Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Steadfast - Guest Blogger Nancy Mehl

Welcome to Nancy Mehl, this week's guest. Thanks for joining us, Nancy. It's wonderful to have you here.

Nancy Mehl lives in Festus, Missouri, with her husband, Norman, and her very active puggle, Watson. She’s authored twenty books and just finished a new series for Bethany House Publishing. The first book in her Finding Sanctuary series, “Gathering Shadows” was released in May of 2014. The second book, “Deadly Echoes” became available in February.  The third book, “Rising Darkness will release late in 2015. She is also working on an Amish cozy mystery series for Guideposts.

Readers can learn more about Nancy through her Web site: www.nancymehl.com. She is part of The Suspense Sisters: www.suspensesisters.blogspot.com, along with several other popular suspense authors. She is also very active on Facebook.

Secret Wounds

Some secrets reveal themselves as wonderful surprises. Like finding out your first grandchild is on the way, or walking into a surprise party planned by friends. But other secrets are cloaked in pain and hidden away, just like the secrets that are revealed in Deadly Echoes, the second book in my Finding Sanctuary series.

My main character, Sarah Miller, is confronted by the past when her sister, Hannah, is murdered. Her story is marked by a journey that not only brings physical danger, but also emotional challenges. Her story made me think about how many of us bury painful secrets in our hearts that need to be brought into the light.

As a child, I was unhappy when my parents divorced. My brother and I lived with my mother, who suffered from depression and anxiety. There was no one in my life to talk to about the insecurity I felt on an almost daily basis.

I learned to hide the pain, pushing it behind an emotional door where I wouldn’t have to face it. This trait followed me throughout my life until one day, during a difficult situation at my church, that door burst open.

God was faithful and walked me through a very dark valley until I was able to see the light again. From this painful experience, I learned that we’re not equipped to carry our burdens alone. That our secret wounds will only keep us in bondage. This is why Jesus tells us to cast our burdens on Him–to trade our sorrow for His joy.

Sarah will have to confront the past, just as I did. She will need to find the courage to face the truth – even though it hurts. But as Jesus promised, the truth has the power to set us free. Our healing will come from seeing ourselves through God’s eyes and believing His word over our pain.

One of my favorite scriptures is Jeremiah 29:11. God says: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 

What a great promise! Looking forward to that future comes when we can finally break free from the chains of the past.

One of you will win a FREE copy 
of Nancy's new book.

After a youth filled with tragedy and upheaval, Sarah Miller's life is finally settled with all echoes of the past silent at last. She happily calls Sanctuary her home and spends her days teaching at the local school.

Sarah's joy at her recent reunion with her sister, Hannah, and meeting the niece she didn't know she had is too soon interrupted when Deputy Sheriff Paul Gleason informs Sarah her sister has been killed.

As she learns more about Hannah's death, the circumstances are eerily similar to their parents' murder. Sarah enlists Paul's help in digging deeper into the murders the police are dismissing as burglaries gone wrong. Paul's concern encourages Sarah's growing feelings for him, but as their investigation peels back the layers of lies almost twenty years old, they get close to uncovering the truth one person will do anything to hide--even if that means coming after the last remaining members of the Miller family.

Wow, Deadly Echoes sounds like one of those books that keeps a reader on the edge of her seat.

If you'd like a chance to win a free copy, just leave a comment. Please include your email address so Nancy can contact you.

And from last week, the winner of Paula Mowery's book, Legacy & Love, is Maxie! Congratulations!

Grace and peace to you from God,


Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Starry Host

Do you like trials and tribulations? The darkness? 

Not me. If I could have my wishes fulfilled there would be no valleys or dark places. But God loves me and when my mind carries me into wishful thinking He reminds me that He is the One who holds my life in His hands. The One who formed me in the darkness of my mother's womb. The One who created all the universe. The One who numbered my days.

When I step out on my deck on a winter's night, the display in the sky reveals the Creator. And I can see that it is on the darkest night that the stars shine brightest. And that each and every star was set in place by the same One who holds me in His hands. 

Isaiah 40: 25- 26 To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens. Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

Father God is the One I trust. 

Each valley, every dark night, the excruciating climbs, draw me into relationship with Him, a place where I know His love and faithfulness. I am made stronger. Without His strength in me I would be like a blade of grass that has no spine and cannot stand.

It is you, O' God, who gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

Praising Him today in my weakness.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Steadfast - Guest Blogger Paula Mowery

I'm always excited for Wednesdays because it means I get to have a guest blogger. This week it's Paula Mowery and she has an insightful perspective on the valley of the shadow of death. 

Welcome, Paula.

Paula Mowery is an award-winning author, acquisitions editor, speaker, and pastor’s wife. Her published books include two women’s fiction titles and two Christian romances with two other contracted titles due out in 2015. She is a member of ACFW and is on their Featured Author interview team. Her devotions have been included in the published collections, Sweet Freedom A La Mode, Fear Not, and A Walk Through The Valley as well as various blogs. She writes for The Christian Online Magazine where she shares book reviews of her latest favorites in Christian fiction.
 You can connect with Paula through her blog, www.paulamowery.blogspot.com, where other social media links are provided.

Holding Steadfast With A Prayer

My husband is a pastor, so I am used to phone calls at all hours of the day and night. However, I wasn’t prepared for the call he received one Sunday afternoon as we were eating lunch. 

I thought the voice I could barely hear on the other end was my brother which was confirmed when my husband ended the cell phone call. He informed me that my father had suddenly been unable to speak right after their church’s worship service. He actually drove he and my mother home, not stopping for their normal restaurant lunch. 

When my mother questioned my father and found him unresponsive, she called my brother who advised her to rush him to the nearest ER and he would meet them there. 

I stayed home from church that evening awaiting word. I live an hour away from my parents but prepared to rush down if I was needed, but I held off. After praying for God to take care of my dad, I had a peace about waiting. 

Within two hours, my dad’s speech began to return. He was kept overnight and tests were run. The verdict was a bloodclot went directly to that speech center in the back of the brain. He had no lasting effects. 

Later that evening my dad talked with me on the phone. He described how strange it was to not be able to speak but be fully cognizant of what others were saying. He knew how he wanted to respond but just couldn’t vocalize it. 

I have often told others that I don’t know how unbelievers get through difficult or scary situations like this. I truly don’t. But, I knew that my prayers for my father were heard and just as effective whether an hour away or in the same room. Prayer allowed me to have a peace in Who was in control no matter the outcome. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I've had to build on my trust in God. But, He has always proved faithful. That is not to say that in every bad situation everything has turned out fine. Sometimes I’ve had to trust Him to bring a person through surgery, recovery, or even chemotherapy. Yet, He has never left me. I've always felt Him near, comforting and encouraging. 

The Psalmist tells us in the 23rd Psalm that even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, God is with us. What does this show me? There’s going to be dark times we must endure. But, did you notice it is a shadow? I love this imagery. When was the last time a shadow did you any harm? We can get through because God has promised His presence and the Psalmist plainly states that we walk through. There’s no camping out in that dark valley. God sees us through to the other side. 

My dad is just fine and back to all of his normal activities which means I have another responsibility. Time to praise and thank God for bringing us through that short valley and for teaching me more about trusting Him.  

What a beautiful perspective. We really don't have to fear the shadows. Thank you, Paula.

Legacy and Love
Free to one of you!

The Prayer Shawl

Sean Holland is a magazine reporter always looking for the next story. Hope Weaver is a pediatric nurse who shares Christ through making prayer shawls. The shawls are just the touchy-feely story Sean needs, even though he’ll have to endure Hope’s strong Christian beliefs to get it. An unexpected connection brings them together as a couple. But, can they find love if they don’t share their faith?


Alex Lyndon’s life has been a series of fits and starts with no finishes. She finds herself jobless and divorced. Now her only family, Granny Olivia, is critically ill.

Chase Carson had to step into running the family business when his father died. The time is past due to visit Miss Olivia.

Alex and Chase must go on a treasure hunt. Will each find purpose and love for their lives in the process?

If you'd like a chance to win a copy of Legacy and Love just leave a comment and your email address so we can contact you. I'll draw the winner's name next Wednesday.

Last week's winner of On the Threshold is ... Shannon. Congratulations!

Grace and peace to you from God,


Monday, February 16, 2015

Happily Ever After?

My husband and I recently took part in a marriage seminar and since then I've been thinking about us

We were just kids the day we made forever vows. I was nineteen and Greg was twenty-one. Saying forever at such a young age seems ridiculous now that I look back. What did we know about marriage? We didn't have a clue, but couldn't wait to begin our lives together. 

Even with all the heat and love we shared, when I walked down the aisle I wasn't certain I really wanted to get married. I made that long walk thinking, Well, if it doesn't work out I can always get a divorce. 

We were definitely in for a rough ride.

Our early years together were a mess - we were a mess. After four years together we separated. I was devastated and cried most every day. During those dark days I had other devastating losses, which included a miscarriage and the death of my father. Heartbroken, I handed my life over to the the Lord. That's when I started to pray for us.

Greg and I were separated seven months, but God worked in our hearts and we reconciled and started again, only this time as new believers in Christ. 

Children became part of us. We were a family. 

Life hasn't been easy. We've had the common issues that most couples face - financial difficulties, health issues, differences about how to raise the kids ... and a long list of other things.

Our biggest challenge came when I was only thirty-nine and had a way too close encounter with a log truck. My injuries were life-changing. And those changes affected my family, especially my husband. 

I'd been an active wife and mother. I loved to work alongside Greg, and could use a chain saw with the best of the guys. And I wasn't bad at nailing sub-floor, splitting fire wood, and gardening. 

I loved that life. But in a moment everything changed. 

It wasn't easy adjusting to our new life. With much grinding of teeth and shedding of tears we found a way and discovered our new roles. These days, I do what I can - cook meals, buy groceries, keep the house picked up, and I write. My husband works at his job, then he helps me by sweeping and mopping, doing the dishes when I can't and even taking care of the shopping when I'm unable, all with no complaints.

I've been blessed with a good man, but we wouldn't have made it through this journey called marriage without Christ. He is at the core of our success. He is the reason we can still say, "I love you," after forty-three years ... and counting.

Do you have a happily ever after story to tell or a God's grace story to share? 

God is always good.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Steadfast - Guest Blogger Sherrie Ashcraft

It's Wednesday, and I have a very special guest. Sherrie Ashcraft is my friend, fellow writer, publisher, and a woman of God who has lived out her faith through some very dark days. Welcome, Sherrie.

Sherrie Ashcraft lives on 15-acres of beautiful forested hills in Western Oregon. She and her husband of forty-four years have two children, eight grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. Sherrie is currently the Women’s Minsitry Director at her church, but in the past was a missionary to Nigeria, as well as a nurse specializing in Alzheimer’s care.

Sherrie loves to speak at women’s events, where her wacky sense of humor and the truth of God’s Word intersect. She and her daughter, Christina Tarabochia, have co-authored an award-winning Christian novel, On the Threshold. The two women have formed a small, traditional press—Ashberry Lane Publishing. 

If you’d like to know what books are being released, including a new one by Bonnie, sign up for their newsletter at http://www.ashberrylane.com 

Whatever it takes

Most of us think that when we get our kids through their teen years and they marry and settle down, the hardest part of parenting is behind us. But I’ve learned that’s not necessarily true. 

My son, Mark, had a heart for the Lord when he was a little boy. His teen years were challenging, but we got through them with no collateral damage, and he married and had four kids. By age 36 he was well-established working in law enforcement and distinguishing himself in the National Guard. But through the years his heart had changed. It wasn’t that he was anti-God, but just seemed to have no time for Him. Long hours working the night shift made church attendance a hard thing for him to choose. Always being on call meant he was often away from his family. He was extremely well respected and I saw pride creeping into his life. I began to pray God would do whatever it took to bring Mark back in a right relationship with the Lord. I knew there was the potential of danger in his life because of his job, and I figured God might answer my prayer by allowing Mark to get hurt in the line of duty (doing something heroic, of course) and his life would hang in the balance. At that point he would turn back to God, his wounds would be healed, and everything would be perfect. 

I’ll never forget the day in the summer of 2009 when I received the phone call that would forever change our lives. And yes, it involved Mark. But it wasn’t a call saying he’d been injured doing something noble. Instead, I was informed that my police officer son had just been arrested! I was shocked to the core of my being. How could this be? It made no sense at all. My husband was out of state on business, so it was up to me to make the five-hour drive to be with my son’s family and support them during this time. 

Those hours driving through the dark night were long. I could hardly draw my next breath, as disbelief and disappointment swirled through my heart. You might think that having been a Christian for over fifty years would make it easy for me to just pour my heart out to the Lord during those long hours. Instead, I found it impossible to put many words to my prayer. I do remember asking God to just read my heart. Over and over again I told Him a couple different things. One was that I immediately knew  this was God’s answer to the prayer I’d been praying for Mark during the last couple years. I knew I had no choice but to thank Him for answered prayer. And the other thought that I kept expressing to God was, “Please don’t let this be wasted, in my life or in Mark’s. I don’t want to go through this depth of pain and not get everything out of it that I’m supposed to. I want to wring this experience dry.” I knew that as terrible as this situation was, it would be even more terrible to experience this grief for naught. 

Five-and-a-half years have gone by since that phone call. I’ve continued to see God’s hand through everything we’ve had to go through. It took two years before Mark actually went to trial for accusations that were untrue. His heart turned back to the Lord right away, and he took full responsibility for the wrong things he had done, but stood firm in not saying he’d done things he hadn’t. My husband and I were with him every day during his week-long trial, and by the end of it, I was certain the truth would prevail and he’d be found innocent. But that was not God’s plan. Instead, he was sentenced to years in prison.

Once again, I had a choice to make—would I trust that God knew 100% what was best for Mark, or would I choose to question His authority? Was a prison sentence really a necessary part of that answer to my prayer concerning Mark’s heart? I realized I did not need to understand what the Lord was doing, or why He was choosing to do it that way. My job was one of simple obedience—to trust Him.

The past 3-1/2 years have been challenging at times, but so many blessings have come from this experience. Mark has grown into the man of God that I’ve always longed for him to be. He has no bitterness toward God or toward his accuser, and understands that the Lord had to do something extraordinary to get his attention, as well as his heart. As odd as it might seem, we all feel this injustice is worth it, though it was never what we would have prayed for. At the same time, it is what I asked God to do in my son’s life, though it came in a completely unexpected form. 

Some people say, “Be careful what you pray for, as you may get it!” I’ve learned to be careful what I pray for, because I may get something that’s even better than what I asked for!

Sherrie, thank you for sharing your incredible story. You are a woman of courage and an inspiration to me.

Sherrie and Christina are giving away one
FREE copy of
On the Threshold.

Suzanne—a mother with a long-held secret. Tony—a police officer with something to prove. Beth—a daughter with a storybook future. When all they love is lost, what's worth living for?

Suzanne Corbin and her daughter, Beth Harris, live a seemingly easy life. Suzanne has distanced herself from her past, replacing pain with fulfillment as a wife and mother, while Beth savors her husband’s love and anticipates the birth of their child. But all that is about to change.

Like a sandcastle buffeted by ocean waves, Suzanne’s fa├žade crumbles when her perfect life is swept away. Tragedy strikes and police officer Tony Barnett intersects with the lives of both women as he tries to discover the truth. Left adrift and drowning in guilt long ignored, Suzanne spirals downward into paralyzing depression. Beth, dealing with her own grief, must face the challenge of forgiveness. Can these two women learn to trust each other again? Will they find the power of God’s grace in their lives?

If you'd like to have your name included in the drawing for a FREE copy of On the Threshold please leave a comment and your email address. Did you catch that? AND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS. We need a way to contact you.

Last week's winner of With Music in Their Hearts is Jayne! Congratulations! Carole will be contacting you.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Steadfast - Blogging Guest Carole Brown

It's hard to believe it's February already. And it's Wednesday. Welcome to Carol Brown, this week's guest. 

Brown not only has her award winning (Nominated for an Epic Award, RWA International Digital Awards finalist in Inspiration, Laurel Award finalist, Selah finalist; Genesis semi-finalist) debut novel, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman, available for purchase now, but a companion book called West Virginia Scrapbook: From the Life of Caralynne Hayman, filled with tidbits of information about West Virginia, quotes, recipes from West Virginia and from Caralynne’s life, pictures and discussion questions for the novel.

November, 2013, the first book in her mystery series, Hog Insane, released. It’s a fun, lighthearted novel introducing the characters, Denton and Alex Davies. Look for the second book, Bat Crazy, late 2014 winter.

Released November 1, 2014, is the first book in a new WWII romantic suspense series: With Music In Their Hearts. Three red-headed sisters. Three spies. Three stories.

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

Connect with her here:
Personal blog: http://sunnebnkwrtr.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CaroleBrown.author
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/browncarole212
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/sunnywrtr/boards/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5237997-carole-brown

Carole is also am part of several other blogs:
Stitches in Time:  http://stitchesthrutime.blogspot.com/
Barn Door Book Loft: http://www.barndoorbookloft.net/

Some good advice from Carole -

No, she couldn’t leave the boarding house to Papa and her sisters to run. She would have to stick it out. ~~from With Music in Their Hearts

Discontented? Discouraged? Facing more than you think you can handle?

I was feeling stressed out, tired and over anxious about nothing and everything. Snappish at the one person I adore in this world--my husband, offended at the slightest provocation at others’ supposed slights, and trying to hide the impatience I felt at my friend’s “unimportant” complaints. 

Couldn’t they see how overworked I was?
How could they ask me to do another task?
Why couldn’t I get this long list completed?

Ever feel like you were the proverbial camel eyeing that last straw a big hand was getting ready to lay on your back?

No matter whether you’re an author/writer or a fellow-laborer for the God we serve, at times we take on too much, we try to be super-human, when what we really need to do is:

  • Say no. We are not the only person who can coordinate that needed project! Pick and choose what’s right for you, what interests you, and/or what will benefit you or you feel is really important. You will sometimes be made to feel you are failing because you won’t or can’t do the project being handed you. Don’t let anyone control you like that. When a project interferes with your happiness and peace, or your family time or God’s time, then it’s wrong for you. Say no.
  • Remember that the list will still be here tomorrow. If you cross off one or two items, you’re an accomplished person. Lots of people ask more of themselves than they can reasonably accomplish. Don’t do that. Set accomplishable goals.
  • Take time to relax.
This past weekend we took a few days to go camping with family and friends. We invited our two-year-old grandson to go along. There’s not a lot of things that can get me to relax as well as the presence of family and friends. Yes, I’ll have to admit I worked all the way down the interstate with occasional glances up to see the scenery my husband and son were pointing out and enjoying.

But once there, I turned off the laptop, saw I had NO reception to my cell phone, and gave in to a time of fun and laughter.  

How did it go?

I came away more relaxed. On the way home, I joined in with my husband and grandson as we worked to see who could find the next bridge or the next horse. My husband and I discussed and talked and laughed and snacked together all the way home. 

How to relax?

  • Take a vacation. An hour, a day, a week. Whatever you can work into your budget--do it! Go to local amusements or parks or museums. (We took the grand boys to our local Airforce Museum--free, and good bonding time! And we‘ve also put down the deposit for our summer time at the beach!)
  • Choose a hobby or something you’ve always wanted to do, and begin. Don’t put it off untill tomorrow for as the old saying goes, it never comes. Doesn’t matter whether you’re a master at it or not. If it gives you a sense of peace and satisfaction, it’s well worth it. (I’ve just recently picked up a new hobby: fairy gardens. Can’t wait to get started!)
  • Spend time with those you love. Take a walk. Play with the kids or dogs. Do something really, really silly - ride down the slide, swing, skip, climb a tree. Take a day to pass out some extra hugs. (Feed the animals with the kids and watch their faces light up!)
  • Soak in a bubble-filled tub. Read a book. Eat some chocolate or your favorite dessert. Splurge on a drink you love. (Hot tub time!)
  • Invite a friend or your hubby out to dinner. Doesn’t have to be expensive. Relax and forget your problems. They’ll be there to solve later! (looking forward to hubby’s annual birthday dinner with his brother and his wife)
  • Take time out for communion with God. Think. Pray. Study. It gives one a sense of strength and encouragement.

I’m sure you can find five minutes, thirty, or even an hour to squeeze in time to do something to pep your spirits! 

As the excerpt from my recently released novel says, Emma Jaine wanted to escape her problems, but realized she couldn’t. And we can’t always escape. But we can schedule a much-needed retreat for however long.

Jesus went up in the mountains to commune with God and become stronger. He and his disciples went out in the boat to get away for a bit. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to take needed time for yourself. For however long, for whenever, for whatever, do it! Your body -and your family and friends - will thank you!

Great advice, Carol. I needed to hear it.

Carol's New Book

Angry at being rejected for military service, Minister Tyrell Walker accepts the call to serve as a civilian spy within his own country. Across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio, a spy working for a foreign country is stealing secret plans for newly developed ammunition to be used in the war. According to his FBI cousin, this spy favors pink stationery giving strong indications that a woman is involved.

He’s instructed to obtain a room in the Rayner Boarding House run by the lovely, spunky red-haired Emma Jaine Rayner. Sparks of jealousy and love fly between them immediately even as they battle suspicions that one or the other is not on the up and up.

While Tyrell searches for the murdering spy who reaches even into the boarding home, Emma Jaine struggles with an annoying renter, a worried father (who could be involved in this spy thing), and two younger sisters who are very different but just as strong willed as she is.

As Tyrell works to keep his double life a secret and locate the traitor, he refuses to believe that Emma Jaine could be involved even when he sees a red-haired woman in the arms of another man. Could the handsome and svelte banker who’s also determined to win Emma Jaine’s hand for marriage, be the dangerous man he’s looking for? Is the trouble-making renter who hassles Emma Jaine serving as a flunky? Worse, is Papa Rayner so worried about his finances and keeping his girls in the style they’re used to, that he’ll stoop to espionage?

Will their love survive the danger and personal issues that arise to hinder the path of true love?

With Music in Their Heart
Kindle Link:   http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00OVFWA5S?pldnSite=1
Print Link:    http://www.amazon.com/Music-Their-Hearts-Spies-World/dp/1941622038/ref=sr_1_1_twi_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1415113865&sr=1-1&keywords=With+Music+in+Their+Hearts

You could win a FREE copy of Music in Their Heart. Just leave a comment and your email address and your name may be drawn. I'll announce the winner Wednesday, February 11th.

Our winner from last week is ... Ruth Ann Dell. Congratulations!

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie Leon

Sunday, February 01, 2015

The Journey - A Forever Friend

Forever friends are something some of us never have. They are a rare treasure. Those of us who have such friends, know we are blessed.

Kathie and I met when she was sixteen and I was seventeen (I'm 63 now). I remember the day well. She came into my home-economics class and all of us girls hissed under our breath - she was so beautiful. The last thing we needed was gorgeous competition. You know how teen-age girls can be. Ugh.

I was prepared not to like Kathie. I figured she was probably a snob. I couldn't have been more wrong.

The teacher matched up Kathie and I as cooking partners. And although I wanted to dislike her it was impossible. She was so nice and so much fun. We became good friends right away.

High School Graduation Celebration
Kathie and I are the two in the middle.

Back in those days, the 60's and 70's, we had a lot of fun and sometimes we got into trouble. But we also protectively stood by the other. Sometimes I came to her rescue and sometimes she came to mine. Somehow we survived those years in one piece. 

Time passed, as it has a way of doing. We married, had children, and moved on. Through the years, we were in and out of one another's lives. And even if our paths hadn't crossed for a long while when we'd reconnect our friendship remained strong.

Kathie was a warrior. She stood up for what she believed even when it meant she'd have to face negative consequences. She was loyal and brave. She spoke with conviction ... even when she was wrong. We didn't always agree, but that was all right because we always accepted the other just as we were.

When I was twenty-three, I was in a terrible place. Kathie was a new believer, but bravely shared the truth of Jesus Christ with an impervious me and changed my life. In those early months of discovery, we'd hang on the phone into the wee hours of the morning reading scripture to one another, exclaiming over its beauty and power.  

More than twenty years ago, Kathie and her family moved from Washington to Southern Oregon. They purchased a place just five acres away from my family. How cool is that?

When we learned she was ill and facing a tough battle, I knew she'd fight hard. And she did - with courage and good humor and a strong faith in God.

Although very ill, Kathie donned a costume 
and celebrated Halloween in 2013.

Her battle ended last week when she went home to the Lord. I know she's in heaven, vibrant and healthy. I can see her with her arms outstretched, dancing and worshiping the Lord of Lords.

Our friendship was imperfect and beautiful. It's an incredible thing to have a friend who knows the darkest places of your heart and yet loves you just as you are. Kathie made my life better.

Thank you, Kathie, for being a true friend. I'll be seeing you.

Grace and peace to you from God,