Sunday, July 14, 2024

Sunday Scenes: HEAVEN'S BLUE




HEAVEN'S BLUE won the EPPIE Award in 2005 for Best Inspirational Fiction. It is the story of Samantha Lyons who works as a research scientist in Clam Creek, a sleepy little town on the marsh in New Jersey. She needs an assistant to complete her mosquito research if she wants to continue living at Field Station Number 37, the first real home she has ever had. When David Halpern drives into town, she is sure he is the answer to her prayers. David is out of options when he and his son find sustenance in the basement of Holy Redeemer and a job offer from Samantha. David assumes he'll be safe from discovery in the backwater town and accepts the position.

In this scene, David has made up his mind to leave the field station and move on. Samantha knows she won't be able to finish her research without him. When they pull up to the field station, Fish, Samantha's neighbor is waiting with a bucket of crabs.


James climbed out of the back of the car and stared down into the bucket with an air of resignation, an odd emotion in one so young. Samantha's heart ached.

“Do they bite?” he asked in a dull tone.

“Oh, they snap at your fingers something terrible with those claws.” Fish pulled out a can opener from his overalls and dangled it in front of the crabs. One crab lurched at it and hung on, even as Fish lifted the creature out of the bucket. “Make a grown man cry if one of those held on to his finger.”

James’ eyes widened in interest for a moment. Then David came around from the other side of the car and the youngster's shoulders sagged. Samantha wanted to hug James and never let go.

“Um, this is David Halpern, Fish.” Her heart felt wooden as she twisted a stray lock of hair around her finger. “James’father.”

Fish dropped the can opener with the crab still attached. He stuck out his hand to David. “Pleased to meet you.”

A few seconds passed by before David reached out to grasp Fish's hand. The reluctance on David's part seemed awkward and obvious to Samantha, like a social snub, but apparently it didn't bother Fish.

“You got a nice boy there,” Fish noted, grinning at James.

David cleared his throat. “Thanks.”

“Neptune stopped swimming in the can,” James stated quietly.

“That can happen,” Fish rumbled sympathetically. “But I found you some new friends. A whole bunch of ‘em. They're as lively as any of God's marvelous creations.”

James lifted his face, and Samantha saw the light of hope spark ever so faintly.

Fish lumbered back to his truck.

“We aren't taking any souvenirs with us,” David warned in a low voice.

“Miss Samantha will keep them for me,” James responded with confidence.

“Yes, I will,” Samantha said firmly. “Forever.”

They followed Fish to the truck. He slid another big bucket out of the back, and then lowered it below the level of James’chest.

“Hermit crabs,” Fish said. “Crazy little things. They don't have a home of their own. They go creeping around looking for empty shells that some other animal left behind. Then they crawl inside and make it their own.”

“Squatters,” David commented, giving a sardonic twist to his mouth.

“Nah.” Fish shook his head. “They're just using shells that are already empty. Doing what the good Lord wants ‘em to do. Nothing goes to waste in His creation.” He stuck one hand down deep into the bucket and picked up one of the small creatures.

“Here ya go, son. They don't bite. Open up your hand and let this little guy tickle you.”

Samantha saw eagerness shining in James’ eyes as he reached out for the hermit crab.

“What's his name?” James asked as the animal sat in the middle of his palm with all of its spindly legs drawn up inside the shell.

“Why, that one there you can name yourself, son,” Fish decreed.

James’ smile spread slowly. “He's gonna be Kyle, like my friend.”

“Any man with a true friend is a king,” Fish said.

Samantha saw the old man's eyes water a bit, and found a lump welling in her own throat. Fish had the tender heart of a poet, and Samantha wished she knew what had hurt him so badly that the pain still plagued him. Undoubtedly, any probing questions would upset him further and she would never do that.

The little animal in James’ hand gingerly stretched its tiny legs out from under the shell and started to scurry across James’ palm.

James giggled. “He's tickling me.”

“Now don't let him fall down.” Samantha cupped her hands beneath the young child's.

“Hey, Kyle,” James laughed. “You're so funny.”

Fish pulled a red bandanna out from his pocket and blew his nose. “Well, I better get moving,” the old man said in a gravelly rumble. “I was up at three this morning.”

“Why don't you join us for supper?” Samantha offered.

“No, thank you. But it's mighty kind of you to ask.”

“Oh, Fish,” Samantha sighed. “You've given me so much, it would be nice if you would help me eat some of it once in a while.”

Fish gave her a shy smile. “Those are from God's bounty. You best be thanking Him and not me.”

“Miss Samantha always thanks God,” James piped up.

“She's a good woman.” Fish nodded. “A special gift for some lucky man.”

Slowly, Fish's gaze turned to David. He stared long and hard, without saying a word for several moments. Samantha watched as David shifted uneasily from one foot to the other.

Then Fish, obviously finished with his assessment, scratched the beard on his chin and turned to push up the tailgate on his pickup.

Samantha stole a quick glance at David. His eyes had a stony resignation in them that chilled her. Tension crackled in the air as she watched David's jaw stiffen.

The old fisherman shuffled around to the front of the vehicle and pulled himself up into the driver's seat. “Won't be any rain now for a good long time. Gonna dry up the marsh, keep an eye out for smoke.”

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books, and other distributors.

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Irons In The Fire Now On HOOPLA!

 

     Draft2Digital put IRONS IN THE FIRE on HOOPLA, the library app. I am delighted. I often use Hoopla to borrow books. It’s free with your library card. Irons in the Fire was the first book I finished, though the second one to be published and was a nominee for a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice award.
     Long and Short Reviews gave it 4 1/2 Stars and said, "The twists in this one were totally unexpected. There are surprises all along the way to the final revelation of who was behind all of the evil in the town. I did not expect some of this at all. I like that in a mystery--not knowing is the best kind of plot. The romance builds slowly, and for each step these two take toward each other, they take two steps back. I loved it when they finally acknowledged their feeling were real, and the passion they finally let loose was wonderful." 

     So please sign up for the Hoopla app and borrow Irons in the Fire! 


Thursday, July 04, 2024

The Bay Beach on the Fourth of July

 


Pictured above is the bay beach where I spent my childhood. It’s not a fancy beach. There aren’t any big waves. There aren’t any lifeguards either. But the beach is free and the water is far cooler than the air. Today the parking lot was full, but there were a few spaces left on the other side of the creek where the short boardwalk has been repaired with all new wood. I stood on the boardwalk for a while and watched the red-winged blackbirds flit back and forth over the marsh. But it was hot, so I didn’t stay there long.

Hoping everyone enjoyed the day at the beach. Happy Fourth of July! πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ 

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Guest Post: Pathlight to Praise by Kristi Neace

 My guest today is Kristi Neace. She holds an MDiv and BA of Biblical Studies from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City. 

Kristi has 18 plus years of experience writing faith-based books, blogs, articles, and devotions for both women’s ministry and law enforcement spouses. By day she is a real estate professional, but her true passion is teaching God’s Word. Kristi hosts a weekly Bible study throughout the year for both in-person and zoom participants. She and her husband/family reside in the greater St. Louis area of Missouri.

You can find her online at Instagram: Kristi_Neace

or on TikTok: @kristi.neace

 PATHLIGHT TO PRAISE is Kristi's new release from Pelican Book Group. 

 Christians often speak of giving God praise for this or that, but for a person new to the faith or even a seasoned believer longing for encouragement during personal struggles, praise can seem like an overwhelming even unattainable task.

 Yet, in the very last verse of Psalms we read, "...everything that has breath praise the LORD (Ps. 150:6)." Why? Because He is worthy!

 Within the pages of this book, you will find 150 days' worth of devotions filled with God's unending love and care for His children. Though the various psalmists experienced fears, temptations, and strong emotions such as anger and betrayal, God proved that there is always something to be thankful for. He is forever worthy of our praise!

Kristi said, "I have multitudes of favorite Psalms, the overall theme verse that describes this book is probably Psalm 119:105, 'Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.'" 

Links:

My Review of Pathlight to Praise

Kristi gave me an advanced reading copy of the book and I found it to be insightful and thought provoking. While the actual psalm excerpts are short and the commentaries after each are also brief, the questions she provides get to the heart of the matter, relating each psalm to difficulties we all have in contemporary life. She noted the authors of the psalms along with the time and circumstances of the writing, which helped to bring the psalms into focus. As a devotional aid, I thought this was exceptional and worthy of reading often. 


Wednesday, June 12, 2024

THE KEEPER'S SECRET Is Coming In October!

I am so delighted to announce that THE KEEPER'S SECRET will be released in October. As someone who grew up in New Jersey and who has visited many lighthouses along the coast, I always wanted to write a book featuring a lighthouse. So, I did. πŸ˜€ And Pelican Book Group has given me a fantastic book cover as part of their Prism Lux line. I love it. πŸ’– 

As soon as I receive the ARCs, I'll be asking for readers to review it. It is a Christian romance and faith is a very important part of the theme. You won't want to miss this one!



Here's the blurb:

Shucker' s Point, New Jersey never had a murder until now. Jack St. Marie, a well-known research scientist is missing, and Trooper Bryce Johnson believes the worst of Jack' s wife, Evie. 


In high school, Bryce loved Evie--enough to want to marry her, but that was before he witnessed her phone in a bogus bomb scare. And only two months before Jack disappeared, Bryce saw Evie aiming a gun at her husband. Can Bryce believe in Evie's innocence when her husband' s body is found in a fishing dredge twenty miles out at sea? Could the most beautiful woman in Shucker' s Point be capable of such a heinous crime? He doesn't want to believe it.


Bryce refuses to let his heart guide the investigation...until someone shoots at Evie. Then he must protect her. But can he protect his heart?

πŸ’— πŸ’— πŸ’— πŸ’— πŸ’—


 

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Be a Part of Your Community

I stood in the foyer of the church one Sunday collecting donations for Ukraine one day. Everyone who donated was offered a prayer square or a sunflower. I was very cold because the door was open, but I was very happy with all the donations received from our parishioners. Our parish's prayer shawl ministry crocheted all the giveaway items. 


I've always been a joiner. I like being a member of a group. When I was a teacher, I belonged to the NJEA. As a romance writer, I have been a longtime member of a few writing groups.  I am a member of an art society plus I attend a painting workshop every week. But I am also a cradle Catholic and I have been actively involved in my Church forever. 

I was in the folk group when I was younger. Later, hubby and I ran the Pre-Cana team in our parish. We hosted Renew groups in our home. I started a prayer shawl ministry in our parish. It's been a busy life, but it's great to know the people in our community, to be a part of it, and to help out in some way when we can. 

There are reasons many people have left religious institutions. However, it is not because they no longer believe in the religion's teachings. "But sizable numbers also leave because they believe religion has become too politicized."

Unfortunately, this is true. There are member of our parish that do not have the same opinions I do. However, we can ignore that fact when we are working on other goals. But to leave the Church doesn't help anyone. 

There was this statement in the article, "The disconnection from our neighbors, the fostering of distrust and the lack of belonging further imperil our society."

We need each other. We need to work together. Be a part of your community. You'll find the benefits are worth it. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Guest Post: SHELTER IN THE NIGHT by Loree Peery

My guest today is Christian author LoRee Peery. She wrote fiction for many years before her first novella was published in 2010. She thrills at the writing process when ideas, words, or character voices resonate in her mind. Jotting notes in the middle of the night or trailing toothpaste across the floor on her way to pen and paper, gets her pulse pumping. She often notices character quirks and conversation while she’s out and about, and is invigorated when she spends time outside. She believes the desire to write should never be ignored and is so glad she kept returning to the blank page. She feels blessed to live under God's redeeming grace, and to experience Nebraska's sense of place.

Her latest release is SHELTER IN THE NIGHT, the first in a series of worship through verse. It's available from Pelican Book Group.


Loree asks, "Do you ever awaken in the middle of the night, beset by thoughts of the worries of the day? Do you ever awaken with the feeling that God wants you to pray for someone or some thing? Do you pray, flounder in your prayer or immediately fall back to sleep?

Through the verses of Shelter in the Night, volume 1 in the Worship through Verse devotionals, the author pours out sorrows and joys much like the Old Testament psalmists. Whether you need shelter or reassurance, this collection can bring peace, hope and solace.

https://www.amazon.com/Shelter-Night-Worship-Through-Verse-ebook/dp/B0D2PMQG8X/ref

 

 

Psalm 30:5

…Weeping may stay for the night,

but rejoicing comes in the morning.

 

Night Song

 

The sky may be black

But my heart is white

 

With the light of Your presence

You are my hiding place

 

The song of cicadas hums life

Clouds break for the moon and stars

 

Providing cover like wide spread wings

You shelter my heart from fear

 

I call, You promise to listen

Mellow peace floods my soul

 

My joy is new in the morning

You took the night watch.




The second in the series is Looking Beyond Self .    


God has asked us to lay our worries at His feet so that His grace and compassion can get us through troubles. Reflection during the midst of pain is often cleansing, giving us a different perspective in our walk with Jesus.

In Looking Beyond Self, join the author as she pours out her worries, sorts through her feelings, reflects on worldly things, and through verse, worships the strong, stalwart Presence Who brings peace in troubling times.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Looking-Beyond-Worship-Through-Verse-ebook/dp/B0D34HL51F/ref

 

Philippians 4:7

And the peace of God, which transcends

all understanding, will guard your hearts

and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

Joy Unfettered

 

Much about God is a mystery

How can Jesus live within?

 

I thank God for working in me

That good work that continues

 

Good news of great joy has come

In a Babe to be glorified always

 

Jesus, a Name above all names

Believe and be right with God

 

Joy is serving in the Spirit

Unexplained peace is the result

 

His undeserved gifts are blessings

Blessing brings freedom of joy

 

Joy is belonging to Jesus

Glory to God for my freedom.



 

COMING SOON on June 14th will be GRATITUDE FOR ALL MOMENTS.

Meeting the Lord through modern-day psalms prompts heart gratitude and worship through verse.

 









On June 28th Finding Peace and Strength, which is volume 4, will be released.   Where else to turn when strength is gone and peace is fleeting, but God’s Word?

 

 








You can find Loree's website at http://www.loreepeery.com.