"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come!" —2 Corinthians 5:17
Spring has sprung!
In Lancaster County farmland there is a flurry of activity in the Amish community—potatoes are being planted and oats are being seeded, while cornfields are being plowed and cultivated for planting the end of April or early in May.
And, with the beginning of springtime comes the launch of my latest novel, The Atonement. I'm eager to introduce you to my leading lady, Lucy Flaud. Twenty-five and beyond Amish courting age, she is troubled by the mistakes of the past. Instead, she focuses on volunteering in both the Plain and fancy communities of Lancaster County. Yet no matter how hard she strives, she never feels she's doing enough. Then her father strikes up an unexpected friendship with an Englischer in search of a simpler way of life. Lucy forms a connection of her own with the thoughtful young man even as she rejects courtship with her longtime Amish friend. In her heart, though, she wonders: Is it too late for her to embrace redemption . . . let alone the power of love?
The idea of helping others as an attempt to atone for past mistakes was one I wanted to develop years ago but shelved. Then, more recently, during my cousin Kirsten's "100 Helpful Days," as documented on her Facebook page, I was inspired by her acts of compassion via numerous charitable organizations. Her selfless journey reminded me of that forgotten premise, and I adopted it for my character Lucy Flaud.
While Lucy volunteers for very different reasons than most of us, her story journey demonstrates that we don't have to be perfect for God to use us to help others-just willing. A remarkable truth!
I’m currently on my Spring 2016 Book Tour for The Atonement, taking me to library and bookstore events throughout northern Ohio, and one stop in Indiana, from March 31 through April 9. Touring is always a highlight of my writing life since it gives me a chance to be face to face with my wonderful readers. Be sure to take a look at the tour schedule here—I look forward to meeting many of you!
I pray that the joy and exuberance you experienced during Easter will live on powerfully in your heart every day of the year!
"You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light." —Psalm 18:28
God’s amazing grace at work in our lives keeps our "lamps burning," redeeming our lives from the ridiculous choices we make—destructive in some cases—and crowning us with loving-kindness and tender mercies. (Another beautiful promise to cling to, friends! Psalm 103:4-6)
Easter is the culmination of our Christian faith, and what a joy to celebrate it on the last Sunday of this month. To think that our Lord Jesus took each one of our sins in his body on that cruel Cross to be remembered no more! The sacrificial Lamb of God willingly bore my sins, and yours, and offered His divine self for all who believe in His precious name. Our spirits will live on after this old body wears out and dies. Hallelujah, He is risen, indeed!
With Easter’s glory and joy in my heart, I’ll begin my Spring 2016 Book Tour for my novel, The Atonement (street date: March 29), in Ohio, with one stop in Indiana. Please check here for where and when on my upcoming events.
I’m eager to see my readers in the vicinity and some who’ve already told me they are within driving distance. We’ll have fun meeting and greeting, taking photos, if you wish, and sharing God’s love.
Spring is almost "sprung" here in Colorado, where the temperatures are above normal and the snowfall in the mountains is wonderful for the ski resorts and our all-important reservoirs. Hopefully, no water rationing this summer!
A most blessed Easter Season to you and your dear ones,
"So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him." —Luke 15:20
Forgiveness is a characteristic of love—great love.
The scripture verse above describes a powerful example of an earthly father's love, reflecting our heavenly Father's love—amazing and all-encompassing. Who of us hasn't decided to go his or her own way? Who hasn't doubted, feared, distrusted, rejected, and walked away from the love of God, our Father?
Oh, to come running back into his strong arms, knowing He has received us, welcoming us home. Welcoming us because our hearts are tender and broken, destitute...ready and yearning to receive the love that was there all along!
I pray you will know and receive this miraculous and extravagant love for always.
"But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.'" —Romans 5:8
The first of January signals the start of a new calendar year, a spanking-clean chapter in our lives. A new year promises second chances and fresh beginnings.
Will we take the second chance at getting it right this year, and the constant reach for happiness...for all that we wish for? Will we strive to be better at relationships, at work, at leisure...to be more attentive to others’ needs, to follow God’s ways, above all? We want to do all of these things, sure, but we seem to fall short repeatedly.
Yet, graciously, our Lord offers us hope, and once again we remember that it’s not about our doing or being. It’s really just about accepting. Simple, yet true.
So, is it possible to lay down the rope and end the inner tug-of-war of striving, choosing rather to open our hearts and embrace THE miracle: God’s ever-perfect love? He, alone, offers each of us a beautiful second chance, no strings attached.
Here’s an excerpt from my little book, Amish Prayers, which can be prayed on New Year’s Day...or any morning.
“O merciful, gracious God, Farther of eternal light and comfort, whose goodness and faithfulness are fresh again each morning, we give you praise, honor, and thanks for the lovely daylight, and also for graciously protecting us during the night and granting us gentle sleep and rest. May we now arise in your grace and love, and under your care and protection, make gainful, joyful use of the daylight. Amen.”
I truly wish for you an inspiring and peace-filled New Year 2016.