Alzheimer's is a disease that ravages the patient, but it also takes a huge toll on the family. Occasionally, I've heard people say they don't visit a loved one who has Alzheimer's because their family member no longer recognizes them, and it's too painful to see their mother-father-grandparent-aunt like that.
My beautiful mother suffered from this incurable illness.
During the last few months of her life, we often weren’t sure whether she recognized us, or whether she even realized we were visiting her. But we came anyway.
One evening, I was about to leave after having been there several hours, and she looked up and said, as clear as ever, “Oh, Janet, you came.” Suddenly, some hidden place in her devastated mind had connected, and she knew me. She knew I was there.
Another afternoon, only a couple of weeks before her death, a group of our family brought a cake for her and my father’s birthdays. My father loved old hymns, so we sang a few songs there in the nursing home. We come from an acapella tradition, and we easily fell into four-part harmony. Mother perked up and quietly asked if the church was having a singing service. She'd connected with the familiar music.
And one of the last days that I was privileged to spend with her, she was barely eating, according to the nurses. I sat beside her most of the afternoon and rolled her crumpled body to the dining room for supper. Gently, I rubbed her arms and back. I spoon-fed her Jell-O and soft foods from her plate. She ate the small bites that I offered, and declared, “This is delicious.” Once she finished, she struggled to lift her head with those weakened muscles for just a second and spoke. Her words etched into my heart.
A simple phrase. “I like you.”
In that moment, she no longer knew I was her daughter, her baby girl that she'd raised. She no longer knew me at all. But what she did know, and what mattered was, that I cared. I was kind to her. She wasn’t alone for a moment in her scary, disappearing world.
So though, she didn’t know me, my mother liked me. And that was more than enough.
Welcome to my new subscribers! You've signed up at a great time. One year ago, my debut novel Leaving Oxford released! I'm celebrating the great year and journey by offering the Kindle eBook for free April 15-19! For my loyal friends who've been with me for a while now, it's a good time to let a friend know about the book!
I've recently acquired several hundred new subscribers, so bear with me as I introduce myself. I'm Janet W. Ferguson, a Christian author who lives life in the real world with real problems. I don't live a perfect life or have all the answers. I struggle with anxiety at times. I can be basically a mess some days (or a lot of days)---so I write stories about characters like me who have messy lives.
But what I cling to and what I offer in my writing is hope.
I try to add a bit a humor, too. I'm from the South, so that's where my stories are set.
Could you use a little hope or a laugh or two? If so, then travel down South with me, starting in Oxford, Mississippi.
Here's a link to the free eBook, and welcome!! Amazon
Praise for Leaving Oxford
4.5 Stars TOP PICK
The author expertly tackles the emotional gamut as her heroine struggles to overcome her panic attacks and attempt to start over. With deep poetic and inspiring prose, Ferguson brings forth a love story that will inspire and enrapt readers." -
Romantic Times Review
A quick update on book signings & a multi-author giveaway. I still get nervous at these signings, and now they've asked me to speak. Yikes!
I do like making new friends, so come out if you can.
I will be at the Ridgeland, MS, library March 16 at 6 p.m. to visit (make a short talk) and answer questions and sign books.
I will be a guest "speaker" at the First Thursday BookTalk on April 6th 2016 at
St. James’ Episcopal Church
3921 Oak Ridge Drive
Jackson, MS 39216
You have to RSVP to the church because they serve lunch which is $10. Lemuria will have my books available to purchase.
April 12 I will be at the Mendenhall, Mississippi, Library for the NLW Afternoon with MS Authors . Lots of authors to be there from around the state!
Contact the library for further details.
April 19 I will be a guest "speaker" at the Friends of the Library lunch in Aberdeen, Mississippi. Contact the library if interested.
For the next 4 days I'm part of a 15-book multi-author blog hop giveaway! Check it out! Here's the first stop!
Many years ago, a young mother discovered Christian fiction. Those books impacted her faith so much she started a book club. She felt that God had used those stories to draw her back to Him. She wanted other people to experience some of what she had through reading those stories and to be able to talk with others about how God was speaking to us.
I didn't join the group for a number of years while I worked at my church because I didn't think I could squeeze in another activity. I also mostly read nonfiction at the time. Little did I know what I was missing.
My friends in the group said there were just certain books I had to read: Francine Rivers' The Mark of the Lion series, Randy Alcorn's Safely Home, Lynn Austin's Gods & Kings series were a few of the titles, and they swooned over some new guy author named Charles Martin.
So I bought or borrowed these titles.
There were some sleepless nights.
There were bleary eyes, blurry vision, tears...
And even bigger shifts in my heart and my opinion of fiction. The realization that there is power in story. Jesus taught with stories...
And I fell in love with Christian fiction.
So I became a faithful member group of the group. We only have a couple of rules. It must be Christian fiction, and you have to have read the book to recommend it.
Fast forward many more years, I had a crazy idea to write my own Christian fiction novel. When I finished, I fearfully asked a few members to read this mass of pages I'd gone to Office Max and printed off and put in a three-ring binder. The ladies were so encouraging. The whole book club ended up reading printed off copies of the very rough rough draft of Leaving Oxford. I cringe now thinking about how amateurish is was. But they cheered me on. While writing Going Up South, I sent a few of the members scenes every day as I wrote them. I really didn't care if they read them at that point, but it kept me accountable to keep working on this crazy idea. They were so patient as I clogged their inboxes with scene after scene. (I know they're thankful I found an author critique group with ACFW by the third book!)
A quote from my 4th book, Blown Together:
There is power in story. Stories change thinking, change lives. There is beauty in words. Words work their way into our hearts and nuzzle us up to greater heights. Words and stories inspire leaders, change societies, and spark revolutions.
I’ll never forget the first essay you wrote. I knew right away I had a writer in my class. You have a God-given gift, dear Elinor. You wield the power of story and the beauty of words. I ask you to continue to hone that gift to bless, inspire, and nurture. Transform lives for the better. Spark a revolution of love for the first Author.
Not only are we book club ladies closer to God through our reading of Christian fiction, we are closer to each other. We are sisters and friends!
I'm so thankful for my Christian fiction book club! Are you in a book club? Tell me about it.
You all have been so kind to support me on my journey over the past year and more!! Thank you!!
I have my last two signings for the year this weekend. Saturday is Brandon Heritage Day, so I'm hanging out with my friends at Bay Window Books in Brandon, Mississippi, from 1-3:00.
Sunday, I'll be at Barnes & Noble in Ridgeland, Mississippi from 1-3:00.
Here are a few pics from the signings since my first book came out in April!! Merry Christmas!
Did you know some butterflies weigh about as much as two rose petals, but they fly thousands of miles? I've heard some even cross over the Gulf of Mexico. How is that possible?
I was blessed to be in Fort Morgan, Alabama, near the end of October where I witnessed the migration of the Gulf Fritillary butterflies.
Also, while we were there, a Blue Angel pilot from a nearby military base roared across the sky in front of us, flipping and spinning with power and strength, leaving a trail of smoke behind him. Another frequent site were the blue heron and pelicans soaring and diving with their huge wings expanded, exhibiting so much grace.
But it was the beauty of the fragile creatures flying over the unusually clear Gulf water that overwhelmed me. That those small wings could carry them so far seemed truly a miracle.
I related most to those fragile wings. Some days I feel so weak and broken under the burdens of this life. It's hard to keep on course. Without the Lord carrying me in the harsh winds of pain and disappointment, I'd surely give up.
Some of you are facing that disappointment and loss this year. The holiday celebrations have started, but you're dealing with grief, addiction, cancer or some other disease, unemployment, a broken heart, or another difficult situation. It's just plain hard right now for whatever reason.
I know, and you probably know, that God is big enough to handle this mess, this pain, but if you'd like additional prayers, send me a message or leave a comment here if it's not a private concern, I'd be honored to say a prayer for your situation.
These verses from Isaiah 61 comfort me.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion--
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
Thank you for your support this year.
Blessings in Him to you and your family,
My parents kept a secret from their children until their fiftieth anniversary!
I thought my three-and-a-half-week engagement after six months of dating was short…until my aunt let it slip about my parents at the fiftieth anniversary party. She said something like, “We all thought James was crazy marrying someone he barely knew.”
Heads turned and mouths fell open. “Say what?” We needed to have the full story right away.
It was 1944 and World War II had center stage. My twenty-six year-old father was in the army and on a train when he met my mother. She was a nineteen-year-old nurse cadet.
The ride must have been a long one, and the chemistry strong, because they wrote letters afterward, then my father took his first leave to go visit her. He met her mother in Alabama and then took her to meet his mother in Hickory Flat, Mississippi. Then they married on that same trip! We have what we believe to be those letters, now that they’ve passed on.
Sometimes when I’m writing fiction, I wonder if a storyline is believable or not. Pretty much every time, I’m reminded that real life is indeed stranger than fiction.
It’s fun to hear about people meeting in all kind of crazy ways, how they came together and stayed together.
My parents’ short courtship, if you can really call it that, resulted in a marriage that lasted from 1944 until 2012 when they parted in death.
My own twenty-fifth wedding anniversary is this month, and I'm so thankful!
Do you have or know of an interesting engagement story?
My college roommate has made her career at Disney for almost three decades. She loves the company and definitely knows the parks. Here are her ten favorites things about Disney World.
An Insider's Top 10 to Disney World
My niece recently took me with her and her two sweet boys to Disney World. Let me tell you, she's a Disney expert on seeing and doing as much as you can! (And yes, we were so thankful the hurricane didn't do much damage while we were there.) Here are her ten tips as an avid fan.
Top 10 Tips from an Avid Disney World Fan
My little tips:
Wear comfy shoes and sunscreen, always ride It's a Small World, see the bats, the aquarium, and the Lion King show at The Animal Kingdom, eat a lot at Epcot, and smile!
What are your tips or favorites at Disney?
P.S. Book 4, Blown Together, is out now! I'll be signing at Bay Window Books in Brandon, Ms, November 10 from 5-7 and at the Candy Cane Market in Brandon, MS, November 12 from 9-4. Come say hello!
I've been in my editing cave, and I think I'll survive! Maybe. I'm praying to have this book ready for the October 15th release date! Like I've said, this was my favorite book to write. But I do have a weird sense of humor. (There's that hairless cat named Mr. Darcy in the story.) If you read the ebooks, the preorder should show up on all the channels soon. I will have paperbacks at the usual wonderful bookstores here in Mississippi, and the other larger bookstores online.
Local store that carry my books:
Bay Window Books, Brandon, MS
Lemuria, Jackson, MS
Square Books, Oxford, MS
Jitters, Laurel, MS
The Bookmart, Starkville, MS
Sage, Starkville, MS
Reed's, Tupelo, MS
Online stores: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million
You can preorder the Ebook now for $2.99 here.
Southern Hearts Series ~ Book 4
When love storms in…
Wealth manager Sam Conrad is accustomed to his domineering father ordering him around, especially at the bank where they both work. But when his father demands that Sam manage the inheritance of his bossy ex-fiancée, Sam has finally had enough. He leaves in search of a new life, and attorney Big Roy Bosarge from Mobile, Alabama, agrees to mentor Sam on his quest for direction. Sam didn’t expect to be thrown together with Big Roy’s eccentric and opinionated daughter.
Storm damage forces lonely romance writer Elinor Bosarge and her hairless cat, Mr. Darcy, out of her Fort Morgan Beach cottage. She plans to take refuge in the boathouse on her parents’ estate, but finds the place already occupied by one of her father’s “projects.” She’s shocked her father would allow another young man onto the property after his last mentee robbed her family and broke her heart. And from the moment she meets Sam Conrad, they disagree about everything from her cat to how to best renovate a local nursing home.
Between her mother’s health issues and the hurricane brewing in the Gulf, Elinor feels like her life is being ripped apart. It doesn’t help that she’s falling for the man she’s determined not to trust. Sam finds himself drawn to Elinor, wanting to help her and this new family he’s grown to love. But can he overcome the barrier she’s built to keep him out? When the storm rages and the two of them are blown together, can Elinor find the faith to open her heart again?
My son makes me nervous. He's just not as careful as his mother would like him to be.
Yes, I need to chill sometimes, and I've tried, but that little bit of tension remains. Like when we went marsh fishing with friends in the Chalmette-Hopedale, Louisiana area. On the outskirts of New Orleans, the land is flat and low, and it was virtually swamped and destroyed during Katrina. That's the reason for the trailer on really tall stilts that we stayed in, also the enormous levy system with huge gates--they look as though built to keep out giants.
The marsh itself is a very unique place, both beautiful and dangerous.
When our friends took us on their boat for the first time, I quickly realized I'd rather just relax on the balcony overlooking the marsh and read a book. The reason?
There's a small lip along the edge of the boat, and of course, that was where my son (who was about fifteen at the time) chose to stand and fish.
(You can see the edge of the boat in this picture of my friend Dawn holding her trophy fish.)
I could just picture him falling into that murky water....all sorts of sea creatures waiting for him...
My husband and son fished with them a few times out there on the marsh, brought home some delicious redfish. But on one occasion, my fears proved to be legitimate. The motor surged, and my son fell in.
They say he came out of the water and back into the boat about as fast as--or maybe even faster than--he went in.
I feel like there's a short spiritual lesson in that little fishing story...not to stand on the edge of danger or sin. In my younger years, I failed to heed that advice, and I fell into deep waters and some bad situations.
So, if you do happen to get too close to the edge and end up in that murky situation or sin, try to scramble back into the safety of God's arms as quickly as possible.
P.S. If you go fishing, bring me some fish!
Upcoming Book Signing Events:
Lemuria, Jackson, Saturday August 13 1:00
Mississippi Book Festival Saturday August 20 9-6:30
Reed's Gum Tree Bookstore, Tupelo, Tuesday August 23 12:00
Book 3, Tackling the Fields releases August 13 on most platforms
Book 4, Blown Together, set in Mobile, Alabama will release this fall.
Under the Southern Sun
Janet W. Ferguson