Wednesday, May 27, 2015

3 Days Left to Enter My Honor Mom Giveaway

Only a few more days until I draw the two winners of my Honor Mom Giveaway. Contest is open to USA and Canada and entrants must be over 18. You can enter by sending an e-mail to annhgabhart(at)yahoo(dot)com or leaving a comment here on this post with a way to contact you. 

Two winners will be picked by random drawing and one winner will get a beautiful NKJ Study Bible and one of my books and the other winner will get a complete set of my Rosey Corner books: Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, and Love Comes Home. The last book, Love Comes Home, just won the Selah Book of the Year Award. I'm still floating a little off the ground about that. :) Then today I had a guy friend tell me he'd read Love Comes Home and then went back and read Small Town Girl. I told him he might as well go on and read Angel Sister too even if he did go backwards through the books. I was pleased that he said he was right in the story and it didn't hurt that he hadn't read them in order.

Many of you have sent in heart-warming stories about your mothers with your entries. That wasn't a requirement to enter, but it's always fun when you share your stories. You had so many great stories that I won't be able to share them all, but I think you will enjoy these I am sharing today.

Corsages for Mother's Day

First here's one from Bonnie with a memory of how it used to be at churches on Mother's Day as she also shares how her mother is on the dementia path now. One I know too well after walking it with my mother. Bonnie says:

"I can't recall a specific Mother's Day that stands out from the rest - however, one memory is of my mother and I always having a corsage to wear to church on Mother's Day, when I was young. A practice that doesn't seem as popular anymore. As my mother is now in the early stages of Alzheimer's, I'm even more aware of the fact that I might not have her much longer, mentally or physically, and the need to take advantage of the time I do. She has always been an optimistic person, and remains so, even in the face of her disease - confident of God's plan for her life." 

May the Lord bless both you and your mother as you treasure good moments together, Bonnie.

Just an Old Wives' Tale

Now here's a story from Anne about her mother who didn't mind telling the doctor she was an "old wife."

Hi--my favorite "mother" story took place when I was less than a week away from giving birth to my daughter in 1987. My mother had come to stay with me and be with me for the birth. On Monday of that week (my daughter was born on Thursday) Mom went with me to my doctor's appointment. She asked him about the possibility of the baby coming on the day of the full moon that week. He said "Oh, that's just an old wives' tale." To which she responded "Well, I'm an old wife." Sure enough, the full moon was Thursday.

Mom has been gone now for 22 years, but I've made sure our family doesn't forget her or this story.

Thanks, Anne, for sharing your story with us. Sometimes those old wives knew.

A Lesson Learned on Mother's Day


Last we hear this extra sweet story from Felicia on a day she got a wake-up call about Mother's Day when her daughters gave her gifts from the heart.

"I'll share my favorite Mother's Day story although it's one I learned a lesson in. I was pregnant with my 5th child and we didn't have a lot of money. Only my husband was working. I was hot and miserable because we lived in Florida and my due date was July 16th. I had a hard time sleeping mostly because we had a water bed!!! I had to have my husband turn the heat off on it; I was just too hot. And we can't afford air conditioning, cable or even a phone! So I am sleeping in and my two oldest daughters are banging on my door. They are excited and I am grumpy. And I yelled at them for waking me up!! But it's Mother's Day so I get my grumpy self out of bed and go out into the living room and see what they want.

They had bought me gifts. They had saved their allowance and then went to yard sales our neighbors had and bought me presents for Mother's Day. They even made me cards! I was humbled after that. In awe of their creativeness and felt really terrible for having snapped at them. For wallowing in self pity when I couldn't see I had the greatest life of all!

For me it was the best Mother's Day because I realized at that point that I wasn't being the best Mother I could be. Not just Mother but person. And after seeing the thoughtfulness of my daughters and how much time and preparation went into it, I was just so appreciative. And grateful for the wake up call that Mother's Day.I remind myself of this day whenever I have a bad one. I learned a valuable lesson from my 2 daughters who were 7 & 9 years old!

Love your story, Felicia. All us moms understand your grumpiness. Pregnant and suffering in the heat! We'd be grumpy too. Then our hearts, like yours, are melted by the sweetness of your daughters. Thanks for sharing with us. 

Hope you all enjoyed the stories tonight. I'll let you know who wins on Sunday or maybe early Monday morning. A former pastor is coming to visit this weekend. So time for blogging may be limited.


As always, thanks for reading.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

A Flabbergasted Winner

Flabbergasted, Surprised and Astonished

Have you ever been totally astonished? Even flabbergasted? (That's one of those words that just sounds exactly like what it means. Love those kinds of words.) But back to being flabbergasted. I was last Wednesday when my book, Love Comes Home, won the Selah Book of the Year Award. 


My books have been in the running for prizes before. The Believer was a finalist for the Carol Awards given out by the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) group. The Outsider was a finalist for the ECPA Fiction Book of the Year and Angel Sister was up for RT Book Review Magazine's Inspirational Book of the Year once. Sort of one of those always a bridesmaid and never a bride situations. And so when I found out my book, Love Comes Home, was a finalist for a Selah Award in the Historical Romance Category, I was excited because it's great to even be a finalist, but I didn't expect to win. Not at all. 


However, I did decide to attend the banquet because the place where it was being held, Ridgecrest, North Carolina in the Blue Ridge Mountains looked like such a peaceful and beautiful place when I checked it out on the internet. And it was. A plus was that it's not all that far from my daughter's house in South Carolina. So going to the awards banquet in order to have a couple of days to unwind at Ridgecrest and then a visit with my daughter seemed a good idea. Not only would I have an excuse to dress up, I would enjoy seeing some writing friends I knew would be there. I could sit at my table and clap and be happy for the winners. 

I Won!!


Then amazingly enough Love Comes Home won the Selah Award for the Christian Historical Romance. That was a wow right there. But when they announced the Book of the Year and Love Comes Home won that too, that's when the wow went straight to flabbergasted. I couldn't believe it. But Eva Marie Everson, who was presenting the awards, had a plaque with my name engraved on it. And she gave it to me! I was smiling, with a few tears mixed in, all night. Felt just like I was at the Oscars or something. Well, maybe not exactly like that. But it was exciting and fun to have my book win. Oh, and Darrell and I also had a relaxing day enjoying the scenery and peace and quiet at Ridgecrest too.


Don't Forget About the Mother's Day Contest


One more week to get your entry in for my contest celebrating mothers. You can check out the prizes and details on my website Events Page. Some of you have been sending in stories about your mothers or special Mothers' Day stories. I appreciate all of you who enter and doubly appreciate you sharing a story. 


First here's one from Kim that made me smile.



My story about my mom isn’t from Mother’s Day, but rather my wedding day a few years ago. It’s my favorite mom story (and that says something because I have a lot!). My sisters and I helped mom pick out a new outfit for the wedding, she got her hair done at the same time I did, and I even gifted her with jewelry for the occasion. At the wedding and reception so many people told her that she looked great (and she did!), that she stopped me at one point and asked, “How bad do I normally look?” My mom has been gone nearly four years, but that story and many others make me smile when I want to cry.

Love that story, Kim. And here's one from Cam that seemed to fit Memorial Day weekend and did make me remember Mom. 

Your newsletter brought to mind my own mother’s battle with dementia...she passed away 5 years ago at the age of 95 no longer knowing her children. It was sad...she was a bright, up front, outgoing woman...who graduated from college at a time when women didn’t even consider going to college. She spent her life working as a teacher, and a secretary and, after retirement, volunteered so much that she won an award. She was a mother to be very proud of, and as I get older I realize that fact more and more. A dear uncle of mine told me once that after he lost his parents (my grandparents), never a day went by that he didn’t think of them.  And, oh, he was so right!

So...cherish the memories, remember the good days and always acknowledge that it’s ok to shed a few tears!


Thanks for the great advice, Cam. We do need to cherish the memories of our loved ones. And if your mother is still down here on earth with you, hug her and tell her how much you love her. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Lesson of the Dandelion

And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:12 (NKJ)


Some time ago, I had the idea of writing a devotional book about things I saw in nature on my walks around the farm. I stalled after coming up with maybe a dozen devotionals and put the project on the shelf. But a few of them,including this one, can be found on my website. I decided to share this one here because a couple of weeks ago I posted a picture of a yellow wildflower I had spotted on my walk. That led to another little yellow flower picture and it became a game to see how many days I could spot a different new yellow flower on my walks. I'm up to flower number 16 and until today, I hadn't admitted spotting that yellow dandelion. But now it's the dandelion's day. So that's why I'm posting what I imagine God might have thought after he created the dandelion. 

The Lesson of the Dandelion

   God made the dandelion and said, "It is good. This plant is tough but has a bloom like a spot of sun to make my children smile. It is plentiful so they can eat the leaves and still never lack for flowers." 
He smiled when the seed ball popped up. "Yes, my little children will have fun with that, and look at all the fresh seeds for my songbirds weary from the winter. Yes, it is good."

Ah, the dandelion, that common yellow flower that blooms from spring to fall and even sometimes in the dead of winter after a few days of sunshine. This spring was a particularly good dandelion season. For a while all the lawns and fields were dotted with their sunspots. The roar of lawnmowers soon followed, but dandelions know when to duck their heads so that the next day they can push their white fluffy seed balls high into the air to cover the lawns like snow. It's not hard to imagine God smiling when His little children run out to free the seeds to the wind or when the birds enjoy the springtime feast or when mothers receive wilted bouquets of the blooms from small warm fists. Love in its purest form. 

Yet has there ever been any other plant that more money or labor has been spent attempting to eradicate? We poison it, chop it, dig it out by the roots, and still the dandelion not only survives, but flourishes.

The early Christians had that same staying power as the world tried to destroy them, but they put their trust in Jesus and would not be conquered. They kept spreading the seed of the Good News around the world. 

Are we sunspots of God's love in whatever place we're planted? Do we share the seeds of our faith with those who need nourishment after a hard winter? Do we remember the children to be sure the message is always carried on? Does God look down at what we’re doing and say, "Yes, it is good?"

Remember the Honor Mom Giveaway

A comment with a way to contact you gets you an entry in the giveaway for a chance to win the NKJ study Bible and a copy of one of my books. Another winner will get the set of Rosey Corner books. See the details on my website.

Thanks for reading.





Sunday, May 17, 2015

What's Your Favorite May Flower?


I have many favorite flowers even if that sort of contradicts the word "favorite." But each of the blooms is definitely a favorite when I'm looking at it or perhaps sniffing its fragrance or letting the flower walk me back a memory trail. Peonies do all of those things for me. I love the flowers. I love their spicy fragrance. I love their abundant blooms and the way they just come back year after year and decorate our yards. And I love the memories they bring. You see when I was a little girl, an aunt who was like a grandmother to me had two peony bushes in her yard. Bond lived at the homeplace so she and my father had probably grown up with those peonies blooming every year too. 

As you can see in the photo, I was impressed with the blooms at a very young age. That's my cute blonde sister on the left and me trying to pick a bloom instead of look at the camera. I did like those peony bushes. When I got a little older, I liked to run and leap over them. There were two bushes side by side in the middle of the yard. One bush wasn't as large as the other bush, so I could clear it easiest. I'm surprised my aunt didn't put a stop to my jumping game, but I don't suppose I ever hurt the bushes. Well, at least not too much. I'm so glad I was able to dig up a start from one of the bushes and plant it in my yard. It's a treasure trove of memories. 

The old homeplace was sold a few years ago and the house torn down. And then the new owners moved in a manufactured home and kept mowing down the peonies until now the bushes are no more. I know those bushes must have been there in that yard for over one hundred years, but the new owners didn't have the same treasured memories of them that I did. But I do wish I could have dug up more of the bulbs to let them continue growing somewhere else. A little bit of my heritage of flower loving ancestors. But at least they are still blooming in my yard and even if they weren't, they would still be blooming in my memory.

Do you have any flowers like that in your memory?


Don't Forget to Enter the Honor Mom Contest 

If you haven't entered my Honor Mom Giveaway Contest, you still have time. Deadline is midnight EST on May 30, 2015. To enter leave a comment here on my blog posts in May with a way to contact you should you be a winner. The contest is open to USA and Canada. You must be 18 to enter. 

Some of you who get my newsletter said you had a hard time replying to that e-mail. I'm sorry if you had difficulty. I appreciate those of you who didn't give up and managed to get the message sent. But I know that sort of thing is frustrating. I've also had some of you say it's hard to leave comments here on my blog posts. I don't know why, but if you would rather enter by sending me an e-mail here's my address. annhgabhart(at)hughes(dot)net. 


If you want, you can share a favorite Mother's Day memory with me. That's not necessary to enter, but I like reading your stories. If you missed Sandi's story on my last blog post, you should go back and read it. Sandi knows how to tell a story to make you laugh. Just click on the Because I Said So Mom.


One prize in my Honor Mom Giveaway is the beautiful New King James Version study Bible pictured above along with the winner's choice of one of my books. 

Another prize is an autographed set of my Rosey Corner books, Angel Sister, Small Town Girl and Love Comes Home. Mom's stories about growing up during the Depression inspired my Rosey Corner so those books seemed the right prize for an Honor Mom Giveaway.

Thanks for reading. And I'd love to hear about your Mother's Day or your favorite May flowers.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The "Because I Said So" Mom

We're still thinking mothers tonight. I've been getting so many great Mother's Day or Mother stories this week for my Honor Mom Giveaway. You can check out the prizes in the giveaway contest and how to enter on my website events page here. But now for a special treat. 

I've made so many reading friends on Facebook and here on my blog. I enjoy hearing from all of you and appreciate you reading my blogs and posts and my books. You're the best. 

One of those friends is Sandi. Last year when I was having my biopsy and then surgery for breast cancer, she sent me some first person experiences that kept me laughing. Nothing I'd had done could compare to the stories she told. I shared one of those stories on a previous blog here if you'd like to read it. And now she's shared this great piece about her mother. I wrote her back and said I was smiling and crying both. I know some of you will be doing the same. And while you younger readers may be a little taken aback by some of Sandi's story, rest assured that these old time mamas loved their children and took to heart the responsibility of making sure they grew up right. The "because I said so" generation did a great job of raising kids. So take it away, Sandi.

Sandi's Story  - A Woman Named Grace

How does one describe the love of a mother? I have had a mother, been a mother and am now a grandmother. What a gift God has given me. This story, however, is about a woman named "Grace." There were eight of us children –four girls and four boys. Mother was of the "because I said so" generation. 

She was such fun when she wasn’t having to save us from certain death or threatening us with certain death. She told us that she had eyes in the back of her head and as a very young child, I used to try desperately to see them. (I never did, but I still believe they were there). She was full of wisdom–"your face is going to freeze that way." Or.. "If everyone else jumps off a cliff, are you going to also? " One of her favorites was "I know how ugly I are...I know my face ain’t no star, but then I don’t mind it cause I’m behind it...it’s the guy in the front gets the jar." (If our hair needed shampooed or we look especially bad that day). She also told me that there was a special place at the top of her leg (maybe she said legs) where a baby came out...I tried to see that too, but finally, at around the age of 12 figured it out and quit looking. The eyes...not so much.

Mother had many "sayings" that I, then, tried to pass on to my kids. (Hers is definitely the voice I hear in my head). I would yell..."you do that again and I’ll knock you into the middle of next week" and they would look at one another and check their schedule to see what they’d be doing at that particular time. They were fearless. I guess without the slipper it just didn’t mean anything. 

Mother had a slipper–she used it with great gusto. She could whip that sucker off and knock you (into the middle of next week) before you even knew what hit you. She used that "enforcer" a lot when she was on the phone. Why is it that children think you’ve lost both sight and hearing when you’re seemingly distracted ,which, incidentally, she never was. We’d be chasing each other around the table laughing and shouting and "whack." Time suddenly stood still. That slipper was a promise of what was to come...and next week sounded pretty good about then.

And her eyes...oh those eyes. She didn’t have to say a word, but we knew what she wanted us to do. She could make my brothers walk the center aisle of the church and sit in the front seat (they’d been in the back giggling) without a word...just by giving them "the look." When she raised her eyebrows and widened her eyes, we knew that next week was a comin’. The worst was when she’d say she was going to knock you so far into next week that it would take two weeks for you to get back....she really meant business then. 

Sometimes she’d threaten with "I’m going to knock your head off and watch it roll across the floor." That was quite a visual!
"Wipe that look off your face" was one I worked hard at achieving. Just try not to look mad when you are...go ahead...try it. Impossible...but I know eight grown ups who can do it effortlessly. 

Or the rather famous when we were whining about something–"you wanna cry, I’ll give you something to cry about." Or when I’d see someone without teeth, I’d wonder if their mother had done what mine threatened when we’d sass–"you say that again and I’ll knock your teeth right down your throat." Ugh, shudder, yuck. 

I even tried it on my young daughter once...she had said something really nasty...as four-year-olds do now and then and I heard myself utter those words without even thinking–she looked horrified and responded "oh, dat would weely hurt." I had no power...no power whatsoever. I think I cried the whole rest of the day.

We had a record at home and a song on it that said "knock her down again, Pa, knock her down again." We hummed it a lot...but only in the backyard...far away from the house.

I was a victim quite often. I think I was born without a filter...or common sense...or the ability to know what I shouldn’t repeat. I had three older brothers. I’d overhear them talking and telling stories and then I’d repeat them at the most inopportune times. Like once when a spinster neighbor lady came to visit, I announced that I knew a joke. She, of course, wanted to hear it. "Mary had a little lamb and the doctor’s fainted." I hadn’t a clue as to what it meant, but Mother sure did. I think her eyes crossed.

Lest you get the impression that she was related to "The Wicked Witch of the West," she wasn’t. If you cried in the night, ever so softly, she was there with a cool cloth and a kiss and a promise that it would be better in the morning. If someone threatened one of "hers" she had a look that could make them run for cover. If it was "Parents Day" at school–there she’d be, looking quite unlike the lady in the duster and hairnet I had left at home in the morning. I especially liked her brown suit and the way she did her hair in a bun in the back. She was a classy lady...especially when she wasn’t wearing those slippers. 

She made the best pies and cookies of anyone I knew but wasn’t so good at "real" food. However, she never made you sit at the table until you ate something–with that many kids, there wasn’t room anyways. She would look at us lovingly and say "I have good kids." We all understood the hidden meaning... . She never ever told us to ride our bikes down the white line on Rt. 40 like one of our nameless Aunts was apt to tell her rather bratty kid to do. (I think one of my brothers offered him a push). 

And she taught us about Jesus, the most important presence in our lives. Nothing made me prouder than on Mother’s Day in church, when she’d win for having the most children. We’d all be scrubbed cleaner than clean and we’d clap wildly when she’d go up front to get her geranium. She has gone to be with the Lord now, but there is a whole new generation that carries on her sayings and even her name–Grace. As I said, I am a mother and a grandmother, but in my eyes, there is only one Mother worthy of that name–ours.

Thank you so much for sharing your story, Sandi. You definitely were blessed with a wonderful mother. I know you must treasure your memories of her and good times with your siblings. 

Did any of the rest of you have a mother like Sandi's? Mine never had any slippers but she could give you that look for sure. 
 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Giveaway to Honor Mom


                    


Mothers hold their children's hands for a short while, but their hearts forever. ~Author Unknown


Missing Mom

I'm missing my mother today on my first ever Mother's Day without her. As most of you know, Mom went home to be with the Lord in July last year. She had walked a tough path of dementia the last few years of her life. But today I'm missing her smile. Mom enjoyed life. She loved her family and took joy in her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She had so much love in her heart as most mothers do. So I hunted up a couple of pictures showing her with lots of smiles. 

Honor Mom Giveaway Contest

To honor Mom's memory this month, I'm having an Honor Mom Giveway Contest. I sent out the details of the giveaway in a newsletter yesterday. (If you didn't get it, but would like to, you can let me know and I'll add you to my e-mail newsletter list.) 


1st Prize
1st prize in the contest is a beautiful New King James study Bible. What mother wouldn't like that or wouldn't like for you to win that? That winner will also get his or her choice of one of my autographed books. 




2nd Prize

2nd prize is an autographed set of my Rosey Corner books, Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, and Love Comes Home. I picked those as a prize since Mom and all the stories she told me about growing up during the Great Depression were the inspiration for Angel Sister. Some of you may already have the books or have already read the stories, but I'm sure you have a reading friend who might enjoy the stories too should you win. 


To Enter

To enter you can send me an e-mail at annhgabhart(at)hughes(dot)net or leave a comment here on one of my blog posts in May with a way to contact you should you be a lucky winner. The deadline for entries is midnight EST on May 30, 2015. The contest is open to USA and Canada. (Sorry, international readers, but that Bible is heavy.) Also, you must be 18 to enter. 

If you want, you can share a favorite Mother's Day memory with me. That's not necessary to enter, but we always have fun sharing stories here. 

A Mother's Day Story

Some of you have already entered and shared some stories. This one from Janet made me reach for the tissue box.


"My first Mother's Day without Mama was 2 years ago. As you said, you knew your Mom loved you even though she couldn't say it.

My Mother who also had Dementia fell 2 days before she died. I went into the ER room and told the doctor she was my Mom. As soon as my mother heard my voice, she said, "Is that Janet"? I had not heard Mama say my name in 3 years. She knew I was her daughter but she didn't know my 2 sisters. She only knew them as very nice ladies who were taking care of her.

My favorite Mother's Day memory is being with her at the church she went to. She would see me sitting in the pew and her face would just light up. Oh, how I miss that!

I better go blow my nose and wipe my eyes. It's hard to type and cry at the same time."

Thank you for sharing that with us, Janet. That had to be a heart gift to you to have your mother speak your name.

Thanks, everyone, for reading. 









  

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Loretta, A Super Prayer Warrior

Prayer becomes more meaningful as we counsel with the Lord in all of our doings, as we express heartfelt gratitude, and as we pray for others. (David A. Bednar)


Do you have a special prayer warrior in your church? One of those people you better not ask to pray for something you want unless you're really sure you want the prayer answered because it will be. We have a prayer warrior like that in our little country church. Loretta is an example of faithfulness and love. 

We went to her house tonight to help her celebrate her 99th birthday that is coming up next week. At her age, you can celebrate every day for a month if you want to. Loretta told us she has been a member of our church for seventy-five years. She gave her life to Christ as a young teen before she married at age sixteen. She and her husband, who died several years ago at age 96, moved their membership to our church when they bought a farm in the neighborhood. She said they used to go all around the area and gather up children to bring to Bible School. Recently, she had been going through some of her things and found the worker certificates she received for working in Bible School in 1957 and 1960. She'd kept them all these years and had them to show us tonight.  

Another thing she has kept all these years is her devotion to the Lord. Every day she reads His word. Every day she prays for her family and friends and for her church. Every day she thanks the Lord for His blessings. Even on the hard days. 

This week is a good time to visit Loretta. To rejoice with her in a life well lived. She is the mother of five, the grandmother of many and yet she makes time to pray for the others in her church family. A true prayer warrior. 

As you read or listen to God's Word and spend time talking to Him in prayer, your spirit will eventually become stronger than your flesh. (Joyce Meyer)

That's where Loretta is now. Strong of spirit and not as strong of body anymore. But she's still remembering that the "knee" is an important part of the church family when it's bent in prayer. Proverbs 31 could be written about Loretta. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates. (Proverbs 31:31)

I have been so blessed by Loretta's prayers for me. Do you know someone like Loretta?