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.
Book 3 of the Southern Hearts Series, Tackling the Fields, will likely release early so that it will be available at the Lemuria Signing, August 13th, and the Mississippi Book Festival in August. I must warn you, though, that this is a story I didn’t want to write, but felt called to tackle. The loss of the dream, the loss of innocence, and life’s other unfair struggles can challenge our faith—can make us captive to fear and disappointment.
The sensitive topics in this story seemed particularly sad, but relevant in our society. Trust me, I didn’t prefer to research acquaintance/date rape or human trafficking, but both are going on all too often in communities both small and large. There are a number of organizations set up to help victims of these crimes if you feel a calling to help.
Also, the story is about football. In the South, we love football. In writing this book, I’m not trying to make a statement for or against the sport. My husband and son loved playing the game. After my son suffered a torn ACL, torn shoulder labrum, and four surgeries, he could no longer participate in the game he loved. He mourned the loss of the brotherhood of his team. I saw the popular pastime differently from his eyes. For young men, I believe it is a bond between friends for a common goal. Though the character in this book is totally fictional, I’m dedicating this book to my son, Luke.
Some who read this story may have had something terrible that happened in their past or may know someone who has. God is able to set free the captives, set you free from the bonds that hold you. My prayer is that you find comfort in that truth.
I promise that book 4 will be lighter. For example, there's a hairless cat named Mr. Darcy.
I'm on a blog tour that offers prizes this week.
($50 Amazon gift card, $25 Amazon gift card, signed copy of books...)
The winner may as well be you. Enter here if you want.
Just scroll down until you see me.
I'll also be in Starkville, Laurel, and Mendenhall in the next week or two, and I don't know many people in those places. If you live nearby, come say hello, or if you know someone who lives nearby, ask them to come say hello. :)
Jul 16, 2016 11:00 AM Starkville, MS Book Mart
Jul 18, 2016 5:00 PM MENDENHALL, MS Mendenhall Public Library
Jul 23, 2016
2:00 PM Laurel, MS Jitters Coffeehouse and Bookstore
Aug 13, 2016
1:00 PM Jackson, Mississippi Lemuria Books
Aug 20, 2016
JACKSON, MS Mississippi Book Festival
As my second book releases next week, I wanted to celebrate real life mission trips. The characters in Going Up South travel to Honduras in the novel and have their own funny adventures, but here are some of my friends' amusing mission trip experiences.
1. Guatemala~ There was rooster given by a patient to pay the dentist. Somehow the rooster ended up being placed in the nurses’ hotel room. Once caught and removed, the thing crowed all night outside our windows.
Lisa Cantrell and Roy Kellum
2. Honduras~ The whole congregation and the mission group went down to the beach for a baptism. There was a young man swimming. We didn't think anything of it and commenced with the baptism and afterward sang some songs, fellowshipped. When we were leaving, we noticed the pile of clothes. Apparently this guy thought he had a secluded section where he could take off his clothes and go for a swim. He stood sheepishly about 50 yards from shore waiting for us to leave.
o3. Haiti~ Picture several women standing more or less in a row fighting to hold this chunky little sweet Haitian baby. In the end, as the women were called away to help with everything from medical situations to finding where someone put some paint supplies, the one left holding the baby was a 225lb 6' tall bearded guy who happens to love babies (that would be me).
4. Guatemala~ We were told we would drive for 3 hours, stop for dinner, and drive 3 more hours until we reached the rural city of Poptún. We got on the bus with people we didn’t know, road for about 3 hours. We stopped for dinner. We got back on the bus… for about 8 more hours. At one point, we stopped at quarantine roadblock. We were already sketched out… but you’re telling us to get off of this uncomfortable, old school bus stand in the dark and let some strong men in military uniforms carrying large guns come look for fruit? Well yes, I did think that we were about to be lined up to get shot, but we got out anyway. We made it through (they didn’t see the bananas we had… awkward).
5. Honduras~ The youngest guy on our team, Hall, had the unique talent of coming up with the most outrageous an random stories right on the spot. We enjoyed his wild tales every evening while we rocked in hammocks to wind down.
What's your mission trip experience? Or would you like to go on one?
First, thank you for all your support and kind words! I never would've published without your encouragement.
I'm nervous and excited to have my first book signings scheduled. If you're in the area and want to drop in, that would awesome!
Here's the schedule so far.
Jun 4, 2016
2:00 PM Ridgeland, MS Barnes & Noble
June 25, 2016
1-3 PM Brandon, MS Bay Window Books
Jul 16, 2016
11:00 AM Starkville, MS Book Mart
Jul 18, 2016
5:00 PM MENDENHALL, MS Mendenhall Public Library
Aug 20, 2016
9:00 AM JACKSON, MS Mississippi Book Festival Book Signing
Book 2 in the Southern Hearts Series, Going Up South, releases June 15th. If you like the Kindle version, it can be pre-ordered for a lower price on Amazon now.
(A few of you have asked about Lemuria in Jackson carrying Leaving Oxford. They have agreed and should have signed copies in about a week!)
I get obsessed sometimes.
While researching Central America for my first book, Leaving Oxford, a burning desire to know more about mission trips grew. I harassed family and friends with questions about their trips. I read several books about mission trips and also about Central America. One book that really rocked my thinking was Enrique's Journey, which told of kids who'd jump on trains over and over at literal risk of life and limb to escape their circumstances and try to get to the U.S.
A yearning to go on a mission trip began. I wanted to help, and I wanted to see these places for myself. But the timing or finances never seemed right, so I decided that in book 2 of the Southern Heart Series (Going Up South), I would send my characters to Honduras...since I couldn't go. I was always pretty good with my imagination and pretending. (Maybe now I'm putting that to good use?) Not terribly long after I finished the first draft of that book, our youth minister announced he wanted to take our teens to Guatemala. I was stunned because they needed chaperones and because my teen son said I was allowed to go as a chaperone.
I'd heard it said that mission trips were listed in surveys as a top, life-changing experiences in a person's faith. I will agree with that assessment. Instead of telling you more about my experience or more about my books, I thought I'd let friends/family share 5 moving mission trip experiences~
1. Elizabeth Thompson: The most moving experience that I had in Honduras was at the city dump. Every Wednesday, Honduras Hope (the ministry that we were working with during the week) brings water and food to the dump. The dump is the most poverty-stricken place I have ever seen. People from all walks of life are literally digging through piles of trash to find any recyclables in order to sell back and get money to buy food for their families. I was so in shock how people could possibly work and sometimes even live in such a stinky, dirty, buzzard-filled place. However, while we were handing out the food and water, the people were so grateful and filled with joy; this was truly the joy of the Lord because there was no way anyone could have joy in such a hopeless and sorrowful place. I will forever be changed by this place and what the people there taught me about hope and joy in the Lord.
2. Brad Lister: That would be seeing the generosity of the people in the local congregations in Trujillo, Honduras. One thing that I saw at all of the congregations that I visited was a collection for widows (They seem to have a lot in Trujillo. Aside from traffic accidents and illnesses often proving fatal. I've heard of many men committing suicide because of the lack of work or lack of ability to provide for their families.). Each Sunday people would fill a basket with items, mostly groceries, and a widow would be selected for the basket to go to. Seeing that basket overflowing was a good visual representation of the generosity of the people. Generosity of people who mostly lived in mud huts. Even the wealthiest of people that I saw in Trujillo have very little when compared to 99% of North Americans, yet they were still able to give significantly to ones who were less fortunate.
3. Lisa Cantrell: A young girl from a village visited one of our Health Talents clinics in Guatemala. She came by herself and was seen by a physician who diagnosed her with an incurable skin disease. She had been shunned by her village and even by her mom since her earliest memories. Other than the few hugs she received at the clinic, she was unfamiliar with affection. When Rick Harper (of Heath Talents) told us this story in February, several of the team members discussed how to get Maria to the surgical clinic and do a biopsy. The Lord worked it out and Maria made it to Clinica Ezell the day before we left! Needless to say, we lavished all the hugs we could on her and was able to see the amazing power of God's touch in more ways than one!
4. Matthew Simoneau: The most moving thing I've seen is a 4:30 church service at a neighborhood church in Haiti. That early in the morning, most people at home would barely be stirring, but in Montrouis, Haiti, men and women of all ages got up and came to worship the Lord who they love and rely on, before they went off to start their day doing everything from selling fruits in the market to working construction and translating for others. Loud as you can stand praise music with 20 or so people who show up almost every morning and memorize bible verses (someone actually stands and recites so everyone can memorize together) sing worship songs and pray for each other. It's a beautiful and moving sight to see. Oh, and the service is called "Manna of the Day."
5. Ginny Wages: When we first arrived at the Ahikam Children’s Orphanage on Tuesday, the children repeatedly shouted, “Los gringos, los gringos,” which translates into, “white people, white people,” so much for trying to fit in! We could tell that the children had been told we were coming and had been waiting all morning for us, which meant that we had big shoes to fill. We followed the children into the dining hall and the women in charge finished preparing lunch for the children while we led a few songs. When the children started following along with words, motions, and welcoming smiles, we knew that they had accepted us. The afternoon went on with arts and crafts, dancing and music. When I stayed inside to help the women in charge finish cleaning, I learned some new techniques. The style of mopping used involved throwing cups of water onto the tile floor, which I could deal with, but where were the mops? The woman showed us that she cut a hole through the middle of a towel, stuck a broom in the hole, and started mopping. I remember looking at my youth minister and saying, “I will give you every penny I have to buy her as many real mops and mop buckets as I can.” I have visited a lot of places, loved a lot of people, enjoyed a lot of food, and played with hundreds of children, but nothing will ever compare to the week that I spent in the small city of Poptún, Guatemala.
Next month, I plan to share humorous mission trip experiences. :)
Have you had a moving mission trip experience? Leave a comment here or on my social media outlets to be in a drawing for a copy of book 1 of the Southern Heart Series, Leaving Oxford. Or if you win and are willing to wait until mid-June, I'll be releasing book 2, Going Up South.
I had my first panic attack in my mid-thirties. Before that experience, the concept sounded stupid to me. I watched a news show about the problem and thought, Just get over it. Do whatever it is, and move on. Funny how my judgements like that come back to bite me.
Driving along on the interstate with my second baby in tow, my palms began to sweat, and my chest locked up. I couldn’t breathe, and my vision began to blur. I had no clue or warning. My first panic attack.
We think a bad car wreck I’d been in while pregnant with my first child was the major contributing factor. My anxiety in vehicles had increased exponentially since that accident.
Anyway, zoom out a decade or so. Problem still here. Along the way, though, I met others with various anxiety or depressive disorders—disorders I had never given much thought to before, and probably never would have, if this hadn’t happened to me. These disorders are miserable. No one wants to go through the symptoms, much less the stigma or the embarrassment.
The whole experience became one of two motivating incentives for me to write a book. (More about the other motivation another time.) Somehow in my quirky brain, the book became a sort of romantic comedy set in Oxford, Mississippi. Go figure.
If you'd like to read the book, I've discounted it to really low price for a Kindle pre-order. It's 99 cents until the official release date of April 15, 2016. It will be available in a variety of formats after that date at regular price. If you enjoy the story, it would really help me if you leave a review on Amazon.
Blessings and thank you,
Pre-order the Kindle version here.
When I married, I dreamed I’d be this remarkable wife and cheerleader for my husband, a wife who cooked fabulous meals and kept the floors clean enough to eat on--all while staying in good shape, being a terrific mother, and volunteering with the church or other worthy causes.
Um... that was not quite how things went. Okay, that was not at all how things went. And don’t chance eating off my floors.
Maybe a few meals tasted okay, I was in shape now and then, volunteered here and there, but never were my lofty goals/fantasies achieved at the same time … or even in the same year.
A question has pestered me because of my failures. I’d made a vow to love and to cherish my husband, and I’d loved him. But had I cherished?
Disasters had interfered. Distractions, too. Some were important and urgent—like children, aging parents, work. Some were because I’d overcommitted myself elsewhere. But many times I was simply tired and lazy.
My husband and I both knew, deep down, that time away as a couple was important--part of cherishing each other. So when my youngest left for college, we decided an anniversary trip, even a close/cheap one, was in order.
We travelled to the Mississippi Gulf Coast for a few days to just hang out together.
One area we enjoyed walking around was Bay St. Louis. Quaint and full of character, I wanted to know more about the town.
I checked with my friend, Donna, who grew up there. The following is a bit of info she had to offer.
Bay St Louis has lots of festivals considering its size. The annual Crab Festival started off as a small church fair to raise money for Our Lady of the Gulf Catholic church but now has grown to 100 arts and craft booths and attendance of around 50,000 people over the 2.5-day festival, not bad for a town with a population of 11,000. Bridge Fest is an annual festival to celebrate the re-opening of the bridge over the Bay of St. Louis which connects Bay St Louis and Pass Christian after the bridge was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. They also have Harbor Fest which is a weekend music festival. Over the past 20 years they have enjoyed Second Saturday Art walk where shops in downtown stay open later, Main Street is blocked off so that people can gather and enjoy live music. There are no “chain” stores in downtown BSL. All of the stores around the beach road and the beach end of Main Street are all local shops with antiques, art, crafts, and unique restaurants.
The people of BSL are very down to earth and friendly. You can tell that they are resilient too by looking at how they rebound after each Hurricane. I witnessed the devastating effects of Hurricanes Camille and Katrina to BSL, and the entire MS coast, but in both cases, the residents shared what they had with their neighbors, even when what they had left after the devastation was not much, and helped each other rebuild without whining about it or waiting for someone else to come and take care of them.
“Resilient.” “Rebound.” I like those words she used for her hometown. Perhaps when life throws disasters and distractions my way, I can be resilient and rebound. I can work on cherishing by being deliberate and intentional. Rebuilding relationship.
I have to plan not to be lazy and not to neglect my vow to cherish my spouse—even if it’s just a cheap date like watching the sunset or walking along a quaint, resilient harbor.
I'll take all the help I can get! Do you have a favorite cheap date or way of cherishing your spouse?
Under the Southern Sun
Janet W. Ferguson