A Cabin, An Alpaca Farm and A Book Review

Barefoot Cabin Banner Elk, NC Elevation 4200'

Barefoot Cabin
Banner Elk, NC
Elevation 4200′

I’ve had some exciting opportunities come my way for marketing Through The Eyes Of Grace.  As you may or may not know, my husband and I have purchased a cabin in Banner Elk, NC. It is exactly where we have always wanted to own property, and the cabin is even better than we had dreamed. While we were there in June we took our grandchildren to Apple Hill Farm which is only 5 miles from our front door. The photo at the top of my blog is all 5 of them staring at the alpacas. It is a great place–they raise Alpacas, Llamas, Donkeys, Goats, Sheep, Horses, Pigs, Chickens, and much more. You can even buy skeins of Alpaca wool to knit or crochet the softest scarves and blankets ever! Anyway, the owner found out about my book, purchased a copy, started reading it and asked if she could sell it in their store. 🙂 Oh my, this takes a bit getting used to. She even asked me to sign the three copies she purchased. What an amazing privilege.

Next, my publisher called to see if I would be available for a television interview to talk about my book. I had to think about it for one second! Of course, I said yes, even though the thought of being on TV is way out of my comfort zone. I will adjust, I’m sure.

What I would really like to figure out is how to set up a blog tour of my book. If any of you have any information that would help me find this information, I would be grateful. 

Finally, I want to review a book I recently read. It was given to me because it reminded my friend of Through The Eyes Of Grace.

Soft As Steel

Book Title:      Soft Like Steel

Author:           Barbara Malek

Review:           Soft As Steel is the true story of the author’s grandmother. She discovered her story by reading her grandmother’s journals. In them she finds out how remarkable a woman she was. She endured great hardship as a young, Mennonite wife, not only because of the Great Depression sweeping the nation in the 1930’s, but because of the selfishness and sin of her husband. Time after time he disappoints and hurts her, but she devotes herself to believing the best, until one day she has a breakthrough…You’ll have to read the book yourself to see what happens. You may also like to know that this marriage produced 9 children in spite of all the trouble. And they all grew up to have a close relationship with each other and with their own spouse and children. I couldn’t put this book down, and I finished it in a couple of sittings.  Barbara is an excellent story-teller as you’ll soon find out if you decide to read it yourself.

My Rating:    ****


A Surprise That Made Me Cry

Photo Credit: Cool Insights blog

Photo Credit: Cool Insights blog

Today I planned to get started on the outline for the sequel to Through The Eyes Of Grace. It’s been hard to think about starting because my Mom is no longer here for me to ask questions. My husband gave me good advice to go into the day prepared to keep a guard on my emotions. He knows this isn’t easy for me, but preparing myself through prayer ahead of time usually provides the will-power to fight being overcome with emotions. I listened to his advice and was doing well until I came up to something I needed to know. Whenever this happened before, I would call Mom, ask the question, get the answer and get right back to my research.


I managed to avoid the tears by talking to myself and keeping my focus on what I needed to do, not on how I was feeling. I had an idea to find the answer to my question;  I would sign onto my Ancestry.com account where I had set up our family tree years ago with my Mom when we were planning a huge family reunion. I was proud of myself for coming up with such a practical solution to what could have been an emotional meltdown.

I spoke too soon. Ugh, again!

Because Mom passed away in December, I hadn’t signed onto Ancestry.com since before then. I wasn’t prepared to see what was waiting for me; Mom was last on the site October 20, 2012, only 7 weeks before she died. She had been working diligently to get me the information she knew I would need for my next book. She had sent me all kinds of updates for me to approve in order to add them to my site. I was overcome with the emotions I had been avoiding. They rushed over me like a flood, but this time they weren’t tears of overwhelming sadness, but tears of gratefulness for a Mom who cared for me and anticipated my need for her help, tears of thankfulness for a God who orchestrated the timing for me to discover this right when I needed it most, and unbelievable humility in realizing how much my God and my Mom love and care for me, even in the smallest of details.

Needless to say, I didn’t get much else done on my book today, but I no longer feel alone in my research. God is my ever-present help in my time of need, and He’s proven that He even cares about the research I’m doing. I am confident He will walk with me down this lonely road and help me do what I wouldn’t be able to do in my own strength. What a God I serve.

When was the last time you sensed God provide for you in ways you never expected or saw coming? How did it affect you? I would love to hear.


Graphic Credit: sendingsunshine.wordpress.com

Graphic Credit: sendingsunshine.wordpress.com

Today I am 54. 54! How did that happen? I know, I know, the answer is simple–one year at a time. But wow.

This is my first birthday without my Mom and Dad, who were used by God to give me life in July of 1959. My Dad led me down the aisle of our little baptist church in 1969. It is strange to no longer have parents here, but they’re not gone. They’ve just relocated to a better place. And because of God’s gift of salvation to me on December 19, 1969, I will see them again. Until that day I am resolved to live out the rest of my years in glorifying the One True God who gives life to all who call on His name and choose to follow Him.

Jonathan Edwards was considered to be one of the greatest American philosopher/theologians of his time and was a key figure in what has become known as The Great Awakening of the 18th century. He has been quoted as saying:

“Resolved, that I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.”

The Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman trial has received unbelievable media coverage this past month. We live only a few minutes from Sanford, FL. so it was with great interest that we stayed up with the trial. When that February night occurred in 2012, neither Trayvon nor George knew that their lives were going to be permanently changed as a result of the choices they made. My point isn’t to discuss which side was right/wrong, for both lost in my opinion. But their case stands as a stark reminder of Mr. Edwards quote. I ask myself,

  • Am I living today as if it were my last?
  • What do I want to be known for?
  • If my epitaph was to be written tomorrow, what would it say?
  • Better yet, what would I want it to say?

I heard someone suggest that we take time to write the epitaph we would want written about us today. Then, make our choices based on that goal. Of course, even those who have the best intentions can’t always guarantee their life will play out as planned. This is why my epitaph should reflect God’s work in my life and not my own plans.

A couple of great epitaphs include:

George Washington


Benjamin Franklin

The body of Benjamin Franklin, printer (like the cover of an old book, its
contents worn out, and stript of its lettering and gilding) lies here, food for
worms. Yet the work itself shall not lost, for it will, as he
believed, appear once more In a new and more beautiful
edition, corrected and amended by its Author

Finally, I found this site that lists over a hundred great epitaphs from which to choose. Take some time and consider which one would best mark your final resting place. Then, live each day to make the statement true.

When A Blog Goes Silent…

…it doesn’t mean I’m not mulling over in my heart and mind what to post next. It just means life has gotten the best of me, which is a good thing.

A silent blog means:

  • I have a life outside of writing about it.
  • There are friends I need to call
  • There are funerals I must attend
  • There are church meetings to help grow my faith
  • There are floors to clean
  • There is laundry to wash
  • There are quiet times to enjoy
  • There are grandchildren to play with
  • There are vacations to plan
  • And walking routes to pursue
  • And most of all–a husband to spend time with

I love writing. It isn’t an effort to do so. But I can easily get caught up with my blogging life to the neglect of my highest priorities. And family is high on my list.

Since I last posted on May 21st this is what has happened:

  • My youngest daughter turned 27
  • We bought and renovated a cabin in Banner Elk, NC. See Barefoot Cabin.
  • We had our first family vacation there
  • Three dear friends passed from this life to their eternal home
  • One friend got married to the love of her life
  • Attended the baby shower for my niece who is expecting her third child, first boy.
  • Went with my daughter-in-love to her 4D sonogram appt. where I got to see my 6th grandchild’s little face for the first time. He is due in September.
  • Had appointments with our attorney to help with my late-mother’s property.

My list could go on and on, and I’m sure you have a similar one. Life is full. Life is good. And everyday stories are being written that would help others know us better if we could but record them somehow. This is my passion. I love hearing stories that teach a lesson. Do you have one you could share? Or maybe a story you want to make sure your children and grandchildren know? I would love to hear it! This is why I began the tab at the top titled, Share Your Story. Won’t you consider taking some time to write it out. Then once it’s published you can share the link with your family and friends who may not have heard it yet. I hope you’ll consider it.

My next post will be such a story inspired by the questionnaire found at the back of my book.

Thanks for stopping by. I’ve missed you.

♥ Debi

A Short Love Story

Photo Credit: curvewire.com

Photo Credit: curvewire.com

Today I want to share with you a short story I wrote awhile ago. I’ve posted it on The Romantic Vineyard, since it’s a love story. But it also fits well with this blog on family history. I hope it stirs in your memory similar stories you’ve heard from parents or grandparents. Be sure your children and grandchildren know these stories, for it’s part of who they are. Knowing them also gives them direction for who they’ll become.

Click on the following title to read the story:

Vito’s Coffee Shop

Making The National Day Of Prayer Personal.

Today is the National Day of Prayer. I’m planning to gather with other members of our church around lunchtime and pray for our nation, pray for our church, pray for our families, and anything else the Lord places on our hearts.

Prayer is a part of my life. I am blessed to have access to the Throne of God because of the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf. He came, lived a sinless life and died in my place, so I can say these three words without fear of condemnation: Dear Heavenly Father. What a gift! I pray I won’t neglect such a privilege.

Prayer is a part of my family history. My grandmother, Grace, was a praying woman. My Mom was also devoted to daily prayers to God for each member of our family. When she passed away in December I was quite aware of the absence of her daily care for me in this way. It was sad, but then it motivated me to take on this responsibility for the sake of my family. God is near. He loves for us to cry out to Him in our struggles. My grandmother saw much pain and suffering in her 90 years, yet the pain drew her closer to God–not away from Him. He was her comfort and strong tower.

This brings me to another great question to ask our aging family members…

Questions #23 – What part has prayer played in your life? Did your (grand)parents pray often, and if so what do you remember about them?

A Simple Way To Discover Your Passion


As most of you know, I entered both of my blogs (The Romantic Vineyard) in the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I was crazy to think I could keep up with it, especially since we were away for two weeks smack in the middle of April. But I did manage 22 posts on this blog! 22!!! That’s quite a feat when you consider I’ve only had a total of 45 posts since August of last year. I’ve doubled in a month what has taken me 7 months to write previously. I also posted 26 on TRV for a total of 48 posts in one month. So I’m extremely happy. 🙂

But what I’m happiest about is those who have joined my author blog as a result. I feel as though I’ve received an Oscar and I have a list of thank you’s:

  • Thank you for stopping by.
  • Thank you for signing up to receive my posts via e-mail.
  • Thank you for buying and reading my book.
  • Thank you for caring to learn more about your own family history.
  • And thank you for helping me find my author blog voice and direction, a new experience for me.

Through it all I’ve discovered a new passion I didn’t realize had been born in my heart. It’s to help others discover the stories in their family history and to share what they’ve learned with me and their extended family.

I’ve heard it said that if you want to know what you’re passionate about, ask your children.

Would what they perceive match your answer? One dad I know said his children answered, “You’re cholesterol.” Ha! He didn’t realize how often he read the labels on everything he ate, and how much he talked about how high his levels were. I don’t think he would have ever said he was passionate about it, but he was. Anything that receives our daily attention is most likely an indicator of a passion. Simply put…we do the things we want to do and tend to put off the things we don’t.

This leads me to my next question for you to ask an older member of your family–or to answer and share with your own grandchildren.

Question #22

What are you most passionate about now? How about when you were younger? Has it changed? If so, why?

Letting Go Of Temporary Blessings

Mom's house

Today my Mom’s house will be sold to a new family. Since she died in December this was the first priority on our list. It is good that we were able to sell it so quickly, but I’m sad. She bought this house after my dad died so she could be closer to us. She was only there a few short years, but it served its purpose during that time.

Mom loved her backyard. She enjoyed watching the birds and squirrels from her bedroom window as they fluttered and scampered about the yard.

She loved when we would come to visit. I wish I could visit her one more time. But I can’t for that season is now part of my history. A story to be told to my grandchildren and their children. My oldest grandchildren will remember her, but the youngest ones won’t. It will be necessary to keep her memory alive by the stories we share about her.

My own children never met my grandmother, Grace. But they feel like they knew her because I’ve talked about her so much.

I’ve heard it said that four generations after  you will most likely know nothing about your life and loves. Really?! After living a long, productive life only 80 years after your death and no one will even remember? That seems so futile.

But is it really?

I don’t believe it is, because God has said He ordained every day planned for us before one of them came to pass. If He took care to plan each day, then even though others may not remember them, He certainly will. It’s important for us to live our lives in a way that matters for eternity, not wasting our time on temporary things. My Mom spent her life on things that mattered. She enjoyed the temporary blessings like houses and such, but she didn’t build her life around them. She prayed for her family every day. She listened to those in need and did whatever was in her power to help. She didn’t waste her time in self-pity, but she sought to better her life by constantly learning and growing. And she did this until her dying day.

I’m sorry this post has turned into a bit of a ramble, but that’s about all I have to give today. I’m sad, and I needed to express it by writing my thoughts and sharing them here.

Do you know the story of your great-great-great grandparents? If so, won’t you share a bit with me? It would sure encourage me on this day when I’m letting go of something, a temporary blessing, that once held a special place in my heart. 

Like-Minded Cousins


Yesterday we had the privilege of visiting my cousin and her husband’s home for dinner in Ashe County, NC. We arrived early so we could have as much time together as possible. I admired her gardening ability, something we both enjoy doing that was passed down from our grandmother, Grace.

We worked on cutting and chopping for dinner all the while talking about various sorts of things. I happened to notice a beautiful pewter tea pot on her sideboard. When I asked her where she got it, guess what? It had a story! 🙂


She opened the lid to read a note she had taped to the inside. It was a wedding present given to her maternal grandparents back in the 1800’s. The tea pot looked brand new, but in reality it was one of the oldest things in the house. Note: the couple in the framed picture is my parents on their wedding day.

As we were about to eat, she took the chicken out of the oven that had been baking in this old, clay pot. She told me it was nearly 200 years old and had been passed down from generation to generation and was still “cooking,” literally! We talked about how amazing it would be to know all the meals that had been cooked in that clay oven. The chicken was moist and delicious, as was the entire meal.

Sometimes you can’t improve on the old way of doing things.


My cousin is a great cook!

Question #17

What is the oldest family possession you own, and what is the story behind it?


This is post #17 in the challenge to post everyday in April.


The Mandatory Celebration of Tax Day’s 100th Birthday

Photo Credit: 123greetings.com

Photo Credit: 123greetings.com

Birthdays are a day to look back a remember. But they’re also a time to look forward to the year ahead. In America we celebrate by honoring the person with parties, balloons, cake, ice cream and usually lots of presents. Children enjoy their birthdays more than anyone else, and always anticipate what theme they’ll have at their next party. It is a fun and festive tradition.

But sometimes birthdays aren’t welcome. People hate the thought of growing older and anything that reminds them of the passing of time. I’m not one who succumbs to this way of thinking because I happen to enjoy the gift of life I’ve been given. Each year stands as a testimony of the faithfulness of God in my life. And I see this as a real reason to celebrate!

Today is a birthday of sorts, and it’s one most every American dreads.

It’s the 100th anniversary of the day our annual income taxes are due. There will be no cake, no presents and certainly no theme. This party requires everyone to send presents, even those who choose not to celebrate. 😦 Certainly not a party to look forward to.

But are you familiar with the history of Tax Day?

The idea of it began in the early 1800’s:

Tax Chart

The nation had few taxes in its early history. From 1791 to 1802, the United States government was supported by internal taxes on distilled spirits, carriages, refined sugar, tobacco and snuff, property sold at auction, corporate bonds, and slaves. The high cost of the War of 1812 brought about the nation’s first sales taxes on gold, silverware, jewelry, and watches. In 1817, however, Congress did away with all internal taxes, relying on tariffs on imported goods to provide sufficient funds for running the government.

In 1862, in order to support the Civil War effort, Congress enacted the nation’s first income tax law. It was a forerunner of our modern income tax in that it was based on the principles of graduated, or progressive, taxation and of withholding income at the source. During the Civil War, a person earning from $600 to $10,000 per year paid tax at the rate of 3%. Those with incomes of more than $10,000 paid taxes at a higher rate. Additional sales and excise taxes were added, and an “inheritance” tax also made its debut. In 1866, internal revenue collections reached their highest point in the nation’s 90-year history—more than $310 million, an amount not reached again until 1911.

In 1913, the 16th Amendment to the Constitution made the income tax a permanent fixture in the U.S. tax system. The amendment gave Congress legal authority to tax income and resulted in a revenue law that taxed incomes of both individuals and corporations.

Read more: History of the Income Tax in the United States | Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005921.html#ixzz2QWzk4q2B

Taxes are a necessary part of running a government well. And this leads me to today’s question:

Question #15: Have you ever discussed what paying taxes were like in your grandparent’s day? Do they remember anything in particular that they have never mentioned?

Chart Source: http://www.usgovernmentrevenue.com