Summer Reading 2022

It’s that time of year again–time for my list of book suggestions for this summer! Does it seem like just last week that I sent out the 2021 picks? How does time go by so quickly?

Keep reading to see what I’m recommending this year…

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Coming Soon – Seeking Tranquility

My next book, Seeking Tranquility, comes out in just over a month! I loved writing this book. The two sisters are as different as night and day, the two older women are busybodies who genuinely care about everyone, and the scientists on the mainland add humor and spice to everyone’s lives.

Christy MacLane is smart, but in her eyes, not smart enough. She’s in over her head, having to care for Molly–both of them orphans now–trying to figure out how to finish college, working two jobs to make ends meet, and wondering if this is all that life has to hold for her. She’s sure that she will never have a life of her own or find love or have the time to look for either. Of course, life barges in when we least expect it, and love has a way of finding its own way when the time is right.

Molly is a science prodigy–a whiz at math and an expert on space science at the age of ten. She longs to follow in her father’s footsteps and work for NASA, maybe even go into space someday. She just needs to get through the summer before 6th grade first.

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Giving Your Best

Shortly before the pandemic, I started doing my daily exercise routines at home instead of going to the Y. It works better with my schedule and saves me time on the road. I’ve bounced around between several different workout videos online, and they’ve all been good, but none of them made me excited about exercising. Not long ago, though, I stumbled upon Daniel from Australia, and my exercise life and outlook have changed dramatically. He and his wife, Alex, have an online program called Team Body Project, and it has allowed me to actually enjoy exercising for the first time in years!

I’m not telling you this so that you run out and exercise or join TBP. What I really want to do here is share something Daniel says in almost every video. During the workout, he constantly reminds the participants that all that matters is giving your best all day long and then waking up the next day and giving your best again.

Yes, we’ve all heard some version of this before, but for some reason, this time, it really struck me.

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My Favorite Place?

One of the online groups I belong to poses an ice-breaker question every so often in order for members of the group to get to know each other. This morning’s question got me thinking. The question was, “What’s your favorite place of all the places you’ve travelled?”

That’s an easy one and a difficult one at the same time. Easy because my favorite travels immediately jumped into my mind without hesitation. Difficult because I have more than one favorite for more than one reason.

When I was a librarian, I was often asked what my favorite book is. I answered the way only a librarian could, “That depends. I have many favorites, all according to category!”

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Lessons of the Daughters

Not only did we celebrate Easter this past week, we celebrated my baby’s twenty-first birthday. Honestly, I can’t figure out how that happened! I remember April of 2001 like it was yesterday, but in the blink of an eye, it’s been twenty-one years. I think Morgan’s looks have changed over the past 21 years, but her personality has not.

Morgan is my girl who is never afraid to try anything. From horseback riding to parasailing to caring for her grandfather, Morgan always has a can-do attitude. Although I’m the one who is supposed to be teaching my children about life, I’ve learned so much from Morgan. I think she’d be surprised to know…

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Transformed by Fire

As many of you know, last week I spent five days with my tribe, the women who inspire me, encourage me, and pray for me. It was an amazing trip filled with adventures. One of our outings was to the Franklin Park Conservatory which displays a permanent collection of the famed Chihuly glass. The glasswork can be seen throughout the conservatory’s gardens and exhibits and are meant to “highlight the connection between art and nature.” Each piece of glass was a masterpiece in and of itself, and the displays throughout the butterfly garden and other botanical exhibits were breathtaking. After seeing the magnificent works of art, we knew we could not miss the demonstration of how the works were made.

As we sat in the outside pavilion, warmed on that chilly day by the 1800° oven, we were enthralled by the artisan, by his love of this beautiful form of art, and by the transformation of each piece from a glob of clear, melted glass dipped in crushed, colored glass to a beautiful work of art. Over the course of about 30 minutes, the glasswork was put into the oven at least a dozen times, each time being heated and then molded, changing and becoming that which it was intended to be. Even the color of the glass–clear when first taken from the oven, red when heated, and then the color of the crushed glass as it cooled–symbolized the transformation from indistinguishable glob to bowl or cup or vase or magnificent piece of art. Once the piece was shaped as desired by the artisan, it would be cooled overnight in a kiln at 900°, thus finishing the process.

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Finding the Right Host

I spent this past weekend on a girls’ trip with my besties. We try to get together twice a year, and even a worldwide virus couldn’t stop us from seeing each other last year or the year before.

We played a few games on Friday night that Susan put together to see how much we’d gotten to know each other over the past six years that we’ve been as close as sisters. We learned so much about one another that we never knew! In fact, it was a whole weekend of learning with trips to the Air Force Museum, the zoo, a butterfly garden, a glass-blowing demonstration, and more. Of all that we learned, the thing that keeps coming to mind is that I learned what it means to be a good host.

Let me explain…

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I Pray for Them

This past weekend, Ken and I went out to dinner with another couple. The four of us try very hard to get together about once a month, which isn’t easy with the busy lives we lead, but it’s crucial that we make the effort. We’ve known John and Alix for almost twenty years. Alix and I have been in the same Bible study group for nearly that long. Our kids went to the same school from first grade through high school. Ken and John went on a mission trip to Guatemala together. Our friendship is based on all these things, but what really holds it together is our faith. I have learned so much about prayer, faith, and healing from these wonderful people.

My long-time readers probably know that Ken was in politics for a very long time, almost half our marriage. His political career came to an end during a very tumultuous time in our lives. It was difficult for all of us. Imagine that the person you love most in the world is made into a scapegoat, has his name and reputation smeared by people he trusted, and is dragged through the mud for no other reason than political motivations. It was a heart-breaking time for me, to see my husband’s face on the news and read his name in the paper and know that everything being said was a lie. Rather than being relieved when the state ethics board cleared him 100%, I was angry because our lives had been turned upside down and because the media never once acknowledged his innocence other than a teeny, tiny one paragraph blip hidden at the bottom of an inner page in the local paper. I asked my husband over and over again how he was dealing with all this, how he was coping with the loss of trust and friendship he had, how he showed no anger toward the people who did this to hm, and his response to me was always the same. He simply said, “I pray for them.”

Now, if that doesn’t stop you in your tracks and make you look inward, nothing will.

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Matthew 5:44

But there’s more to those four little words than I could comprehend at the time. So much more.

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You Are Special

You Are Special Plate

Over twenty-six years ago, when I was pregnant with Rebecca, a dear family friend gave me a really special gift. On the surface, it doesn’t seem special, but over the years, it has become a cherished item in our family. It’s an item that is used several times a year but only on special occasions – typically birthdays. It’s a reminder that each of us has something to offer, that each of us is unique, that we are all special.

This simple plate that says, You are special today, has made an appearance at occasion after occasion throughout the girls lives. Using it has become a time-honored, beloved tradition in our house. Everyone knows that the table is not completely set unless the plate is in its proper place at the seat of the guest of honor.

It might seem silly, but you see, it’s about so much more than a plate.

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A Life With a View

How many minutes of my day do I spend looking out these windows?

I can’t even begin to guess.

Sometimes, I see exactly what is out there beyond the window panes–trees, the grassy (or this of year, not so grassy) yard, the driveway. I often look out to see the UPS or FedEx truck pulling up to the house. Now and then, I’ll see a herd of deer or a family of squirrels.

Other times, I don’t see any of that. I see the island of Chincoteague, where several of my books take place, or the Italian vineyard in Whispering Vines, or my Buffalo Springs setting in the Ozark Mountains. Whatever book I’m working on, I can envision the scenes outside those windows like the setting of a play. The actors move about before my eyes and tell the tale that my fingers tap out on the keys.

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