Saturday, October 27, 2012

Happy 100th Birthday Mom!

If my mom were alive today, she'd be celebrating her 100th birthday. Sadly, she died at age 70 from the effects of emphysema. Way too early in my opinion. It's been nearly 30 years since she passed. In some ways it seems that long, but sometimes it seems less.

This morning I journaled about Mom, reflecting on how much she loved me, and realized that the greatest lesson she gave me was unconditional love in action.

My family was what one would call nominally Christian. We knew about Jesus and attended church, sometimes regularly and at other times not, but we didn't know Him personally. I often hear people speak of their moms being strong spiritual influences on their lives. Their moms  prayed with them, taught them from the Bible as they had their devotions, and pretty much followed the scripture verse that says, "Train up a child in the way he shall go, and even when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6. But back then my mom did not have that kind of Christian walk -- as I said we were nominal Christians.

I came to know Jesus in a personal way a few years before she died, but I never had the chance to see her come to a similar faith. Where she was spiritually at the time she passed only God knows. It is He who can look beyond our outside appearances and know the true inclinations of our hearts toward Him.

Most mothers love their children with all their mights, but to me, my mom loved me more. Perhaps it was because she almost died having me. My parents were married a long while before I came along and then, because of complications with my birth, I was the only child she had.

Mom and me swimming in Lake Geneva
I wish I could say I was always the daughter she dreamed of having, but I frustrated her many times with my disobedience and, as I matured, with my lack of motivation with regard to school. By the time I got to high school, I was more interested in socializing than studying and received grades that matched that attitude. I went to college, partied hard, and found myself back home the next fall instead of beginning my sophomore year...

Still my mom loved me fiercely.

I went through a broken engagement and a move to the West Coast in search of life's fulfillment. Bounced from job to job and partied hard. Then, finally tired of that life, I moved back to the Midwest only to have Mom diagnosed with emphysema several months later.

During the five years she lived with that debilitating disease, I stopped running from God and surrendered to Him. She wasn't interested in hearing my testimony and invitation to commit to Jesus. I was told not to evangelize her. I never learned for sure why she felt so strongly that way, but I suspect it had to do with the church she attended as a child. She didn't like my choices as far as my faith was concerned ...

Still my mom loved me fiercly.

In my opening, I said only God knows each person's heart as far as their relationship to Him is concerned. And I have peace with that. But in looking back today, I realize that even when she didn't set out to teach me a spiritual lesson, she did. No matter how much I disappointed her, treated her disrespectfully (especially in my teen years), and disobeyed her, she never stopped loving me. And that's how God is with me. I've disappointed Him, at times treated Him disrespectfully, and disobeyed Him. Yet He loves me unconditionally because I've placed my faith in His Son Jesus. Thanks to Mom, I knew what unconditional love felt like long before I came to know that kind of love from God.

Thanks, Mom, and Happy 100th Birthday!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ludwig's No Safe Harbor is a Winner!

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
No Safe Harbor
Bethany House Publishers (October 1, 2012)
Elizabeth Ludwig


Elizabeth Ludwig is an award-winning author whose work has been featured on Novel Journey, the Christian Authors Network, and The Christian Pulse. Her first novel, Where the Truth Lies, which she co-authored with Janelle Mowery, earned her the 2008 IWA Writer of the Year honors. This book was followed in 2009 by “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” part of a Christmas anthology collection called Christmas Homecoming, also from Barbour Publishing.

In 2010, her first full-length historical novel Love Finds You in Calico, California earned Four Stars from the Romantic Times. Books two and three of Elizabeth’s mystery series, Died in the Wool (Barbour Publishing) and Inn Plain Sight (Spyglass Lane), respectively, released in 2011.

Coming in 2012 is Elizabeth’s newest historical series from Bethany House Publishers. No Safe Harbor, the first book in the Edge of Freedom Series, will release in October, with two more books following in 2013 and 2014.

Elizabeth is an accomplished speaker and teacher, and often attends conferences and seminars, where she lectures on editing for fiction writers, crafting effective novel proposals, and conducting successful editor/agent interviews. Her popular literary blog, The Borrowed Book, enjoyed a wide readership in its first full year, with more than 17,000 visitors in 2011. Along with her husband and two children, Elizabeth makes her home in the great state of Texas.


I think going as a single woman to a foreign country alone would be unnerving for a lot of ladies, even in this day and age. But what if it were the 1890s? What if you never dreamed of leaving your homeland,  but you are prompted to make the trip to America from your native Ireland because of a cryptic message you received from a brother you thought was dead? What if even though in his note he warned you to not talk to anyone until you found him in this new country, but a handsome and seemingly nice man offers to help you find your bearings in this new land and before you realize it you are talking to him.

The Thrill of Romantic Suspense Meets the Romance of 1800s America

Lured by a handful of scribbled words across a faded letter, Cara Hamilton sets off from 1896 Ireland on a quest to find the brother she'd thought dead. Her search lands her in America, amidst a houseful of strangers and one man who claims to be a friend--Rourke Walsh.

Despite her brother's warning, Cara decides to trust Rourke and reveals the truth about her purpose in America. But he is not who he claims to be, and as rumors begin to circulate about an underground group of dangerous revolutionaries, Cara's desperation grows. Her questions lead her ever closer to her brother, but they also bring her closer to destruction as Rourke's true intentions come to light.

Elizabeth Ludwig has such a knack with turning a phrase, deep characterizations and spinning a tale you cannot put down. She just keeps getting better and better. This one is a keeper!

If you would like to read the first chapter of No Safe Harbor, go HERE.

You can order it from Amazon and it's even available as an audio book!

I received a complementary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here are my own.