My father lived to be ninety-four years old. During those last years, his short-term memory eroded. While he could still do math, remember names and directions, he often couldn’t think of what to say in ordinary conversation. When he did think of something, with no short-term memory, he repeated the question or statement many times.
Something like, “Did I tell you the story about getting that grandfather clock from the old post office in Cold Water, Mississippi?” -- times ten. Other times simple requests such as, “Have you seen my wallet?” came over and over. Sadly, the last few months he asked, “Is Helen really gone?” That would have been a nice one for him to forget, perhaps.
It must’ve been isolating not being able to pull information forward and interact with others. As I’m over fifty now, I already struggle to locate the appropriate word or response, at times. I can only imagine how bad I will be if I make it another forty years!
There are two repetitive vocalizations I really miss about my father, though. One was, when he asked how old he was and found out it was in the ninety-year range, he always said, “The good Lord’s been good to me, letting me live this long.” The other thing he repeated was singing hymns. Well, mostly one hymn in particular, “How Great Thou Art.”
In the car, on the way to the doctor’s office, he’d sort of randomly ask, “Do y’all want to sing ‘How Great Thou Art’ with me?” What can you say to that, but yes? It was so sweet. We sang the song at his request in the car, in his room, and he even sang the hymn to at least one of his doctors.
No one in the family who was around my father those last years will ever hear “How Great Thou Art” and not think of him. Of course, we sang it at Daddy’s funeral. The thing is when I’m old-er, and my mind starts to go, I hope I remember to sing hymns. Or even just one hymn. Like my father.
Do you have a favorite hymn?
There are a few monumental days that divide our lives. Some are happy—a marriage or the birth of a child. Others are horrifying—that knock on the door or that phone call with bad news—the death of a spouse, child, or parent. There are days when we remember exactly where we were when something horrific happened—September 11, the Challenger explosion, a president being shot.
August 29, 2005.
Hurricane Katrina was a horrifying day that divided the lives of most Mississippians. The destruction and loss was staggering.
Though my home is three hours inland, Katrina’s storm winds still howled and moaned for hours, uprooting trees in every yard in my neighborhood, many of them crashing on rooftops. We had no power or phone service for a week, which was nothing compared to what happened south of us. I had dear friends from the Coast, and for weeks on weeks, I had no idea whether they were safe, due to the damage to communications infrastructure. The storm hit in August and caused the Gulf to surge up to twenty-seven feet in places.
Six months later, I traveled with a rebuilding team to hang sheetrock. The surreal mutilation of the landscape I witnessed, even months afterward, is forever branded onto my mind. No street signs, no landmarks, food still being served by members of churches under tents, because there was nowhere else to get it. I’ve done my best to honor the people who lost so much in this disaster.
This book is dedicated to my friends and all the Mississippians who went through the devastation that was Hurricane Katrina.
A Coastal Hearts Novel
Janet W. Ferguson
Maggie Marovich couldn’t save her father or her home from Hurricane Katrina, but she’s dedicated her life to meteorology so she can warn others when the monster storms approach. Except…she works three hours inland and rarely risks returning to her childhood hometown of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Both her single-parent sister and the ship pilot Maggie once loved refused to leave the Coast, despite Maggie’s requests. Now a hurricane’s headed toward Mississippi, and Maggie’s sister is seriously injured, leaving Maggie little choice but to head south—into the storm.
The water and tides flow through Josh Bergeron’s veins, and he can’t imagine giving up piloting—even for the love of his life, the infuriating Magnolia Marovich. He tried to move on without her, marrying and having a child. But after his wife abandons him and his little boy, his career choice is threatened by the weight of his parental responsibilities. Moving next door to Maggie’s sister and sharing their child care seems like the perfect set-up. Until Maggie blows back into town.
Being forced to lean on Josh for help washes up the wreckage in Maggie’s faith. Where was God during the destruction of Katrina? Why do some prayers seem to go unanswered? Between the hurricane looming in the Gulf and another gale raging in her heart, can Maggie overcome her past and find the trust to truly live?
Preorder the eBook at Amazon for 2.99. More venues to follow--stay tuned!
"Every country in the world is affected by human trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit, or destination for victims. Children make up almost a third of all human trafficking victims worldwide, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Global Report on Trafficking in Persons. Additionally, women and girls comprise 71 per cent of human trafficking victims, the report states."
I researched human trafficking for a small thread of this story. Trafficking is in our communities, and it's appalling.
Though Tackling the Fields deals with tough issues, it is a clean story--a story of grace and healing, so don't be afraid to read it.
It's free on Amazon July 30th to bring awareness.
I'm super excited about my interview (via email) with one of my heroines of the faith, Francine Rivers! It will post July 11th on Inspy Romance with an eBook giveaway of one of Francine's books!
Also, check out the interview with my quirky heroine, Elinor, from Blown Together on Faithfully Bookish with an eBook giveaway of Blown Together!
Mississippi Book Festival!
Saturday August 19
Author Alley near Mississippi State Capital in Jackson
I will have a booth where I will have all four of my books available, and I will sign books all day :) Come by, and say hello!
CRAVE HIM! Christian Readers & Authors Fellowship
I'm looking forward to this fun event in the Dallas area where readers & authors of Christian fiction will hang out and worship! If you are interested in attending, you can find out more on the website cravehim.com
Or the Facebook Group. We're having an open house Facebook party July 11 with prizes where you can learn more. https://www.facebook.com/events/1562843720435033/
Stop by even if you can't go to Dallas (for prizes)!
Also in the Dallas area-
2017 ACFW MARKETPLACEOur venue in the Gaylord Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas
This is the premiere Christian fiction writer conference, and many authors will be at the Gaylord. I will have a table with author bestselling author Misty Beller where will sing books. Other authors will have tables, as well.
TENTATIVE TIMES Of MARKETPLACE HOURS
*Thursday, September 21st: 7:00 pm - 10:30 pm
*Friday, September 22nd: 9:30 am - 11:45 am and 2:00 pm - 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
*Saturday, September 23rd: 9:30 am - 12:15 pm and 1:30 pm - 5:00 pm
One last bit of news:
I'm editing my next book Magnolia Storms, set in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. I hope to have preorder details next month if all goes well!
Thank you for your support and encouragement!
This week only, book 4 of the Southern Hearts Series is on sale for only 99 cents!!
This romantic comedy was my favorite story to write, and it's set in Mobile, Alabama, and Fort Morgan.
I've written about the Alabama beaches-
but I thought I'd share a little about Mobile.
The city is an active port, situated where the Mobile River meets Mobile Bay, and is connected to much of the country via the Tennessee Tombigbee waterway, which is heavily traveled by tugs pushing barges loaded with cargo to and from the port to inland ports up north.
Kids love touring the USS Alabama. Our son's Cub Scout group made a trip down to spend the night on the battle ship.
A word of warning about the port, cover your head when the sea gulls fly over. I had the unfortunate misfortune of being bombed once and have harbored a bit of ill will toward the creatures ever since. The experience comes out in the novel with a character, of course.
Another fun thing, you may not know is that Mardi Gras was observed for the first time in the New World in the 1700s in Mobile. You can tour the Mobile Carnival Museum to learn the history of the celebration.
You may also enjoy touring the historic homes. Each spring they have a two-day pilgrimage, often with Azalea Trail Maids, dressed in extravagant antebellum-style attire there to greet you.
There are beautiful flowers in the area. Growing up, my family enjoyed stopping in to tour Bellingrath Gardens.
There are plenty of places to fish and boat and relax with the Mobile Bay and the Dog River nearby, and lots of seafood restaurants to enjoy.
If that's not enough, you can drive down to Dauphin Island and/or take the ferry over to Fort Morgan for the beach :)
I hope you enjoy the story! I'd love to hear your thoughts on Blown Together! Reviews are always appreciated, as well, if you liked the novel!
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!
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Under the Southern Sun
Janet W. Ferguson