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.

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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

Finding Positives in the Midst of Negativity

There’s a lot of negativity in the world. I don’t need to tell you this. You don’t even need to walk out your front door to be assaulted by pessimistic views on the economy to health scares and every little thing in between.

I struggle with confronting negativity as much as anyone else. Which is why one of my earliest pins to Pinterest was a quote: “The words you speak become the house you live in.” In fact, this pin is still the cover of one of my quotes boards on Pinterest.

Why does this saying resound so much for me? Because in one sentence, it harnesses the power of what the psychology world calls “self-talk”, defined by Dictionary.com as “the act or practice of talking to oneself, either aloud or silently and mentally”

Now, you may consider self-talk to be a futile exercise, something advocated by inspirational gurus and talk-show hosts. But in a world where negativity is a minefield (or should I say MINDfield), a few optimistic affirmations can’t hurt. I mean, did you know that your brain actually changes based on the thoughts you filter through it? If you feed it only with the negative, then negativity is going to become your default outlook. No joke.

Thus, the words you speak (whether internal or external) become the house you live in.

That’s why I try to remind myself, on a daily (sometimes hourly!) basis to feed my mind a little self-love and hope multiple times a day. This includes everything from affirming my value to counting my blessings. Anything to keep my brain from forming patterns of despair. Some days, it’s easier than others. But every day, it’s important to try.

All of this leads into the latest addition to my ongoing A Story Life giveaway. I found this tin sign about Gratitude on an impromptu Hobby Lobby run with a friend, and I thought, “Yes, this has to become part of the blog giveaway!” Make sure you enter each week (the entry options change with each post!) and check back in next time to see what prizes will be added!

Until then…remember that there is always hope. And that’s the house we choose to live in.

Introducing A Story Life