Posts Tagged ‘Thankful’
Posted on April 22, 2013 - by Shannon Vannatter
When the topic of sister’s came up, I was at a loss for a moment. I’m an only child. No sisters. Or brothers. So, I have to go way back for this post. Bear with me.
Shortly before I was born, my parents planned to move to Michigan. Mama knew a woman with a daughter named Shannon. She asked the woman if she’d mind Mama naming me Shannon since me and the other Shannon would probably never know each other.
Twelve years later, we moved back to Arkansas. Seven years later, I married the other Shannon’s brother. Though we look nothing alike, our shared name has confused many over the years. Long ago, I went to my boss’ bank to cash my check because it was closer than my bank. The teller told me she couldn’t cash the check unless Shannon was there. For a long time, our butane deliverer thought my husband and his sister lived in our house. And now, even though her name hasn’t been Vannatter in a really long time, people think my sister-in-law writes books.
For the first few years my husband and I were married, Shannon and I had a good time together. We embarked on exercise plans, went to see a Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton concert, and turned her hair every color under the sun—including Bozo orange. Relax, I was a hairdresser and she’d turned her hair green trying to do it on her own. I had to get it to orange to get the green out. In the end, it turned out a nice natural looking dark brown. Disclaimer: Don’t try this at home.
But then she married a man from Memphis and moved there. Then they moved to Mississippi. During those years, we went to visit each place once. She came here about once a month, but there was never enough time to really enjoy being sisters-in-law.
Last year, she moved back. At first, I didn’t take advantage of the situation. I was used to not having her around. And I run in fifteen directions most of the time with book deadlines on top of everything else. But it finally hit me, my sister-in-law is back and I need to make time for her.
So far, we’ve entertained her grandson and my son on a road trip with my mother-in-law. We’ve gone flea-marketing and shopping. She and my mother-in-law brought our son to visit, when my husband was in the hospital. Together, his sister and I went to pick him up after his release. We’ve stayed after church and just talked.
We’re planning to have lunch soon and maybe we’ll set up a date for me to turn her hair orange just for old-time’s sake.
This time spent together made me realize, I missed her. Who could I possibly have more in common with than my husband’s sister? We both love the same man.
Now its your turn. Every time you share one of your sister stories in the next two weeks, you’ll be entered in the drawing for a copy of When Love Calls for yourself and a matching copy for a sister. Contest closes at midnight, central time on Friday, May 3 and is open to those in the U.S. and Canada. Name chosen by Random.org.
Posted on November 15, 2012 - by Regina
You could say that books have been a very important part of my life for a long time.
As a preteen, I read the requisite Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew, throw in a little “Meg” and “Donna Parker” for good series fodder, and of course the “Little House” books.
That was during my pioneer phase.
But the first book I can remember clamoring for? “The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew.”
It was third grade. My mom had talked all my life about that book that she read in elementary school that was simply her favorite.
“The Five Little Peppers” became my Holy Grail. In third grade, we FINALLY got to go beyond the picture book section of the K-12 library at our school. Our elderly librarian (OK, I don’t know just HOW old she was, but I thought she was ancient – especially when I found out she’d taught both my PARENTS, too) helped me find the chapter book and promptly told me that I couldn’t read that.
Couldn’t? or SHOULDN’T? Would it not interest me? Was I incapable?
I made it my goal in life, at that moment (picture brown curls, hands on hips, chin sticking out in determination) to READ THAT BOOK.
So I stubbornly held my ground. And I checked it out.
AND I READ IT.
And loved it.
I learned that day (well, a few days later, after I’d read it) that I loved stories of families long ago. This was even before my pioneer phase. It spurred me on to read those stories of a family that lived, loved, worked, and suffered together.
It’s one of the things I give thanks for every day. Books that teach children and adults what it is to love one another. To work side-by-side. To suffer consequences when things go wrong, and to come out on the other side loving one another even more.
That’s why I’m thankful for books.
Read “The Five Little Peppers.” And “Pollyanna” . . . and “Little Women” . . . and . . .
Posted on November 13, 2012 - by Stacy Monson
Anyone who knows me knows I love Francine Rivers. Okay, so we’ve never actually met. I’ve heard she’s a lovely woman. What I really love is her writing. Her characters are multi-dimensional, full of passion, “real.” But while I have been deeply touched by many of her stories (especially Mark of the Lion), the one that continues to stay with me is her first inspirational book, “Redeeming Love.
As an ABA author, she was multi-published, award-winning with a solid career. But then God got hold of her and, well…we know what happens when God moves in our lives. “Redeeming Love” tells the story of Michael Hosea, a pioneer farmer in 1850 and Sarah, the woman God calls him to marry. One minor detail – she’s a prostitute going by the name “Angel.”
This epic story draws you in to not just the battle between them, but the battle they each have with God. Michael strives to serve God faithfully and obediently, even if the calling to love and accept “Angel” kills him. Angel believes God is an angry, vindictive, hateful creature that stole all that mattered to her. Both have much to learn on their journey together.
Based on the Old Testament story of the prophet Hosea and his wayward wife, Gomer, it’s a story of sin, obedience, deliverance and redemption. It’s my story and all of humanity’s, as well. And I believe that’s why this book continues to resonate within me.
The first time I read “Redeeming Love” I was convinced Michael and Sarah were real people. Their stories were that vivid. I’ve read it about 800 million more times and still find something new every time – a new way to create a deeper character, a better method for creating tension, the importance of secondary characters.
I have much to learn about the craft of writing. I have even more to learn about the God who loves me, calls me to obedience, delivers me from my daily (minute by minute?) bad decisions and choices, and redeems me with an everlasting love.
I’m thankful for the amazing writers who have gone before me, sharing their knowledge, experience and expertise to help me to the next level, and who write amazing characters and storylines that never grow old. I’m thankful for a God who puts these people in my path.
Did I mention I love Francine Rivers?
Posted on September 11, 2012 - by Shannon Vannatter
21 And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto him: and he was nigh
unto the sea.
22 And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet,
23 And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.
24 And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him.
I can’t focus on this scripture without mentioning what happened before this. There was no rest for Jesus that day. He’d already calmed a storm and cast out demons, then journeyed across the sea. Again. Why? Because the people asked him to leave. Only the demoniac Jesus had returned to his right mind was grateful.
As soon as he got to the other shore, a crowd awaited him. Jairus fell at his feet, begging Jesus to heal his daughter. Jesus immediately went with him only to be thronged by the crowd.
I’ve wished so many times that I could have lived back when Jesus walked the earth. Me—put aside my love for electricity, air conditioning, and indoor plumbing? Yes.
I like to think I’d have been one of the ones who fell at Jesus’ feet. Who would have sold everything to follow him. Who would have railed and mourned when they killed him. Who would have been waiting for his resurrection because he’d said it was so.
But would I have? Or would I have been frightened by the Gadarene’s healing? Would I have been one of the people praying Jesus to depart from my coasts? Would I have been in the press thronging him, getting in his way, and distracting him from Jairus’ daughter. Not because I knew who he was, but because I’d heard of his miracles and needed one.
The people living then didn’t know who Jesus was. They were looking for the Messiah, but they expected a king not a carpenter. Some didn’t recognize him. Even the disciples didn’t understand the big picture.
Would I have recognized him? Or would I have fallen asleep in the garden instead of watching? Would I have denied him like Peter? Would I have been one in the crowd crying for the release of Barabbas? Would I have doubted him like Thomas?
Knowing my short-comings and how I often fall at Jesus’ feet only after I’ve tried everything else, I think I’m glad I didn’t live back then.
Posted on January 31, 2012 - by Shannon Vannatter
I Corinthians, 13: 4, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind;” KJV
Charity is love in action. Love in action is kind. To me, being kind in marriage is to think of the other person’s feelings. When I’m tired, stressed, or have a headache, it’s easy to take my discomfort or displeasure out on my husband. I mean, he’s not going anywhere. Even more reason to be kind. God gave me someone who sticks with me through thick and thin. He deserves my kindness.
If my husband is having a bad day or a problem at work, I try to support him, think of his feelings, and help get him through it. Now that he’s a full time pastor, at least he has fewer irritants. We have so much more together time and family time. A blessing, but it’s even easier to take our frustrations out on each other since we spend more time together.
Kindness is a good rule for life in general. Maybe the lady behind you at the grocery store with ten items in her cart scowled at you. You figure because your cart is loaded down and it takes too long for the cashier to ring up your items, even though your cart was half unloaded before the scowling lady got behind you. But consider what her life might be like. Maybe she has three kids at home and only enough money to pay for the ten items in her cart.
I learned this lesson of putting myself in other’s shoes a few years ago. I traveled with several people to a convention. One lady bragged about everything she and her children had done for the entire hour and a half long drive. After we dropped her off on the way home, I commented, “Is it just me or did she invent everything and if she didn’t, her kids did?”
A kinder lady than I, replied, “Maybe she has low self esteem, so she tries to build herself up in other’s eyes.”
Knocked me off my high horse. I felt about an inch tall. But I learned my lesson.
My son consistently complains about a kid in his life. The child experienced a life altering incident several years ago. When my son complains, I remind him what the other child has been through and ask him how he’d feel if that happened to him. Yes the child probably needs a spanking and nobody does it. Instead, they coddle because of what happened, but my son can still be kind.
So the next time, your spouse comes home railing about his or her day, the guy behind you lays down on his horn because you didn’t put the pedal to the metal as soon as the light changed, or the bank puts your deposit in the wrong account, try putting yourself in the other person’s place. Aren’t you glad you don’t have your spouse’s job? Maybe the guy behind you is taking his wife to the hospital because she’s in labor. Maybe the bank clerk is distracted because her sick child is with the babysitter instead of Mommy. Or maybe they’re just grumpy. Even so, love in action is kindness.
Posted on December 6, 2011 - by Shannon Vannatter
Our Christmas season is even more stressful and hectic than usual this year. My husband is transitioning from bi-vocational pastor to full time pastor. This transition affects our finances, our lifestyle, and his mental peace. It’s scary to put your finances in the control of a hundred people. Christians are just people. Humans. Our finances are in the control of a hundred humans. Yes, I earn a little with my books now, but publishing is very inconsistent. My income would get us on food stamps fast.
This was our plan. We had some spendable money in savings. Grant needed time off after leaving the dental lab where he’s been a technician for 26 years. We planned for him to have two weeks between his last day at the lab and his first day at the church. Two weeks with spendable money. At the time, since Heartsong Presents was ending in December, I didn’t have any deadlines. We were going to relax, spend some time together, and enjoy ourselves.
We planned a trip to Texas for Thanksgiving. In Rodeo Dust, my hero’s ranch is in Aubrey and he rodeos at the Fort Worth Stockyards. We decided to stop in both places for book signings. It was perfect timing since Aubrey was having Christmas on Main—a festival with booths, crafts, and lots of people milling about. Aubrey’s city secretary got all excited and put my signing in several newspapers. It was during the day, so I could be at Fort Worth that night. Then we’d go on to San Antonio to see family. We wouldn’t have to worry about funds and we’d do some Christmas shopping when we got back.
Reality turned into a mixture of good and bad:
- Heartsong Presents extended the line.
- My car went kaput. The bill $1200.00.
- The booksigning in Fort Worth didn’t come together.
- Grant ended up with three checkless weeks off instead of two.
I’d cried over my two seemingly dead books, so miraculously having them resurrected was a blessing. Suddenly, I had a deadline, plus edits. But I had to work during Grant’s time off.
Our spendable money had dwindled. At least we had the money to get my car fixed, but we had to limp to Aubrey since it had already been in several newspapers that I was coming. We couldn’t afford to go on to San Antonio.
In the two weeks after we got back, we couldn’t Christmas shop or even eat out much.
How it turned out:
It was an awesome day in Aubrey. Nancy Downes, the city secretary had outdone herself with a 4′ by 8′ poster of me and the book. It was much bigger than it looks in the picture. The people treated me like royalty. My signing was in Moms on Main, the restaurant where my characters eat after church in books 2 and 3 of the rodeo series. I got to eat a yummy Philly Cheese Steak sandwich there and see where the peanut festival is held, which is in all three books.
For Rodeo Dust, I’d written blindly, since I’d never been to Aubrey, so Nancy critiqued my scenes to make sure I had Aubrey right. It was great meeting her and the Murrays who own Moms. They bought 30 copies of Rodeo Dust to sell in their restaurant and a small Christian bookstore bought copies also. In the end, I sold 58 books, some at full price and some for resale.
Though I sold books, the trip cost way more than I made. But the research was priceless. Actually being in Aubrey was so worth the trip. I can capture so much more for book 2 and 3 since I’ve actually been there. The Christmas tree decorated with American flags at the top of this post was in Moms. It’s definitely going in book 3.
The family member we were going to see in San Antonio ended up in the hospital during the very time we’d planned to be there for our visit. It would have been nice to be with her in the hospital, but it wouldn’t have been a very good visit. She’s fine, but still tired and sore, so having company would have been an added stress once she got home.
My contact from the Stockyards e-mailed me the week we got back. She’s missed my e-mail, but said I was welcome any time. Oh the irony.
We spent the two and a half weeks after the Texas trip with me working and Grant bored. But every year, our son gets a week out at Thanksgiving. With Grant off work, we got to share it as a family this year. And I worked after they were in bed at night, so I enjoyed the week with them both.
An added bonus, Saturday was the annual Christmas parade where we live. Our church always enters a float.
In 2009, our huge, 8′ by 16′ King James Bible won second place. In 2010, our blue lit city of Bethlehem won 1st place. This year, we had a live nativity in blue lights on one end. An empty cross, Roman soldiers and mourners in the middle with red spotlights. Then a red carpet leading up golden stairs guarded by sword wielding angels at the foot of the throne where Jesus sat. We won first place again. Our prayer is always that we touched souls with our message. The banner along the side of the float said, “Believest thou this?”
Our horizon isn’t any less hectic. Grant went to the church today for his first week as full time pastor. I still have half a book to write by January 16th. I’m trying to get the first draft done by the 20th when our son gets out of school for Christmas break.
- Tonight is our church association pastors and wives dinner.
- Tomorrow night is our ladie’s prayer group Christmas party.
- Wednesday night is church.
- Thursday night, we’re loading up in the church van to drive 45 miles and see a live nativity and city of Bethlehem.
- Friday, my family is going to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas concert. Our 7 year tradition.
- Saturday, my guys are going with the church to Branson to see The Miracle of Christmas. I’m going 45 miles to a book signing I’d already committed to before the church trip came up.
So things aren’t perfect in Arkansas this year. But life is good. We’ve prayed for Grant to go full time at the church for several years and never dreamed it would happen this soon. I have two more books coming out in 2012. We should have more family time since Grant only has one job. And in the end, we have to put our finances, stresses, and peace on God’s shoulders and trust Him to handle it all for us.
Posted on November 8, 2011 - by Shannon Vannatter
Dear Teenage Shannon,
Be yourself. Stop trying to mimic others. They’re not any cooler than you are, so stop feeling bad about yourself. God made you the individual you are.
Don’t worry so much about what others think of you. Your audience is an audience of one. It only matters what God thinks of you.
You don’t have to dress immodestly to get the boys’ attention. They’ll notice, no matter what you wear. And if it takes immodest clothing to attract him, he’s not the kind of boy you need. (Your parents won’t allow it anyway, thank goodness.)
Stop being embarrassed by your parents. Some day, you’ll be in their shoes and realize how wise they are. And how much they love you.
Start an exercise program now. That way, it’s second nature and when you’re older, it will already be part of your routine.
Don’t go to cosmetology school. You’ll only waste your parents’ money and get stuck doing your mother’s hair for life. Hairdressing isn’t glamorous. It’s hard, nasty, and exhausting. Stick with your first instinct: computers.
Even better—they’re books. Those stories in your head that you never know what to do with. Don’t wait until you’re thirty-three to figure that out.
The move to rural Arkansas. Stop fighting it. Embrace your new home. You’ll grow to love it, never, ever want to live anywhere near a city again, and meet the love of your life there.
In fact, you’ve already met him. That new boy that lights your fire–the rumors are true–but be patient, God is working on him.
Pay more attention to young boys. Someday you’ll have one. The things he does and dirt he can find will astound you.
Always remember. No matter what happens or what life throws at you, you’ve got Jesus to get you through.
Posted on September 27, 2011 - by Shannon Vannatter
I sing ACFW praises every chance I get. What an awesome organization. What an awesome conference. Put together by an awesome God. This year, I met Lynn Coleman, founder of ACFW. We chatted about how she wanted to start a Christian writing group to support and uplift one another, with no competition or jealousy. Like most things, ACFW started small as American Christian Romance Writers.
I discovered it by google in 2004. By 2005 when I attended the conference in Nashville, the name had changed to American Christian Fiction Writers. Though I’d been to numerous local conferences, writers’ group meetings, and workshops, ACFW made me realize I only knew the basics about writing.
ACFW goes deep in helping writers improve their craft. So deep, it boggles. I always get brain freeze and have to sort through what I learned when I get home. And yes, even though I’m published and an old hand at working with editors, I still learn from ACFW.
I had so many appointments, interviews, and meetings, I only got to go to four workshops this year. But I still learned. I’m not sure what yet, haven’t had time to sort it out. Oh, I did learn that the voice that tells me I’ll never get another book published when I don’t have a current contract or deadline, that’s the enemy and he tells all writers that. Now I know to ignore him and press on.
ACFW is also about having friends along for what can be a very solitary journey. I took the solo route until 2008. Though I’d been to the conference for 3 years, I stood on the fringes and wished I had someone to hug and cry over like all those other writers. In 2008, I met Linda from my local zone and rode with her to Minneapolis. I met my critique partners face to face, met their friends and Linda’s friends. We all went out to dinner together and had so much fun. The next year when I met them, I hugged and cried over them.
Lorna is my designated shoulder for phone calls or in person. Lorna and I have traversed our getting published journey together. When my husband is at work—I call Lorna and blubber over disappointments or triumphs in writing. When my husband isn’t at ACFW—he hasn’t been able to come since 2007—I blubber on Lorna over disappointments and triumphs. Lorna is getting soggy.
Linda is my designated roomie. We often dance in our room over triumphs. Dawn is my designated can’t find her writing friend. I once called her husband at home in Iowa trying to find her in the hotel so I could get the pie I left in her room. This time, I called a friend at home also named Dawn in my quest for Dawn’s room and went to the wrong room looking for Dawn.
Brenda, my other critter, is much better in person than in bobble-head form. We’ll look forward to seeing her in Dallas. Maybe we can wish her there. Kim and her sweet southern accent were missed this year, but Regina brought her husband. I wonder how many times did I say, “I love to hear him talk.” I also got to connect with Shari again. The only problem is there’s never enough time to spend with my writer friends.
ACFW is the highlight of my year. The knowledge to gain, the friends to hug, the contacts to be made. The kind of place where I can walk up to the keynote speaker–who is always way above the realm I live in–and thank them for what they said to inspire or encourage me. Knowing that all those writers sleep-walking through the conference totally get me. They hear voices too—not only their characters’, but God’s.
Posted on August 16, 2011 - by Shannon Vannatter
I’m a traditional kind of gal. I like traditional weddings with poufy dresses dripping in lace and satin, pastel colors, and V-shaped bouquets instead of round hand-tied. I love traditional print books where can run your hand over the smooth cover, turn the pages, smell the printing press, and have the author sign it. I love traditional hymns, holding the book in my hands, seeing the music notes—though I can’t read them—printed with the words, and knowing that thousands upon thousands of Christians have sung them for hundreds of years.
It doesn’t make sense for The Old Rugged Cross to be my favorite hymn. I don’t like the cross. I love the cross and what Jesus did there for me, but I don’t like it. I prefer to think about the resurrection part. Yet without the cross, there could be no resurrection.
When I was in the fourth grade and schools could still get away with such things, all of the students assembled in the gym to watch a movie about Jesus. Sitting cross-legged in the floor, when it got to the beating and crucifixion, I kept my eyes glued to my lap. The teacher came over and asked if I was okay. I assured her I was fine, I just couldn’t bear to watch.
Years ago, my husband and I went to see The Promise, a musical play of Christ’s life, in Branson, Missouri. Midway through the performance, the actor who plays Jesus carries his cross down the middle of the audience. We were close to the aisle. I literally sobbed, my shoulders shook, and I could barely stand to look in his direction. I’ve never seen The Passion of the Christ. From what I’ve heard, I know I can’t take it.
So singing about the old rugged cross where Jesus was crucified should be my least favorite thing to do. But I love the words, love the melody, love the timelessness of it.
Does your favorite hymn or inspirational song fit your other views or contradict what you normally love?
Posted on October 26, 2010 - by Shannon Vannatter
Our ladies prayer group at church set a goal of thirty shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. Some of us have struggled financially this year. Some could only afford to fill one box, some no boxes, and some several boxes. We decided to all buy however little or much we could, then bring our gifts to the church and fill the boxes together. We ended up with a closet full of donated toys, jewelry, crayons, coloring books, school supplies, and hygiene products.
Before everyone arrived to fill the boxes, we decided we didn’t have enough items for older kids. Some people had donated money, but the treasurer hadn’t arrived yet, so we didn’t know how much. On faith, a couple of us went shopping and ended up spending more than we thought we should. When the treasurer arrived, the donations amounted to almost exactly the money we’d spent.
By the time we ran out of boxes, another donation had come in to pay for more. Another shopping trip only brought in four more boxes. Apparently several of the churches in my town are participating in Operation Christmas Child. Once we find more boxes, we should be able to fill a total of fifty.
We didn’t make any plans on who would buy what, how many, for a boy or girl, or what age group, but it all worked out above and beyond our goal. See what happens when you surrender the details to God?