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Monthly Archives: July 2014

The Roller Coaster of Expectations

dreamsWhat made the Prom such a disappointment? Was it the lousy food? The sub-par music (Stairway to Heaven? Really?) Was it the itchy wrist-corsage that made me sneeze all night?

Or was it my faulty dreams?

I admit it—I had high expectations for my senior prom, and I was disappointed.

When it comes to dreams, I believe there are three kinds of people in this world:

  1. People who still have dreams and expect them to come true (a.k.a. the young and…not experienced).

  2. People who have dreams but have experienced enough of life to know those dreams are unlikely to come true.

  3. People who have given up on their dreams and expect nothing out of life.

But maybe there’s a fourth option: What about people who’ve surrendered their dreams to Christ, who’ve prayed for His dreams? Do they still experience disappointment? Speaking from experience after a roller coaster of a week, I assure you, they do. But at least now, when that roller coaster track takes me on unexpected turns and dips, I can take my dreams, disappointments, and frustrations to Christ. Life rarely goes the way I expect it to, but God is still on the throne, and He’s in control of where the ride ends up.

How about you? Do you still have dreams? Are they your dreams, or are they Jesus’ dreams for you? How do you know?

~ Robin Patchen

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2014 in devotion, Robin Patchen

 

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Charity Isn’t Always Giving

Living in an Amish community, we see a lot of horses go by our house every day. The clip-clop of hooves on pavement and the rattle of buggy wheels are a regular cadence around here. Recently, however, I saw one of our neighbor boys riding a horse, cantering down the side of our road. Not many Amish ride horses, very few, in fact.

Our son’s old saddle – the one he learned to ride in – was out in the barn suffering from disuse. I called him to ask if he minded if I gave it to the boy. He gave me the go-ahead, and I had every intention of doing just that. I watched for the boy to come back down the road.

Once I spied him, I walked across our front yard when that Still Small Voice whispered in my ear. I shouldn’t give the boy the saddle. I should give him a way to earn it. I mentally thumbed through my gray matter as I dragged my toes in the grass trying to come up with something…until I had that “ah-HA!” moment.

I called out to him, and he stopped. That’s when I noticed he had four plastic grocery bags tied to his waist with a thick horse lead rope. This boy needed a saddle. I knew who his parents were but hadn’t met him before, so I introduced myself. He told me his name was Alan, and that he was 12 years old. The rest of the conversation went like this,

“Do you need a saddle?”

“I sure do.”

“I’ve got one that would fit you. It was the saddle my son learned to ride in. And I’ve got a sheep pen in the barn that needs to be cleaned out. Are you interested in a swap?”

That old saying about an ear-to-ear grin? Yeah. It happens.

He slipped off his horse, and we untangled him from his groceries before tying the horse to our hitching rail where she could sniff noses with our three horses. Then I showed him the sheep pen, it’s a big one, but he said he could do that okay. So then I showed him the saddle.

That saying about lighting up like a Christmas tree? Yeah. That happens too.

We tossed the saddle pad and saddle on his mare, and they fit like they were made for her. I showed him how to tie the cinch knot and we shortened the stirrups – a lot. Then we secured his grocery sacks to the saddle horn.

“You going to let me take it now?”

“You going to come back and clean that pen?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Then I figure you can take the saddle now.”

He left our driveway at a high lope. His head was high. His back was straight. He was the picture of a young man in the driver’s – or in this case, the rider’s – seat.

Alan was here bright and early the following Monday morning, one of the hottest and most humid of the summer. But he worked that dirty, stinky job with a smile on his face. Because once the work was done, that saddle was his, and not as a cast-off from the old lady down the road. It’s his saddle because he earned it. Priceless.

~ Pegg Thomas

image from dreamstime.com

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2014 in Pegg Thomas

 

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Author Chat with Jocelyn Green

It’s no secret that I’m the history geek of the Quids. I love fiction stories with good, solid history woven through them. Jocelyn Green delivers that beautifully in her series, Heroines Behind the Lines. I’ve read – and loved – them all so far. I wanted to ask her a few questions and she’s graciously agreed to answer them here at The Quid Pro Quills.

What inspired you to write about the Civil War from the viewpoint of women and how their lives were changed?

JG – I spent about nine months researching the lives of American women during times of war for a nonfiction book I co-authored called Stories of Faith and Courage from the Home Front. The stories that I uncovered, particularly from the Civil War era, were so powerful and personal, I knew I had stumbled upon the perfect material for a series of historical novels. Some novelists say they hear their characters speaking to them in their minds. But for me, I felt like I could hear the voices of women buried long ago, whose stories had been uncelebrated and forgotten. This series brings their incredible contributions to light.

The first book, Wedded to War, sets the scene for the rest of the series and I highly recommend people read them in order. You clearly lay out the impossible situation of the army hospitals at the beginning of the war. How much research went into that first book?

JG – A lot. I spent about nine months researching and three months writing. Research includes a ton of reading, but it also involves traveling to the sites that are in the novels, both to do research in their local archives, and to get a sense of the setting and local culture. For Wedded to War specifically, I visited Washington, D.C., the Virginia Peninsula (including Fortress Monroe), and the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Maryland.  I kept up lively correspondence with historians and archivists in various locations, as they answered my questions and helped me fact-check. I’m part of a Civil War writers group online, as well, and we share resources with each other all the time.

Did you discover anything in your research that made you re-think what you knew about the Civil War?

JG – Honestly, I had no idea the critical roles women played during the Civil War, and how hard they had to work to pioneer those fields for women. Nursing in particular comes to mind, but even as ordinary civilians, or spies, or soldiers dressed in disguise. Women did much more than just knit and roll bandages, although that was very, very important, too.

While the conflict in all your stories is gripping, I think I felt the most empathy for Liberty Holloway in Widow of Gettysburg. What is it about Liberty that spoke to you?

JG – I love Liberty’s story, too. I think most readers can relate to her, because she didn’t seek out the conflict. It landed in her backyard. She didn’t aspire to be a heroine, but she rose to the occasion because that’s what the situation demanded of her. A Gettysburg civilian named Sarah Broadhead said, referring to the battle and its aftermath: “We don’t know until tried what we are capable of.” That’s the bottom line of Liberty’s story and one that resonates with all of us, I hope.

I’ve been to Gettysburg more than once and I know you’ve been there too. Walking over that ground is a humbling experience. How did being there help you write Widow of Gettysburg?

JG – I certainly could not have written Widow of Gettysburg without first having gone there. I spent all my time in the archives of the Adams County Historical Society, reading eyewitness accounts written by the women who lived through the battle and aftermath. At that time, the Historical Society was housed in the basement of the Lutheran Theological Seminary, which plays a role in the novel, and is pictured on the cover. It was used as a hospital for both sides during and after the battle. I also researched in the reading room of the Gettysburg National Military Park Visitors Center. I loved that Gettysburg, as a town, still retains historic charm.

Sherman’s march will always be a controversial movement in the Civil War. You do a very credible job of portraying the devastation from the viewpoint of one living in Atlanta. What impacted you the most while researching this particular part of the war?

JG – It’s the personal stories that get to me. The numbers are hard to wrap one’s mind around, but I’ll never forget the story of a man who deserted the Confederate army to be home with his daughter during the siege of Atlanta. One night they hid in the well, but the damp conditions were terrible for his health. He was already ill. So they went back to bed. A shell fell on them and killed them both in their beds. My heart broke when I read that, as if I had known them personally. I just wept. You would think I’d be desensitized to war after reading about it so much, but sometimes I just snap like that, have a good cry, pray for today’s military families, and move on.

We all love happy endings and even though your characters are burned by the fires of war, you deliver a fantastic ending to each book, because it’s both believable and satisfying. Well done! I was sure this was the end of the series – but wait, there’s more! Give us a teeny glimpse into Spy of Richmond, set to release in March 2015.

JG – Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed the ending to Yankee. Spy of Richmond gives us a window into life in the Confederate capital between September 1863 and April 1865. The main character, Richmond- born Sophie Kent, has ties to the North and begins bringing food to Union prisoners held in her neighborhood. But her sympathies for the prisoners evolve into helping them escape, and soon she’s feeding military intelligence to the Union, too. The deeper she goes, the more she stands to lose as she walks a tightrope of deception.

Thank you for being here today and sharing a little – behind the lines – insight of your series. I highly recommend these books to anyone who loves history and/or a great human conflict story.

Like Jocelyn’s Facebook page to get updates on her writing and visit her websites:

Author Web site: www.jocelyngreen.com

Fiction Web site: www.heroinesbehindthelines.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/jocelyngreenauthor

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/jocelyngreen77

I have reviews of Wedded to War, Widow of Gettysburg, and Yankee in Atlanta on my book review blog, The Sheepish Scribe.

Pegg Thomas

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2014 in Author Chat

 

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Loose Teeth

Marge3

My youngest son has a woggly tooth, as he calls it, and he’s eagerly waiting for it to fall out. Not all my children have been excited to lose their teeth, mind you. I remember my oldest losing his first tooth, and in between the sobbing, he repeated over and over, “I’m not ready for this!”

Do you ever feel like part of your life has become “woggly”? What once was stable has now become loose and uncertain? Remember that God is in control. He might be doing a little wiggling to make room for something bigger and better. Unlike my children, you might not get any money out of the deal, but God knows what He’s doing, and the growing is always worth the discomfort you endure for a time.

~ Marge Wiebe

Photo courtesy of morguefile.com

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in Marge Wiebe

 

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Author Chat with Linda Yezak

Welcome, Linda! Congratulations on the release of your new title, The Cat Lady’s Secret. I’ve read it and I loved it. Quirky characters will always appeal to me and this story is full of them. One of the things I particularly enjoyed was the strong cast of secondary characters. That rounds out a story so much.

Here’s a short excerpt:

I get fairly close, drop to my knees, and start cooing at the critter. Maybe I can coax it out without having to chase it. Sometimes I can do that, if the cat’s not too wild. As I inch toward it, getting dirt and grass stains on my hands and knees, the back door to the courthouse pops open.

The noisiest gaggle of humans knows to man swoops and clatters down the stairs, and the cat takes off.

I struggle to my feet to watch the commotion. Maybe some of these folks will head for the diner and leave Annie a big tip―

Heaven, help me―there are journalists in that group! Press passes big as day displayed on their chests. One of ‘em turns his camera toward me, and I skedaddle before it clicks. If he gets a picture at all, it’ll be a blur of floppy hat, orange t-shirt, and purple polyester pants.

Even that’s too much.

QPQ – As I read this book I wanted to know… how much of the real Linda Yezak is in this story?

LY – I’m a combination of the characters, I guess. Anyone who knows me will see bits of Millie—carefree, nutty, caring, and willing to climb a tree to save a cat. But I reckon I’m part Emily, too—big-hearted, taking everyone at face-value, and sometimes paying the penalty for not being more wary. Clueless. “How did I not see that?” has been one of my life’s themes.

And if I’d given either Emily or Millie the magical ability of walking with a foot in her mouth, I would’ve revealed far too much of myself.

QPQ – It’s fun to “see” the author shine through his or her characters this way. (I think I know a bit about that foot-in-mouth condition myself.)

Emily Taylor is a lady with a closet full of secrets. What is it that draws the reader to her?

LY – Could it be her love of cats? Or her love of old movies? Maybe it’s because she has conned herself into believing that she’s better off alone, in spite of the handsome vet who wants to convince her otherwise.

Or maybe it’s because everyone roots for the healing of a loveable person struggling with a past pain. And, maybe by extension, they’re hoping for their own healing.

QPQ – That’s good stuff, Linda, and so true. Nobody gets very far in life without encountering pain. We can always rejoice when a fellow human overcomes, and take heart that it can happen to us as well.

Who is Millie and how did you come up with her character?

LY – Millie is  . . . Millie. She’s the result of letting my mind out to play beyond the fence and boundaries.  She’s a Purple Hat kind of woman in mismatched polyester and a floppy hat, doing whatever suits her fancy and meeting people head-on. And I want to be just like her when I’m her age.

QPQ – I wouldn’t mind being a Millie when I grow up either.  😉

Scott Barlow is a veterinarian, always a favorite occupation of mine! What is it about him that makes Emily purr?

LY – Ever heard of “meant for each other”? Those two were meant for each other—the attraction started in high school, when Scott was so shy he’d blush at her accidental touch, and his reddened ears always struck her as cute. He’s not quite so shy anymore. He’s actively pursuing her and willing to help her with her cats. What’s not to love?

QPQ – What do you hope readers will take away with them from The Cat Lady’s Secret?

LY – I hope the readers carry with them a picture of forgiveness in action. Forgiveness isn’t an emotion. It’s a decision.  A liberating, closet-clearing decision. It’s not always for the benefit of the one forgiven—although that’s illustrated in the subplot. It’s for the benefit of the forgiver. It’s an opportunity to kick the heart’s trash to the curb and move on. It’s God’s way of keeping our hearts free from hate so there’s more room for love. And when we can’t do it on our own, He provides us His strength, the ability to do it through Him.

I’m preaching.  I’ll stop now.

QPQ – Preaching is allowed here! Thank you for joining the Quid Pro Quills today.

LY – Thanks for letting me share!

QPQ – Please let our readers know where they can find you and your books! And readers can check out my FIVE STAR review of The Cat Lady’s Secret at The Sheepish Scribe.

Website: http://lindayezak.com/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/pprmint777

Google+ https://plus.google.com/100799746244703883596/posts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LindaYezak

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Linda-Yezak/e/B004QX62BI/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1402961116&sr=1-2-ent

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4688488.Linda_Yezak

Newsletter, “Coffee with Linda”:  http://dld.bz/drt5t

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2014 in Author Chat

 

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Will Call

Have you ever been unprepared for a check-in?

I’m vacationing this week in a beautiful townhouse at the beach (be happy for me). My check-in process involved a visit to the property manager, who gave me a gate pass and a house key. I drove to the residence gate and was waved in. After I deposited my suitcase and groceries in the townhouse, I left the complex to enjoy the sights. It was dark when I returned, and a few vehicles preceded me at the security gate. Late arrivals checking in.

The guard looked at the pass on the dashboard of the first driver, who was was waved in with a smile. The guard checked the dashboard of the next vehicle, and his smile fell. This driver was denied entrance. She didn’t have a pass from the property manager, so she was turned away.

Will call is a wonderful thing. A person can make a reservation and know that when he arrives at his destination, the owner will have his pass waiting. Maybe property managers borrowed this concept from the Bible, that speaks of a Day–which no one knows–when a great reception will occur. Some will receive a welcome at Heaven’s gate, but many will be turned away. Why will many be turned away? Because they didn’t have a reservation.

Read the spiritual truth found in Matthew 25:1-13. All the virgins wanted to be with the bridegroom, but only some were received by Him. Why were some accepted, yet others turned away? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

~ Jericha Kingston

GATE PHOTO CREDIT: morguefile

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2014 in devotion, Jericha Kingston

 

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Lonely in a Crowd

crowdI used to be painfully shy.

I went to college at Northeastern University. If you’ve ever visited the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, you most likely passed right by my first apartment. I learned about the world from a very new (and left-of-center) viewpoint. I learned about writing and editing in my journalism classes. And outside of class, I learned a lesson I’ve never forgotten:

When you’re lonely, you never feel more alone than when you’re in the middle of a crowd.

Boston is filled with students. They’re everywhere—on the streets, on the T, in the restaurants and in the stores. As a student, I should have fit right in. But I didn’t.

In my journalism classes, I lived in fear that the professors and other students would realize what a pretender I was. As if I had any writing talent at all.

Outside of class, I watched everyone else hurrying to their important events, to meet with their many friends, to accomplish their high goals, while I lumbered back to my apartment to spend most evenings alone.

Then, even when I did make friends, I felt like an interloper. I never felt I belonged.

It’s only looking back that I realize I can’t have been the only person who felt that way. I have, by the grace of God, overcome that shyness. I have friends. I have places where I belong. Today, rather than allow myself to believe I’m all alone, I look for the person who seems to feel as I did back in college, and I try to befriend her.

Because there’s no lonelier place than standing all by yourself in the middle of a crowd.

Do you ever feel you don’t belong? How do you handle it?

Robin Patchen is the author of two novels. Her latest, Faith House, is a Christmas novella that takes places in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy whose heroine, Sadie, understands loneliness in the midst of a crowd. If you’re longing for Christmas in July, check out Faith House.

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Posted by on July 16, 2014 in devotion, Robin Patchen

 

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