Ode to a Lighthouse

Concord Point Lighthouse, Maryland

Concord Point Lighthouse in Havre de Grace, Maryland | photo by Cerella Sechrist

The Way Back to Erin may be the third book in my Findlay Roads Story series, but it was actually the first story I envisioned for the series.

I had a very clear vision of the opening scene: a groom, left standing in the rain, after his fiancée failed to appear, and a single mother taking pity on him and offering him a temporary place to stay at her bed and breakfast. That story eventually became Erin’s, a character who has been present in both of the previous Findlay Roads titles, Harper’s Wish and A Song for Rory.

When I first created the town of Findlay Roads, I researched and visited several towns in the Chesapeake Bay region. One of my favorites was Havre de Grace, Maryland, where I spent the weekend at a B&B (similar to the Moontide Inn featured in the book), strolled the waterfront promenade, and visited the Concord Point Lighthouse. Havre de Grace has a rich history that not only inspired my creation of the town, but the lighthouse – and its stories – shaped the theme of The Way Back to Erin: finding your way back home.

I recently wrote about the history of Concord Point Lighthouse and Havre de Grace on the Harlequin Heartwarming blog. The lighthouse in Findlay Roads plays a small but critical part in The Way Back to Erin: it is a safehaven, a symbol, the light at the heart of the story, leading Burke and Erin back to each other and to the home they’ve both longed for.

Click here to read more about the place that inspired my Findlay Roads series and see just how it influenced the characters in The Way Back to Erin. And be sure to catch the full series beginning with Harper’s Wish and A Song for Rory.

 

Harper's Wish (A Findlay Roads Story #1)          A Song for Rory (A Findlay Roads Story #2)          The Way Back to Erin (A Findlay Roads Story #3)

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Finding Faith in the Dark [one word: faith]

One of my favorite blog series, both on my last blog and on others, has always been “one word” posts. My friend, Jules, introduced me to these several years ago. Jules first borrowed the idea from craft and creative entrepreneur, Ali Edwards. Jules and I have made a practice of choosing “one word” as our focus and mantra each year, but additionally, we’ve both blogged about particular words and the meaning and power behind them. Ever since I conceived the idea of this blog, I’ve been excited to revisit those “one word” posts.

faith [noun]: belief that is not based on proof.

All my life, I’ve had the good fortune to live in southern Pennsylvania with a clear, unobstructed view of the night sky. There have been countless evenings when I’ve looked up and encountered a rich, deep velvet background speckled with the shine and sparkle of endless stars. Every time I witness this ethereal beauty, I’m reminded of the song “There You Are” by Carolyn Arends, which opens with these words:

“I was hoping You would write to me a message in the stars,
As if the stars themselves were not enough.”

And in those moments, I pause and remind myself of how loved I am by a God who decorates his creation with other-worldly gems.

There are many definitions concerning the word “faith” and millions of websites that refer to the concept of faith and belief. Tony Evans shares, on the Focus on the Family website:

“I love the immensity of the Texas sky. One evening, I looked up and saw only one star in that enormous expanse. The rest of the sky was empty — or at least it appeared so. After a short time, I saw more stars appear. Soon, many more were visible.

I shared that imagery later with my kids as we discussed what faith is and how it works. The stars were in place when I had first looked up. But I couldn’t see them until the darkness settled in around me. We talked about how sometimes the greatest lessons of faith — when we recognize most clearly the light and truth of God’s love — happen in the dark.”

There is a science behind the night sky, the combination of constellations and cosmic dust. For me, all of that science only reaffirms my belief in a creator of such finely tuned details. But even without such evidence, my faith is a belief that doesn’t need proof.

If you find yourself in doubt, uncertain about the future or the plans God has for you, I’d encourage you to just look up.

***

If you’ve been entering the ongoing giveaway to celebrate A Story Life’s debut, you’ll be pleased to know I’ve extended the entry deadline by a week to give you a few more opportunities to enter! This week’s addition to the giveaway is this wooden FAITH bookmark. I found it in a local bookstore while browsing with a friend and determined it needed to be part of the giveaway. Remember that the entry options change each time so even if you entered before, you have chances to to add on more entries via the form below.

Until next time…may you keep the faith.

A Story Life: Finding the Extraordinary in the Everyday

The Golden Years of a Love Story

August is a good month for romance.

For one thing, it’s National Romance Awareness month, which Loree Lough and I will be talking about more this Friday on the Harlequin Heartwarming blog. Plus, today is my grandparents’ 68th wedding anniversary, which is pretty romantic, to my way of thinking.

My grandparents, Orville and Irene, met when my grandma was fifteen, and Grandpa was twenty-one. Though there is only six years’ difference between them, Grandma kept her age a secret, fearing Gramps wouldn’t keep dating her if he knew how young she was. But Grandpa always explained it like this, “I was immature for my age, and she was very mature for her age, so I guess it worked out.”

They dated for three years before they married, spur of the moment, when Grandpa was on leave from the military during the Korean War. After they had wed, and Grandpa returned to his Army base in Texas, Grandma traveled by train across the country, the first time she’d ever been out of Pennsylvania, to join him.

Over the years, they had two girls, loads of adventures, and a lifetime of stories together. Several years ago, my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer. Then, while my grandfather was with her at the hospital for an oncology appointment, her hip broke (in two places) as she was walking. She fell, pulling my grandfather down with her. The miracle of this story was that a hospital doctor was helping to direct them to the oncology office when this happened. The doctor was actually the head of orthopedic surgery, so when the accident occurred, he immediately took charge and got my grandmother into his operating room.

She recovered, but she’s never regained her ability to walk on her own, and so she’s been residing in a nursing home for the last five years.

And my grandfather has gone to see her, at first daily, and now three times weekly. He is faithful, even on the bad days, to stand by her, not wanting her to feel alone. Every year, on their anniversary, he makes a point to be at her nursing home exactly at the hour they were wed. At 91 years of age (92 in ten more weeks), his dedication moves me and reminds me that romance is not only the stuff of stories. It is devotion, and determination, and patience. Romance takes effort, and love sometimes requires sacrifice.

I have been blessed to witness the golden years of their love story. When I think of romance, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t the novels that I write, but it’s the people that I know and love, the relationships I’ve come to admire, such as my grandparents’.

This week’s addition to the A Story Life giveaway is a signed copy of my novel, LOVE FINDS YOU IN HERSHEY, PENNSYLVANIA. This book will always be special to me, not only because it was my debut but also because it was dedicated to my grandparents, Orville and Irene.

Until next time…

A Story Life: Finding the Extraordinary in the Everyday