One Chapter

Books are divided into chapters much like life. We go through each one not knowing how it will play out. And how one chapter ends will determine if we want to continue turning the page.

When I wrote my book, Through The Eyes Of Grace, about the life of my maternal grandmother, my sister told me she had stopped reading. When I asked why, she said she couldn’t get past one chapter that was such a horrible part of her story. I told her she needed to keep going because this was the worst part of the story. Grace didn’t stay in this hard place, but God led her through the valley to green pastures.

The point is to keep going!

I am on a similar path. I’ve made it through a really dark valley the past three years:

  • We have a granddaughter who faced the fight for her life and sanity with PANDAS
  • Our grandson was born a micro-preemie with several mental and physical challenges due to CMV
  • We lost two parents
  • We lost my brother to COVID
  • A pandemic shut the world down for a season
  • We closed two estates and sold three homes
  • We moved three family members – two across state lines, one across town

And we’re not finished yet. I realized today that these are all chapters of the story God is writing of my life. I can choose to engage with it or withdraw. To be honest there are days when all I want is for life to go as planned, as I’ve planned. But this isn’t reality. Life is made up of ups and downs and they’re not for nothing. They have a purpose if I’m willing to do the hard work to find out–to turn the page.

Ann Voskamp’s new book is titled, Waymaker. It is a timely read for me as I’m finding connections all through her story to mine. One in particular is what she calls living SACRED lives. It’s an acrostic for

Stillness – to know God

Attentiveness – to hear God

Cruciformity – to surrender to God

Revelation – to see God

Examine – to return to God

Doxology – to thank God

Ah, just typing out this sacred process fills my heart with an expectancy. Like getting to the end of one chapter and diving right in to the next because you can’t wait to see what happens. I am realizing that God is leading me through the valley to green pastures, but He wants me to learn the lessons of the valley. This comes by spending SACRED time with Him.

I have one chapter left in Waymaker, and I’m hesitant for it to end. I have cried through page after page when her pain mirrored mine. I have anticipated the Word becoming real to her in her time of need. I have been thrilled as she connected the dots of God’s faithfulness to her in her darkest times. And I have nodded in agreement with the lessons she learned acknowledging it was all worth it .

We are all growing into the person God made us to be. But we can’t get stuck in one chapter–whether we love the chapter and don’t want it to end, or it’s a horrible chapter and we want to quit because we are weary and afraid of what will happen next. No. Read on, press on.

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:13 – 14 ESV

Tweet this: Looking back keeps us from moving forward.


The Joy And Help Of Steeping In A Good Book


If you had the opportunity to sit down and have a cup of coffee or tea with anyone, who would you choose? What would you ask them? What things could you draw from their experience that would help you do life better?

Books are the link to making this possible.

Books allow us to meet with someone we’ve never met to hear what life looks like from their window. It’s like finding a cozy corner in your local coffee shop and opening your ear to hear what’s weighing on their heart. What they share can often be the exact thing we need to help us face our current struggles with hope, not fear.

I am currently reading a book by Joni Eareckson Tada titled, A Place Of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’s Sovereignty. If you don’t recognize her name, you may have heard her story. She was in a diving accident at the age of 18 that left her paralyzed from the neck down. She has spent over 40 years in a wheelchair, but this hasn’t stopped her from living life to the fullest. Despite all her hardships and pain she has managed to start a  ministry to those who, like her, live life in a wheelchair. She provides wheelchairs for free to the disabled in 3rd world countries who have no means to buy one for themselves. She is an accomplished artist using her teeth to hold the paintbrush. She is also a popular speaker and author who knows how to tell a story by using colorful words to paint a vivid picture that lingers long in the mind.

However, her words are also haunting. She speaks from a place I have never experienced–constant, unbearable pain. Yet her faith and trust in God is stronger than anyone I’ve ever known. It’s a compelling read that I encourage all who are in need of encouragement to read slowly and thoughtfully. It will challenge you. It will bring tears to your eyes. It will warm your heart, and it will make you think. Much like an afternoon conversation with a good friend.


Here is a portion she shared with me this morning about her talk with a fellow friend and NASCAR driver:

Some time ago I asked Dan about Dale Earnhardt’s infamous 2001 crash, which took the NASCAR icon’s life…it’s obvious Dale couldn’t pull out of that plunge toward the wall. His speed and the trajectory of his car just made escape impossible. I asked Dan if that kind of thing happens often on a speedway.

“Oh yes,” he said, “Guys in their cars get in a spin, get bumped, and they see that wall coming at them. But I’ll tell you one thing they don’t do, Joni. They don’t look at that wall! Their natural instincts tell them to, but their training tells them to keep their eyes on the track and steer out of that spin. You see, if they look at the wall, they’ll freeze. Your body just reacts; it can’t help it. But if you look down the speedway and steer toward that open space, all your nerve endings are concentrating on that, not on bracing for an impact.”

That’s the way we are in our human nature. We fix our eyes on the trial that looms immediately before us, allowing ourselves to become gripped with fear. We say to ourselves, This is impossible! I’ll never get through this. I’ll never find a way through. I’ll never recover. I’d better brace for an impact, because it’s going to be a hard, hard hit. AHHHHH…

But after listening to Dan and his race-car wisdom, I realize that the key is to take your eyes off the wall and start concentrating on the future and its opportunities (steer for the open space!), rather than on the present dilemmas that freeze us into impotence…

…Little wonder the book of Hebrews tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus, and the author of Colossians says, “Set your heart on things above,” and the Gospels say, “Lift up your head, for your salvation draws nigh.”

It just may keep you from hitting the wall!

This one analogy has done more to help me today than anything else could. It has caused me to lift my eyes upward and outward, instead of looking inward and downward. Maybe you’re facing a difficult time. If we could sit and have coffee today I would love to help you look towards the open space of your current situation and hopefully help you avoid a crash. You don’t have to focus on the wall.

This is the power a good book has on those who take the time to sip each word and let it penetrate deep into the heart.

What are you currently reading, and how is the author helping you change your perspective? 

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” 
― Charles William Eliot

I invite you to follow what I’m reading on GoodReads.

Reviewing Grace


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:    ****