Friday, January 11, 2013

I'll let you in on a little secret...

...I'm moving! Blogs, that is.

I've been quiet here for the past month because I've been busy preparing my new home on the web, making it a cozy place for you to come and rest a minute. I'm not finished yet, but since you've traveled this road  with me here, I wanted to give you a sneak peek before the housewarming party in February.

Here's a little glimpse of what you'll find there, of my hope for the words scribbled:

If you'd are a subscriber here and would like to continue receiving posts via e-mail, hop on over and you'll see the little sign-up box in the sidebar on my blog page.

I'm looking forward to continuing our conversations over there, and hearing what our wonderful Lord is doing in your lives!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Where the Wind Blows Hard and the Trees Grow Crooked

There’s a valley here, where the winds of the world come to reside.

Gusts sweep down one mountain range, tumble across the valley floor, sweep up the next mountain range, all in endless supply.

The trees there grow crooked, reaching in diagonal tandem, away from the first mountain range.

But they grow.

And they’re strong.

See, despite that relentless horizontal battering, the vertical doesn’t change. The roots sink their tendrils ever-deeper. The leaves up top reach for the light, soak in strength.

I wonder at them sometimes. In storms, when life tumbles hard and I grow crooked, my limbs feel heavy and my heart feels faint. I wonder where the breaking point is.

And then I see those trees, how they stand and grow and never break, always reach, always root

Isn’t that us? When we’re swept by a gust, and we feel the Savior’s strong arms beckon, bolster, strengthen? We nestle in, root deeper, take refuge… and reach harder than ever for Him. Always reachable, always pouring light over us.

Winds of life change us, and people see it—the different direction we grow now… but even more? Those winds send us to Him, we learn His strength in a way we never knew before, and people see that, too.

In the valley where the winds blow strong and the trees grow stronger. . . because He is Mightier.

Hop over here (6th picture down) to see a picture of one such tree. I can’t post it here due to copyright, but it’s worth the cyber-field trip to see.

Friday, November 30, 2012

December Eve-- Guarding the Sanctuary of the Season

Quiet and soft and slow...

That's how He came, that's how the song goes. 

And here I am, swept up in a flurry of winter zeal, printing printables and scheming schemes and signing on for every amazing Christmas idea there is out there. 

I want Christmas to be about Him. I want our home to be a place where understanding sparks in eyes, love kindles warm in hearts, and we cherish. Truth, each other, giving. Cherish each of those things. 

Slow down, self. 

That's me, coaching my inner-Christmas-zealot to quiet down and remember not to crowd out truth with tradition. 

My question is, how do I balance truth and tradition? These ideas are rooted in truth, but I fear "doing" too many will have me focusing on the "doing" and not on the truth. 

The answer is simple, I think. 

Quiet my heart before Him, seek what would honor Him most this year. 

I'm printing printables and scheming schemes, but now I'm tucking some away for future years. I'd rather choose just a few traditions and give them space to be meaningful... than try to do them all at once, and implement chaos instead of peace

Here are my favorites, the ones I want to bring into the rotation-- the rotation, not the avalanche

Quiet, soft, slow

  • I'd like to modify this Christmas list of activities someday, create our own stash of joy-moments.
  • I'd like to implement something like this, spending the first moments of Christmas morning giving things that are truly needed, far across the world, spending the month preparing for that giving. We love the catalog that Gospel for Asia has for this. 
  • Spend the month learning about the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled, using these neat cards.
  • Spend the month learning about the names of God, discovering how personally each facet has ministered to us, using this free guide
  • Spend the month re-visiting the stories that led to Jesus' birth, with a Jesse tree. Ann Voskamp has a free downloadable book that includes meaningful application activities for each story, one-a-day for the whole month. 
  • Two years ago, we began collecting Christmas story books to re-wrap each year for our little ones to unwrap each day throughout the month. We have silly books, Nativity books, a book about the story of Nicholas to help explain where the tradition of Santa and stockings came from... and a few just wonderful stories. It makes for sweet cozy-together-moments.  If you want to hear a few favorite titles, ask away in the comments-- but beware. Once you ask about books, you've unleashed a book-talkin'- fool who doesn't know when to pipe down. 
Our book basket

Can you imagine if I tried to implement all of those at once? I'm sure there are people who do, and who do it beautifully and effectively. But for me, it's overwhelming to even think about it. I'd rather pick just one or two each year to add to the few activities we do engage in yearly, and savor that facet of our Lord. Some will probably become yearly, some we'll re-visit every few years... but no matter what, I want this to be a sanctuary-season. A time of peace, full to the brim of joy and gratefulness for the life that's been given. 

What are your favorite ideas, traditions, memories for the Christmas season? 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Hope Chronicles Giveaway Winners!

First, I'm so excited to announce the winners of the Hope Chronicles giveaways:
 (Each winner will also be notified by e-mail.)

Regina Jennings's prize bundle winner: Wendy Newcomb 
Joanne Bischof's prize bundle winner: Karen K
Amanda Dykes's prize bundle winner: Elizabeth Jorgensen
Karen Barnett's prize bundle winner: Jenny 
Sarah Sundin's prize bundle winner: Becky Guinn

GRAND PRIZE Hope Chronicles Journal: Becky Guinn

And Second:

Truly, thank you. I can't tell you how very blessed I was by all of your stories, scriptures, and songs of hope that you took the time to share in our comments this week. You blessed us tremendously, and our hearts' desire for the Hope Chronicles (to encourage through true, lasting Hope) took flight. 

If you didn't get  a chance to read the comments, all of our Hope Chronicles posts are still up. There are some amazing things in those comments*. 

Thank you for travelling the Hope Chronicles journey with us!


*A list of the 5 Hope Chronicles posts can be found at the bottom of Georgianna's entry

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hope Chronicles: Georgianna Wentworth

The Hope Chronicles is a blog hop and journal between 5 historical romance authors. Our desire is to bring you lasting hope through these letters, grounded in the hope of our Lord that does not disappoint, and written from the fictional viewpoints of each book’s heroine. We’re so glad to have you join the event. Each day this week, a new Hope Chronicles post will go live, complete with a journal entry and a new giveaway for that blog post.

To read more about the project and enter to win the one-of-a-kind, hand-inscribed Hope Chronicles journal, which bounced from state to state until all five of us had spent some time with it, click here.

To find your way to the other four blog posts and enter each of the five Hope Chronicles prize bundle giveaways, read on! We have a list for you at the bottom of this post.

Inspiration picture for character of Georgianna Wentworth. Image via IMDB

Georgianna Wentworth
Summer of 1903
Stonehaven Estate
Lake Tahoe, California

Letter Inspired by Upon the Waters
Book 1 in the Stonehaven Series
by Amanda Dykes

{Authentic Lake Tahoe/Mt. Tallac postcard from the early 1900's, included in the Hope Chronicles Journal.}

A trail winds from my cottage door through the aspens and pines, letting out here. I walk it sometimes to cast my eyes on the cross in the mountainside as seen here... to remember "from whence comes my help".  ~G.W.

Dear Papa,

Tonight the aching for you is strong, so strong. I wish I could talk to you. You’ll never read this, I know, but I must write this down because I will not forget. I mustn’t. I know you would understand, if you were here.

It was dusk. As the candles shone upon the waters of the lake, and those strains of music sounded from the boathouse, my heart wrung silent anguish from its depths.

I sat on the beach with the others, among them yet alone, casting my face into to the darkness so they wouldn’t see. How could I withstand this? I was an eye of havoc in the storm of sweeping peace. The beautiful simplicity of the moment wove through them all… enveloping them and cinching me out and away from its embrace.

When the moon was high and everyone began to wander back to the estate, I stood looking at the sterling light dancing a path across the expanse.

“Coming?” Mr. McDonnell said, hand stretched to show the way.

“Soon,” I replied.

He studied me for a moment, nodded, said  “I won’t be far,” and disappeared into the boathouse.
I retreated to the shore then. Lapping waves curled over my bare feet with frigid sand, sinking me further into the gritty earth with each pass.

All was still outside, but a battle raged within.  I grappled with my thoughts in the dark, wrangling pain into prayer. Finally, words threaded around the cry of my soul:

I want peace.

I’m going to break under this tempest.

Please, Lord…

No answer. Only the washing, again and again, over my ice-cold toes. Then finally… your voice.

Yours, Papa. Almost audible in my memory, from the days when I’d fall asleep tucked in the nook of your arm, ear pressed against you to hear that steady, safe rumbling of truth as you read to me each night from the Bible:

Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast…”

Oh, Papa. Those words… they should have comforted me. 

But they paralyzed me.  

It isn’t an anchor I want. Anchors mean storms, and I’m ready to drown in this one.

It is ravenous: tossing and bruising until I’m sure I’ll go under. Or strangle in the midnight tears when I awake to thoughts of Charlie, or hear his desperate cries. Or cave under the fear that hits me anew, all day, each day, pressing its weight at every turn: 

What if we are found out?
What if we are discovered here? 

No. If an anchor means a storm, then I’d rather not have one. I crave peace. I long for rest. I yearn to belong somewhere… and now, that will never be.

I stood there, gulping shards of forest air, desperate for hope, when the words overtook me again. “Hope… anchor for the soul…sure, steadfast.”

They swept my heart until I began to see-- I’m already in the storm. There’s no escape now.

But I could have an anchor. Sure and steadfast.

The stillness then was so sudden, so complete, that I actually spun from the lake to face the forest, see what creature had sent my attacking thoughts scattering to the winds.

No creature. Only the Savior, stepping out upon the breakers of my heart to bid them be still.

Four words imprinted on me in that moment:

He is our peace.

I wish peace meant things could go back to the way they were, meant that all of this—almost all of this--  would just vanish. 

But somewhere deep down, I am beginning to understand: Peace…it is Him. God’s presence. Not the absence of turmoil, but His presence and refuge even in the darkest of hours. Even in this storm.

So this is my hope, and I will dare to cling to it, to press on:

He is my anchor. He will be my peace.

I am daring to hope.

I am,
With love,
Your Georgie girl

“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast…” Hebrews 6:19

Georgianna's Prize Bundle:

 Letter stamp and sealing wax

 Handmade "Hope as an Anchor for the Soul" rope-and-anchor bracelet

Floating candle and antique H and Anchor jar= 
"Hope as an Anchor for the Soul" lantern

Tahoe cookies, of course! 

 Handmade mini-journal, pages made from leftover Hope Chronicles journal blank pages

Tree branch pencils

Tahoe sand in a tiny jar, to remind you that our Lord's thoughts for you outnumber the grains of sand (Psalm 139)

 Georgianna's Prize Bundle

Scroll down and join the conversation in the comments? I'd love to chat with you there, or on Facebook or Twitter (#HopeChronicles).  
I have two questions to kick us off: one serious, and one just-for-fun. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Hope is an amazing thing, so seemingly fragile yet so very, very strong. Can you share a story where God provided a lifeline of hope in the midst of a storm for you? Or perhaps you have a scripture or song you cling to to remind you of our Anchor.

Would you consider sharing these things in the comments below, and perhaps even spreading that hope further by sharing it somewhere else today, too (in person, on Twitter, on Facebook, in your own blog post... however the Lord leads)?

Just for fun:
If we were to come up with a storyline for just how in the world the Hope Chronicles journal made it through almost a century of travel, passing from one heroine to the next, what would it be? We got a glimpse of the journal's beginning in Rosa's entry on Monday, but the rest of the story is a giant question mark, just begging to be brainstormed over. So.... ideas?

Comment away, and thank you so very much for stopping by today!

Read about the heart behind the Hope Chronicles here.

To enter to win Georgianna's prize bundle, simply fill out the form below

To join in the Hope Chronicles conversation, scroll down and leave a commentCan't wait to connect with you there!                                                                                                                                                                  ~Amanda


We invite you to join us each weekday this week as we hop through cyberspace and history, gleaning hope from each heroine’s journey. Each post will go live on the date indicated below. To visit each post on or after its date, click on the author name in blue.

Monday, November 5th: Regina Jennings  (Heroine: Rosa Garner, Sixty Acres and a Bride)
Tuesday, November 6thJoanne Bischof  (Heroine: Lonnie Sawyer, Be Still My Soul)
Wednesday, November 7thAmanda Dykes (Heroine: Georgianna Wentworth, Upon the Waters)
Thursday, November 8thKaren Barnett (Heroine: Abby Fischer, Shaken)
Friday, November 9thSarah Sundin (Heroine: Mellie Blake, With Every Letter)


*If the comment system isn't working for you, try opening this web page in a different browser. Internet Explorer sometimes has difficulty with the comment system. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Emily Was Wrong

“Hope is a thing with feathers,” Emily Dickinson said.

I think she was wrong.

Now before you decide I’m a complete Scrooge, let me explain.

I understand what Ms. Dickinson meant when she inscribed those words back in 1861. I’ve felt it—the fluttering, buoyant phenomenon that hope can bring. The flicker of light in the dark, the feeling that your heart might just take flight. Something that seems so fragile, yet soars with strength unseen.

And so yes, I do understand the comparison to a bird.

BUT, I think hope is much, much more. I think she was almost there. She even went on to speak about Hope’s strength in the midst of a storm

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird

Now these, the lesser-known lines of her famous poem, are the ones that speak of the hope I’ve come to know. A song that keeps singing in the storm, right when you need it most. And more than that? An anchor in the storm.

Hope is an anchor for the soul. Heavy, steadying, strong and steadfast.  It is God speaking out of the storm, offering refuge of truth.

Look at this line from the final chapters of Job:

“Then the Lord answered Job out of the Storm. He said…” Job 38:1

It goes on, page after page, with reminders of God’s strength, His wisdom, His love. Those are weighty things, aren’t they? Things that can anchor us in a storm, still us from our thrashing, cover us with refuge.Things that gave Job hope for joy that would come again.

Ah. Now that is hope. Hope that speaks of eternity, of the One who gave His life for me, of the One who will never leave my side in all the tempests of life. The One who will still my soul, lead me beside quiet waters, restore me, carry me, lead me.

Hope is a thing that at once anchors us and sets us to flying.

Next week, Georgianna Wentworth will commandeer this blog from a place that never was, in 1903. That is to say, my fictional character will pay us a visit. And in her words, my desire is to paint a picture of this hope…

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Hebrews 6:19

Join me next Wednesday for a peek inside Georgianna’s heart as she grasps to take hold of this hope? It will be my entry in the 5-day Hope Chronicles blog hop, and I have a few surprises in store to give away as reminders of that beautiful, anchoring Hope.

For more details on the Hope Chronicles, click here.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Better Than Fiction Guest Post: Shy Guy Meets Big Sister (by Olivia Newport)

As a child, one of the reasons I looked forward to visiting the small Southern town where my mother grew up was because I would get to see my Great Aunt Lennie. I thought she told funny stories. Maybe I was just enamored of her Southern accent. No, I really think she had a sense of humor. She had good timing. Lennie also had a big boat of a car in the days before seatbelts, and her motto was “the more, the merrier.” (Now that I’m a great aunt 15 times over, I get that generational joy!)

Lennie was my grandmother’s younger sister—not by much, but that did not matter. My great-grandfather apparently stood on tradition. Lennie wanted to get married, and he didn’t think it was proper for the younger sister to marry before the older sister.

And the older sister had no particular prospects.

So he went out and found her a prospect, or so the family story goes. My grandmother was about 22—the age my daughter is now, so really no rush to get married! My great-grandfather found a quiet-spoken 35-year-old man who had never been married and introduced him to his firstborn daughter.

Imagine the pressure. If my grandmother did not do this—marry a stranger—her sister could not marry the love of her life. But what about the love of my grandmother’s life? Was she asking that question?

Essentially it was an arranged marriage in 1923. They had nine children and were married 56 years, so I guess they figured it out! Did she think of him as the love of her life? I suppose I’ll never read the chapters of that story.

I do know they had some dreadful trials during the Depression. My grandfather lost his furniture store, and they moved in with the great-grandparents who had arranged this union—now with a string of children in tow. Then a fire roared through the building where all their worldly goods were stored. They started again with nothing. Literally. In the middle of the Great Depression.

These are the stories of my mother’s childhood, vastly different from my own.

Though my mom was raised going to church as a family, it was in his last decade of life that my grandfather seemed to be most outspoken about his faith. It made a lot of friends and family blink twice and wonder what happened.

When the Spirit moves, the Spirit moves. Not a bad ending for a shy guy.

Olivia Newport is the author of The Pursuit of Lucy Banning (May 2012), Accidentally Amish (October 2012) and the forthcoming The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow (January 2013). She lives in Colorado with her husband and two twenty-something children. 

End note from Amanda: It's been an honor to have Olivia share 3 of her family's stories here. I so enjoyed The Pursuit of Lucy Banning, and can't wait to read Accidentally Amish. 

Speaking of which, I saw this on Olivia's Facebook page yesterday and thought you might like to see the Special Offer: Take 25% off ACCIDENTALLY AMISH by Olivia Newport on! Enter code OLIVIA at checkout.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Waltz

I'm honored to be a guest at my lifelong friend Katie's blog today. The post came as a result of her invitation to write about "Oneness in Marriage." 

Here's a preview of what you'll find if you'd like to click through and join us overe there:

Once upon a time, there was a Happily Ever After.

And then the dance began.

I love our love story. I love to tell how we met, how I realized I was falling for my best friend, how we never really had a first date—he just leaned in and kissed me and the rest is history.

I love to remember our wedding day.  The whimsical white and blue flowers, the miracle of being surrounded by beloved family and friends, walking down the aisle and locking gazes with my blue-eyed Beloved…

There was no dancing, though. No dance floor, no twirling my light-as-a-feather chiffon dress into my husband’s embrace.
Why? Well...

Yes, friends, that is truly where I'm leaving off. To read the bumbling reason, click on over to Katie's blog, Life as Worship.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Heart Behind the Hope Chronicles

It started out with a simple e-mail from my friend Joanne:
Would you be interested in a blog hop?
Historical writers, she said. All writing from their story's heroine's point of view. What a creative approach to the hopping-of-blogs! I was in.

The wheels in our collective brains began to turn:

“What if we invite these other authors to jump in?”
“What if we do giveaways to go along with the blog hop?”
“What if we all have a common theme to serve readers through our message, to give them something? Some thread of truth to stitch the event together, give it a foundation?”
“What if—and is this cheesy?—we send a journal around in the mail and hand-inscribe it?”

And so the Hope Chronicles was born. I won't go into details here about what the project actually is, because both Joanne Bischof and Sarah Sundin have done a wonderful job of that on their blogs. But do let me give you a little more of a peek behind the scenes.

As things began to unfold and God kept opening doors, there was something nameless, something we hadn’t quite put our fingers on yet, that kept cropping up in our desires, even in the schedules and plans that emerged. 

It was the purpose, the heart.

Why do all of this? It’s fun, yes. It’s a new way to connect with readers, yes. But… on a deeper level… why?

That’s where this came in:
As five historical fiction authors that span a century of settings and every stage of publication, the common thread that ties us together is our desire to offer hope from the Master Author, our Lord and Savior. Our goal is to join together as storytellers and to connect with each other and our readers in a meaningful way through the Hope Chronicles event.

Our mission statement. 

This purpose, it’s why I write. Serve readers with meaningful, life-giving truth. 

And I suspect I wouldn’t be too far off if I said that’s why these other ladies write, too.

In the next month, as Hope Chronicles week approaches and you see pictures and verses and information floating around the web, know that this is about true Hope. The kind that does not disappoint. 

"Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts..." 
Romans 5:5

And in the meantime, allow me to give you a sneak peek of the Hope Chronicles journal and its journey around the U.S. to be hand-inscribed by all 5 authors. 

 Regina Jennings was the first stop.

...and a sweet note to the other 4 collaborators on our instruction page:

 ...then came Joanne, inscribing for her book's heroine, Lonnie:

Joanne's message to the other 4 collaborators-- pretty much sums up our desires!

Then it landed in my hands, the third state along the journey, to be inscribed "on behalf of" my book's heroine, Georgianna:

Imagine my joy when I stumbled upon this antique post card in the middle of thousands upon thousands of goods in an antique store! It's from just about the right time period (the back says it costs 2 cents to send it. Can you imagine?), and exactly the right location. Talk about a needle in a haystack:

That verse-- "Hope as an anchor for the soul"-- isn't it wonderful? I cling to it, and my *hope* is that it'll encourage you, too. It emerged quickly as the theme of my journal entry here, and so my prize bundle is centered around it, too. On that same trip to the antique store, I spotted this:

An "H"! An anchor! Hope as an anchor for the soul. It, along with a floating candle to create a lantern...
... is one of the things I'll be giving away during Hope Chronicles week. 

This week I'll be sending the journal on to Karen Barnett, who will then pass it along to Sarah Sundin... and then, friends, we'll be ready to go live with the blog hop, and type some hope onto our screens. 

Won't you join us? 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Have you felt it? 
The pull, I mean. Closer to Him. Deeper.

Maybe it was a glimpse you had of another person’s walk with God. The intimacy, the love, the so-in-stride-with-Him-you-can-almost-see-Him sort of surrender.

Maybe it was one of those “wake up, take a candid look at your life” moments that ended in bewilderment, and then heartache, thinking… How did I get here? So far from Him?

Maybe it’s just a tug you have on your heart. When you pray, when you read His word, when you seek His wisdom, it’s good. You’re complete. And yet—somehow—you know there’s a place deeper still to go with Him.

When we encounter those moments, it can be sobering, perhaps even daunting. You want to get there, to go deeper… but how? How does one even begin to pursue such intimacy with the King of all, the Creator of the Universe?

Here is what I’m learning:

You don’t “get there.”

You do go deeper, but the depths never end, so you’ll never arrive. It’s exciting, really. This will be a journey of endless deepening, infinite enveloping by Him, completeness that – somehow—becomes even more complete with every stop.

I’m convinced that He gives us these glimpses to awake our yearning for Him, to begin to understand His yearning for us. To see that this story doesn’t end with the “I do” moment of asking Him into our hearts… but that he is a lifelong—no, an eternal—pursuer.

We’re being courted by One who’s already won our hearts, and He wants to knowwill you let me take you deeper into my love? Will you let me in to every corner of your life?
How he longs for that! And how my longing for that is being awakened, too.

So… how do we get there? How do we go deeper?

Here is where the simple revelation comes in. I’ve been trying to drink more water recently. But for a tea-chugging (that just seems wrong, doesn’t it? Let’s amend that). –For a girl who sips tea in copious amounts like me,  I look at that tall water bottle sitting on the counter and I think—“three of you? How can I drink three of you today?”

The weird thing is… I take one sip and then I want another. I drink one bottle and somehow I’m more thirsty. The bottle dislodges from its place on the counter and travels with me wherever I go, because I want more, all the time.

How can I drink more water? By taking a sip. The thirst is awakened, and the journey begins.

Is it any coincidence that He is called the Living Water?

Today, to go deeper, take a sip.

Taste and see.
“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” Psalm 34:8

Draw near, one step at a time.
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” James 4:8

What about you? Have you ever felt the pull?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Kindred Spirit & Her Heart, Her Story: Interview with Joanne Bischof

Several months back, a writer-friend of mine with whom I'd exchanged a few neat e-mails collaborated with me to bring you this interview today. We put our heads together and planned it out for you, countless days ago.

I knew she was a remarkably talented writer, I knew that her heart for serving God's people through that gift was clear and pure, and I knew that I couldn't wait to read her book.

What I didn't know was that as those e-mails began pinging across cyberspace, God had depths in store for that friendship that I could never have guessed. What began as a fun writerly-correspondence quickly grew to discovering a friend-of-my-heart, miles away but oh- so-close in our shared passion for offering God's truth and grace to His people through writing.

So, while I was excited back then to bring you this interview, today I'm simply eager to introduce you to my dear friend, Joanne Bischof. Her debut novel, Be Still My Soul, is releasing next week, and I couldn't be happier. OK, who am I kidding? I'm giddy for her. No other word for it.

And how cool is this? According to my sources (...that would be Blogger dashboard...), this is apparently my 100th blog post. I'm so honored to spend this milestone day introducing you and Joanne to each other!

I'll conclude my ramblings and let you dive into the interview to see for yourselves what a blessing Joanne is.

Amanda:  Joanne, one thing I love about you is your genuine heart for God's love to embrace your readers. Can you share with us one thing you hope your readers will take away from reading Be Still, My Soul?
Joanne: The one thing I hope readers will take away is the astounding truth that God pursues. He's relentless. And even the worst of sinners can be redeemed. He demonstrated this with the parable of the Shepherd and the one lost sheep. Jesus didn't die on the cross for our great moments. He died on the cross for our worst. For the moment when we were lost, so desperately in need of a Savior. It's an overwhelming love. One we are completely unworthy of, yet it’s given freely. This promise lives in Be Still My Soul and is something I think many readers will be able to relate to. I know this love has touched my life in incredible ways, which is why it’s the deepest thread running through the Cadence of Grace series.

Amanda: Such a beautiful, crucial truth, thank you! It's even echoed in your series title, Cadence of Grace. Could you fill us in on how you arrived at this title for your series, or perhaps Be Still My Soul as the title for the first book?
Joanne: I would love to. The Cadence of Grace is based on 1 Peter 5:10,
"But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you havesuffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you."
This verse is such an amazing reminder that life is a journey. It's an ebb and flow with twists and turns, but God is there, doing His work in us and for us, every step of the way, and the ultimate destination is one of growth and rest.

As folks read Be Still My Soul, they will be able to look back and see the title reflected in my hero and heroine's journey. For the title, I loved the musical quality it had and the way it whispered the old hymn. Those words reflect my heroine's heart and whenever I hear it, I think of Lonnie. Her hopes and dreams, the fear she will never be loved, and ultimately, the promise that God will be by her side at all times. The title also parallels my hero, Gideon. If the words were spoken from his heart, they would be for much different reasons. His struggles are not about what has been done to him, but what he himself has done. With the sins of his past, there's so much guilt and doubt for him--a certainty that he is unworthy of love--both Lonnie's and God's. And whether he knows it or not, Lonnie is just the woman to be by his side on this journey.

Amanda: What great names for your characters (Lonnie and Gideon). What made you choose them?
Joanne:  I love these questions! For all of my characters, I researched names that would have been true to the early 1900's. For this story, I took it one step further, and searched for names that were authentically Appalachian. Lonnie is a very uncommon name for a girl and is such a simple, humble name that its just the sort of thing her parents would have chosen. In the beginning of the story, you'll learn that Lonnie is rather shy. A bit of a wallflower, and I always imagined that her name added to that. It wasn't one of the elegant names her friends had. As for Gideon, that's always been one of my favorite names. I love bible names and for the leading man in the book, it was just the right fit. It's less common and has that old-fashioned feel. And right away, I knew people in the story were going to call him Gid. Its fun because even some of the team at WaterBrook Press calls him Gid ;)

Amanda: If you could spend some time in the world of your book, which setting or moment would you choose to experience firsthand?
Joanne: Hmmm. It's so hard to choose, I really had to give this some thought! I think I would choose the opening scene. The story opens at an outdoor dance in the little mountain community of Rocky Knob, Virginia. With fall in full color and winter on the horizon, the whole town gets together to celebrate the end of a long harvest season. I would love to step back in time and visit that moment. I can just see the stars and the lanterns, hear the fiddle and the banjo and see all the colors as men twirl their ladies around. This is also the scene when the reader first meets Lonnie and Gideon. Though they grew up in the same hollow, this is the very first time my shy heroine and cocky hero interact together.

Amanda: I bet you, as a writer, have a few favorite books you return to again and again as a reader. Could you share with us some of the best titles you've read?

Joanne: I grew up on Laura Ingalls Wilder and have read the Little House series several times. That was one of the things that first sparked a love of historical fiction in my life. Some of my favorite Christian Historical fiction includes Liz Curtis Higgs' Scottish fiction and Francine Rivers' Mark of the Lion series. I read a lot of other Christian fiction genres, and can get lost in a good suspense or contemporary romance anytime.

Endnotes from Amanda: As I was formatting and reading over this interview from so many months ago that we prepared for today, I hit the end and thought, why didn't I ask more? They're going to want to spend more time with her! Well, the good news is that Joanne hosts a warm and welcoming blog over at, where you can get weekly doses of her wonderfulness.
Also, if you're interested in reading Be Still My Soul in book club format, the Christian Fiction Book Club will be reading and discussing it online throughout the month of October, and you are most welcome to chime in.
Lastly, I'm excited to share with you that Joanne and four other authors are collaborating on a creative project called The Hope Chronicles... and I am humbled to be a part of that project. I'll write more on that soon, because I want to give you a glimpse into what began the whole project. So, stay tuned for The Heart Behind the Hope Chronicles... coming soon! When? I'm not telling. Because I'm sneaky like that(...also, I don't actually know. Probably early next week. hehe.)
Let's chat: If you've been lucky enough to read a pre-release copy of Be Still My Soul, what was your favorite part or aspect of the story?

Friday, September 21, 2012

"Better Than Fiction" Guest: Tricia Goyer


I'm happy to welcome Author Tricia Goyer to Simple Revelations. She's giving us a glimpse today into one of the true love stories from the Titanic from her original post (found here).



Even in horrific events such as the Titanic disaster amazing stories emerge. Stories of heroics, stories of survival, and even stories of love. There were over a dozen newly married couples on board the grand ship, and many more couples who were impacted by the tragedy. Among those are these touching stories of love.


                         { John and Nelle Snyder }

John and Nelle Snyder, first-class passengers, were saved in Lifeboat 7. It is said that when the first lifeboats were being loaded one of the members called for the “new grooms and brides” to board first. The Snyders didn't hesitate. They were some of the first people in the lifeboats because so many passengers were afraid to leave the “big boat.”


I'm so glad that Tricia included links to her sources, because I couldn't help digging a little deeper into their lives! Take, for example, this excerpt of a letter from John Snyder to his father:

"I can only tell you that I have a mighty fine wife and she is the one you must thank- besides our Lord- for my being able to write this letter. If it hadn't been for Nelle I am sure that I never would be here now. She is the one that urged me to get up when I wanted to go back to bed. We were both asleep when the boat hit."

What a testament to their story, their brand new marriage, and the life-saving ways God worked in it.
Upon further digging, I found another story of a couple aboard the Titanic, who lived out their lives for the glory of their God, “[standing] together for the Christian faith as the instrument of progress.”  If you click over to this article, printed shortly after the Titanic’s sinking, you’ll read the tale of Rev. Ernest Courtenay Carter and his wife, Mrs. Lilian Carter.  They are said to have insisted on others filling the life boats before them, Mrs. Carter stating that she was childless and urging other women ahead. Rev. Carter had presided over a Hymn service aboard the Titanic on April 14th, during which the hymn “For Those in Peril On the Sea” was sung. As their obituary concludes, “Given a situation such as that with which the passengers on the Titanic were faced between the first shock and the last plunge, there is no question as to what these two would wish to do. They were childless, and in Commercial Street their life was always lived for others. Ernest Carter would pass round with his words of artless and ardent comfort, and his wife would say, Let the mothers get to the boats first; you and I must see this out together”.

 For Those in Peril on the Sea:

Special thanks to Tricia Goyer for her permission to post the Snyder excerpt from her post, Titanic Love Stories.

Tricia Goyer is the author of more than 30 books and has published more than 500 articles for national publications such as Focus on the Family, Today’s Christian Woman and HomeLife Magazine. She won the Historical Novel of the Year award in both 2005 and 2006 from American Christian Fiction Writers, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer’s Conference in 3002. Tricia’s Book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion Book Award in 2005. Tricia’s co-written novel, The Swiss Courier, was a nominee for the Christy Awards.

You can connect with Tricia on her website, her blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest!



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