A wise teacher once told me, “Be thankful for a normal day.” She’d been through some extremely difficult times, and she’d learned to appreciate the days when nothing serious was happening—when she wasn’t in the midst of a storm. I’ve tried to remember that over the years. I’ve heard to be thankful when the laundry is piled high, because you have clothes, and when the dishes are dirty, because you have food. To be thankful when politicians argue, because, in our country, they can.
And that’s all so true.
But what I’ve also tried to learn, as I’ve grown older, is to be thankful for something—anything—when I am in the storm. When it is not a normal day.
All of us have challenging times, whether over health or finances or family or jobs. It’s so hard to get off the hamster wheel of anxiety during those times. Fear tries to shackle us.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV) says:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
When anxiety or depression locks us down, clutches our chests, steals our breath, the writer of Philippians instructs us to pray with thanksgiving. That’s incredibly difficult. Impossible, even, without God.
But I believe that tactic works, because we are in a battle, and thankfulness can be a weapon.
So when we’re in the storm and under the harshest trials, can we find something to give thanks for? A sunset, a pillow, a friend’s call, a roof, a butterfly, a pet, running water…forgiveness, mercy, freedom. If we really try to count our blessings, like that old hymn says, we may find comfort and remember that God is in control.
It would be pretty boring writing without you, my friends, on this journey!
I am thankful for you!
Blessings to you and your loved ones this Thanksgiving!
What are you thankful for this year?
You can leave a comment below :)
P.S. If you feel like reading over the holidays, here are some Christian or clean novels at free or 99 cents Nov. 28-Dec. 2. Click this link to find them and enjoy!
Link to books
My husband isn't crazy about traveling, but he married into a family who is always dreaming of their next trip. Somehow we talked about it enough-aka drove him crazy-and he agreed to go to Ireland last summer. We were blessed with great weather, because normally it rains there a lot! The Irish people also claimed they were having a heatwave--notice this Mississippi girl's layers, ha!
We had a wonderful time on the Rick Steve's Heart of Ireland tour, traveling from Shannon to Dublin over the eight days (plus a couple of days on the beginning and end of the tour).
Some great sites we experienced were Rock of Cashel, the Cliffs of Moher, Adare Village, Dingle, the Great Blasket Centre, Kilkenny Castle, Glendalough, the Brú na Bóinne archaeology site! And so much more!
Of course, my story brain took over, and I had to set a novel there! If you've read The Art of Rivers, you briefly met Star Youngblood. If you haven't read The Art of Rivers, no worries, you'll get to know her very well in this new novel!
A little about Star Rising:
Star Youngblood has always been a fighter–a necessity after her mother married a monster of a man. Now, she’s finally on the path to the stable life she’s always wanted. Her employer, Priscilla Kelly, is a sweet woman ravaged by rheumatoid arthritis, and Star will do anything to help her. Even if that means going toe to toe with Mrs. Kelly’s neglectful son.
After being betrayed on the mission field and devastated by the tragic death of his father, Paul Kelly gave up on God. He lives life on his own terms, biding his time as a corporate pilot until he can save enough money to begin his own flight school closer to home. His mother is all he has left, and he wants to be near her. He just didn’t expect her health to decline so quickly. When he discovers his mother has taken in a stray—a woman he’s not at all sure can be trusted—his protective instincts kick into high gear. Paul’s handled a lot of turbulence, but he’s never gone up against a force like Star.
As Paul and Star strive to protect his mother in their own ways, they soon find their hearts are at the greatest risk.
I just put this novel up to preorder on Amazon! I hope you're as excited about it as I am!!
What's on your bucket list?
With Patricia Bradly, Stephenia H. McGee, and Pam Hillman!
Deep in the Mississippi pines, at a rustic hunting cabin, four women conjured murder and mayhem and sickness. They planned disaster after disaster for individuals who’d done them absolutely no harm. The betrayal, the surgeries, the unfair attacks, oh my!
Good thing they weren’t real people, but only imagined characters for four Mississippi authors’ future novels.
I’ve been blessed to get to know many wonderful Christian authors since I began writing. Three of these great writers are from Mississippi, and we got together to plot future stories at a hunting cabin in Lake, Mississippi. No internet, only occasional phone service, and great food gave us the quiet time and space we needed to brainstorm four (hopefully) great stories!
Each of us write a little differently. Patricia and I both write contemporary, but she writes suspense--which usually means a murder!
Pam and Stephenia both write historical, Pam's are more romance while Stephenia's only have a romance thread.
And I'm so happy to introduce these ladies to you!
A 2018 Carol finalist and winner of an Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award in Suspense, Patricia Bradley lives in North Mississippi with her rescue kitty, Suzy and a new arrival, Tux. Her romantic suspense books include the Logan Point series and the Memphis Cold Case Novels. Justice Delivered released April 5, 2019, and she’s hard at work on Standoff, book one in the Natchez Trace Park Ranger’s series.
Writing workshops include American Christian Fiction Writers online courses, workshops at the Mid-South Christian Writer’s Conference, the KenTen Retreat, and Memphis ACFW. When she has time, she likes to throw mud on a wheel and see what happens.
Justice Delayed for $1.99 and Justice Delivered for $6.99 Amazon
CBA Bestselling author PAM HILLMAN was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn't afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove an Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn't mind raking. Raking hay doesn't take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that's the kind of life every girl should dream of.
The Crossing at Cypress Creek only $1.99! Amazon
Stephenia H. McGee
Award winning author of seven historical novels, Stephenia H. McGee writes stories of faith, hope, and healing set in the Deep South. When she's not twirling around in hoop skirts, reading, or sipping sweet tea on the front porch, she's a homeschool mom of two boys, writer, dreamer, and husband spoiler. Stephenia lives in Mississippi with her sons, handsome hubby, three dogs, and one anti-social cat. Visit her at www.StepheniaMcGee.com for books and updates.
The Whistle Walk and Heir of Hope to $.99! Amazon
I hope you enjoyed meeting my Mississippi friends! My novel Magnolia Storms is also only 99 cents right now
Here's another fun fall sale you might be interested in as well!
Click here: Fall Into Fiction
What's your favorite type of fiction?
'Okay, pretty much every time we go on a vacation we argue.
When my children were around seven and three-years-old, they were arguing as we wound around a loopy interstate bridge on I-285 in Atlanta during crazy traffic. One of them was so upset, he actually threw up. My husband and I were at our wits' end with each other, too, at that point. So I made an announcement: We were grounded from traveling for a year!
And we stayed home for the better part of a year.
But then... I sort of missed all that crammed-up together time. I missed the adventure of seeing new things or visiting old friends or reconnecting with family.
I un-grounded us. And we planned another trip!
I can't say that we will ever stop getting on each others' last nerve after a couple of days of being together 24/7, but I do want to commit to trying again. And again. And again!
Isn't that what family is about? Not giving up on each other? Spending time together? Even when it's not all roses and sunshine.
It was on one of those vacations, four years ago, that the idea for The Art of Rivers came to me. We were in St. Simons, Georgia. Soaked in history, it's a quaint seaside town with beautiful moss-covered old oaks. And it has a beach (my happy place)! I highly recommend visiting there if you are in the area. I'm sharing a few pics.
Do you have any fun vacation stories?
PS: My novel Tackling the Fields is discounted to 99 cents today on Amazon if you don't have it already!
Release day eve is always exciting and nerve-racking. As my 7th book releases tomorrow, I am praying it finds its audience and brings healing.
Here's my letter to readers:
In 2017, the year I started this novel, drug overdoses killed over 70,000 people in the United States. More people in our country died that year from this epidemic than those who were killed by guns, car crashes, or HIV/AIDS. Addiction isn’t the plight of any one demographic. Drug addiction and alcoholism are devastating our children, parents, sisters, brothers, cousins, and neighbors. If your life hasn’t been touched by this issue, count yourself blessed.
Addiction is a cunning and dangerous enemy, stealing the lives of medical professionals, teachers, law enforcement officers—any career you could name, along with teenagers and the homeless. There aren’t enough jails or enough funds to incarcerate all these members of our communities. We have to find ways to rehabilitate. In my county, the sheriff’s department is trying innovative ways to help the prisoners who struggle with addiction. Our local lawmakers are grappling with the issue. I don’t have the answers.
There is heartbreak for those who love addicts or alcoholics and are at a loss as to what to do. Al-Anon is a wonderful support group for families who find themselves in this position. I interviewed dear people who battle addiction and those who try to pull people from its deadly grip. Twelve step programs like AA, NA, and Celebrate Recovery can help. If you are struggling with addiction, if you know somebody who is, or if you feel moved by this issue, please be in prayer for addicts, for their loved ones, for the community of people God has raised to support them, and for lawmakers as they contend with the issues. God’s life-changing power is real. He is the One who offers true freedom.
Not everyone gets a happy ending to their addiction story in real life. If that’s your family’s reality, if you’ve lost someone, I’m so sorry for your heartbreak. Know that you are not alone, and our Heavenly Father can bring healing.
There is power, hope, and peace in Him,
Janet W. Ferguson
Let me know if I can pray for you!
Though I have always love to read nonfiction and fiction, writing books has been a wonderful adventure I never expected to take. Meeting sweet readers and fantastic authors has been such a blessing!
I didn’t grow up thinking I wanted to write a novel, but in my 40s, the story idea for Leaving Oxford refused to go away. Some of the first advice I received from a literary agent after I finished that manuscript was to find good critique partners. Through the American Christian Fiction Writers organization (ACFW), I met so many amazing Christian authors, even fan-girling over some like Francine Rivers. I’ve critiqued with many wonderful writers over the years. We helped each other become better writers. I am reminded of the verse in Proverbs: As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
Today, I want to introduce you to two of those Christian authors that I respect so much. I consider them dear friends now. I hope that's okay with you :)
Misty Beller a multi-published, prolific Christian author of sweet historical fiction novels set out West in the 1800s. More than just being a critique partner, Misty has been my guide in all things marketing, advertising, business, and technology. (The tech part drives me crazy!) I’m so thankful for Misty’s expertise! She’s such a sweet and gentle spirit too. Misty has this unique way of reining me in when I leave positive town and venture down a negative path. I need that kind of friend!
I am so excited she will have books releasing from her dream publisher, Bethany House, starting in October. In the meantime, she has 19 other novels for you read. Here’s the latest one releasing, and it’s only 99 cents!
Jennifer Rodewald is another Christian author who I love! As soon as I opened her first sub for critiquing, I knew she had an amazing talent. And heart. She pushes me to dig deep into my characters and their emotions. Jennifer doesn’t shy away from tough subjects like alcoholism or marital problems, but she’s versatile. She also writes sweet rom-coms plus dystopian young adult novels as J. Rodes.
Jen has a 99 cent deal on one of her novels too.
I hope you enjoy getting to know Misty and Jennifer!
Speaking of meeting people and making friends... There are only a few more days until The Art of Rivers releases! And I'm biting my nails! I have a couple of events coming up to celebrate the release. Come by if you're in the area:
July 27 Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS at 2 p.m.
August 17 Mississippi Book Festival, Jackson, MS, author alley 9 a.m. until I can't take the heat anymore :)
Have you made friends through reading or writing? I hope so!
I've had a busy spring working as an assistant at the Mississippi Legislature and doing a little traveling with my family, but I finally finished The Art of Rivers! It took me two years (maybe a few tears, lots of prayers, and some hair-pulling, ha!) to write this story, but I'm so hopeful that God will use this book somehow to touch lives and hearts for Him!
I've priced the preorder nice and low at 99 cents! Share about it with a friend who might need some hope!
About the story:
Rivers Sullivan bears both visible and invisible scars—those on her shoulder from a bullet wound and those on her heart from the loss of her fiancé during the same brutal attack. Not even her background as an art therapist can help her regain her faith in humanity. Still, she scrapes together the courage to travel to St. Simons Island to see the beach cottage and art gallery she’s inherited from her fiancé. When she stumbles upon recovering addicts running her gallery, she’s forced to reckon with her own healing.
After the tragic drowning of his cousin, James Cooper Knight spends his days trying to make up for his past mistakes. He not only dedicates his life to addiction counseling, but guilt drives him to the water, searching for others who’ve been caught unaware of the quickly rising tides of St. Simons. When he rescues a peculiar blond woman and her sketch pad from a sandbar, then delivers this same woman to his deceased grandmother’s properties, he knows things are about to get even more complicated.
Tragic circumstances draw Cooper and Rivers closer, but they fight their growing feelings. Though Cooper’s been sober for years, Rivers can’t imagine trusting her heart to someone in recovery, and he knows a relationship with her will only rip his family further apart. Distrust and guilt are only the first roadblocks they must overcome if they take a chance on love.
I hope you enjoy the story! It releases June 30! Preorder here:
Amazon Nook Kobo iBooks
I'm often asked if I always wanted to be an author. I didn't really ever think about becoming one. But I always wrote in a journal. I wrote thoughts, prayers, poems...boring stuff about my life. When I began my fiction journey, I didn't feel I had the time to journal anymore, and those little books fell by the wayside. This fall, when a friend read my early draft of a novel I'd just finished writing, she said something that struck me as true.
She said something like: You know, you're journaling with your fiction.
And it's true. Journaling is a practice that explores thoughts and feelings surrounding the events of your life. It's used for stress relief, therapy, exploration of heavy topics, and even brainstorming. I often spent time talking to God in my journal.
So, yes, I think I do that now with fiction instead. I think one of my greatest fears has been to lose a child, and maybe that made its way into this story.
Here's the reader letter I wrote for the novella Falling for Grace.
This story deals with the incredibly painful grief of losing a child. I know I'm not able to adequately deliver the message of what horror that must be, having never lost a baby whom I had held in my arms. I did lose one through miscarriage, which was an extremely sad time for me--that deep ache of loss and disappointment. In my grief, I often felt isolated, since my husband and I were the only ones who had known this child--other than God. During that experience, I often mourned silently at the sight of fully pregnant women and infants born around when mine would've been, or reaching those sweet milestones. Not that I didn't want others to be joyful and have healthy children, but I wondered what my child would've been like, and those what-ifs ospun through my heart. What if I'd done something differently? Had I lifted something too heavy, worked too hard weeding the flower bed? Was it my fault? I experienced the fear and worry of trying to have another child. Knowing in my heart, even if I did, another child was not a replacement for the baby I'd lost.
Losing a child goes against the natural order of things, breaking pieces of parents' hearts that can't be mended back to the way they were before. But I believe our God can take our sorrows and our tears, capture them, and form those crumbled shards in a new way, though painful, into something precious. We also need each other, friends. Grief support can be another way to climb out of that hollow, broken place. I pray for each of you who might be grieving and want to offer those dashed hopes the promise of the One who binds up the brokenhearted.
The eBook version of Falling for Grace is free on Amazon for five days if you'd like to read it. Amazon link.
Do you journal? If so, what do you like about the process? Can I pray for you today?
How was 2018 for you?
My family and I had both good and bad times, but I’m choosing to focus on the good.
Do y’all like to travel?
My kids and I seem to have inherited the travel bug. My husband wasn’t born with this urge to go on voyages, but we cajoled him into crossing the Atlantic and taking us to Ireland.
He did really well, despite the fact that one night I fell on a bumpy sidewalk in the small Irish town of Dingle, and then we found out that a mini-tornado had knocked a tree onto our house back home in Mississippi.
We were blessed that our neighbors and friends took care of covering the hole in our roof and letting Service Pro inside to dry our home.
Actually, the blessings of our trip were many. We didn’t hate each other at the end of the two weeks! (Sometimes we fuss a little on vacations…) The weather was great! Only one day of rain in Ireland is pretty much a miracle. Everything was beautiful!
If you know me a little, you might guess that my favorite part was seeing their rocky beaches! And yes, I’m planning a novel where my characters will go to Ireland. The heroine might even fall like I did, ha!
What did you do this year? Can I pray about anything for you?
To celebrate the holidays, the Kindle version of my novel Tackling the Fields is free on Amazon right now!
We’re not quite to fall, but it’s not too early to start collecting some holiday reads!
I’ve joined with seven other authors from Inspy Romance to create A Christmas to Remember novella collection. This set of 8 unique novellas releases October 2 only on Amazon or Kindle Unlimited. The stories will be available through the end of 2018, then the collection will disband and the novellas will have to be purchased individually.
I'm super excited about being a part of this group, and I love the cover for Falling for Grace!
Here’s a little about my novella:
Falling for Grace
Grace Logan has taken a lot of tumbles in life, but she works hard to bounce right back. Dreams shattered and hope for reconciliation gone, Grace needs a place where she can pick herself up now that her ex is marrying her former best friend. Her boss’s beach house in Santa Rosa seems like the perfect getaway, but stumbling into the attractive-but-damaged handyman next door isn’t part of the plan.
After losing his infant son—and his marriage—Seth Gibbs is left with smothering grief and guilt. Bad memories make it difficult to find a new normal, so he escapes to his family’s vacation home. Three years later, he’s still in Santa Rosa with no plans to leave.
That is…until Grace falls into his life.
Click to find out more and pre-order A Christmas to Remember on Amazon! https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07H6RH6F1/
I hope you enjoy!
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Under the Southern Sun
Janet W. Ferguson