Friday, December 10, 2021

Conti Christmas Chronicles 2021

If we thought 2020 was troubling, as another Christmas season approaches, the daily news is still very upsetting, not much different than that first Christmas when Jesus came as a tiny Babe born in a manger. “His name shall be called Immanuel, God with us,” the angel told Joseph. Jesus came to bring hope and peace into the hearts of all who accept Him. “In the world you will have tribulation,” Jesus told His disciples, “but don’t be afraid. I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). “Peace I leave with you,” Jesus continued. ”My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). How thankful I am that “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8)! He is still in control, even in the midst of all the chaos of this world. His peace sustains us in the midst of trouble. And one day, Jesus, the Prince of Peace, will rule and reign with justice and true liberty. What a day that will be!

A joyful event took place on January 16, 2021: Phoebe Ray Conti was born to our grandson, Stephen, and his wife, Naomi, at 2:26 p.m., weighing in at 8 lbs. 12 oz. and 20 inches long, making us great-grandparents. They live nearby. What a joy she is!

Our little pumpkin, Phoebe Ray (9 1/2 months),visited us at Halloween

This year has also been a season of loss. As I mailed out our Christmas letters last year, word came that Bob’s only sibling, Mary, who was 9 years younger than he, had passed away in Utah on December 20. On November 2 of this year, Bob’s only remaining uncle (age 86) died in Colorado leaving him and his two cousins at the head of the Conti family.

After three procedures on his varicose veins, Bob’s legs have healed, and he’s had no more scary bleeding episodes. Not being able to follow his daily routine of walking for nearly a year due to his veins, though, we were alarmed that his chronic congestive heart failure had become much worse. He could hardly function. After much prayer, changes in his medications, and a gradual return to walking, he is feeling much better now. PTL!

For the past 20 years, I have been seeing a pain management specialist for my back pain. My implanted spinal cord stimulator (SCS) I’ve had since 2007 was no longer providing sufficient relief. After a CT scan last December, he told me I needed to see a spinal surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgeries in NYC, where I was told I have very advanced degenerative disc disease. Many of the discs are totally gone. The surgeon prescribed 12 weeks of physical therapy in preparation for a 7-level spinal fusion in the lower thoracic-lumbar spine. After I had my SCS removed, I had further scans and MRIs that showed that in the past year I have developed significant osteoporosis that would make the outcome of surgery dismal. My pain management specialist suggested an implanted intrathecal (spinal canal) morphine pump, but when I had the trial injection, I had such severe itching that I decided against it. I continue with monthly chiropractic, massage therapy, and acupuncture, but I can’t tolerate any pain meds except aspirin and topical pain patches and creams. Bob takes good care of me. I’m still trusting God for healing.

This year, I was able to teach three all-day classes for the New York School of Ministry and continued to facilitate the local library’s women’s writing group every Wednesday via their GoToMeeting site until we discontinued them in late summer. In October, I also enjoyed an all-day meeting with ministry wives from our region. Bob is my chauffer in our new white pearl Toyota Camry. Even though we did get the vaccines, we haven’t gone back to church yet due to our “comorbidities.” Sadly, several of our friends at church have died of COVID. We miss seeing everyone.

The family is doing well overall. After teaching virtually for a year, Bob B. is back to the classroom. Sonny has joined Sabrina, Stephen, and Spencer in working at Adams, a local chain of stores that began as a farm-to-table store. Naomi works at Stewart’s. She and Stephen plan their schedules so they don’t need a babysitter. Sam gives Huguenot tours in New Paltz, NY. Sophia and her boyfriend visited from San Diego in August, and we enjoyed a family reunion at Bob B.’s. This year, after a stay-at-home last year, we are looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas with the family too.

My fifth book, Footsteps of Faith, was released this year. Its prequel, Frontiers of Faith, is being republished in the next few months by Stratton Press and will include an e-book as well as a paperback edition. They, as well as my Alaskan Waters Trilogy of historical Christian novels based on true stories my Personeus grandparents told about their early days in Alaska (Till the Storm Passes By, A Star to Steer By, and Beside Still Waters), are available through, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes and are featured on my website at

I love connecting with many of you on Facebook, and we look forward to your Christmas cards and letters. Best wishes for a merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.

Love, AnnaLee & Bob



Sunday, May 2, 2021

What Is Eternity?

I've been thinking a lot more about eternity lately. I'm 75 and dealing with debilitating pain due to advanced degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, and osteoarthritis. It causes me to be even more aware of my mortality.

While sorting through some files, I came across a poem I wrote for children years ago, "What Is Eternity?"


"What is eternity?" you asked me one day.

I thought it over, then I knew what to say.

Picture the sandy beach where you love to play;

Picture a little bird alighting one day;

Into his beak he takes a wee grain of sand;

Off he then flies to a way faraway land;

One long year later he returns from his trip;

Down he then swoops to take another wee bit;

Year after year bird makes one run after run;

When all the sand is gone, eternity's just begun!

                                                              --AnnaLee Conti

Growing up in a missionary family in Alaska, I became aware of my Creator at a very young age. In church, we often sang a chorus written by Alfred B. Smith, "With Eternity's Values in View." 

And a plaque on my grandparents' wall made a solemn  impression on me: 

Only one life, 'twill soon be past;

Only what's done for Christ will last.

As I grew up, the question that always guided my decisions in my life was "Will it count for eternity?"

Ecclesiastes 3:1, 2, tells us 

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: 

a time to be born, and a time to die.

The Bible also makes it clear that God knows the number of our days. Not one of us knows the hour of our death. Some die young of illness or in accidents or war, but I read recently that old age begins at 80 now! Psalm 90:10, 12 (NKJV) says, 

"The days of our lives are seventy years; 

And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, 

Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow, 

For it is soon cut off, and we  fly away...

So teach us to number our days, 

That we may gain a heart of wisdom."

It is not macabre to think about death and eternity. God says it is wise! 

As I look back over my life, another song by Dean Bernstrom comes to my mind: "I Wonder Have I Done My Best for Jesus?" It continues, "... when He has done so much for me." When I see Jesus face to face, I want Him to be able to say to me, "Well done, good and faithful servant....Enter into the joy of your Lord" (Matthew 25:21).


Thursday, February 18, 2021

How I Became a Writer

I was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. How I ended up in Alaska is a story in itself, one of which I share in my new memoir,  Footsteps of Faith, a Faith-Building True Story of God's Direction, Provision, and Protection in my life. Available now in paperback. Coming soon in e-book.

 I grew up in Alaska in the fifties and sixties in a missionary family. We were avid readers. My Grandma Personeus was a storyteller and kept everyone entranced with her accounts of her and Grandpa’s early days in Alaska (1917-1982). When we visited them each summer during my childhood, she read books aloud to us—books she’d enjoyed as a child. 

Grandma was a prolific poet and wrote curriculum for Sunday school quarterlies and articles for church magazines. My mother also wrote continued stories and composed songs for us and for her Sunday school class.

As a young teenager, I discovered Christian fiction. We had no TV in Alaska back then. To provide good reading material for cold, dark winter evenings, my father subscribed to a Christian book club. We could hardly wait for the two selections that arrived each month. Those pages influenced my worldview and my attitudes about life and love. When I read the nine Christian fiction books written by my great aunt under the pen name of Zenobia Bird, I dreamed of writing my own novels.

 In high school, I began writing about the sights I’d seen and the experiences I’d had. I got my start in writing for publication while my husband was in seminary when I worked in the editorial area of Gospel Publishing House. The editors I worked with encouraged me to write and submit short stories and articles for their publications. Soon, I was given assignments to write Sunday school, vacation Bible school, and children’s church curriculum. When we began pastoring, I continued to write on assignment for Gospel Publishing House for more than 25 years. 

Alaska provided the setting for my stories. It wasn’t hard to fictionalize my family’s experiences of living by faith in Alaska, stories that are carriers of truth about God’s love, forgiveness, grace, and mercy, because I learned to know God there.

 In 1973, while my husband was in seminary and I was working at Gospel Publishing House in Springfield, Missouri, my Personeus grandparents visited us from Alaska. Grandma gave me a packet of papers, saying, “Many people have asked me to write our story, but I’m too old to see it through by myself.  So I’m placing all my written accounts in your hands to do with as you think best.”

 Nearly 10 years later, while we were starting a new church in New York State, my mother-in-law invited me to her home to write the first draft of my first book. For one week, I holed up in a bedroom in her house and wrote on an electric typewriter, stopping only for meals, which she prepared. I wove together the short accounts my grandmother had written about their experiences and filled in the spaces between. Due to the downturn in the economy, though, I was unable to find a publisher. In the next few years, I retyped the manuscript into a Smith-Corona word processor. In 2002, I discovered a print-on-demand publisher and was able to get the word processor disc converted to MS Word. My uncle (their son) paid to have Frontiers of Faith published, and I reimbursed him from book sales.

While writing Frontiers of Faith, I came across several stories that triggered my imagination for historical Christian novels. For years, I’d been writing them my head. In 2007, I joined a writer’s critique group at the local library to begin fulfilling my lifelong goal of writing novels. 

I learned a lot from that group that included published authors and began writing a minimum of one chapter a week. In 2013, I published Till the Storm Passes By. By 2017, my next two books, A Star to Steer By and Beside Still Waters, completed my Alaskan Waters Trilogy, the life and death saga of a fictitious Norwegian immigrant family who battles the beautiful but often treacherous waters of early twentieth century Southeast Alaska to find love and happiness in the midst of tragedies, based on the stories Grandma Personeus told.


During those years, I started this blog, “Nuggets of Faith,” including many stories from my life. When I read a book about how to blog a book, I decided to develop these stories into a memoir, Footsteps of Faith, that has just been released by ReadersMagnet. It is now available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble in trade paperback. The e-book is coming soon on those sites as well as iTunes.

 Why do I write?

Writing is hard work and involves a great investment of time, but I can’t not write. I write because I have stories of faith to tell. God has called me to write stories that are carriers of truth about His love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace.

On a personal note: In January, we became great-grandparents when Phoebe Ray Conti joined our family. What a thrill!





Twitter: @AnnaLeeConti