Thursday, April 19, 2018

Meet Evie Parker from Till the Storm Passes By

Allow me to introduce to you the heroine of Till the Storm Passes By, the first book in my Alaskan Waters trilogy.

Hello! My name is Evie Parker. I teach fourth grade in Jamestown on Conanicut Island in Rhode Island, where I grew up. Since I'm not married, I still live with my parents, Louise and Jack Parker. My father owns a hotel on the waterfront overlooking Narragansett Bay toward Newport. He's rarely home except to sleep.

Beavertail State Park, RI Courtesy Google.com
My favorite place to get away to ponder my life is Beavertail Lighthouse (for more about Beavertail, click here) just a few miles from our house. The ocean surrounds it on three sides. Sitting on the rocks and watching the waves break soothes my mind and soul. I'd love to take you there.

Waves Breaking at Beavertail Courtesy Google.com
By way of introduction, allow me to show you the prologue to the book I'm writing to my darling baby girl, Kristina Louise.

"As I hold you in my arms and breathe in your sweetness, I feel great joy and pride. Whenever I tuck you into your crib, I pray we will enjoy a long and wonderful life together. No mother or daughter is ever prepared for anything else, but because of what has happened to me, I know the worst can happen.

"That's why I am writing this story. I want you to know me and the story of my life even if I were to be suddenly taken from you, as my mother was. How I have wished she had done the same for me! It would have spared me much anguish.

"My growing up years seemed mundane and uneventful except for a recurring nightmare that traumatized my childhood, so I will begin my tale with the first sign of the gathering storm that would alter my life forever."

"Mommy! Mommy! Wake up!" a little girl screams. But the woman on the beach lies cold and wet and still.

I awake with a start. A profound sense of loss sucks the breath from my lungs. My heart throbs and my head pounds. My throat is parched, yet I shiver in my sweat-damp nightgown. I press my hands to my cheeks and find them wet with tears.

"Why now?" I moan. I haven't had this nightmare in years. I thought I'd outgrown it along with my fear of the dark and the bogeyman.

What does my dream mean? Who is the woman I call "Mommy"? She doesn't look at all like my mother. Maybe I had the dream again because I'm worried about her. She's not been well, but she refuses to see the doctor.

Trying not to disturb her, I slip out of the house and walk to Carr Elementary School where I teach fourth grade. My best friend, Jean, who also teaches at my school, tries to help me figure out what the nightmare means, but that evening at choir practice where I play the piano for church, my boyfriend, Carl, reminds me of my father when he just laughs it off.

My father is distant, harsh, and uncaring. I don't want to marry a man like him. Everyone says Carl is a dream catch--ambitious, good-looking, and popular. For the first time, I begin to wonder if I really want to marry Carl.

An early spring blizzard and a deathbed confession settle the matter. Although it scares me to death to travel so far in 1953, I decide to fly all the way to Juneau in the Territory of Alaska to unravel a past shrouded in mystery.

A plane Evie flew on in 1953 Courtesy Google.com
I invite you to come along with me as I search for answers, but let me warn you, we will face many storms along the way. I often wonder if I will be ever able to forgive and find true love.

Read Evie's story in Till the Storm Passes By,  Book One in my Alaskan Waters Trilogy, available in paperback and e-book, all readers--Kindle, Nook, iTunes, etc. For more information about my books, see my website: www.annaleeconti.com.



Thursday, April 12, 2018

Meet Violet Channing from Beside Still Waters

Allow me to introduce you to Violet Channing, heroine of my latest book, Beside Still Waters.

Hello! My name is Violet Channing. Orphaned at a young age, I find myself tossed about by life’s turbulent waters when my Aunt Mabel who raised me dies.

I always wanted to be a teacher, but my education was cut short by the untimely death of my Uncle Chester. He made poor business decisions, and as a result, my aunt lost their large Victorian house in a wealthy neighborhood to the creditors at his death.

In order to support us, I had to quit normal school at the age of 18 and take the only job I could find for an unskilled woman in 1915 Boston as a seamstress in a ramshackle wooden garment factory. With its accumulated dust and lint, it was a tinderbox. Fire is my greatest fear.

My wages only afforded Aunt Mabel and me a cold-water flat in a dirty tenement with stark chimneys that belched soot-ladened air. When Aunt Mabel got sick, we couldn’t afford a doctor.

“It’s just a cold,” she said. But when she began to cough up blood, I quit taking a lunch to work so we could pay his fee.

“Consumption,” he told Aunt Mabel. “Keep warm and rest.” Then, he called me aside. “There’s nothing I can do for her. Her lungs are too far gone. She probably only has a few weeks.”

Heartsick, I quit my job to take care of her.


Now, she’s gone, and I have to figure out what to do with my future. I can’t bear to go back to that firetrap of a factory.

At the corner grocery, I buy a few necessities and a copy of the Boston Globe with the last of my money. In the corner of the Classifieds, an ad catches my eye: “WANTED: a young lady to be a companion and tutor to a sick child.”

I read the fine print. No teaching credentials required. Room and board provided. Can this be the answer? Before I grow fainthearted, I pen an application and mail if off to the address.

A week later, I receive a cream-colored envelope addressed to me in a feminine hand. Excitement pulses through me as I withdraw the note, which requests that I come for an interview on Saturday at one o’clock in the afternoon.

Laying aside my mourning clothes, I dress carefully in my best, though slightly out of fashion, outfit. At the address, a three-story brick house in Cambridge, a gracious lady invites me in. Over tea and snickerdoodles, a treat I hadn’t enjoyed since my uncle died, Mrs. Henderson describes the job.

Her granddaughter, Jenny, is recovering from rheumatic fever. Her mother has died, and the girl’s father needs a nanny and tutor for her as he has to be away frequently on his job as a railroad engineer.

The job offer sounds too good to be true until she tells me where they live—in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory!

Uncle Chester had regaled Aunt Mabel and me with his reading of Robert Service’s “The Cremation of Sam McGee.” All I know about the Yukon is that it is wild and frigid. Do I have the courage to go there?

Will I be jumping from a city firetrap 
into frozen wilderness icebox?

I think of my shabby apartment. I have nothing to keep me here, but will I be jumping from a city firetrap into frozen wilderness icebox? I decide to take the leap.

Vanderbilt Reef in Lynn Canal in Southeast Alaska
Sailing up the Inside Passage of Alaska on my way to Whitehorse, I fall in love with a dashing Yukon riverboat captain. But do we live happily ever after? That’s a secret revealed only in Beside Still Waters.

I hope you enjoyed meeting Violet. Visit my website at www.annaleeconti.com to learn more about Beside Still Waters, Book 3, as well as the other historical Christian novels in my Alaska Waters Trilogy.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Never Give Up!

 Although there are several versions, I love this poem by an unknown author:

Two frogs fell into a can of cream--or so I've heard it told;
The sides of the can were shiny and steep. The cream was deep and cold.
"Oh, what's the use?" said No. 1, "'tis fate--no help's around--
"Goodbye, my friend! Goodbye, sad world!" And weeping still, he drowned.

But No. 2 of sterner stuff, dog-paddled in surprise,
The while he wiped his creamy face and dried his creamy eyes.
"I'll swim awhile, at least," he said--or so it has been said--
"It wouldn't really help the world if one more frog was dead."
An hour or two he kicked and swam--not once he stopped to mutter,
But kicked and swam, and swam and kicked, then hopped out, via butter.

How many times are we tempted to give up when troubles come our way. But let's follow the advice of the Apostle Paul in Galatians 6:9:


Many discouraged Christians have given up not knowing that success was just around the corner. So like Frog No. 2, even though the situation looks hopeless, don't give up.

I read recently of a person who was fired from her job. Instead of getting depressed, she used the job loss to spur her on to a complete change of vocation, and she became quite successful.

I too have had that experience. While my husband was in seminary, I lost a job which we needed to cover our living expenses. But the Lord provided another employment opportunity that led me into writing, which has become my life-long vocation.

My Grandma Personeus, pioneer missionary to Alaska for 65 years, taught me to spell "disappointments" as "His appointments." Experience has proven her right.

Are you facing a disappointment? Are you discouraged? Don't give up. Continue to do what is right and good. God has promised you "will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time."


I experienced many disappointments along the way to getting my first book, Frontiers of Faith, published. With perseverance, I finally succeeded. Visit my website to see more about my books.



Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Christian's D-Day

As Good Friday and Easter approach, my thoughts turn to an event in history that illustrates of the significance of Calvary:

On June 6, 1944, Allied forces under the command of General Eisenhower surprised Hitler's armies by invading the Continent across the English Channel. That day changed the course of history.


By nightfall, 156,000 Allied soldiers were on the ground in Normandy and had established the beachhead. The way was opened that day for another million troops to enter Europe by July 1. Although Germany did not surrender until nearly a year later on May 7, 1945, and there were many more casualties during that time than for any other period of the war, the outcome of World War II was determined on D-Day. It was only a matter of time until the war was over.


The death of our Lord Jesus Christ in Jerusalem on the cross at Calvary is the Christian's D-Day. By His death, He invaded the territory Satan usurped in the Garden of Eden, and the outcome of the battle against sin and Satan was decided that day when Jesus cried, "It is finished!"

Until Christ returns to earth, we are still in the battle, but the outcome is certain. We win!

A number of years after the surrender of the Japanese that ended World War II, a handful of Japanese soldiers were discovered on a remote island in the Pacific. They had not heard that the war was over. They thought they were still fighting.

One of my favorite songs written by Bill and Gloria Gaither is "It Is Finished!" It compares the battles raging in many hearts to being prisoners of war:

But in my heart the battle was still raging;
Not all prisoners of war had come home.
They were battlefields of my own making.
I didn't know that the war had been won.

Are you still struggling in "battlefields of your own making"? Has Satan made you his "prisoner of war"?

To you, I declare the good news: I've read the end of the Book. Because of Christ's sacrifice, good wins over evil. "It is finished!"

Christ has already won the battle against the devil, sin, death, sickness, and evil when He invaded this earth with the power of His divine love and was "pierced for our transgressions" and "was crushed for our iniquities." He took the "punishment for our peace" when He died on the Cross for our sins, and "by His wounds we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5). 


He arose victorious over the grave. He has completed the work of salvation. The victory is ours for the claiming. We can do nothing to earn it. It is a free gift paid in full on Calvary. By faith, we accept His gift and serve Him in glad response.

It is only a matter of time until "every knee will bow...and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord" (Philippians 2:10-11). The only thing left for us to decide is which side we are on.

Are we living today like we know the battle is finished and the victory is ours?

(Photos courtesy Google.com)





Thursday, March 22, 2018

Encourage Each Other

Flying into Pelican Courtesy Google.com
When I was a child, my maternal grandparents, the C. C. Personeuses, built and pastored the only church in the tiny fishing village of Pelican on Chichagof Island in Southeastern Alaska. The only way in and out of that town was by boat or by small amphibious airplane.

Born in 1888, my grandmother had learned to travel by automobile, train, and boats large and small in her lifetime, but flying over the mountains and the sea in a tiny airplane that took off and landed on the water tested her faith.

Alaska Coastal Airlines in Juneau c. 1953, where my dad was boss of cargo 1948-1958
Courtesy Google.com
When I was about 4 years old, my family flew in from Juneau for a visit. When they returned home, I stayed on for a longer visit. When it was time for me to fly home, my father, who worked for Alaska Coastal Airlines, the seaplanes that serviced Pelican, sent word that he had arranged for me to sit in the copilot's seat for the return trip so I wouldn't be alone.

Flying over the mountains into Pelican (lower left corner)
Courtesy Google.com
As my grandmother watched me board that Grumman Goose, the Lord spoke to her heart. "If that child can trust her father enough to get on that plane, then why can't you trust Me, your Heavenly Father, enough to see that you fly safely too?"

From that day forward, my grandmother flew back and forth  from Pelican to Juneau and across the United States many times in planes both large and small without fear.

In Romans 1:12, the Apostle Paul describes how the faith of the Christians in Rome encouraged his faith:

That you and I may be mutually encouraged 
by each other's faith.

In the same way, my grandmother's faith encouraged me many times throughout my life to trust the Lord just as she did. In this instance, my own childlike faith helped her conquer her reluctance to fly.

God's plan for each of His children is that we encourage each other in this walk of faith. Our walk with the Lord can be twice as strong when join with others of like precious faith. 

Who encourages you in your walk with the Lord? Who do you encourage?  


For more encouraging stories of living by faith, see my book, Frontiers of Faith, the Story of Charles C. and Florence Personeus, Pioneer Missionaries to Alaska, "The Last Frontier," 1917-1982, available on my website, www.annaleeconti.com.


You may also enjoy reading my Alaskan Waters trilogy set in Alaska where I grew up in the fifties and sixties. Available in e-book for all e-readers and in trade paperback also on my website.




Thursday, March 15, 2018

Watch Out for Little Foxes!


Little foxes are so cute you wonder how they can do any damage, yet Solomon warns us that it is the little foxes that spoil the vines:


Catch for us the foxes, 
the little foxes that
ruin the vineyards.
Song of Solomon 2:15, NIV




Some years ago, Robert A. Cook, then president of the National Religious Broadcasters, wrote something that recently caught my attention: "We tend to think of our lives as being shaped by great decisions such as, for example, where shall I study, whom shall I marry, what job shall I have, what house or business property shall I buy, shall I divorce or tough it through an unpleasant marriage, shall I throw my child out because he is on drugs and steals from me, or shall I keep him at home and hope?"

Of course, all of those decisions are very important and will certainly affect the outcome of our lives. But we make hundreds of other decisions in life that turn out to be more important in terms of our life-long direction. Our real character and our final destiny are determined by the routine decisions we make every day of our lives.

Like the "little foxes that ruin the tender grapes," our seemingly insignificant daily decisions can derail even our best intentions. Some things we do without making a conscious choice. For example, we intend to check our email and get hooked playing a game. Precious time is wasted on something of no real lasting value.

We become what we repeatedly do.
--Sean Covey

I remember watching a demonstration of how habits are formed. The presenter wrapped one thread around the clasped hands of another. He easily broke the ties. Then the present wrapped many threads around the clasped hands until the person was no longer able to break the strands. A habit had been formed. Habits may be either good or bad, but they all begin with doing it the first time. Good habits require us to be intentional, whereas we can easily fall into bad habits, which, apart from the grace of God, can be difficult to break.

Here is a checklist to help us evaluate our day-to-day choices:
  • Do I observe small courtesies, such as please, thank you, and what is your opinion? 
  • Do I tell the truth (all of it) in love?
  • Do I take the time to really listen to the other person, whether it be spouse, child, employer, employee, client, neighbor, or friend?
  • Do I let Christ monitor my thoughts and daydreams, or do I allow my mind to become the garbage dump of suppressed emotions, lust, rage, malice, and covetousness?
  • Do I pray every day about everything?
  • Do I really put Christ first in my daily life, or is my dedication a facade which is shown periodically in church?
  • Do I ask for and receive God's help when I am on the verge of losing my temper, or do I go ahead and blow my top regardless of who gets hurt?
  • Do I, in the final analysis, have God and His will on my mind during my workday, or do I take a merely secular approach to living?
  • Do I treat family and coworkers in a manner that demonstrates to them that Christ is real to me in my life?
  • Do I use my money and my job as a ministry and exercise stewardship, or am I only interested in getting and keeping all I can? What do my daily calendar and checkbook say about my actual choices in these matters?

When I was growing up in Sunday school, we used to sing a little chorus that sums it up well:

Dig them out; get them gone; 
all the little bunnies in the field of corn:
jealousy, envy, malice, and pride, 
all the other sins that in the heart abide.

What seems small and unimportant here counts really big for eternity. Are we living with eternity's values in view? What do our daily decisions say about whom we are really serving? Let's get rid of those "little foxes" that spoil the vines.






Thursday, March 8, 2018

Flattery or Frankness?

When I hear flattery, I recall a favorite childhood memory of my father entertaining us by dramatically reciting Aesop's fable, "The Fox and the Crow," in French. Even though we didn't speak or understand French, his expressions and hand gestures made us understand every word

Courtesy Google.com
A crow who had stolen a piece of cheese was flying toward the top of a tree, where she hoped to enjoy it, when a fox spotted her. The wily fox came up with a plan to get that piece of cheese for his own supper.

The fox sat under the tree and in his most polite tones said, "Good day, Mistress Crow! How well you look today! Your wings are so glossy, and your breast is the breast of an eagle. And your claws--I beg your pardon--your talons are as strong as steel. I have not heard your voice, but I'm certain it must surpass that of any other bird just as your beauty does."

The vain crow believed every word the fox had spoken. She waggled her tail and flapped her wings in pleasure. She especially liked what the fox said about her voice because sometimes she had been told that her caw sounded a bit rusty.

Intending to surprise the fox with her beautiful song, she opened her beak wide. Down dropped the cheese into the clutches of the wily fox. As he walked away, licking his chops, he said to the silly crow, "The next time someone praises your beauty, be sure to hold your tongue."

The moral of this story, of course, is that flatterers are not to be trusted. And that is why, in the long run, frankness is appreciated more than flattery.

The Book of Proverbs has a lot to say about flattery:


"In the end, people appreciate honest criticism far more than flattery" (Proverbs 28:13, NLT).

"A lying tongue hates its victims, and flattery causes ruin" (Proverbs 26:28, NLT).

"Wounds from a friend are better than many kisses from an enemy" (Proverbs 27:6, NLT).

Nobody really likes criticism. It can "wound" us and make us angry. We may feel that we are being attacked personally and are being rejected, instead of just our ideas or actions.

Billy Graham was once asked how he handled criticism. He responded to the effect that he handled it the same way he reacted to praise. He evaluated it to extract the truth and ignored the rest.

Initially, flattery makes us feel good, but it can also be our downfall, just as the vain crow discovered.
This humorous fable can help us appreciate constructive criticism and grow by it but become immune to the vanity that flattery can cause.

We must learn to react graciously to criticism and take flattery with a grain of salt. In addition, we need to make sure that our words are always constructive and trustworthy, not full of flattery and deceit. As  Christians, we must learn to "speak the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15).