Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Out-of-Character Request that Saved Our Lives

Byron & Marjory Personeus
Today I was looking through some writings of my Aunt Marjory Personeus given to me by their daughter last summer. Uncle Byron and Aunt Marjory have both gone to be with the Lord, but they operated a mission boat in Southeast Alaska in the forties and fifties and then around Vancouver Island for another 20 years.

During those years, they often experienced God's protection. Some of their stories are included in my book, Frontiers of Faith, about my grandparents' 65 years of ministry in Alaska as pioneer missionaries. But this story was one I had never heard.





I am telling it here in my aunt's point of view:

At 5 o'clock in the morning, I rolled over. The cabin was cold, but it was too early to be disturbed. "Don't get up to start the fire yet, dear. I'm so comfortable. Let's wait until 6." We snuggled under the warm covers.

The little three burner propane stove in the tiny cabin on our missionary boat, Gospel Light II, could not keep us warm, so we had installed a small charcoal stove we had picked up at the army-navy store several years before. The instructions promised no fumes or chimney needed.

At 6 a.m., Byron got up to start the charcoal stove and crawled back into our bunk, a small chesterfield (couch) on one side of the main cabin, until 7. Then we had to hurry and get underway for a logging camp where we were to hold Sunday school that morning, the first to be held at the location. We had visited the homes and invited the children, hoping to soon build it up into a regular morning service too. We didn't want to be late.

At 7 a.m., Byron went outside onto the aft deck to turn on the gas so he could start the engine. That's when he noticed that the air inside the boat smelled quite stale, so he left the door open. As I got up to make up the bunk, I felt sick. I tried to get out the cereal for breakfast but had to lie down again.

When Byron came back in, he said, "I feel sick."

I was feeling a bit better, so I quickly got up and told him to lie down. No sooner was he on the chesterfield than down I went onto the cold, hard deck. I could not stand up.

Byron managed to honk the boat's horn to signal for help, but no one came. The folks in our beautiful little village of Quatsino, where we had had a precious service the night before, thought we were signaling a friendly goodbye.

The Gospel Light II in the 1960s
Byron forced himself up and outside onto the float to untie the boat, almost falling into the water as he tried to loosen the lines. Steadying himself, he staggered back on board and to the controls. The little engine chugged to life, and we got underway.

Try as I might, I couldn't make myself do anything. Each time I tried to get up, my head felt so light I had to drop down again. I couldn't even attend Sunday school that morning. Although he too was feeling very weak and had a headache, Byron had to do his best without me.

That afternoon, we continued on to Port Alice for an afternoon service. An RN in the congregation told us that our symptoms indicated that we had no doubt almost been asphyxiated by carbon monoxide. Since my side of the bunk was under the side deck where the fumes had collected, I was hardest hit. Both of us had bad headaches all that day.

When out dear congregation in Quatsino learned of our near-death experience, they came to our boat the next Saturday night after service and presented us with a key to a lovely little cabin. "We don't want you to sleep on your boat any more. Whenever you minister in this area, we want you to sleep here."

Rarely did I tell my husband not to get up to start the fire early on a chilly fall morning. How thankful I was for God's nudging that morning! Little did I realize that my unusual request would save our lives. An hour longer breathing those fumes and we'd have been dead.


Beside Still Waters, Book 3 of my Alaskan Waters Trilogy, is now available in Kindle, Nook, iTunes, and in paperback. See www.AnnaLeeConti.com






Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Greatest Legacy

I spent today at a funeral for an 84-year-old woman. As I listened to the people who spoke, I noticed that no one praised her for what she did in life, but for how she loved people.

This woman spent her life as a mother and a pastor's wife. People talked about how she opened her home to a church every Sunday, how she loved to teach children in Sunday school, how she made spaghetti for the congregation every Sunday, and how she brought many of them into the Kingdom of God by the time she spent with them. She was a true Mother of the church.

Many people are concerned about leaving a legacy. They want to be remembered. They want to leave their mark on society--something that will show they have been on earth.

The Pharaohs of ancient Egypt spent their lives building pyramids as monuments to their reigns. Presidents of the United States talk about their legacy and build presidential libraries. Many people spend their lives making a lot of money to leave to their heirs. Others write books, paint or sculpt artistic creations, build houses, earn degrees, do humanitarian deeds.

Courtesy Google.com
Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that 'God has planted eternity in the human heart.' It is no wonder, then, that we spend our days trying to do something that will outlast us.

First Corinthians 13:13 names the only lasting legacy we can leave: love. That's why God tells us to make love the ultimate priority of our lives.

When people come to the end of their lives, do they want to look at the rewards and medals, their diplomas and gold watches, the books they have authored, their artistic creations?

No, they want to see the people they love. Seldom do they say, "I wish I had done more." The most common wish is that they had spent more time with their loved ones.

Mother Teresa once said, "It's not what you do, but how much love you put into it that matters."

The greatest legacy we can leave is not our wealth or our accomplishments, but our love for our family, for the family of God, and for humankind.

Wisdom is realizing that love is the most important thing in life. Let's not wait until our life is ending to discover that. Let's begin today to build a legacy of love.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Pelican I Remember




My Alaskan Waters Trilogy of historical Christian novels is set in Southeast Alaska, where I grew up in the fifties. As a child, I spent all of my summers visiting my grandparents, who pastored the only church in Pelican, a fishing village on Chichagof Island between Juneau and Sitka. I have fond memories of that town, and it is featured in my first book in this series, Till the Storm Passes By.


Pelican in 1953 ©AnnaLee Conti

The following is a piece I wrote years ago for a writing course. The assignment was to write a description. I wrote about Pelican as I remembered it.


"What a nasty southeaster!" grumbled the old fisherman as I passed him on the boardwalk.

"The worst we're had all summer," I agreed. The rain beat down on me, trickled down my neck, and ran off my nose. "An umbrella's useless in wind like this."

Pelican from the air
Activity had nearly ceased as I trudged down the main street of Pelican. By "main street" I mean a boardwalk that was about fifteen feet wide, built on creosoted, barnacled pilings over the waters of Lizianski Inlet. The houses and buildings also perched precariously on piling on either side of the boardwalk. The town stretched about a mile, curving with the rocky cliffs to which Pelican tenaciously clung. The tide ebbed and flowed under the town.

The red wagon in which my suitcase rested clattered and splattered as I pulled it over the rough, slippery boards toward the post office where the Alaska Coastal Airlines office was located. The rain continued to pound me mercilessly. Occasionally, lightning flashed. I counted the seconds to the thunder roll.

The fog was so thick I could not see the red light that flashed on the buoy at the entrance to the harbor. Seagulls swooped overhead like tiny white phantoms in the fog. The wind was tangy with salt water and fish slime. The odor of rotten eggs from low tide still pervaded the air.

A raven cawed frantically just above me. I jumped. As I glanced up to see what was the matter, my right foot skidded out from under me on the slippery walk and down I thudded. Icy water soaked through my clothing before I could scramble to my feet.

A few yards farther, I passed the two local bars. Raucous laughter rang out above the throb of the juke box. The weather-bound fishermen had nowhere else to spend their time and money. One old leather-faced fisherman in a black slicker tottered out of one tavern toward the other as I passed.

I slopped on through the rain toward the post office. Soon, the boat harbor became visible through the fog. The trollers and seiners rolled and twisted in their moorings as the choppy waves caught them, and the wind rattled their tall poles.

The tiny skiffs tied to the close end of the float were half filled with water. Except for several fishermen securing their boats, the float was vacant. Even the youngsters, who seldom left their favorite fishing spots except to eat and sleep, were missing.

Farther on, I passed the little firehouse, which sheltered the smallest fire engine I'd ever seen, and approached Pelican's only bakery. Even old Wobbly had closed up shop today, and I missed the familiar aroma of fresh bread.

Next to the bakery stood the little white schoolhouse, which would open in a few weeks. The empty swings in the playground twisted in the wind. Part of the chicken wire fence, which had broken away, grated back and forth as each gust of wind hit it.

The Standard Oil dock and the salmon cannery opposite the school were closed until they could get more fish. No cheery "hello" rang out from the Filipinos who drove the jitneys, carrying loads of canned salmon to storage until the next Alaska Steamship freighter came in. The cannery's cookhouse, Pelican's only restaurant, was also closed until the storm passed.

The docks around the fish house and cold storage plant just ahead were vacant. Yesterday's fish had been cleaned and stored in ice, and now only a faint fishy odor clung to the deserted building.

Pelican boat harbor today
To my right was the post office, located next to the small general store and the offices of the Pelican Cold Storage Company. I grabbed my suitcase and dashed inside. By this time, I was thoroughly soaked and chilled to the bone.

Before I could ask the agent when the Alaska Coastal Grumman "Goose" was due in, through the static on the radio a voice cackled, "Due to lack of visibility, Alaska Coastal flight 2 now turning back to Juneau. Over and out."

"When will Pelican ever get telephones?" I grumbled.


Pelican Church in the fifties
Today, Pelican has telephones and televisions, and the Grumman "Goose" no longer flies there. The church, where we lived in the attached living quarters, still sits atop the hill above the cold storage plant, but the little trees now tower above it blocking the wonderful view of the inlet we loved to enjoy. City hall now occupies the old school building and the school has moved to a modern building at the other end of the boardwalk. The cannery is closed. Sports fishing and tourism are the main industries now. It's still a great place to visit.



Check out my Alaskan Waters Trilogy on Amazon. Book 3, Beside Still Waters, available in e-book, coming soon in paperback.






Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Lifelong Search Rewarded

A warm, sunny Sunday morning near Athens, Greece, not far from the road traveled by the Apostle Paul, an 8-year-old, sandy-haired boy sat in a tree. He was obviously American. He had climbed up there to get a better view. As he gazed out over that ancient land from his perch on the gnarled limb, he heard a unit of Greek soldiers singing hymns as they marched to the Greek Orthodox Church.

How guilty the boy felt because he never went to church! God must hate me, he thought.
Then a warm Presence enveloped him, as though Someone had put His arms around him. "I love you, Bobby," He seemed to say.

For the first time in his young life, the boy knew there was a God who loved him. But how could he know Him? The boy didn't know, but at that moment in time he determined to search for a relationship with Him.

Robert James Conti was born July 12, 1944, in Newburgh, New York, while his father was fighting in World War II in the European Theater. His father, who made the Air Force his career, was not a religious man. He'd been baptized and married in the Catholic Church, but that was all. Bob's mother had a Baptist background, but she did not attend church then, either. Thus, Bob had had no religious training of any kind.

Aristides
The Air Force sent the family to Greece for three years when Bob was 8 years old. He had few playmates and often explored the countryside alone with only his specially trained guard dog, a German police dog named Aristides, for a companion.

After his experience in the tree, Bob immediately began to search for God. Church was the place to start, he figured. In Greece, that meant the nearby Greek Orthodox Church, so Bob went to visit. As he entered the huge stone cathedral, fear filled him. It was dimly lit by candles. Incense pervaded the air. After the bright sunshine, it took time for his eyes to adjust. From all along the walls, strange looking statues and icons stared down at him.

A priest in a flowing black robe, a long beard, and a tall, stovepipe hat with the brim at the top approached him. "This is no place to play. Scram." Bob took one look and fled. Feeling none of the peace and comfort he'd experienced in the tree, he decided that he surely wouldn't find God there.

When the family returned to the States, Bob again began his quest to satisfy the longing in his heart to know God. They were stationed in Bethesda, Maryland, and his buddy across the street, who was a Catholic, began telling Bob he was going to hell unless he went to church.

That remark sent him running to his parents to find out what religion they were. "You were baptized a Catholic," they told him. So Bob began going to the Catholic Church just around the corner with his buddy.

Bob was now 11 years old. He had a lot of catching up to do, so a special catechism class was formed just for him that summer. He became a very devout Catholic. Bob had an excellent singing voice, and he was soon singing in the choir at Mass. He learned the prayers and spent many hours in prayer.

Every week, he went to confession, even though it was a frightening experience for him. For the one moment following confession, he felt all clean and good inside, but then he'd swear or commit some other sin and had to sweat it out until the next Saturday confession. Due to his penchant for swearing, he often confessed to having been "irrelevant," until the priest suggested he meant "irreverent."

During Bob's sophomore year of high school, the family was transferred to Fairbanks, Alaska. The Catholic chaplain on the base gave him a Good News for Modern Man, a translation of the New Testament in modern English approved by the Catholic Church. The Mass at that time was still in Latin, but Bob had always loved the weekly readings in English from the gospels. He began to devour the stories in his New Testament.

As he read, many questions came to his mind. When he mentioned them to the priest, he was told to just trust the Church. "The layman cannot understand the Bible." But that didn't satisfy Bob. When he graduated from high school, he left the Catholic Church. Since he'd been taught that the Catholic Church was the only true church, he had no idea how to know God now.

While in high school, Bob became an Explorer Boy Scout. Many weekends, he, and sometimes a buddy, would go camping in the subArctic winters learning to survive in sub-zero temperatures. Many times during those crackling cold nights among the aspens and birch trees, he would look at the stars or the dancing Aurora Borealis and pray, using the Catholic prayers with his lips, while his heart cried out for fellowship with his Maker. He had always been a loner, and the frozen expanse of earth and heaven added to his loneliness. Yet, he loved the solitude.

The week he graduated from high school at age 17, he left home. He worked as a night watchman for the military recreation center at Birch Lake near Fairbanks. Patrolling the lake in his speedboat during those short twilight nights, watching the sun set at 10 or 11 p.m. only to rise at 2 a.m., coming upon a cow moose and her calf grazing on the lake bottom at sunrise was like heaven to him. The stillness of the lake in those hours soothed his soul.

In the fall, he enrolled as a freshman in the engineering department at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. There, he learned to drink and smoke a pipe and cigars. He had never been a particularly good student in spite of his obvious intelligence, and the end of the year found him on academic probation.

Bob at Paxson  September 1963
That summer, he worked as a surveyor for the Alaska Department of Highways at Paxson, a hunting lodge near Denali National Park, building a road into the Alaskan wilderness. "Roughing it," they called it. Instead of going to town to look for girls with the guys on his days off, he explored the area. Finding a secluded place, he would sing the Catholic liturgy and songs like "Ave Maria" at the top of his lungs or pray his Catholic prayers in his desperation for God because they were all he knew. And he still went on drinking sprees then went to work with a hangover.

That fall, he went back to the university. A friendship developed with a girl he had met the previous year. She was different than the other girls he knew. One week she invited him to her church, the Denali Bible Chapel, a Plymouth Brethren fellowship. They had a Canadian evangelist for special services.

The sermon that night was simple and quietly given. The text was John 10:9, "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture." The evangelist talked about the Door, Jesus Christ. He said, "Many people come to the Door. They look at it. They open it. They walk all around it, but only by entering through it can we be saved."

Bob looked back over his life and thought, "That's me. I've looked at it. I've walked all around it. But I don't know if I've ever walked through that Door."

After the service, Bob talked with the evangelist. "I'm not sure if I've been saved or not, but what you're talking about sounds like something I've done before."

The evangelist said, "Well, let's put it this way. If you weren't saved before, then you know you are now." And they prayed together.

Later, Bob learned the hymn, "Precious Hiding Place." He says, "'I was straying when Christ found me, in the night so dark and cold,' and friends, that's true because I found God at the age of 19 in November in Fairbanks, Alaska, and let me tell you, it was dark and cold! Yet, everything seemed brighter and cleaner, and I felt brand new inside."

*****

Now that my Alaskan Waters Trilogy of Christian fiction is completed, I am beginning a collection of stories and testimonies of my family as we followed in the footsteps of faith of my maternal grandparents, Charles and Florence Personeus, pioneer missionaries to Alaska, 1917-1982. I hope to publish them in a sequel to Frontiers of Faith. The working title is Following in the Footsteps of Faith. This will be one of the stories.


NOTE: Beside Still Waters, Book 3 in the Alaskan Waters Trilogy, is now available in e-book on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com. It will be available very soon in paperback.

 





Thursday, April 20, 2017

Beside Still Waters

Watch for Beside Still Waters, Book Three, Coming Soon in e-Book 

and in Paperback in May!



Is she jumping from a city firetrap factory into a wilderness icebox? 


In the third and final book in the Alaskan Waters series, Beside Still Waters, Violet Channing, orphaned at a young age, is tossed about by life's turbulent waters when the aunt who raised her dies. She wants nothing more than to be a schoolteacher. 

Living in a Boston tenement in 1915, barely able to survive, she accepts a job as a live-in teacher for a sick, motherless child in the harsh Yukon Territory. 

Sailing up the Inside Passage of Alaska, she falls in love with a dashing Yukon riverboat captain. Just when her life feels as beautiful as her new surroundings, tragedy strikes again. 

Can Violet allow her losses to make her better not bitter and learn to love again in this continuing saga of the loves, tragedies, and second chances of a Norwegian immigrant family who must battle the beautiful but often dangerous waters of early twentieth century Southeast Alaska?

Scenes Violet may have seen while traveling to the Yukon Territory:

Whales bubble feeding along the Inside Passage
Courtesy Google.com


Whale breaching along the Inside Passage
Courtesy Google.com



White Pass & Yukon Route Railway between
Skagway & Whitehorse
Courtesy Google.com
Lake Bennett, Yukon Territory,
Courtesy Google.com
Yukon Sternwheeler "Casca" mentioned in Beside Still Waters
Courtesy Google.com

Beside Still Waters, along with the other two books in the Alaskan Waters Trilogy, Till the Storm Passes By and A Star to Steer By, is published by Ambassador International and is available at Amazon.com (Kindle and paperback), BN.com (Nook and Paperback), iBooks, Kobo, Vyrso, and ChristianBook.com. 









Thursday, April 13, 2017

Proofs of the Resurrection

Last spring, I attended a high school production of the musical, Godspell. Even though it is an old musical, I had never seen it before. The depiction of the life of Christ was fairly good until the last scene. They left out the Resurrection. I wanted to stand up and shout, "You omitted the best part of the story. He's alive!"

The Resurrection of Jesus is the most significant event in all of history. 


The Pyramids of Egypt are famous because they contain the mummified bodies of ancient Egyptian pharaohs. Westminster Abbey in London is revered because in it rest the bodies of English nobles and notables. Mohammed's tomb is noted for the stone coffin and the bones it contains. Arlington Cemetery in Washington, D. C., is honored as the resting place of many outstanding Americans.

Courtesy Google.com

But the Garden Tomb of Jesus is famous because it is empty! 

I've been there. I've walked around inside. It's empty. He's not dead. He's alive forevermore! And because He is alive, He will always be with us.

One local advice column received a letter from "Bewildered": "Our preacher said that Jesus just swooned on the cross, and the disciples nursed Him back to health. What do you think?"

The columnist responded, "Beat your preacher with a cat-o-nine tails with 39 heavy strokes, nail him to a cross, hang him in the hot sun for 8 hours, run a spear through his heart, embalm him, put him in an airless tomb for 36 hours, and see what happens."

The Resurrection of Jesus is one of the best documented facts of history. Read the Gospel accounts and 1 Corinthians 15:3-9. In addition to the NT accounts, the Resurrection is referenced in the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus and the Roman historian Tacitus, among others.

Let's look at the event itself. The centurion overseeing the crucifixion had certainly seen death before, and he declared Jesus to be dead. And the guards, under penalty of death if they deserted their post, ran away from the tomb at what they had seen.

The empty tomb was the first indication to the disciples that Jesus had risen from the dead. On the first Easter morning, the women who came to complete the embalming of Jesus expected to find the tomb sealed by an enormous stone. They wondered how they would be able to roll it away to gain access to the body. When they arrived, they found the tomb open and empty.

Not only was the body missing, but angels proclaimed that Jesus had risen.

The position of the grave clothes looked as though the body had evaporated through them, leaving them undisturbed except for the folded head napkin.

The gospels emphasize that the disciples did not expect to ever see Jesus again. They were afraid and hid.

Over the course of 40 days, Jesus repeatedly appeared to His followers individually, in small groups, and to a gathering of 500. He talked with them, ate with them, and they touched Him. Most of them were still living when the New Testament was written. Certainly, they would have refuted it if it were not true.

If Jesus' enemies had stolen the body, they would have surely produced it to disprove the disciples' preaching of the Resurrection.

But the greatest proof of all is the changed lives of His disciples and millions more down through the ages. If the disciples had stolen the body, as the Jewish leaders claimed, they could never have preached with such conviction nor would they have so courageously suffered martyrs' deaths for a lie. They were transformed from fearful cowards into bold witnesses who declared the fact that Jesus is alive again.

And Jesus is still radically changing lives today.

The Resurrection is the foundation of our Christian faith. In his great treatise on the Resurrection, the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, pointed out that "if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then our faith is useless, and we are still under the condemnation of sin."

But He did rise from the dead, and whoever believes on Him has eternal life. Jesus said, "Because I live, you will live also" (John 14:19). Because He lives, we have eternal life with Him if we simply accept His sacrifice on the cross as the payment for our sins and live for Him.

If you've never done so, why don't you make this Easter your personal Resurrection Day by receiving the life He wants to give you?

Thursday, April 6, 2017

To the Rescue

Recently, I came across a touching story that I want to share:


Many years ago, a sailing ship was driven onto the rocky coast of Scotland in a tremendous hurricane. The wind and waves were rapidly beating the vessel to pieces. The life-saving crew on shore, at great peril to themselves, attempted to rescue the ship's crew.

With heroic effort, they had succeeded in getting them all into the lifeboat. As they were drawing away from the stricken ship, however, they noticed one poor man who had been overlooked and was clinging to what was left of the rigging.

The rescue team said, "If we attempt to go back to get him, our boat will be dashed to pieces, and we will all be lost." Reluctantly, they left the man and continued toward shore.

When they landed, one strong young man said, "If someone will go with me, I will go back and get that man off the wreck."

His mother, who was standing by his side, put her arms around him and begged, "My boy, you must not go. Your father was a sailor and was lost at sea in a storm like this. Eight years later, your brother, William, went to sea, and we have not heard from him since. No doubt he too has found a watery grave. What am I to do if you go and are drowned? I am old, and you are my only support. You are the only one left. I beg you not to go."

Gently, he removed her arm from around his neck. "Mother, out there is a man in peril. I believe it is my duty to rescue him. If I am lost while doing my duty, God will take care of you." He kissed her. Then he and his companion stepped into the boat and rowed away into the teeth of the storm.

Those on shore waited a long time. Anxiously, they strained to see through the raging storm, hoping and praying for the lifeboat's safe return. By and by, they saw it struggling through the wind and darkness toward the shore.

Finally, weary and worn out, the two brave men applied all their remaining strength to reach land. When they were near enough to be heard, those on shore shouted, "Did you save the other man?"

Lifting his hands to his mouth to trumpet the good news, the young man called back, "Yes! Tell my mother I've got my brother, William!"

The lone man he had rescued from the rigging was his long lost brother!

This story reminds me of a song my uncle used to play from his gospel mission boat as he approached a tiny village or cannery in Southeast Alaska, "Let the Lower Lights Be Burning." One line reads, "Some poor fainting, struggling seaman you may rescue, you may save."

The Lord wants each of us to reflect His light into the storms of life that would destroy our brothers and sisters and rescue the perishing from the destruction of sin. What are we doing to accomplish this task?



Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Year of Anniversaries


The purchase that enlarged the United States by one-fifth
Today is the Alaska Purchase Sesquicentennial 
This year, Alaska celebrates the 150th anniversary of its purchase from Russia by the United States (1867-2017). March 30, 1867, U. S. Secretary of State William H. Seward and Russian Foreign Minister Eduard de Stoeckl signed the 1867 Treaty of Cession, by which Russia agreed to sell Russian America to the United States for $7.2 million. April 9, the U. S. Senate ratified the treaty by a 37-2 vote. May 28, President Andrew Johnson signed the ratification, and on October 18, the formal transfer took place at Sitka, where the American flag was first raised in Alaska. Since 1917, Alaskans have celebrated October 18 as Alaska Day. Often referring to Alaska as "Seward's Folly," most American's had no idea what a bargain the purchase was. Gold taken out of the Treadwell Gold Mine in Juneau between 1881 and 1922 alone more than yielded the purchase price.

2017 is a year of anniversaries for us too. 


My husband and I will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. But that's not all.

Fifty years ago this May 22, we graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), which marks the 100th anniversary of its founding this year (1917-2017).

At commencement, Bob also received a regular commission in the U. S. Army, but he was not called to active duty until September. (At the time, he planned to make the Army his career. But God had different plans. After he spent 6 years on active duty, including a tour in Vietnam, God called him into the ministry. (See previous post, The Real Enemy.)

Our 50th Wedding Anniversary (1967-2017)
Three weeks after we graduated from college, Bob and I got married on June 10, 1967, in Valdez, where my parents were pastoring. Ours was the first wedding held in the new town of Valdez built after the devastating 1964 earthquake made the site of the old town so unstable that the town had to be moved 5 miles away.

50th Anniversary of Fairbanks' Record-breaking Flood. 
That summer, Bob worked for the State of Alaska Highway Department, and I was a cashier at the Alaska Purchase Centennial Exposition on the Chena River in Fairbanks. In August, the Chena River overflowed its banks and flooded the city of Fairbanks. We were flooded out of our house, and my job was gone too. (This story is detailed in my post, Floods, Fires, and Footsteps.)


100th Anniversary of the Alaska Assemblies of God
Even more significant to me and my family is the fact that 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the arrival of my grandparents, the Rev. & Mrs. Charles C. Personeus, in Juneau, Alaska, as the first Assemblies of God (AG) missionaries to that territory. The church they founded in Juneau is still a vibrant congregation.

The story of the founding of the Juneau AG church and the first 65 years of the Alaska Assemblies of God is told in my book, Frontiers of Faith. (To order or to read reviews, click here.)

The church has invited me to speak at their celebration this fall of 100 years of continuous ministry of what is now called Juneau Christian Center. What a fitting 50th wedding anniversary trip that will be!

I lived in Juneau from 1948 to 1958. That church is especially significant to me because my spiritual foundation was formed in that church during my crucial grade school years.

Last fall, I edited a book for the Alaska Ministry Network of the Assemblies of God, written by Jack Aiken, which recounts the growth of our fellowship in Alaska from one mission station in Juneau to numerous churches and ministries across the Great Land over the past 100 years. The book, Called to the Last Frontier-The Assemblies of God in Alaska 1917-2017, includes biographical accounts of seventy Alaska missionaries. It will be released at the Alaska Ministry Network conference in April in celebration of a their centennial.


The 40th Year of Our Pastoral Ministry in New York State. 
In 1917, my grandparents left from their Bible school in Rochester, New York, to journey to Alaska. In 1977, exactly 60 years later, Bob and I spoke about our call to plant a church in New York at the District Council held in Bethel AG church in Rochester right across the street from the location of the former Rochester Bible Training School.

The 40th Anniversary of Kingsboro Assembly of God in Gloversville, New York
In 1977, we planted the AG church in Gloversville, New York, holding the first Sunday service at the YMCA in September. Nine years later, we purchased the historic Kingsboro Church, which has been its home ever since. This year, the church we planted celebrates 40 years of continuous ministry.

As we look back, our hearts well up with praise. Just as Balaam said of the nation of Israel in his God-inspired oracle in Numbers 23:23, we exclaim,


"Look what God has done!" 


Thursday, March 23, 2017

When Foundations Tremble

March 27 is the 53rd anniversary of the devastating 9.2 earthquake that hit Alaska on Good Friday, 1964. All of my immediate family, except me, lived in Seward at the time. I was away at college in Seattle. For a week, I didn't know if I still had a family. This catastrophic event changed my life. (I told this story in five blog posts entitled, In a Matter of Minutes, Parts 1-5.)


Seward before and after the 1964 earthquake

Ten years later, my first writing to ever be published appeared in March 24, 1974, issue of The Pentecostal Evangel. Here it is in its entirety:

When the Foundations Tremble



Fourth Avenue, the main street of Anchorage, the morning after
At precisely 5:35 p.m. on March 27, 1964, a massive slippage in the earth's crust below Prince William Sound in the Gulf of Alaska began a far-reaching earthquake. Known as the Good Friday Earthquake, it left every city, town, village, and connecting highway within a 300-mile radius in ruins.

Building crumbled, Beautiful residential areas sloughed off into the sea. Streets and buildings sank many feet below their previous level. Bridges were suddenly thrust several feet higher than the crumpled ribbons of highways--if they were left standing at all. Railroad tracks were twisted grotesquely. Ruptured fuel storage tanks belched fire and oily black smoke for days.

A series of gigantic tidal waves, generated by the sudden displacement of the ocean floor, swept entire villages into the Gulf of Alaska. These waves hurled railroad engines like sticks and snapped trees like toothpicks. They carried homes hundreds of yards before smashing them against cliffs.

More than a hundred lives were lost. Thousands were left homeless, including many Assemblies of God families. Thousands more were left without heat in freezing temperatures, with smashed dishes, shattered windows, and broken water, fuel, and sewer lines. Telephone and electric lines were down. Fires burned out of control. Church buildings were destroyed.

Particularly hard hit was the little town of Valdez, nestled among rugged, glacier-filled mountains on a fjord of Prince William Sound. The waterfront vanished completely. Thirty-one longshoremen went to watery graves as the bay swallowed up the dock where they were unloading a ship. L. Duane Carriker, an Assemblies of God missionary, was among those who lost their lives at Valdez.

 
Valdez before and after the 1964 Earthquake
Earthquakes, tidal waves, and fires turned many areas into a shambles. Yet out of the rubble, courageous Alaskans began to put their world back together. First was the staggering clean-up job. Then divers and surveyors had to determine the stability of the earth before homes, buildings, docks, and highways could be rebuilt.

The people of Valdez were shocked to learn that  their picturesque little town was not on solid  ground as they had thought. Divers exploring  the  coastline below the water level discovered  Valdez was built on a ledge that could break off  into the sea at any time!

 And so it is with men today. Seeking security,  men and women surround themselves with  material possessions, insurance, bank accounts,  family, and friends; but in the time of stress,  they  find they have built their lives on shaky foundations.

Have you examined the foundation of your life and found it shaky and unsure? There is a remedy. The people of Valdez moved their entire town to a safer location five miles away.

Jesus told of two men who built homes--one on the sand and the other on a rock. When the storms came, the house on the sand fell and "great was the fall of it." But the house built on the rock stood firm (Matthew 7:24-27).

Jesus is that Rock, the only firm and lasting Foundation. The Bible tells us, "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:11). You can depend on Jesus. He signed the guarantee with His own blood on Calvary. Won't you accept His offer today? The Bible says, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31). You can be on a sure Foundation that will never be shaken!


I hope you enjoyed this blast from the past. If you would like to read an account of my experiences in this earthquake, you may enjoy the story I wrote, "An Earthquake Full of Blessings." It is published in a new collection just released from Bethany House Publishers:" Gifts from Heaven: True Stories of Miraculous Answers to Prayer compiled by James Stuart Bell. Click to view it on Amazon.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Coming Soon! Beside Still Waters, Book 3 in Alaskan Waters Trilogy

Wow! It's been a month since I wrote a blog post. I've been working through the editing process with my publisher on Beside Still Waters, the third book in my Alaskan Waters Trilogy. I thought you might like to see a quick overview of the entire series.

The Alaskan Waters Trilogy is the saga of the loves, tragedies, and second chances in a fictitious Norwegian immigrant family, the Pedersens, who must battle the beautiful but often dangerous waters of early twentieth century Southeast Alaska (where I grew up in the fifties and sixties) to find love and happiness in the midst of suffering.

Cover photo: Pelican

"Mommy! Wake up!" a little girl screams. 

But the woman on the beach lies cold and wet and still.

In Book One, Till the Storm Passes By, Evie Parker, a timid Rhode Island schoolteacher, is plagued by a recurring nightmare from her childhood. What does it mean? Who is the woman? She must travel to Alaska in 1953 to unravel the mystery of her nightmares and her mother's deathbed confession.





"Oh, Kristina, what have I done? 

No matter what you hear about me, you're the one I love."


In Book Two, A Star to Steer By, tales of easy wealth entice 19-year-old Norman Pedersen, a poor Norwegian fisherman, to immigrate to Alaska in 1920, asking his sweetheart, Kristina, to wait for him, but Norman becomes entrapped in a "prison" of his own making. Achieving his goal is harder than he expects.


Coming in May! Beside Still Waters, Book Three


Is she jumping from a city firetrap factory into a wilderness icebox? 

Lake Laberge, Yukon Territory,
Featured in Beside Still Waters
Courtesy Google.com
In the third and final book in the series, Beside Still Waters, Violet Channing, orphaned at a young age, is tossed about by life's turbulent waters when the aunt who raised her dies. Living in a Boston tenement in 1915, barely able to survive, she wants nothing more than to escape the firetrap garment factory where she is employed and become a teacher.

She accepts a job as a live-in teacher for a sick, motherless child in the harsh Yukon Territory. Just when her life feels as beautiful as her new surroundings, tragedy strikes again. Can she find a new reason to live?

Can Violet allow her losses to make her better not bitter and learn to love again?

Beside Still Waters is another story of love, family, and second chances in the Pedersen family saga.





Where I Get My Ideas

Cover photo: the church at
Pelican
built by the Personeuses
The novels in my Alaskan Waters Trilogy are entirely fiction but are based on true incidents I uncovered while researching my nonfiction book, Frontiers of Faith, which tells the adventure-filled story of my maternal grandparents, Charles C. and Florence L. Personeus, who went to Alaska, "The Last Frontier," as missionaries in 1917 and spent 65 years there.

My grandparents knew the real people behind my characters in my Alaskan Waters Trilogy--Evie, Norman, Kristina, and Violet. These stories tickled my imagination. They would not leave me alone until I fleshed them out and wove them together into the life-and-death saga of a fictitious Norwegian immigrant family representative of the many Scandinavians living in Alaska's Panhandle.

Other characters are composites of people I knew. Some of the events are based on real occurrences and historical events. Others are entirely the invention of my own imagination, but the setting is the Alaska I knew and loved while growing up there.

Me at Beavertail
enjoying the waves
Now that I live in New York State, Beavertail Lighthouse in Rhode Island, featured in Till the Storm Passes By, is still a favorite one-day getaway for my husband and me. We discovered it while we were stationed in Rhode Island in the U.S. Army when my husband came back from Vietnam. Our son was born at nearby Quonset Point Naval Station.

My Uncle Byron Personeus operated a mission boat in Southeast Alaska from 1945 to 1957. As a two-year-old, I traveled with my parents on the last leg of our move from Philadelphia (featured in A Star to Steer By) to Alaska on his boat. I had a face-to-face encounter with a bear in Juneau when I was four.  When I was 13, I spent a week on a troller fishing for salmon near Pelican, one of the places featured in Till the Storm Passes By. These experiences and more inform my writing.


My uncle's first mission boat,the Fairtide II, in Pelican, 1948

Where to Get My Books

If you haven't read my books yet and want to read them before Book Three comes out, you can purchase them through my website book page at www.AnnaLeeConti.com,, at Ambassador International, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble (bn.com), iTunes, Kobo, Vyrso, Christianbook.com, or they can be ordered through bookstores. All of the books in the Alaskan Waters Trilogy are available in paperback and ebook (all readers). Frontiers of Faith is only available in paperback.

To receive email notification of my weekly blog posts as well as the release of Beside Still Waters, please complete the coupon at the right.





Thursday, February 16, 2017

Goodbye, Aunt Audrey

Aunt Audrey with two of her daughters
enjoying her 90th birthday party
Early Sunday morning, a week after celebrating her 94th birthday with her family, Aunt Audrey passed away peacefully in her sleep. An orphan raised by a couple she called uncle and aunt, she always appreciated family. She was the dynamo that held the Philadelphia Cousarts together.

She married my Uncle Jack Cousart, my father's elder brother, in March 1943, during World War II. Soon after their wedding, the Army shipped him out to the European Theater, where he spent time in France. She lived with his parents and worked at an office job while he was away.

My father, Bob Cousart, joined the Coast Guard and was sent to Alaska, where he met and married my mother, daughter of missionaries, Charles and Florence Personeus. In late 1944, they were transferred back to Barnegat Lighthouse on the New Jersey shore.

I was born in Philadelphia at the end of the war. We returned to Alaska when I was two and a half, so my first memories of Aunt Audrey were made when we flew east for a visit when I was in kindergarten, and again in second grade and fifth grade.

She and Uncle Jack never owned a car. Philadelphia has an extensive transit system of buses, the El, and subways. On my first visit, I remember trolleys, but they were soon replaced. Whenever we visited, Aunt Audrey arranged for friends to pick us up at the airport and drive us where we needed to go. And, of course, we rode the buses and the El.

We usually stayed with my Cousart grandparents in their row house on South Conestoga Street in west Philadelphia, just off Baltimore Avenue. We kids loved it when we went to Aunt Audrey's house to play with our cousins. Aunt Audrey was a great cook and made the most delicious chocolate chip cookies I have ever eaten. Our visits to the zoo are among my favorite memories of those trips.

One special memory I have of Aunt Audrey was the summer of 1961 when I won a trip to New York City and the United Nations. I traveled with 35 other teens from the Pacific Northwest by educational bus tour across Canada and back across the northern United States, stopping at historical sites all along the way. During the week in New York City, our activities included a boat trip around New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty. Aunt Audrey rode the train to NYC from Philadelphia to join up with me for the boat trip.

The next week, our tour took us to Philadelphia to Independence Hall and all the sites of interest including Longwood Gardens. Aunt Audrey, my cousins, and my grandparents met up with me as we toured the city. Of course, Aunt Audrey was the one who made it all happen.

The next summer, my whole family drove from Alaska to Philadelphia so my dad could itinerate to raise support for his missions work in Alaska. Unused to hot, humid weather, we Alaskans sweltered in the oppressive heat in the city. Aunt Audrey opened her home in Lansdowne to us. Although it meant a lot of extra work for her, she entertained us with delicious meals and much fun in her tree-lined neighborhood.

Our first Christmas together, I wore my new dress.
In 1967, as a newlywed, I had my first experience as a "war bride" when Bob had to go to training at Fort Benning, Georgia, without me. Again, Aunt Audrey opened her home to me. Having been a war bride herself, she knew just how to comfort me. A talented seamstress, she took me shopping downtown, riding the bus and the El, to shop for material--a lovely soft green plaid wool--to make me a dress. We lunched at Strawbridge's, on the corner of 8th and Market.

After a year stationed in Germany, Bob and I returned to the USA just in time to attend my Cousart grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary celebration.

For the next five months, while Bob attended the US Army Intelligence School at Fort Holabird in Baltimore, we drove up many weekends to overnight with Uncle Jack and Aunt Audrey. How we enjoyed her wonderful roast pork dinners!

It was in their home that my son, Bobby, at 3 months of age, met his Cousart great-grandparents for the first and only time. Granddad died 9 months later. Over the years, we visited Uncle Jack and Aunt Audrey whenever we could. She and Uncle Jack rode the train to attend Bobby's wedding to Sabrina in Port Chester, New York, in 1991. In 1998, when my parents came east for the last time, Bob and I drove them to Lansdowne to visit. My granddaughter, Sophia, then 5, accompanied us. Aunt Audrey gave her a stuffed elephant she'd made.

Uncle Jack and Aunt Audrey's house has always been my East Coast home. Many of my Alaska homes have been destroyed, but 151 Windermere Avenue was the one seemingly permanent link with my youth. After Uncle Jack passed away, though, Aunt Audrey found it increasingly difficult to keep up the property, so she sold it and moved to a senior living apartment in Rosemont. Whenever we could, we would stop by for a visit to take her out for lunch.

Then she moved to Glen Arm, Maryland, to live closer to her eldest daughter. We visited her a couple of times. The last time we saw her was at her 90th birthday party. On my birthday she always sent me a card and a note, and every Christmas she'd call me to chat and to thank me for the Daily Guideposts I sent her for Christmas. This past Christmas, I received a card but no note and no phone call. I knew she was failing, so I was not surprised to hear that she had slipped away to her heavenly home to be reunited with her dear husband, whom she missed greatly.

For her 80th birthday, I created this alphabetized list of things I associated with her, things that describe who she was:

Apple dishes, Antiques, Art
Buttons (she had a large collection), Books, Buses
Chocolate chip cookies, Cloth napkins with rings, Chicken salad
Aunt Audrey with her apple dishes
Dress-making, Downtown Philadelphia
Ellie the Elephant she made for my granddaughter
Family gatherings, Fun times
Good Gravy, Guided tours of Kerhonkson & Rosemont
Horn & Hardart's automated food service in NYC (a new experience for me), Hospitality, Happy times
Interaction
"Just around the corner" (everything was "just around the corner")
Knick-Knacks
Lansdowne Presbyterian Church
Mermont Circle
No air conditioning
Overnight visits from Baltimore
Pork roasts, Pies
Quality time with Quite a lot of talking
Riding the El, Reupholstering
Sauerkraut, ham, and Swiss on rye Sandwiches, Sewing, Shopping
Travel (though she never owned a car, she could travel anywhere by train), Trains, Trolleys, Tablecloths
Uncle Jack
Walking, Windermere Avenue, Wanamaker's
Xtremely
Youthful!
Zest for living!

Goodbye, Aunt Audrey! I'll miss you! I'll never forget you.




Thursday, February 9, 2017

Don't "Should" on Yourself!

Courtesy Google.com
"I should have known." I sighed and continued my sad story. "I shouldn't have done that. Maybe then that wouldn't have happened."

It was mealtime at a retreat for the wives of pastors when I said those words. The lady I'd been talking with suddenly took my name badge and wrote on the back of it, "I will not 'should' on myself."

As she handed it back, she said, "You've said that several times in the last few minutes. You're trying to live in a perfect world that doesn't exist. You did the best you could with what you knew at the time."

That got me to thinking. We all tend to entertain the delusion that life should be a certain way and that bad things shouldn't happen to us. "If only we had or hadn't done such and such, painful episodes in our lives wouldn't have happened." But that's fanciful thinking.

The truth is that very painful, unfair things can and do happen in the real world. And they happen to us. They even happen to those who love and serve the Lord. Christians can hurt us, and we can hurt others.

When we dwell on the "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts," we only add further damage to our emotional and spiritual well being.


Instead of worrying about what we or someone else should or shouldn't have done, we need to get our minds off the past and focus on how we can overcome it now. We can't change the past. What's done is done. but we can learn from the past and profit from those lessons today.

When we realize that "nothing good lives in [us], that is, in [our] sinful nature" (Romans 7:18a, NIV), we will not be surprised when people commit sinful acts. It is not right; it is not pleasant. But given man's sinful nature, which even we as Christians must constantly fight against, evil is not surprising. Even the Apostle Paul wrote, "I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out" (7:18b).

Realizing the truth about evil, we must fight it with all the strength available to us through God's power. And we "can do everything with the help of Christ who gives [us] the strength [we] need" (Philippians 4:13).

So, don't "should" on yourself! Confess your mistakes, learn from them, and move on.


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Are You a Procrastinator?

When my professors in college assigned a term paper, I would begin doing the research and writing it a little at a time until it was finished. I knew I would worry and panic if I waited until the last minute.

©AnnaLee Conti
My boyfriend, who is now my husband, however, had a different style. He would mull it over in his mind until the last minute and then pull an all nighter. His term papers were certainly fresh! His father, pictured left, apparently took the same approach to studying in college.

I thrive on studying and writing. On the other hand, some tasks are so distasteful to me that I put them off until I don't dare wait any longer. If I would just get them done, though, I wouldn't spend so much time dreading them.

Some people act as though avoiding problems is easier than facing them. Avoiders ignore problems until they either go away or get worse and have to be faced. Of course, we all know that problems usually have a way of getting bigger and more painful. They don't just go away; they must be addressed.

Those who avoid problems and the emotional pain that accompanies them usually end up with more pain in the long run. Those who face their problems save themselves a great deal of unnecessary suffering. When we believe our problems will go away if we avoid them, we are fooling ourselves and risking more pain.

As parents, we must be careful about rescuing our children from their problems and depriving them of the opportunity to learn the appropriate skills for coping with life and its unavoidable problems. One of the reasons so many young adults cannot face life and are still dependent on their parents is because Mommy and Daddy, in misguided love, made excuses for them and bailed them out instead of teaching them how to stand on their own two feet and take responsibility for solving their own problems.

Are you a procrastinator? Are you a problem avoider or a problem facer? The Apostle Paul was certainly not a procrastinator. He didn't avoid problems. He didn't wait until conditions were perfect before he strained to reach his goal. In his missionary journeys he stepped out in faith in spite of many problems and severe persecution (see 2 Corinthians 11:23-12:10). He let nothing stand in the way of preaching the gospel, not his past nor his present circumstances nor the threat of persecution nor the dangers of the journey. He continually "pressed toward the goal":

Courtesy Google.com
Are you a problem avoider or a problem facer? Next time I find myself procrastinating, I'm going to remind myself that I will suffer less if I tackle it right away! How about you?

What do you do to motivate yourself to achieve your goals? I'd love to hear about it.

To receive notification by email of the release of Book Three in the Alaskan Waters Trilogy, Beside Still Waters, as well as new posts on my blog, complete the coupon to the right. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Jesus in Our Messes

Someone once asked me, "What good is it to be a Christian? I still have messes in my life."

I thought about something that had happened in my life years ago. I was sure it would make me ineffective as a minister. But you know what I discovered?

I soon found myself ministering to more people than ever. People opened up to me about their own problems in a way they never had before. They could see that having Jesus with me in the midst of my mess made a wonderful difference, and they wanted Him in their lives too.

So I answered that person by saying, "We are not exempt from troubles just because we are Christians. We are all human and have messy lives, but I'd rather have my messes with Jesus than without Him." And I quoted what the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4:

Courtesy Google.com
How many Christians believe the lie that God can't use them unless their lives are perfect and they are spiritually strong? They think that because they haven't straightened out all their own messes, they can't possibly tell their friends and loved ones about Christ. They are paralyzed by thinking their friends will say,"You haven't done very well in your own life. Why should I listen to you?"

The truth is, Christians are not perfect, just forgiven and saved by God's grace. We don't have to wait until we become spiritual giants to tell people about Jesus. We don't have to pretend to be perfect. That approach won't fool anyone. If we are honest about our struggles, telling how Jesus is giving us the strength to overcome, others may just want what we have found.

So, let your warts show and loudly proclaim what Jesus is doing in your life. Remember, the Christian life is a growing process for all of us.

Beside Still Waters, third book in the Alaskan Waters Trilogy, is coming soon. 

After her last living relative dies, a destitute young Boston woman accepts a teaching position in the harsh 1915 Yukon Territory, but when tragedy strikes again, she must find a new reason to live.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Is God Just Another Gadget?

Courtesy Google.com
Years ago, I got hooked on entering Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes. But to enter, I have flipped through pages and pages of gadgets advertised to make life easier. And I must say, I have collected a few. Some have actually been quite useful, but others just take up space. I don't throw them away, though, because someday they might come in handy, I tell myself.

Most Americans try to find ways to make chores easier and life more comfortable. And we've been quite inventive. Trying to minimize our pain and maximize our pleasure is not bad. But when we expect life to be easy because we're Christians, we set ourselves up to believe the lie that God, like a gadget, is there to make our lives easier.

But life is not easy. Even for Christians, it's often downright difficult. Accepting that fact, however, will make life less difficult for us.

That sounds like a contradiction, doesn't it? 

Jesus told His disciples to expect trouble in this life. In the next breath, He told them to "take heart." Why? Because He has overcome the world and wants to impart His peace to us.

Courtesy Google.com
A song by Annie Johnson Flint, "What God Hath Promised," has spoken to my heart in times of trouble. It goes like this:

God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, troubles and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing kindness, undying love.

Twice orphaned, Annie Johnson Flint was forced to give up her career in teaching after only two years when severe arthritis crippled her and put her in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. To endure the long days of suffering, she took up a pen into her twisted and stiff fingers and wrote many encouraging poems, articles, and letters. This poem was set to music and has appeared in many hymnals, blessing many people over the years.

As Annie Johnson Flint learned, if we don't face and accept the truth that life is difficult, we will become angry, bitter, and confused, thinking God has failed us. She chose to allow her suffering to make her better not bitter. And she became a blessing to many people.

True Christian living demands tremendous sacrifice, and that often causes pain along with the joy. Romans 8:28 promises that God will "work all things together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." God doesn't promise us a rose garden, but He does promise to be with us in our troubles, giving us His strength and peace, and to use the struggles to make us into the image of His Son (v. 29).

Life is not easy. It is tough and full of hardships and frustrations. Instead of letting trouble make us sour and bitter, let's use it as a stepping stone to becoming sweeter and better. As the saying goes, "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade."





The third book in my Alaskan Waters Trilogy of historical Christian fiction, Beside Still Waters, is now at the publishers and will be available in the spring. Watch for further information. Beside Still Waters continues the saga of the loves, tragedies, and second chances of a Norwegian immigrant family who must battle the beautiful but often dangerous waters of early twentieth century Southeast Alaska. Can Violet allow the trials and suffering in her life to make her better not bitter?