Snow on the Tulips by Liz Tolsma – Win a $50 Amazon GC – Blog Tour & Review!

Cover Rating:

Blurb:

A stranger’s life hangs in the balance. But to save him is to risk everything.

The war is drawing to a close, but the Nazis still occupy part of the Netherlands. After the losses she’s endured, war widow Cornelia is only a shadow of the woman she once was. She fights now to protect her younger brother, Johan, who lives in hiding.
When Johan brings Gerrit Laninga, a wounded Dutch Resistance member, to Cornelia’s doorstep, their ives are forever altered. Although scared of the consequences of harboring a wanted man, Cornelia’s faith won’t let her turn him out.

As she nurses Gerrit back to health, she is drawn to his fierce passion and ideals, and notices a shift within herself. Gerrit’s intensity challenges her, making her want to live fully, despite the fear that constrains her. When the opportunity to join him in the Resistance presents itself, Cornelia must summon every ounce of courage imaginable.

She is as terrified of loving Gerrit as she is of losing him. But as the winter landscape thaws, so too does her heart. Will she get a second chance at true love? She fears their story will end before it even begins.

You can purchase it here: Amazon * Barnes and Noble * BAM * CBD * Deeper Shopping

Author Bio:

Liz Tolsma has lived in Wisconsin most of her life, and she now resides next to a farm field with her husband, their son, and their two daughters. Add a dog and a cat to that mix and there’s always something going on at their house. She’s spent time teaching second grade, writing advertising for a real estate company, and working as a church secretary, but she always dreamed of becoming an author. When not busy putting words to paper, she enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping with her family.

You can find Liz here:

Website * Blog * Pinterest * Facebook * Twitter

 
 
 
 
 
In the Province of Friesland, Netherlands, war widow, Cornelia de Vries, spent her days simply trying to survive the ravages of the war going on around her. The Germans had taken over her city but with the Allies coming the war would soon be over. When her brother, Johan, brings home and injured man Cornelia is torn. Should she send him on his way knowing he will die or should she risk everything, even the safety of her brother, and let him stay? Once she decides to let Gerrit stay she find she is not only risking their safety but her heart as well. After the death of her husband due to the war Cornelia is afraid she won’t survive another loss so she guards her heart like the Germans guard the city. But a lone Resistance worker soon finds his way into her badly bruised heart. Now if they can only survive so they can build a life together.

Gerrit Laninga knew he was going to die. After surviving his own execution he was sure he was going to bleed to death unless the beautiful woman before him agrees to take him in and tend to his wound. Fighting against her fear, Cornelia de Vries follows her heart and relies on her faith and takes Gerrit into her home. Gerrit is a Resistance worker aiding the people of the city. He never thought about the danger until he lost his heart to Cornelia but he knows he must continue the fight and trust God to keep him safe. The biggest fight of all will be tearing down the wall around Cornelia’s heart. Can he help her get past the fears that are stopping her from living a happy life with him?

I can very easily say that Snow on the Tulips is the BEST book I have read this entire year! It brought out such raw emotions in me that I can’t even begin to describe them. (A few Kleenex? Try a whole BOX!) This book was so descriptive I felt as if I were IN the story fighting along side Cornelia and Gerrit. I’m sure you have heard the phrase “I wish I were a fly on the wall” well I actually felt like I was. It couldn’t have been anymore real had I been in Friesland in 1945. When I was young I saw a movie that touched me so much I fell in love with it then and there and I watch it every chance I get to this day. I still haven’t forgotten the way I felt watching it for the first time. That movie was The Diary of Anne Frank. I love the similarities between the movie and Snow on the Tulips, such as Dr. Boukma hiding five Juden and being discovered by the Germans. In The Diary of Anne Frank Victor Kugler hid several Juden, including Anne’s family, and was later discovered as well. The Germans ravaged the countryside and the reality of just how devastating it was is brought to life on every page. I also loved the trust they had in God. They trusted Him to keep them safe no matter what situation they were in and that is a beautiful thing indeed. This is the first book I have read from Liz Tolsma and I have found a new author to love. If you love books that bring out emotions you thought were hidden or if you’re a fan of The Diary of Anne Frank you will love this book. Just make sure you have the Kleenex handy because you will need them! I most definitely recommend it!

 
My Rating:
 
 
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Giveaway!

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Liz Tolsma is celebrating the release of her novel, Snow on the Tulipsby giving away an Amazon Reading Pack to one lucky winner. Find out what readers are saying about the book here.

snowtulips-rafflecopter

One winner will receive:

  • A $50 Amazon gift card
  • Snow on the Tulips by Liz Tolsma

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 16th. Winner will be announced November 18th at Liz’s blog.

Don’t miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by Liz’s blog on the 18th to see if you won. (Or, better yet, subscribe to her blog and have the winner announcement delivered to your inbox! Just enter your email address on the left sidebar of her blog.)

Giveaway – A Light in the Window by julie Lessman!

A Light in the Window Contest!

The final video for Julie Lessman’s A Light in the Window is finally complete! I have seen this trailer (created by her husband) and it is absolutely beautiful. If you haven’t read the book yet you will want to after seeing this video. I promise you! I have had the pleasure of communicating with Miss Julie through email and she is truly a beautiful person. I am greatly Blessed by knowing her and her Journal Jots are truly inspiring. If you haven’t signed up for her newsletter yet I strongly recommend you hop on over a do so.

Now on to the contest! Miss Julie is running a contest right now on her Blog and it’s very simple really. All you have to do is watch the new trailer for A Light in the Window and fill out the Rafflecopter form to be eligible. I have included the video below. 🙂



 
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There are THREE chances to win!!

PRIZES:

1st Prize (person with the most points) — gets a character named after them or a loved one in my next book, a signed copy of that book, and a $50 gift card.

2nd Prize (random drawing where every point  earned is an extra chance to win, but even one point can win) — gets a character named after them or a loved one in my next book and a signed copy.

3rd Prize (random drawing based on 1 point per name entered) — gets a signed copy of any of my books.

The contest runs from November 11 through December 31st, with the winner announced in Miss Julie’s Journal Jot January 3rd so hurry on over and get registered!

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Blurb:
 
One Woman. Two Men.
One stirs her pulse and the other her faith.
But who will win her heart?
Marceline Murphy is a gentle beauty with a well-founded aversion to rogues. But when two of Boston’s most notorious pursue her, she encounters a tug-of-war of the heart she isn’t expecting. Sam O’Rourke is the childhood hero she’s pined for, the brother of her best friend and a member of the large, boisterous family to which she longs to be a part. So when his best friend Patrick O’Connor joins in pursuit of her affections, the choice seems all too clear. Sam is from a family of faith and Patrick is not, two rogues whose wild ways clash head-on with Marcy’s—both in her faith and in her heart.
While overseeing the Christmas play fundraiser for the St. Mary’s parish soup kitchen—A Light in the Window—Marcy not only wrestles with her attraction to both men, but with her concern for their spiritual welfare. The play is based on the Irish custom of placing a candle in the window on Christmas Eve to welcome the Holy Family, and for Marcy, its message becomes deeply personal. Her grandmother Mima cautions her to guard her heart for the type of man who will respond to the “light in the window,” meaning the message of Christ in her heart. But when disaster strikes during the play, Marcy is destined to discover the truth of the play’s message first-hand when it becomes clear that although two men have professed their undying love, only one has truly responded to “the light in the window.”
 
 
 Award-winning author of “The Daughters of Boston” and “Winds of Change” series, Julie Lessman was American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and voted #1 Romance Author of the year in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards. She has also garnered 16 RWA awards and made Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction. Her book A Light in the Window is an International Digital Awards winner, a 2013 Readers’ Crown Award winner, and a 2013 Book Buyers Award winner. You can contact Julie and read excerpts from her books at www.julielessman.com
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

“A Light in the Window” Video

 

LINK TO PURCHASE ALITW E-BOOK FOR 99 CENTS!

 

 LINK TO PURCHASE ALITW PAPERBACK FOR PRICE REDUCED BY ALMOST $2.50 PER BOOK!

 

Gunpowder Tea | Enter to win a Kindle Fire & RSVP for “Tea with Margaret” on 11/7

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Cover Rating:

Series: The Brides of the Last Chance Ranch, Book 3
Date Published: October 8, 2013
Pages: 335
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Author: Margaret Brownley
Genre: Christian Fiction, Historical Romance
ASIN: B00C5QA7S2
Book Source: I received this book for free from the Publisher for my honest review.

Blurb:

In a case that could change her career, Miranda uncovers a love that will change her life.

When Miranda Hunt sees the classified ad for an heiress to the legendary Last Chance Ranch, she knows assuming the identity of Annie Beckman is the perfect cover. As one of the finest agents for the Pinkerton Detective Agency, Miranda has been tasked with apprehending the Phantom – an elusive and notorious train robber thought to be hiding on the sprawling ranch.

But she isn’t the only one there with something to hide. Wells Fargo detective Jeremy Taggert is working the scene undercover as well. And although their true identities are a secret, it is impossible for Jeremy and Miranda to hide the spark that flares between them.

But neither is about to let romance interfere with such a huge case. Besides, Miranda hasn’t removed Jeremy from her list of suspects yet. The closer they come to uncovering the identity of the Phantom, the more dangerous he gets – and no one on the ranch is safe.

But neither are their hearts – the longer Miranda and Jeremy spend working together, the harder it becomes to keep their feelings in check. Their careers – and their lives – depend on solving this case. Love will have to wait.

You can purchase it Here:
Deeper Shopping  *  Barnes & Noble  *  Amazon  *  BAM  *  CBD





Author Bio:

Thrills, mystery, suspense, romance: Margaret penned it all. Nothing wrong with this–except Margaret happened to be writing for the church newsletter at the time. After making the church picnic read like a Grisham novel, her former pastor took her aside and said, “Maybe God’s calling you to write fiction.”

So that’s what Margaret did. She’s now a New York Times bestselling author and a Romance Writers of America RITA finalist with more than 25 novels to her credit. Her first non-fiction book “Grieving God’s Way: the Lasting Path to Hope and Healing” has won much critical acclaim. She is currently working on the third book in her “Brides of Last Chance Ranch series.”

Not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English. Just don’t ask her to diagram a sentence.

You can find Margaret Here:
Website  *  Twitter  *  Facebook  *  Goodreads



My Review:

Pinkerton Operative, Miranda Hunt, needed an important assignment. One that would prove she is as good as any man on the job. When her boss sends her to Cactus Patch to The Last Chance Ranch to track down the Phantom, a local robber that is terrorizing the area, Miranda is determined to get her man. Once and for all this will give her the respect as an Operative she has always craved. Ranch owner, Eleanor Walker, is looking for a female heiress to take over her ranch but there is one condition. The woman wanting the position has to sign a contract stating she will never marry. So Miranda goes undercover as Eleanor’s new potential heiress, Annie Beckman. When the new ranch hand Branch comes on the scene, Miranda sees him as a suspect but she also doesn’t know how to handle the new feelings he awakens in her. She has always been content with the lonely life of being an Operative but after being in Branch’s arms she isn’t sure she can ever be content with that life again. When his true identity as Jeremy Taggert, a Wells Fargo Detective, is brought to light Miranda must deal with the issues of her past in order to move toward her future. Can her love for Jeremy and her love for her job come together or will her love of one push her away from the other?

Jeremy Taggert had semi retired from his job as a Wells Fargo Detective but when his best friend is killed by the Phantom, Jeremy is determined to bring him to justice. Working undercover as a ranch hand at The Last a Chance Ranch gives him access to several suspects. It also puts him in close proximity to Annie Beckman and Jeremy soon realizes it’s a dangerous position to be in. He might find the Phantom but, in the process, he might also lose his heart. When Annie finds out that Jeremy is the detective involved in the case that resulted in her father’s death she wants nothing more to do with him. Can Jeremy break through her defenses and win her heart or will he continue on with the lonely life of a detective?

This being the third book in The Brides of The Last Chance Ranch series, I was waiting anxiously to read this book. I was in no way disappointed. I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting the characters I had come to love so much. Mrs. Walker’s sharp tongue and tough exterior hides the warm, caring person within. I like her toughness, strength and gumption. I love Ruckus’ pension to always point others to God when the chips are down. I also love Miranda’s determination and the fact that she kept a GTF (God The Father) file where she wrote down all of her questions and concerns that only God could answer. I also loved the quirky little quotes at the beginning of each chapter. I found myself chuckling at them quite often. The characters were lovable and the story was thoroughly enjoyable. A blend of romance, western culture and a dab of suspense all in one. Margaret Brownley is one of my favorite authors because she never disappoints. I highly recommend this book, this entire series, to fans of historical western romaces.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review. The opinions stated are mine alone and mine alone and I received no monetary compensation.

My Rating:



Click to Tweet: Their chemistry is as explosive as the Gunpowder Tea she drinks.

Q & A: I ask the question… you supply the answer. 🙂


One of Eleanor’s stipulations to becoming the new heiress of The Last Chance Ranch was to sign a contract stating they would NEVER marry. What about you? Could you ever sign that type of contract? What are your thoughts on such a stipulation? Do you think it’s ludicrous or fair? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.


Giveaway & Facebook Party!



Margaret Brownley‘s latest release, Gunpowder Tea, is receiving high praise, and she’s celebrating with a Kindle Fire giveaway and a “Tea with Margaret” Facebook party!

gunpowder-rafflecopter

  One winner will receive:

  • A Kindle Fire
  • Gunpowder Tea by Margaret Brownley

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 7th. Winner will be announced at the “Tea with Margaret” Facebook Author Chat Party on the 7th. Connect with Margaret and friends for an evening of book chat, prizes, and get an exclusive look at Margaret’s next book!


So grab your copy of Gunpowder Tea and join Margaret on the evening of November 7th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the book, don’t let that stop you from coming!)

Don’t miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by clicking JOIN at the event page. Spread the word — tell your friends about the giveaway and party via FACEBOOK or TWITTER. Hope to see you on 11/7!

The One Year Book of Amish Peace by Tricia Goyer – Review & Blog Tour

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Cover Rating:

Date Published: September 20, 2013
Pages: 400
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Author: Tricia Goyer
Genre: Christian Fiction, Devotional
ASIN: B00CH7KX7Y
Source: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers for my honest review.
Blurb:

Let the simplicity of the Amish draw you closer to God.

In this instantly connected world, it’s surprisingly easy to lose our connection to God.

What’s admirable about the Amish lifestyle is that it intentionally slows the pace of life so there’s an opportunity to see the everyday grandeur of our great God.

Not everyone can—or should—adopt an Amish lifestyle. But the Amish can inspire all of us to slow down and simplify our lives. We need to learn to let go of our glittering gadgets in order to grab hold of something of infinitely greater value—the Divine.

The One Year Book of Amish Peace will inspire you to set a sustainable pace of life so that you, too, can take the time to enjoy God’s gifts each and every day.

You can purchase it Here:
Amazon  *  Barnes & Noble  *  CBD  *  IndieBound  *  BAM

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Cover Rating:

While you’re buying a copy of The One Year Book of Amish Peace pick up a copy of tricia’s latest Christmas book, A Christmas Gift for Rose, as well. If you like you can read my review Here. Read the blurb below.

Rose turned her back on the man she loves after he assisted the Englisch during World War II—only to discover she’s an Englischer herself. Born in the midst of the hardships of The Great Depression, Rose grew up in Berlin, Ohio, in the arms of a loving Amish family. But she is overwhelmed by self-doubt when she learns that she was born Englisch and abandoned when her family moved West in search of work. Was she meant to be Amish or would she have been better off growing up with her own kind—Englischers? When the man she loves leaves her behind, Rose is certain he left for good. Yet Rose discovers sometimes our greatest gifts are the ones we fear.

You can purchase it Here:
Amazon  *  Barnes & Noble  *  CBD  *  IndieBound  *  BAM

Author Bio:

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Tricia Goyer has written more than thirty-five books, including both novels that delight and entertain readers and non- fiction titles that offer encouragement and hope. She has also published more than 500 articles in national publications such as Guideposts,Thriving Family, Proverbs 31, and HomeLife Magazine.

Goyer’s fiction and non-fiction books have won awards from the American Christian Fiction Writers and Mt. Hermon Writers’ Conference. She is also a two-time Carol Award winner, as well as a Christy and ECPA Award Nominee.

Tricia has authored several books on family and parenting, as well as co-written with Max Lucado and Robin Jones Gunn. She collaborated with Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges for Lead Your Family Like Jesus, published by Focus on the Family/Tyndale.

You can find Tricia Here:
Website  *  Facebook  *  Twitter  *  Blog  *  Pinterest

I have always been fascinated by the Amish. Their Faith. Their customs. Their mannerisms. Something about them just draws me and makes me want to know more. I guess that’s why I love Amish fiction. I also love daily devotionals. Putting them both together is absolutely perfect for me and, I believe, shear genius! With The One a Year Book of Amish Peace you have the best of both all in one book. I love the way Tricia Goyer compiles all of this information. Each page (one for each day of the year) contains a world of knowledge. She starts with a scripture, as all devotionals do, she then gives a bit of Amish wisdom or proverb but, the best part is, she turns that tidbit of knowledge into a Bible lesson for the day. It also contains footnotes directing you to the original source when applicable.

So you learn about the Amish and enjoy a closer relationship with God at the same time. Speaking as someone that adores our Creator and loves all things Amish, in my opinion it doesn’t get much better than that. Tricia has really out done herself with this compilation. If you love the Amish faith and want to draw closer to God, you will positively love this book. Being a fan of the Amish faith isn’t a requirement, though. You will still learn the Biblical knowledge you need for a stronger relationship with the One who loves you beyond measure. I can honestly say I have read several devotionals over the years but this one is, by far, my favorite yet. If you haven’t read it yet I encourage you to pick up a copy.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers for my honest review. The opinions stated are mine and mine alone and I received no monetary compensation.

My Rating:

~Simple Amish Recipes~
 
Check out these delicious Amish recipes. Amish Breakfast Casserole and Fastnachts. My favorite is the recipe for Amish Happiness. 🙂 Just click the image below for a larger view.
 



Review: Winter in Full Bloom by Anita Higman

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Cover Rating:

Date Published: July 19, 2013
Pages: 304
Publisher: River North
Author: Anita Higman
Genre: Christian Fiction, Contemporary Romance
ISBN-10: 0802405800
ISBN-13: 978-0802405807
Book Source: I received this book for free from the Anita Higman for my honest review.

Blurb:

Lily Winter’s wings are folded so tightly around her daughter that when empty nest arrives, she feels she can no longer fly. But Lily’s lonely, widowed life changes in a heartbeat when she goes to visit a woman who is almost a stranger to her-a woman who also happens to be her mother. During their fiery reunion, her mother reveals a dark family secret that she’d been hiding for decades-Lily has an identical twin sister who was put up for adoption when they were just babies.

Without looking back, Lily-with her fear of flying-boards a jumbo jet and embarks on a quest to find her sister which leads half way around the world to Melbourne, Australia. Befriended by imprudent Ausie, he might prove to be the key to finding her sister. But her journey becomes a circle that leads her back home to attempt a family reunion and to find the one dream she no longer imagined possible-the chance to fall in love again.

You can purchase it Here:
Deeper Shopping  *  Barnes & Noble  *  Amazon  *  BAM  *  CBD





Author Bio:

ward-winning author, Anita Higman, has twenty-five books published (several coauthored) for adults and children, and she has been honored as a Barnes & Noble Author of the Month for Houston. Anita has a BA degree, combining communication, psychology, and art. Her favorite things include exotic teas, movies, and all things Jane Austen. To contact Anita or enter her monthly contest for a free signed book please visit her website at www.anitahigman.com.

You can find Anita Here:
Website  *  Twitter  *  Facebook  *  Goodreads



My Review:

Lily Winter had been estranged from her mother for ten years, but with her daughter Julie away at college for the first time and with Lily suffering from a severe case of “empty nest” syndrome, she felt the need to try and reconnect with her mother. Little did she know that on that fateful day that she would lose one hope and discover another. When her mother told her she had a twin sister, Camille Daniels, who lived in Australia, Lily knew she had to find her. What she didn’t expect to find was love. The day Marcus Averill sat on the bench beside her with her cheeks stuffed full of marshmallows and despair in her heart, was the day Lily’s quiet, lonely life changed forever. Marcus was quirky and funny and everything Lily didn’t want. But underneath all of the antics, Lily soon discovered a gentle man with with a tortured soul. She found herself falling for Marcus and falling fast. Could they find a love that would weather every storm?

Marcus Averill left Texas to flee his father’s hatred. When Marcus’ younger sister Ellie was killed in a car accident, his entire life changed. He was bogged down with guilt for falling asleep at the wheel and causing the fatal accident and had given up hope of ever reconciling with his parents. That is, until he met Lily Winter. That fateful day he sat beside her on that bench their lives became interwoven. Marcus helped her find her sister and she helped him find his way, his way back to his family and in the process she stole his heart. They both had their own separate lives they needed to repair, relationships that needed to be nurtured. Could they weather their storms and still maintain their love for each other? Or would making their family priority tear them apart forever?

This book was a firestorm of emotions wrapped up in one neat little package. The moment I opened the cover a whirlwind of emotions was unleashed in me and continued long after the last page was turned. I was quite literally emotionally drained. I have often marveled at a writer’s creativity and writing ability. That’s why I am a reader, not a writer. The way Anita Higman wove this story left me in awe of both her creativity and her God-Given talent as a writer. This story was absolutely beautiful and I often found the tears flowing unheeded. Winter in Full Bloom was about Love, family reunions and Spiritual awakening. I rejoiced in the transformation of some of the characters and I absolutely fell in love with Marcus just as sure as Lily did. All of the characters endeared themselves to me and I thoroughly enjoy traveling with them on their journey. You, too, will love the journey and I say that with the utmost confidence. If you haven’t read Winter in Full Bloom you surely don’t know what you’re missing!

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the Miss Anita Higman for my honest review. The opinions stated are mine alone and mine alone and I received no monetary compensation.

My Rating:





Excerpt



Chapter 1 I sat on a 747, trying to talk myself out of a panic attack. The jet still sat on the tarmac, but already I could imagine—in electrifying detail—the fiery crash and then the watery pull into the briny depths of the Pacific Ocean. Lord, have mercy. What had I been thinking? Fool that I was, I’d left the sanctuary of my own home, which was safe, and hygienically clean, I might add, to board this death trap. Too late now. I’d taken a leave of absence from work, stopped the mail, given all my indoor plants to my neighbor, and said a doz­en goodbyes to my daughter, Julie. The trip was set in stone—the igneous kind that the geologists liked to talk about at work. While I sat there sweating, my mind got out its magnifying glass to examine my inner motives. All in all, the journey had a grab bag full of miseries attached to it. For me, getting on the plane proved that the empty nest had driven me over the edge like the bib­lical herd of pigs. Since my Julie had left the house, was I trying to find a person to fill that void . . . that vacant place at the table . . . the perpetual silence of the house and the clocks, ticking away the rest of my tedious life? Probably. And yet finding my sister in Australia would be no less than wonderful, whether Julie was at home or not. I looked out the small plane window at the heavens with my anxious puppy dog eyes and could almost hear the Almighty chuck­ling. Yes, I know, God. I must keep You entertained. 13 But back to the fear at hand. I rechecked my seatbelt and pulled it so snugly I felt my pulse throbbing in my legs. My stomach busied itself doing the fandango. What had I eaten in the airport? A double bean burrito with a side of green chilies. Not a good travel choice. Did I already have motion sickness? The plane hadn’t even taken off yet. If I were to exit the plane right now, would they give me a refund? Probably not. I’d already used the restroom, crumpled the magazines, and troubled the flight attendant for a ginger ale. Lord, I need a friend. I need backup. “You have to ask yourself: what am I most afraid of?” It was the voice of a child. I turned toward the sound. “Excuse me?” Straight across the aisle sat a child no bigger than a thimble—a girl with moon-shaped eyes, a Pooh Bear T-shirt, and a wad of gum she was chomping as if it were a lump of tough meat. Surely this child isn’t backup, Lord. I think God enjoys showing off His sense of humor. “You’re scared to fly. Right? I was too, but I got over it.” The girl blew a bubble and let the purple gum pop all over her face. She gathered up the gum and put it back in her mouth for another round. “How can you tell that I’m afraid to fly?” “All that sweat. Dead giveaway. And you look like you’ve just swallowed a Boogie Board.” She exploded into giggles. I had no idea what a Boogie Board was. And in spite of the sil­liness the kid talked as if she were thirty, although she couldn’t be more than nine or ten. I had to know her secret—how she managed to rise above her fears. And something about her little turned-up nose and soft brown eyes reminded me of Julie when she was little. “And so how did you get over it . . . the fear of flying?” The girl looked at me, her big eyes gobbling me up. She lost all the playfulness when she said, “I watched my grandma die of cancer. Her body stopped working, but she was still in there. It was a bad way to die. When I get old I don’t want to go to heaven 14 that way. Maybe dying on a plane isn’t so bad. I mean, I know God doesn’t ask us, but we might as well give Him a list of our preferen . . . choices.” I wasn’t sure if her reasoning reassured me or alarmed me, but I leaned toward her and said, “I’m sorry about your grandmother.” “Yeah, me too. She always played dolls and Mario Kart with me. Every kid needs a grandma like mine.” “So true.” If only my Julie would have had a grandma like that. When the girl said no more I turned my attention back to the plane, which now taxied toward the runway. My body wanted to flee. Each time I took in air it didn’t seem to be enough, so I breathed in more. Did I smell fuel? My head went so buzzy I’d only heard half of the flight attendant’s speech. What was that about oxygen masks and exit doors and life vests? Oh, my. I fanned my face. I clutched at my heart, which was now beating itself to death. Would I pass out? Throw up? Go crazy? All the above? The cabin felt like a caldron. Maybe the air conditioner was malfunctioning. Maybe deep within the belly of the plane other more important electrical devices were failing. Things that kept the plane aloft—things that kept us from plummeting to the earth in a fiery heap. I mashed my damp bangs away from my face. “Just so ya know . . .” The little girl crossed her legs. “I also found out that you can’t die of a panic attack.” Her tone came off so pragmatic I looked at her again just to make sure the words were coming out of her petite mouth. “How do you know I was having a panic attack?” She cocked her little Freudian head at me. “Classic symptoms.” Who was this kid? And where were her parents? I unbuckled my seatbelt. “I don’t think I can do this.” I jumped up and bumped my head on the overhead storage. “We’re about to take off,” the girl said with maddening calmness. 15 I collapsed back onto the seat and rubbed my throbbing head. The contents of my stomach threatened mutiny. “I’m going to be sick.” “Here.” The girl handed me a little folded bag. “It’s a fresh one. Never been used.” I was in a tin can with wings, and there was no way out. The plane took off then. I gripped the armrest as the jet tilted upward at a steep angle. I was now officially airborne. My body felt a little weightless, but it might have been because I was sitting on the buck­le of my seatbelt, which made my posterior go numb. “Know what? You remind me of Eeyore.” It was that kid again. How could anyone make chitchat at a time like this? I said nothing to her, since I was busy concentrating on my ter­ror, the vibration of my seat, and the roar of the jet. After she glared at me for a full minute, I asked, “Why do you say I remind you of Eeyore?” “You’re wearing Eeyore clothes, and it’s almost spring where we’re going,” she sing-songed as if she couldn’t imagine anyone so ill-informed. I’d forgotten. If it’s nearing autumn in America it’s almost springtime in Australia. I’d barely thought of it. Perhaps the girl was right about my connection to Eeyore. Wait a minute. Did Eeyore even wear clothes? “Just so ya know . . . taking off and landing are the two most treacher . . .” “Do you mean treacherous?” “Yeah. That’s it. Those are the two most treach-er-ous parts of the flight.” The girl wiggled her eyebrows while continuing to thrash on the wad of gum. “If we were going to die it would have been back there. Of course, we could also crash on landing.” 16 “Good to know. Thanks.” I continued to grip the armrests since I was somehow convinced that my gesture helped the pilots keep the plane in the air. “Just so ya know, I’m Jenny.” The girl held out her hand. “What’s your name?” “Mrs. Winter.” I let go of one of the armrests to shake her hand. “You may call me Lily.” “So, why was it so important for you to get on this flight?” The dainty psychiatrist turned her big, round eyes at me again. “Talking about it might help.” “Oh it’s a very long tale of woe. I’d hate to bore you.” “Hey, what else have we got to do? It’s better than thinking about our plane catching fire and bashing into the sea.” Her finger made a little nosedive into her palm. Cute. “True.” But I feared the telling of my story would be my undoing. Where could I begin, anyway? Maybe with the visit I’d had with my mother. “Are you sure you want to hear this?” She nodded her head with wild abandon. “Well, okay. My dark story starts with a recent visit I made to my mother’s house. It’d been ten years since the last time I’d seen my mother.” Jenny pursed her lips. “Nobody does that. Everybody has to see their mom, right?” “Well, it certainly wasn’t my choice. But when I got to my mother’s house, the visit turned out to be as shocking as sticking my finger into a light socket.” I frowned. “Don’t ever do that, by the way.” “I know.” Jenny rolled her eyes. “I’m not a child.” “Right. Okay. Well, in my story I also meet a woman named Dragan.” She giggled. “Sounds like dragon.” “True. Dragan was my mother’s housekeeper, and believe me, her name fit her well.” 17 Jenny sat up poised, resting her cheek on her index finger. “I wanna know more.” She smacked her gum, waiting for me to go on. “All right.” Lord, be with me. I rested my head back on the seat, inviting the memory of that infamous day into my life. First a jumbled mess of sensations trickled in, making me shud­der. Then mist burned my eyes, thinking of Mother’s notorious se­cret and a lifetime of deception. The smarmy residue from being in her house stole over me like a dark slithering fog. Soon that day—the one that changed my life—began to unfold in my mind, so intensely that the remembering and the telling of my story became one and the same. . . . 18

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Lily and Marcus both were estranged from their families but for completely different reasons. In order to reconcile with their families they knew they needed to focus on them solely. To do this, they put their relationship on the back burner to be explored further once their lives were in order. Have you ever had to sacrifice a relationship for greater means? Feel free to share your story. 🙂