorable and wouldn't you just love that view?
It's been a while since I've written an update on this blog.
The beginning of this month was the beginning of a new home in Israel. We moved out of our old apartment at the end of August and it is so good to be out of that building. It was a good home for us for the first year of our stay in Israel, but it did not feel homey or comfortable and hardly even clean.
Our new place is tiny, but absolutely adorable. It feels like we are living in a little log cabin. It's cute. It's homey. It's clean. We love it. We are also renting from a couple in our church, which is also refreshing.
Apparently in Israel it is very common to have to paint your apartment at the end of your lease. That was written in our old contract. We signed the contract. However, the contract was written in Hebrew.
The person that was supposed to help us understand the contract did not say anything about this detail in the contract. The person we signed the contract with did not saying anything about this detail.
Guess what, we got to the end of our lease and did not paint the walls because we had no idea that was a thing we were supposed to do.
All of that to say, if you move to a different country and you can't read the language, make sure you get a trusted person to walk through every single line of your contract for renting before signing.
Also, I am so thankful for kind supportive Christian friends. When we moved to Israel we barely had any connections at all. We took four huge suitcases and two small suitcases on a public transportation to move into our first apartment. It was seriously overwhelming and a lot of work.
For this second move, we had friends from our church, who own a car, help us move the majority of our stuff. This is an enormous blessing, especially when you consider that after a year, we have gained stuff rather than decrease stuff. That usually happens.
Moral of the story, whenever you move to a new location, the first thing you should do is find a good supportive body of believers.
In 1640 Hugo Freer was born to a family in France, but France did not remain his home. He was a French Hugenot, a Protestant living in a Catholic country and being persecuted for his beliefs. So with others, Hugo fled the persecution of France and found safety in Mannheim, Germany. In 1660 he married his first wife, who bore him three children, but she and two of those children died of The Plague in 1666. Hugo married again in 1667. In 1675 Hugo joined other Huguenots in going first to England then to America. Hugo’s son, Hugo, from his first wife, married at 24 to Maria Anna LeRoy. They had at least fifteen children together. Their 8th child Jonas, was born in 1701. In 1727 Jonas married Catrina Stockerad and they had 7 children. His son Jonas Jr. married Magdelene Bevier in 1769 and they had 11 children. Their youngest child Jonathan, married Antje Auchmoody in 1809 and they had 12 children. Their 6th child Joshua married Catherine Ann Ackerman in 1841 and had nine children together. Their son, Luman, married Alice Ann Smith in 1880 and they had six children, two of those children not surviving to adulthood. Their daughter Lottie, born in 1890, married Dubois Craig in 1907. Lottie was only 16 when she gave birth to their first daughter, Marguerite in 1907. Marguerite is my Great-grandma who I knew personally growing up and who lived to be 108. Marguerite married Leonard Heerschap and they had one daughter, Alice. Alice married William Clearwater and they had three children. Their daughter, Laura, is my mother. Laura married Mark Leake and had 9 children. I am their 5th child.
To some of you, this may look like just a long list of dates, names, marriages, and a genealogy or family history that means nothing to you. To me, it means everything. I see lots of families and big miracles that eventually led to me, to my life.
I see a man who escaped the persecution of France and eventually found a home in America where he and his family would not be persecuted for their religious beliefs. I see too that through a miracle, he and his son survived The Plague even though his first wife and two other sons did not. I see numerous families who were willing to have large families and only because of that was another one of my ancestors given life in this world. I see numerous families being woven together, making more families. I see too that my great-grandma was very possibly conceived out of wedlock. Would if that child hadn’t been given the opportunity to live? What if she had been aborted because she wasn’t considered to be a real human in the womb or because the parents didn’t plan to get pregnant with her when they did? Would if her life hadn’t mattered?
I see a family who escaped persecution, finding safety and freedom in America and that eventually led to me. If the Hugo Freer of 1640 had not fled the persecution, he may have been killed and I would not be alive today. If he had not decided to leave Germany and come to America, I would not be alive today. If those many families had not decided to have as many children as God gave them, I would not be alive today. If my great-grandma was aborted because she was conceived out of wedlock like many children today are, I would not be alive today. If my mom had decided that four children was enough and decided I was a tissue, easily disposed of, I would not be here today. If it were not for the grace of God and his weaving miracle after miracle together to make up my ancestors, I would not be here today. I see that my life on this earth is a gift and a miracle, and my heritage as an American is a gift and a miracle.
Yesterday was the fourth of July and I am happy that I, living in Jerusalem, Israel this year was able to celebrate my country, America from afar.
I am grateful. I am grateful for the gift of life and for those who fought for my freedom and my country's freedom. I am grateful for those many ancestor’s who believed in life and life in the womb most of all. I am grateful for family and family history. I am grateful for my early ancestors who were strong, brave, and courageous, toiling and working hard in a young America and not afraid of hard work or suffering. America is not perfect, but America was my home for 26 years and, Lord willing, will be my home again some day.
But more than all of these things, I am grateful for the gift of Salvation through God’s Son, Jesus. I am thankful that my hope and faith isn’t resting in a temporary home, but in an eternal home. I am grateful that my hope is in Someone so much bigger and greater than any nation on earth or any power on earth. I am grateful that God chose me to be his child before the foundations of the world. I am grateful most all that I was adopted into His family.
I am joining the Five-Minute Friday again today and the word is...
Also note, I wrote most of this post up a while ago, before quarantining was a thing, but I thought it was fitting to post with the word for the week.
Patience seems to be a theme of my life and maybe for most of our lives. Why is that?
Because I seem to always be in a season of waiting, if not for one thing than for another.
Outside my window, I watch people waiting for their tram to come in to take them to the next location.
Or at the bus station there is a whole crowd of people waiting for their bus. Some people wait patiently, others, to put it bluntly, not so patiently at all.
But there are big things we wait for, too. These things you don’t just get in line for and wait on. You must keep doing, while also waiting. A dream to come true, school to end, new job, etc.
I once was a single woman, waiting (or pining) for my now husband to take notice of me. And that waiting is, praise the Lord, over.
I have discovered that seasons of waiting don’t exactly ever go away.
The thing which I am waiting for now may go away or change as the seasons of my life change, as dreams are fulfilled.
But there is always something else I will be waiting for and that is not to say that I am ungrateful for what I have now, though that can definitely be the case.
Rather, it means I am a dreamer. I am not content to dream my dream and be done with hoping or dreaming.
No, I dream my dream and cling to that dream, unless God should change it or fulfill it. But these are also seasons of living while continuing to dream and wait patiently.
And I am not the best one to do this, as my husband or any member of my immediate family could testify of me. I can be such an Eeyore.
Being patient is a choice. I must choose to wait in patience, giving thanks for what I do have.
We will always be waiting for something, but how we wait is what changes everything. We can choose to wait with patience and joy. Or we can choose to wait with impatience, frustration, and anger.
Sometimes our path seems really unclear. I have walked through several seasons of life that just seemed so fuzzy and uncertain to me.
When I went off to college, I was so confused. I couldn't be convinced it was really where I was supposed to be until I was there and even then I had my doubts. I didn't feel qualified. I didn't feel smart enough. I was sure I would fail. But in the end, I knew, even in the midst of all the doubts, fears, and confusion, it was exactly where I was supposed to be.
One thing was made clear in the midst of those confusions and doubts.
That I must walk by faith and not by sight.
Romans 8:24-25 says, "For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience."
And 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, "for we walk by faith, not by sight."
I have clung to these verses especially in the seasons when I have had to put one foot in front of the other without knowing what was ahead, without even knowing where I was stepping.
The path may be unclear, but God's faithfulness is clear.
I may not be able to see what lies ahead. I may be confused, doubting, discouraged. But as a Christian, I am called to live by faith and not by sight. I hope in that which is not seen. I hope in a God who I know will make my path straight and lead me on. Even when I cannot see what is ahead, he can.
The path is not always clear for my own vision, but the path is always clear in God's vision. He sees all and is in control of all.
In him, I put my hope.
"That was a big mistake!"
"I shouldn't have done that! That was a mistake!"
But was it really?!
I am mean, maybe it was a mistake, intentional or not.
But maybe sometimes we look at it wrong.
Does God consider it a mistake? Is he looking down upon you, glaring at you because you did it wrong again. Because you went ahead and went with a decision and now aren't feeling so certain about it. You question yourself and decide it was a mistake. But was it? Did God say it was a mistake?
Maybe it wasn't a mistake. Maybe you are right where God wants you. It might not be your dream world, your dream idea of fun, it might not have turned out exactly how you had hoped. But a mistake? No.
We don't always know exactly why some thing happens. We can't always see exactly what God is up to each step of the way. But is it right to always call it a mistake when you aren't where you think you ought to be, because maybe you are where God wants you to be.
Just maybe, you are exactly where God has called you to be. And God doesn't make mistakes!
Maybe it's not a mistake. Maybe all you need is a different perspective and a different attitude. The attitude can change everything.
I hear a baby crying somewhere in the street below.
There are all kinds of noises happening in that street. People chattering, kids calling, laughter, the train, the noise of vehicles to and fro. But that baby's cry stands out from all the other noise.
Everything in me instinctively wants to rush down and comfort the poor child. Take the baby in my arms and bounce and whisper soothing words.
But instead I step to the window and look out, wondering whose child it is.
There I spot them. The baby in a stroller and the father trying his best. I smile faintly. A young father trying to do his best to calm one child while trying to keep an eye on his wandering toddler, too.
He has success for a little while, but then the baby cries again. I sigh, but I know it will be ok.
The father has his child. The baby will be ok.
Sarah Jane stepped gingerly down the narrow path surrounded by green foliage. It was likely a little dog trail, but she didn't care. It was a comfortable morning, the sun not yet blazing hot and the humidity not stifling. Her bare toes touched the cool earth, dirt beneath her feet. It was just the way she liked it. A soft smile lifted her lips and her eyes twinkled with pleasure. It wasn't every morning that was this still, and this perfect, only the chirping of birds or the squirrels cracking down on nuts. The air breathed fresh. It was a good day to be out. But what was that in the path just ahead?
Sarah Jane squinted her eyes and peered up ahead, her feet having come to an uncertain halt. She took a hesitant step forward and then another. She shook her head to clear her thoughts. She was always lettering her head run away with an extensive imagination always creating mystery when there was a perfectly logical reason. She continued further down the path, the object now coming into full view.
A bike. In the middle of the path.
Well, there can still be a perfectly logical reason for a bike to be lying across her path. She shook her head once more and squared her shoulders back. There was no reason to be curious about a bike. Very likely a kid playing nearby, not that she had ever seen kids out on this path before.
The bushes rustled near her. Sarah Jane came to an abrupt stop. Her ears listened cautiously. Now her mind was just playing tricks on her. The bushes rusted again. That was surely not a mind trick. She saw the bushes move.
A little boy scuttled out from behind the bushes and Sarah Jane relaxed, a soft smile returning to her face and her eyes sparkling once more. Mystery solved.
"Oh, Hi, Miss Sarah Jane! I found a black berry bush! Try one!" And he held out a small, berry juice-covered hand. Two berries remaining.
"I can pick you more, too." he grinned eagerly, before diving back into the bush without waiting for a response.
Day 6 was actually yesterday, but I was too busy reading good books and playing Settlers of Catan with Tyler to bother making a post. So today I will try to do two posts. Here is yesterday's word, Sent.
His only Son.
God became man.
His only Son
Servant to man
Sent to save
His only Son
By his death.
His only Son
It is finished.
It is done.
And today's word is TABLE.
Today is also the Five minute Friday Linkup.
I think Table is tied up in a couple other words. Food. Hospitality. Gathering.
We gather around a table set with a banquet of delicious food shared with friends or family.
A table isn't just a place we sit down and eat at. The table is supposed to be a place we gather around to share our hearts and souls with others while nourishing our bodies, too.
A table may be a slab of wood with four wooden legs, but if a table could tell stories then it would tell you so much more.
It wouldn't just tell you of the kinds of food placed upon it. It would tell you of the hearts and souls gathered about it. It would tell you of the sorrows wept there and the tears of laughter shed there and hope and comfort and love.
The table could tell you about the grandmother who has set a meal upon that table for decades now. The babies that have grown into children and the children grown into adults. The fathers and mothers who tried incessantly to teach those children proper table etiquette. The friends who came to share in the family warmth.
A table is not just a place to sit and eat. It is the place where people gather, cultures brought together as one, different tongues and languages join hands in prayer to the same God and Father.
All people's love food and the table is where we are all brought together to delight in this wonderful nourishing gift, setting aside differences in order to love our brothers and sisters better with a plate of food and neighborly hospitality.
A table isn't just a wooden structure, it is a gathering place for community and friendship.