Friday, December 12, 2014

Plum Pudding

As promised in my December 12 blog post over at www.HHHistory.com ... a recipe I honestly cannot imagine taking on. If "beat thirty minutes" didn't ward me off .... "boil seven hours" would! My hat's off to the cooks of old!

Plum Pudding, No. 1
from Manual for Army Cooks, 1896

Note: The above recipe is enough for thirty men.The ingredients of this pudding, with the exception of the eggs and milk, should be prepared the day before the pudding is to be made.

2 qts. sifted flour
2 qts. bread crumbsa
four pounds suet, freed from fiber and chopped moderately fine
four pounds raisins, picked, seeded, chopped, and dredged with flour
sixteen eggs, whites and yolks beaten separately
two qts. sweet milk (or equivalent of condensed milk)
1/4 lb. citron, cut fine and dredged with flour
grated rind of one lemon
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves

Into a deep pan or dish put the ingredients in the following order, incorporating them thoroughly: First, the beaten yolks of the eggs; then one-half the milk; then the flour, bread crumbs, suet, spices, and lemon rind; then the remainder of the milk, or as much of it as will make a thick batter; then the beaten whites or the eggs; and last the dredged fruit.

Beat the mixture for thirty minutes, put it into the prepared bag or bags, and boil seven hours. Serve hot with sauce. 


Monday, December 8, 2014

The Historic Ferguson House in Lincoln, Nebraska

Located just across the street from the Nebraska State Capitol Building, the Ferguson House was built between 1909 and 1911. William Henry Ferguson came to Nebraska from Illinois in 1879 by covered wagon. He helped introduce winter wheat and alfalfa to Nebraska. He owned grain elevators and farms, a creamery, a brick company, and an amusement park (Capital Beach). At a time when an average two-story, three bedroom house cost $3,000-$4,000, the Fergusons' mansion cost about $38,000. It would be the family home until Mrs. Ferguson passed away at the age of 103. Today, the home is a working office for the Nebraska Environmental Trust. I visited this past Sunday for a Christmas Open House and was totally entranced by the grandeur that is still evident in every room. Here are a few photographs.
Welcome to the Fergusons!
The stairs that lead up from the foyer just inside that lovely front door.
Stained and leaded glass windows frame the fireplace in the large formal living room.
Mahogany in the formal dining room.
One of two Mission (or Craftsman?) style bedrooms
Architectural details fascinate me.
This is in the master bedroom.

Up and Up and Up to the third floor ball room.
What secrets might have been shared between couples
having a little tete-a-tete in those cozy little niches?


My mother was a maid, so I'm always
interested in the servants' areas of
a grand home. This is the servants'
staircase. Two maids had rooms up on the
third floor. A docent said that the butler
had quarters over the carriage house.
I didn't get a photo of the carriage house,
but it's still there--and beautiful.
And the inner front door. Look at that "bent" wood framing the
glass panels. So graceful.

The north side of the house. The door opens into the formal parlor.

Next door to the Ferguson House is the Kennard House, an Italianate style mansion built in 1869 for the first Secretary of State in Nebraska. Photos forthcoming! 

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Tribute to My Brother, Larry Marvin Irvin

Left to right Joseph Albert Irvin, Cecil Irvin,
infant Larry Irvin, his father Grayson Irvin
(seated) Willis Irvin ... Five Generations

 My Brother, Larry Marvin Irvin
 February 21, 1941–November 24, 2014
(a tribute by the spoiled brat little sister, 
born when he was ten years old)

My earliest memory of my brother, Larry, involves two incidents at 1426 Lake Avenue in E. St. Louis, Illinois, the house we lived in when I (the “caboose”) arrived. First, the aftermath of falling off the crossbar when he was giving me a ride on his bike and my throwing up something red (concussion?) and everyone freaking out until they realized I’d had red soda (we called it “soda”) to drink ; the other, his bringing home a banana spider from the grocery store where he worked and releasing it in our back yard. The critter was little more than a curiosity to a teenage boy. To this little sister who had a fear of spiders broaching on arachnophobia, it meant being very careful whenever I went out to play on the swing set near the propane tank in the back yard.
Big brothers Larry & David
 Mother looking on
Stephanie trying to escape
            I remember visiting him when he was working for a funeral home in the Chicago area. They had aquariums built in the wall of the visitation room and two identical doors … one leading to Larry’s apartment and the other into the “business part” of the funeral home. I couldn’t remember which was which.
            I remember his kindness when I got sick right before his 1963 wedding. I thought I was better, but I couldn’t even make it through the service and felt so humiliated when I had to be helped off the altar. Both he and his bride were more worried about me than about a “ruined” wedding. Such unselfish love. Which pretty much characterizes my memories of my brother.
            In all the adventures and misadventures of my life, I always knew that if I ever needed him, Larry would come running, no matter what it took. In 2001, when my first husband was dying, Larry drove ten hours to my home town, first to spend time with the brother-in-law he loved, and second to accompany me to interview several funeral homes about the impending services. He was a silent encourager and a knowledgeable presence, giving of his life’s work in a time when I needed guidance. When my husband died, Larry came at a moment’s notice, quietly and confidently assisting the local funeral director as both a consummate professional and a beloved brother and brother-in-law. Again, he modeled unselfish love.
            When I re-married, Larry took the time to drive to Kansas City, pick up our brother, David, and come to the wedding. They both gave a big chunk of their lives to that special day for me. Again, putting me first.
            When I wrote a book about “how to help a grieving friend,” Larry endorsed it. He never failed to be a cheerleader for my writing life.
            He never once forgot a birthday. He wrote personal message in the cards that he sent, and I cherish them to this day. He wrote a tender letter to my children and me on the first anniversary of my husband and their father’s death. Another cherished testimony to his loving concern.
            Just today, I pulled out and re-read some of those sweet wishes. One ends with a rhyme I will co-opt for this day, as Larry has entered eternity and I remain on earth:

… and even though we have to be apart,
please understand that you mean more than ever,
And I’ll be right beside you in my heart.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

He Maketh No Mistake

We have been dealing with some less-than-happy family news in recent days, and I've returned to my personal "Book of Comforts" for precious reminders. Since I know that trials are common to all humans, I just thought I'd share this one in a more public way. Whatever you are facing, I hope it brings comfort. It came to me via a beloved aunt who graduated to heaven (because of breast cancer) long, long, ago. She had lost a teenage child (my cousin) and knew great sorrow. The poem still comforts me, as does her memory.        

He Maketh No Mistake
by A.M. Overton

My Father's way may twist and turn,
My heart may throb and ache,
But in my soul I'm glad I know,
He maketh no mistake.

My cherished plans may go astray,
My hopes may fade away,
But still I'll trust my Lord to lead
For He doth know the way.

Tho' night be dark and it may seem
That day will never break;
I'll pin my faith, my all in Him,
He maketh no mistake.

There's so much now I cannot see,
My eyesight's far too dim;
But come what may, I'll simply trust
And leave it all to Him.

For by and by the mist will lift
And plain it all He'll make.
Through all the way, tho' dark to me,
He made not one mistake.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Mother-in-Law's Wedding Day Vows

When my beloved mother passed away in 1996, I was entrusted a loose-leaf notebook in which she had hand-copied some of her favorite poems, quotations, Bible verses, etc. I had already begun the habit of making my own collection, and over the years I've returned to these "favorite quotes" many, many times for encouragement, laughter, and sweet memories. Today I want to share something I clipped out of a women's newsletter long before I became a mother-in-law. Still a good reminder.

A Mother-in-Law's Wedding Day Vows
by Vivian Dennis

Daughter-in-law, loved by my son, chosen by God--welcome to the family and to our hearts. From this day forward, with God's help, I promise ...

  • I will love you in the same way Jesus loves me. (Romans 5:8; 1 Peter 3:8,9)
  • I will allow you to be the uncontested first lady in my son's life. (Genesis 2:24)
  • I will be patient and kind, never arrogant--giving no advice unless you ask for it. (1 Corinthians 13:4)
  • I will do nothing from a selfish motive. (Philippians 2:3)
  • I will give you the benefit of the doubt in everything. (1 Corinthians 13:7)
  • I will seek (i.e., vigorously pursue) peace in our relationships. (1 Peter 3:11; Romans 12:18)
  • I will talk to my God about your shortcomings--not to my son, not to my friends, not to my prayer group. (1 Timothy 5:13)
  • I will dwell only on those things about you that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8).
  • I will pray for your regularly. (Philippians 4:6).
  • I will, by God's grace and power, set for you and example of godliness. (Titus 2:3-5)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

My Dad

Cecil Grayson Irvin graduated to heaven in 1996. 
I wrote this tribute as a Father's Day gift to him in about 1983.
Just before he died, he promised to meet me just inside the gate.
The older I get, the more I look forward to that day
I know he'll be there. 
Daddy was a man of honor. 
He always kept his word. 

            My Dad is a tall, slender man (“Slim” the guys at work used to call him) with gentle blue eyes and slightly rounded shoulder caused, I am sure, by years of bending his 6’5” frame to catch the words of those shorter than he.
            Of course I can’t remember it, but the family tells of Dad teaching me to walk by standing me on the toes of his shoes as he walked backwards.
            I remember as a child waiting excitedly for the car to pull up in the drive when he returned from his over-the-road trucking job. He would unfold his tall frame from the driver’s seat and put on the brown cap that matched his driver’s uniform. Dad took pride in his well-pressed uniforms with the company badge embroidered on the shoulder. We often laughed to see other motorists slow noticeably when we passed, thinking they were being monitored by a policeman in an unmarked car.
            When I was little, he was often “on the road.” But when he was home, I climbed onto his lap after meals, just for the feeling of being sheltered by his arms while he visited with Mother or read the evening paper. When I grew older, and Tuesday and Thursday nights were Dad’s nights home, Mother would cook corn bread with ham and beans or round steak with biscuits, and we would bask in his presence, just glad that he would be there to share our supper, coffee, and late night popcorn.
            On Sundays, Dad read me the comics and then entertained me by taking out pen and paper and drawing Dick Tracy and Brenda Starr. I still love to read the comic strips, enduring considerable chiding from my husband for the habit. I can’t copy the characters like Dad, but I occasionally clip one to slip into Bob’s lunch sack. He enjoys it in spite of himself.
            When childhood terrors over starting school after the summer overtook me, Dad was there to help relax the wrenching knot in my stomach. With his quiet voice he reassured me that everything would be all right. I believed him, and the knot loosened, and it was all right.
            I don’t remember him ever spanking me. Mother says he didn’t. He never had to. There was just something in his quiet love for me that motivated me to obey.
            In the days before seat belts and car seats, Dad used to sit me on his lap and let me think I was guiding the car.
            On summer nights when I was in junior high, we went to baseball games, sitting high in stadium seats provided by the St. Louis Cardinals to students with the right grade point average. Dad bought me soda pop and peanuts and we cheered Orlando Cepeda, Bob Gibson, and Lou Brock. I knew every player’s batting average and skipped classes once to watch the World Series on T.V. Without Dad in the next seat, baseball just isn’t much fun anymore.
            He taught me to drive defensively—and then trusted me with his car on a weekend away with other students. I would have done anything to keep from betraying his trust, and we all drove carefully that weekend. Dad must have spent a couple of sleepless nights wondering if his daughter would become another highway statistic. But he trusted me. He understood my need for independence.
            I remember my first car. Dad drove it home, parked it in the driveway, and ordered me to change an imaginary flat tire.
            He spoiled me. On snowy mornings I would go outside to find my car cleaned off, the driveway shoveled so that I could drive off to classes at the university.
            I remember tears in his eyes as he walked me down the aisle to become Mrs. Robert Whitson. Those tears still shine every time we have to say goodbye after a visit that spans the miles between Nebraska and Illinois.
            When my first child was born, the familiar knots returned to my stomach over the responsibility of motherhood. Dad reassured me. He drove me to the grocery store and patiently experimented until he found a way to fit the infant seat securely in a grocery cart while still leaving room for groceries. He couldn’t have known how much it meant to have him there, his frame towering over me, protecting his “little girl”—and a new granddaughter.
            Dad loves the Lord. He serves in quiet ways that people often don’t notice. For years, he and mother visited widows of fellow drivers killed on the road, providing help with business details, organizing a fund to provide cash in the early days of widowhood. He still chauffeurs “the elderly” around town and on trips to the airport.
            Dad taught me how to walk. He taught me to love baseball and comic strip characters and molasses-and-butter on bread. He taught me to obey authority. He proved that things would be all right next year in school, and that I could be an efficient mother, after all. He taught me about my heavenly Father, too. Oh, not with many words, but by being there, by loving, by listening—by being so very much like Him.
            I’m over thirty now, and much too old to call my Father “Daddy,” but he will always be “Daddy” in my heart … in my thoughts … in my prayers … because part of me will always be a little girl when he’s around.

            I love you, Daddy … Happy Father’s Day.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Mother

The last time I saw my mother, she didn't know who I was. And yet, I can smile through my tears at the memory of the little old white-haired lady sitting on her bed at the nursing home waving good-bye to me, as I turned to look back before stepping into the hall. She was happy. At peace. She knew I was someone nice, and she seemed pleased that I had come to visit. I managed to control the tears until I got to the car in the parking lot, and then I lost it. 

My mother--and it was Mother, never "Mom," which she proclaimed disrespectful, was not an easy woman. She bore scars I didn't know about until I had grown up and left home; scars from an unspeakably difficult childhood endured in the days when abuse was hidden and mental illness was something to be ashamed of. You didn't seek help. You just made do. You did the best you could and sometimes the best you could do was to cling to the fringe of sanity while your panicked family called for the pastor to come. 

In honor of Mother's Day, I sing her praises, because in spite of the deep wounds and the regrettable moments and the profound sadness she carried with her, my mother was amazing. She and my Daddy were married for nearly sixty years. They modeled commitment, and one thing I know beyond a shadow of a doubt is that I was loved. What a gift. 

Mother loved Jesus. Most of the Bible verses I can recite were learned when Mother was the head of the Primary Department or Vacation Bible School or Girl's Auxiliary. Most of the hymns I can sing from memory resonate from a childhood spent sitting next to Mother on a hard pew at a poor Baptist Church. We were there for every service. Sunday School and morning church. Training Union and evening church. Wednesday night, too. If the doors were open ... we were there. It's a rich heritage. 

Mother loved flowers. To this day I sometimes amaze my husband because I know the name of this blooming bush or that tree or those perennials. "That's a flowering quince," I said just last week. "Mother loved them because of those bright blossoms right next to the stem." I don't know if she had a favorite flower, but irises probably ranked right up there. We had several varieties, and I still remember "Wabash," with it's dark blue drops and white crown. 

Mother was not a good cook, mostly because she grew up very poor and had to learn to make do. It was food. Eat it and be thankful. But she could make a blackberry cobbler like no other, and she always made one for me when I was home to visit. And the fudge she made -- only at Christmas -- oh, my. Still makes my mouth water to think of it. 

She loved books. One of my earliest memories of Mother is of her reading aloud to me when I was sick. Pinnochio, I think it was. And while I may doubt the name of the book, I don't doubt that one of the reasons I love words is because of Mother, who was never allowed to go beyond the 8th grade, but who found a way to educate herself by reading ... and who passed on the joy of words to me. 

Nora Odell Combs Irvin 1913-1996
Cecil Grayson Irvin 1915-1996
And so, on Mother's Day ... I remember Mother, and look forward to the day when I'll see her again. She graduated to heaven in 1996. Since then, she's been joined by my Daddy, my first husband, the grandson I never met, and an entire host of extended family. 

Thank you, Father, for the blessing of Mother.



Monday, April 7, 2014

Scavenger Hunt DeBrief

I hope everyone who stopped by over the weekend enjoyed the process.
Congratulations to the winners of the three main prizes. A Captain for Laura Rose will be on its way to the two runners up within the next 48 hours.

I'm announcing that Polly S. will receive the box of Nebraska goodies as soon as she provides the shipping address I should use to send it. I've contacted her.

THANKS everyone, and happy reading.

P.S. A couple of you noted that the confirmation e-mail that came when you subscribed to my newsletter didn't even have my name on it. I apologize. I've fixed that for the future, but if you got a generic one signed by "your company name" ... that's me, the cyber-dinosaur who didn't realize she hadn't customized it. Sigh.



Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spring 2014 Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt Stop #2

Here we go again, “scavengers”! 
Things you need to know:
1. The hunt begins on April 4 at noon and ends at midnight on April 6 (MOUNTAIN TIME). You have an entire weekend, so there’s no need to race. Collect the clue in RED at each stop, writing them down as you go. 
2.  GRAND PRIZE: a Kindle Fire HDX (valued at $229) PLUS a $100 Kindle gift certificate 
3.   TWO RUNNERS UP will receive all 31 books written by the authors you will meet while you’re on the hunt.
4. I am also sponsoring my own prize this time as well, so keep reading to learn how to enter for that. It's EASY.
NOTE: If you have landed here mid-hunt, you can find the beginning over at Robin Lee Hatcher's: 
http://www.robinleehatcher.com/scavenger-hunt-stop-1/

And now it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Mesu Andrews
and her fabulous biblical fiction. Mesu’s life as a pastor’s wife is one of the things that informs her deep understanding of and love for God’s Word and that, in turn, brings the biblical world alive for her readers. Mesu and her husband, Roy, live in the Pacific Northwest, where she now writes snuggled in her recliner on rainy Northwest days. She enjoys waterfalls, movies, and her grandkids.

     Mesu's newest book, In the Shadow of Jezebel, introduces readers to Princess Jehosheba, who wants nothing more than to please the harsh and demanding Queen Athaliah, daughter of the notorious Queen Jezebel. To further Athaliah and Jezebel’s strategies, she is forced to marry Yahweh’s high priest and enter the unfamiliar world of Yahweh’s temple. Can her new husband show her the truth and love she craves? And can Jehosheba overcome her fear and save the family—and the nation—she loves?
Order from your favorite local bookstore OR: Barnes and Noble: http://tinyurl.com/lbyzj6g Amazon:http://tinyurl.com/lv2ymb4
CBD:  http://tinyurl.com/kmh3ubl 
     Mesu is going to take us back in time to ponder the question, "What's fact and what's fiction about the quarry tunnels under Jerusalem's Temple?" If you love biblical archaeology as much as I do, you'll enjoy the quest! Here we go:

Asking Questions, Finding Answers…

Imagine yourself as a blue-collar worker among Jesus’ followers 2000 years ago, and you hear Him say:
     “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”       Mark 10:25
     Maybe you’d ask: What kind of camel? What kind of needle? What kind of ignorant Philistine would try to shove a camel through a needle anyway?
     Too often, our 2014 Western-culture minds read Scripture on a deadline or to complete a task without stopping to ask questions. What questions does this Scripture prompt for you?
     “When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family. But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram and sister of Ahaziah, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes, who were about to be murdered. She put him and his nurse in a bedroom to hide him from Athaliah; so he was not killed. He remained hidden with his nurse at the temple of the Lord for six years while Athaliah ruled the land.” 2 Kings 11:1-3 (emphasis added)
     My research brain churned out questions, and God’s Word gave me answers:
·       Queen Athaliah was daughter of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel of Israel—grand-daughter of Omri, who was Ahab’s father. (2 Kings 8:26)
·       Like her mother Jezebel, Athaliah influenced her husband and spread Baal worship throughout the nation—Jezebel in Israel; Athaliah in Judah. (2 Chron. 21:13)
·       When Athaliah’s husband died, her son, Ahaziah became king—but she ruled through him. (2 Chron. 22:3-4)
·       Queen Athaliah’s father-in-law—the faithful King Jehoshaphat—built a new courtyard on Temple grounds during his reign that wouldn’t have had the strict clean/unclean regulations of the priestly courts. A woman could have lived here. (2 Chron. 20:5)
But I still had questions about cultural context that were left unanswered by Scripture, like: How did Jehosheba hide a baby in Yahweh’s Temple for six years?
     For this and other questions, I turned to ancient rabbinic texts, archaeological records, and other historical writings and resources.
     I discovered Solomon’s Quarries
—a labyrinth of tunnels beneath present-day Jerusalem believed to be the source of Solomon’s Temple building stones. Jewish tradition portrays the tunnels as a secret, saying Solomon destroyed records of their existence after the dedication of the Temple. The secret beneath them was passed from high priest to high priest through generations in order to secure safe and secret passage for the Ark of the Covenant in case of Jerusalem’s invasion.
     These historical tunnels became fuel for my imagination as I pondered Scripture’s unalterable Truth that Jehosheba somehow hid a child for six years.       I hope you’ll enjoy the other questions and answers in my new release, In the Shadow of Jezebel. You’ll see Queen Athaliah, Jehosheba, and even Jezebel as never before, and perhaps you’ll find your own questions and answers in God’s Word...the Greatest True Story ever told.
     Thanks, Mesu, for taking us to Jerusalem in my imagination ... NOW: Before you move on to Stop #3, Mesu's own site  http://www.mesuandrews.com/christian-fiction-spring-scavenger-hunt/ to pick up your next clue, be sure to write down  this
Stop #2 clue: encounter  

ANOTHER CHANCE TO WIN A PRIZE :

If you want to be entered in my own drawing for a Nebraska gift box (made-in-Nebraska goodies and a book or three, total retail value $50), please do two things: 
  • like" my Facebook page www.Facebook.com/stephaniegracewhitson AND
  •  go to www.stephaniewhitson.com and complete the subscription request (lower right corner of the home page) to receive future book news from Stephanie Grace Whitson. Of course you can unsubscribe after the drawing, but I'm hoping you won't.
This drawing will take place on Monday, April 7. The winner will be announced here on my author blog AND on my Facebook page, and the prize will be on its way within 48 hours of receiving the winner's shipping address.

YOU'RE DONE! ONWARD to 
http://www.mesuandrews.com/christian-fiction-spring-scavenger-hunt/ 
HAVE FUN!
If you are having trouble navigating, here is a "cheat sheet" listing all the participants' individual URLs, directly to the page they have created just for the Scavenger Hunt. 
http://www.robinleehatcher.com/scavenger-hunt-participating-authors-stops/ 



Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Grief and That Thing We Call "Closure"

What follows is the epilogue from my book How to Help a Grieving Friend, A Candid Guide for Those Who Care. The book was written to provide help to friends who are wondering how to give meaningful comfort to hurting hearts. It is a result of my personal experience with profound loss--and my personal experience apologizing to people for the stupid things I said and did when they were hurting and before I'd personally experienced profound loss.The working title of the book was "Lifestyles of the Well  Meaning But Clueless." It really was. 
     The older I get, the more I realize that the subject of grief is much bigger than the subject of death and dying. We humans grieve many kinds of losses in our lives--the loss of lifelong dreams, the loss of youth, the loss of a marriage ... experiencing loss and grief is part of life. I've become more tenderhearted as the years have rolled on, but I still have a lot to learn about how to help my grieving friends.  


In Closing ... A Word About Closure

My oldest son's best friend was killed when the boys were four years old. His mother cried when my son graduated from high school over a dozen years later. She has two healthy, wonderful children and a good life. But grief for the loss of her firstborn son returns with the milestones she will never share with him. It would not surprise me at all if she sheds a tear when my first son's son is born--grief for the grandchildren she will not have from that beloved son, no less beloved because he left us when he was only four years old. No other child can fill the Thomas-sized hole in that mother's heart.
     My best friend died in 1996. In 2003, when I was on my hands and knees scrubbing the toilet in what used to be her bathroom (and was now my bathroom because I had married her widowed husband), I cried. The last time I scrubbed this toilet, my best friend was dying in the other room. I wish she were here. I wish she hadn't died. I wish ...
     My new husband found me crying and understood. We laughed, then, about how convoluted life can be and how, if I still had my best friend Celest, there would be more than just a a slight problem with my having this new husband. I have a new best friend. But she is not Celest. The Celest-sized hole in my life remains.
     I am remarried. Life is good. But my love for my new husband has neither replaced nor diminished my love for Robert Thomas Whitson. I wish he could be here to talk late at night with his sons, to teach Sunday School classes, to give the elders' reports that always included humor and made the congregation laugh, to cheer on the Huskers football team. When our first grandchild is born, I know I will cry because I am crying even now as I write this. God has given me new love for a new mate. But it is new love. The old love remains. No one will ever fill the Robert-sized hole in my life.
     Jesus promises His followers that His burdens are light, and I have been in grief long enough to experience His lightening of my load. But it is a lightening, not a removal.The emotions of loss are still there just on the other side of today. Sometimes those emotions punch open the door between the past and the present, march into my life, and remind me of what I have lost.
     We do not close the door on people who have changed our lives forever. We celebrate what they have meant to us, and we look forward to seeing them again. And sometimes, even decades later, we cry.
     So in the closing of this book on grief, I want to say that closure, in the way most people mean it, does not exist. We gain new friends, we have more children, we remarry. The pain of loss becomes less, and we learn to live around it. But we still carry it. Sometimes it returns in full force, and we find ourselves crying, years after everyone around us assumes we have accomplished what our culture calls closure. This is painful, but it is not necessarily a bad thing. I think it is part of being human. It is part of loving and being loved. 
     And yes, it is worth it.

--Stephanie Grace Whitson

 
to read the rest of How to Help a Grieving Friend: http://tinyurl.com/l4trqpo






Saturday, February 22, 2014

Christian Fiction with Native American Characters

A reader who had just discovered my Dakota Moons series (pictured at right),
asked me about other Christian fiction with Native American characters, and so I asked some of my
writing friends for titles. Here's what I've compiled:

Burning Sky by Lori Benton
Walks Alone by Sandi Rog
Beneath a Navajo Moon by Lisa Carter
A Whisper of Peace by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Abraham's Well by Sharon Foster

Series by Marol Schalesky:

     Only the Wind Remembers
     Cry Freedom
     Freedom's Shadow

Series by Laura Frantz:
     The Frontiersman's Daughter
     Courting Morrow Little
     The Colonel's Lady

Tender Ties Series by Jane Kirkpatrick
     A Name of Her Own
     Every Fixed Star
     Hold Tight the Thread

Also by Jane Kirkpatrick
     Love to Water My Soul
     Sweetness to the Soul

Prairie Winds Series by Stephanie Grace Whitson
     Walks the Fire
     Soaring Eagle
     Red Bird

Dakota Moons Series by Stephanie Grace Whitson

     Valley of the Shadow
     Edge of the Wilderness
     Heart of the Sandhills


ENJOY!

     











Friday, February 7, 2014

A Promise Kept


I don't often review a book on a blog, but I've just finished Robin Lee Hatcher's newest, and I can't just move on through my day without doing everything I can to tell others about it. Yes. I'm that enthusiastic about it. The book captured me from the first page. Of course it has all the elements that would draw a reader in--a flawed heroine in a difficult place, a glimpse at past lives through discoveries in an attic, a gorgeous setting, and a darling dog. What's not to like?

The thing is, this story begins with broken threads and weaves them into one of those tapestries that shows God doing some of His best work--taking brokenness and making it whole--but doing it in a way that no one would expect. Hatcher's characters know heartbreak. They know what it's like to pray and feel like the words got no further than the ceiling. They know what it's like to just go through the motions of everyday life ... waiting for something--anything--to happen. In other words, they know real life. Hatcher doesn't dodge the tough questions, but in the end she gives a message we all need, which is that God is sometimes doing His very best work when we think He's stopped paying attention.

Read it. You won't be disappointed. In fact, you'll probably put it on the "to be re-read" pile.

http://www.christianbook.com/a-promise-kept/9781401687656/pd/687656?item_code=WW&netp_id=1156338&event=ESRCG&view=details