Write Your Story

Touchstones are everywhere in movies, in songs and in books. It’s something that touches your heart because you can relate to what’s being shared.
Whenever I come across a touchstone I know because it usually makes me cry.

I just heard a song that affected me in such a powerful way. It’s a new release by Francesca Battistelli, titled Write Your Story.

No matter what we’re going through what a comfort it is to realize God is faithful to write His Story on our hearts. I’ve posted the lyrics below with a link to the song in the title.

May God encourage you today with touchstones of the heart.

Write Your Story

They say
You’re the King of everything
The One who taught the wind to sing
The Source of the rhythm my heart keeps beating

They say
You can give the blind their sight
And You can bring the dead to life
You can be the hope my soul’s been seekin’

I wanna tell You now that I believe it
I wanna tell You now that I believe it
I do, that You can make me new, oh

I’m an empty page
I’m an open book
Write Your story on my heart
Come on and make Your mark

Author of my hope
Maker of the stars
Let me be Your work of art
Won’t You write Your story on my heart

Write Your story, write Your story
Come on and write Your story, write Your story
Won’t You write Your story on my heart

My life
I know it’s never really been mine
So do with it whatever You like
I don’t know what Your plan is
But I know it’s good, yeah

I wanna tell You now that I believe in
I wanna tell You now that I believe in
In You, so do what You do, oh

I’m an empty page
I’m an open book
Write Your story on my heart
Come on and make Your mark

Author of my hope
Maker of the stars
Let me be Your work of art
Won’t You write Your story on my heart

Write Your story, write Your story
Come on and write Your story, write Your story
Won’t You write Your story on my heart

I want my history
To be Your legacy
Go ahead and show this world
What You’ve done in me
And when the music fades
I want my life to say

I let You write Your story, write Your story
Write Your story, write Your story

I’m an empty page
I’m an open book
Write Your story on my heart
Come on and make Your mark

Author of my hope
Maker of the stars
Let me be Your work of art
Won’t You write Your story on my heart

Write Your story, write Your story
Come on and write Your story, write Your story
Won’t You write Your story on my heart
[x2]

When I Leave The Room

Natalie Grant - Relentless Cover photo

Natalie Grant – Relentless Cover photo

I recently was shown the following video by Natalie Grant. It is specifically for mothers and how they love and care for their children. I have three children of my own, and this song depicts the heart of a mother as no other song I’ve ever heard. Listen, cry and share with all who need to be encouraged in their role as a mother or even for those who are daughters.

I miss my Mom, but I’m so grateful she placed my hands in Jesus’ hands when she was ready to go. What a hope I’ve been given and treasure.

Where Were You 10 Years Ago?

Lake Dora

It’s a question many of us never consider–looking back ten years to see how much has changed. For some it can be an encouraging endeavor, for others a sad one filled with regret.

Ten years ago my Dad died. But that isn’t the end of his story. It’s just the last part for me in this life. I miss him still, and I guess that’s the highest compliment I can give him. How sad it would be for no one to notice when you’re gone. My grandmother has been gone for nearly 35 years, and I miss her too. But it’s my Mom’s passing that has been the hardest. Maybe it’s because we were so close, and she depended on me for so much during her final years. Maybe it’s because it’s only been a year since we said goodbye. Maybe it’s because she was my Mom–no one cared for me for as long as she did, and I’m so grateful for her love, wisdom and friendship.

In just one year my Mom has missed the births of three more great-grandchildren bringing the total from 10 to 13. Her oldest greats miss her still and talk of her often. In fact, Bristol, my 6 1/2 year old granddaughter was in her first Christmas production this year. Right before it began I went backstage to hug her and tell her how proud I was of her when she said,

“Nana, guess what I’m wearing?”

I had no idea, so I said, “What?”

“The necklace that G.G. gave me.”

My eyes filled with tears as I quickly hugged her and walked away. I didn’t want her to think she had made me sad. It was quite the opposite. What a joy to see the effect my Mom’s life had made on her short life.

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We must never underestimate the influence we have on the coming generations. They are watching and listening and loving us despite our limitations.

Who are the little people growing up behind you? Do you take time to enter into their world? I encourage you to not waste such an opportunity. You never know when you’ll breathe your last and depart this life. Make what they remember about you something they’ll miss and recall fondly as the years pass.

A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes…

a_dream_is_a_wish-32635…when you’re fast asleep… is how the song goes from a popular fairy tale. But today I feel as if I’m living that dream.

Tomorrow I leave for my first Ladies Retreat at Barefoot Cabin. This is the place Tom and I bought in May for the purpose of hosting marriage and ladies retreats. It is a dream come true.

My love for this kind of retreat came about when I attended my first one in 1989. It was there that God shared with me His desire to use my writing for His purposes. All I knew then was He wanted me to start keeping a personal journal. I didn’t realize how doing this one daily exercise would strengthen my writing skills and help me remember significant events in my life and family. But it has! Whenever I take the time to write out what God has done, it cements it in my memory and enables me to recall it later.

Take for instance my research for Through The Eyes Of Grace. I can’t tell you how many times my Mom told me all the facts surrounding my grandmother’s story, but they never made it permanently into my memory bank until I wrote it down. Now I feel as if my grandmother is my friend, and someone with whom I can relate.

There was one time in particular that I want to share where I was so overwhelmed with God’s love for me through my journals. I was facing an extremely difficult season; my only hope was in God doing what seemed impossible to me. I was writing out my fears and worries in my journal when God interrupted me. I heard Him say that five years from now I will look back on this journal entry and thank Him for what He had done. Of course, I wanted this to be true, but my mind quickly filled with doubt, “That’s just you speaking, Debi. That’s what you want to hear!” I wrote out what I thought He had said, but quickly forgot about it.

Fast forward five years. Things were going well in our household, and I was filled with gratefulness to God for some specific things He had done. I took the time to write out those specifics in my journal as a prayer to God for His kindness and mercy in my life. As I was doing so, God once again interrupted me and said, “I want you to look at your journal from five years ago.” Puzzled, and having completely forgotten about the previous paragraph, I did so. Imagine my overwhelming response when it was where He had told me I would thank Him for what He had accomplished in the circumstances with which I was anxious and afraid!!

What a God we serve. He isn’t far off as some suppose, but He is intimately acquainted with all our ways. His kindness and mercy knows no bounds, and when He stoops to encourage me in little ways like these, I am undone.

So as I embark on this new journey, I know God has gone before me. He has surprises along the way that I can’t wait to discover. But most of all I can’t wait to spend time alone with Him. He is the author of our dreams and the finisher of our faith. He will complete the work He’s begun in you and in me.

In what ways are you tempted to fear tomorrow? How has God helped you remember His faithfulness?

Reviewing Grace

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I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted, but I really don’t want to post just to post. I want to have something worth your while reading too. And today I think I do.

You know how they say a watched pot never boils? Well, Amazon reviews are the same way. I hadn’t received any new reviews on my book since April, so I quit checking. I was  surprised to discover three new reviews in just the last month! The only way I found out was someone tagged me in one of the reviews.

Here’s what they had to say:

5.0 out of 5 stars So affected by this book!, September 7, 2013
This review is from: Through the Eyes of Grace (Paperback)

I just finished Through the Eyes of Grace and wanted to review it right away – what an absolutely beautiful story of a young girl I could easily relate to, as Grace was my own daughter’s age when her life took such a dramatic turn. Knowing that Grace, her family, and the life that she lived were all real at one time, made this a particularly fascinating read for me. I ached as Grace did, at the rawness of her shame & her struggles, but the thread of hope weaved throughout her life was so profound and just so … beautiful. I’m anxious to hear the rest of the story (the author alludes to another volume in the epilogue), but for now I’m excited to share this exquisite tale of redemption with my own teenage daughter, and anyone else who will read it!

5.0 out of 5 stars Well written story, September 3, 2013
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

This book tells a story of very difficult circumstances thrust upon the main character, 15 year-old Grace. It deals with sensitive issues in a delicate and tasteful way, and brings a healthy resolve in the end. It doesn’t unnecessarily stir up romantic passion, but gives an accurate, sweet account of a love, rebellion, redemption and grace. Well done.

5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!, August 11, 2013
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

This book is incredibly well written. It is easy to lose yourself in the author’s flowing language and vivid descriptions of the western territories and life as a settler. You will feel Grace ‘s pain and joy as if you were her. Debi Gray Walter has a true hit here! This book is also seen inspiration to the reader to dig into one’s own family history and stories before they are lost. Well written and well enjoyed! When’s the next one?

What wonderful reviews! Thank you so much to all of you who have taken the time to review Through The Eyes Of Grace. If you haven’t had the chance, would you consider writing one? I want you to be honest in order to help others know whether or not they would like to read it.
“Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.” 🙂
― Will Rogers

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.

Ugh!

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.

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

Oklahoma Our Prayers Are With You

The past couple of days have been devastating for Oklahomans. I live in Florida and we face Hurricane season from June until November each year. But nothing can compare to those who live in Tornado Alley. Sure many towns are missed for years, but when one finally sets its course for your spot on the map…there is no place to hide. That is unless you have an underground storm shelter.

Today, Monday, May 20th, a huge storm crossed over parts of Oklahoma City. It hit two elementary schools, and one didn’t have an underground shelter. I am sad. Even though I’ve never lived in the OK state, I feel such a connection with the people, the land, the history, that this hurts so bad. It feels as if one of my own has died.

Would you join me in praying for the those whose lives have been tragically changed forever? It’s easy to grow used to seeing these types of storms on the television, but if WE were the ones devastated by this storm, we would never forget it, would we? God please be with those who have suffered loss. Comfort those who mourn. Heal those who are injured, and bring help where help is needed. In Jesus’ precious name, I pray!

Watch this amazing video of the tornado as it cuts a path across the fruited plain.

I’ve Received The Liebster Blog Award

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Rosanna of Writing Prompts From Life nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award, and I am so grateful to her and happily accept the nomination. ‘Liebster’  is a German word that means “beloved.” The origins of the Liebster Blog Award are shrouded in mystery, but what is clear is that the award is given to up and coming bloggers.  Just like most awards, the purpose of the Liebster Blog Award is to inspire bloggers.

When a blogger accepts the award, the blogger has to:

  • 11 facts about her/his self
  • Answer 11 questions from your nominator
  • Nominate 11 blogs with under 200 followers
  • Leave 11 questions for the nominees to answer

So, in accepting the award, I hereby list 11 facts about myself:

  1. I am a native Floridian.
  2. I have been journaling my life since 1989, and I’m on my 56th volume.
  3. I have a rose garden that grows in pots, but my favorite flower to grow is the dahlia.
  4. I host another blog called Route 66 Club devoted to helping others read the the Bible on a daily basis.
  5. I am a registered Creek Indian–my maternal grandfather was listed in the Dawes Rolls of the Five Civilized Tribes in OK in the late 1800’s.
  6. My favorite movie is You’ve Got Mail.
  7. I love Starbucks Cappuccinos and order them extra hot and wet (meaning less foam and more steamed nonfat milk) 🙂
  8. I had the privilege of homeschooling all three of our children for most of their 13 years of education.
  9. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ, who means more to me than anyone else in my life.
  10. A perfect day would be spending it with Tom on the beach listening to the waves break on the shore.
  11. I’m addicted to Words With Friends.

Now for the 11 questions from Rosanna:

  1. What is the best advice you can give bloggers?  Write what’s on your heart and be consistent with your theme. And connect with other bloggers who write to the same audience. This will not only help you grow in your craft, but it will provide you with the support and encouragement you need when you’re tempted to quit.
  2. What would you like to do to make your life more exciting? I’m not sure there is anything my life is lacking in regard to excitement. We are in the process of seeing another life-long dream come true, but I can’t share what it is just yet. 🙂
  3. How often do you engage in a hobby or activity that makes you happy? Daily. My passion is writing. I’ve done it for years privately in my journals, and now God has blessed me with three blogs for which I host and write: The Romantic Vineyard, Debi Gray Walter Author, and Route 66 Club.
  4. List 3 blessings you’ve been gifted with during the day. Health, A husband who loves me, and friendship.
  5. What are your best assets? The grace I’ve been given through Christ, and a heart that longs to please Him in all things. Next would be my faithful husband of 34 years, who is also my best friend in this life.
  6. Why is the world a better place because you live in it? Oh my, I don’t think it’s my place to answer this question. I’ll wait until the day when hopefully I’ll hear my Heavenly Father say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” The Bible says to let another praise you and not your own mouth–enough said!
  7. How are you today? Content.
  8. How can you show love for yourself today? I do this without thinking. It’s love for others that I must work on. 
  9. Have you given yourself a pat on the back for a job or chore that you did well? Yes, finishing and publishing Through The Eyes Of Grace. A 25 year dream come true!
  10. How does winning this award make you feel? Grateful.
  11. What can you do today to make yourself feel better? Start a regular exercise plan. I took out my yoga mat this morning and I’m hoping to give it a go once again!

Now it’s my turn to nominate 9 bloggers for this award. I couldn’t come up with 11 blogs to nominate! But the following are excellent!

  1. Life On The Lighter Side
  2. NonGMO Journal
  3. Growing Up Triplets
  4. Never Once Have I Ever Walked Alone
  5. All Of Grace
  6. Gluten Free With Julie B
  7. The Walter Family
  8. Gina Lillycrop Designs
  9. Morning By Morning

Below are my 11 questions I would ask the above bloggers to answer:

  1. What motivated you to start your blog?
  2. What is your favorite post you’ve written? Why?
  3. Who is your greatest support in doing what you do?
  4. If you had a day completely to yourself with no responsibilities, what would you do?
  5. Where is your favorite vacation spot?
  6. What is a favorite memory you have from one of your grandparents?
  7. If you were to write your auto-biography what would the title be?
  8. Do you blog mostly for yourself or for your audience?
  9. Do you keep a journal? Why or why not?
  10. What is the best advice you can give to someone who is just starting to blog?
  11. List three blessings for which you are grateful to God?

Now that was fun. I can’t wait to let my blogger friends know about their nomination. When you write your post, please come back and link-up to this post. That way we’ll all get to read your responses. Have a blessed day!