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.


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?

Roots Matter

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I’m going to take a break from a specific question today in order to talk about the larger picture of knowing your roots and why it’s so important.

I remember the first time I went to Oklahoma with my Mom back in 2000. I hadn’t been since I was little girl, and I barely remembered it. But this time it felt like home. It was the strangest thing to not know how to get anywhere, but once I did it seemed I had been there many times. Strangers seemed familiar. Restaurants served food I thought my mom had invented. I came to realize that much of who I am stemmed from this community that made my mom and grandmother who they were.

Roots matter, for the family tree is more about the roots than it is about the branches.

Where do your family roots come from? Do you know? Do you care? Oh, I beg you to care. There are stories waiting to be discovered that will encourage you, motivate you and help you understand more of the why’s of your parents’, grand-parents’ and great-grandparents’ decisions.

Starting on Sunday, April 21st, PBS is continuing a new series titled, Finding Your Roots. It will explore the world of immigrants to America and help them go back and uncover stories they have never known. It sounds fascinating! So much so, I want to share with you the following video that explains the motivation behind the series. Pay special attention to Martha Stewart’s interview–I love her heart for uncovering the stories of old.

What stories are hidden from your history waiting to be discovered?

Vintage Vows


Our next question should be asked to the couple in your family who have been or was (if they aren’t both alive) married the longest. 

Question #3

When were you married and where? What is your fondest memory of the day?

My Mom told me that her grandparent’s were married on the back of a wagon on a dirt road in Kansas. How intriguing. When I was writing my book I had no way of knowing why they were married thus, so I had to imagine the reason. Below is an excerpt from my novel, Through The Eyes Of Grace, as Frank Kirwin (Grace’s Father) explains to Grace about their wedding day:

“So, you didn’t get married in a church?”

“No, like I said, Pa and Ma weren’t church-going people; they had their reasons.  As far as we were told they never saw the need for it.  When the time came for me to consider settling down and marrying your Mama, it was the middle of summer. That year our crops were late; normally the wheat was planted in the fall the previous year before the first frost of winter.  However, a swarm of grasshoppers kept us from planting the wheat on time; it was the worst outbreak Kansas had seen in years.  We ended up planting in early spring.  This delayed our harvest, which normally took place the 3rd week of June to the first part of July.  I knew I couldn’t be spared from helping the family with the harvest, but your Mama had just found out that the Smithton family was moving without much notice.  This caused her great anxiety, as her only alternative was to move back to Cherryvale.  She was not only losing her means, but her place to live as well. I knew she was the one I wanted to take care of and provide for, but the timing wasn’t the best as you can see.”

“What did you do?”

“I did what any normal man in love would do – I made a way!”

This thought startled me; Papa was passionately in love with Mama!  I adored romantic stories and had spent most of my early years dreaming of the day my own husband would sweep me off my feet and carry me away with him to live happily ever after.  But never had I looked at my parents as being in love.  They always seemed to tolerate each other.  I realized that Papa was still talking and I was missing it!

“…he would soon be passing by on his way to his next town…”

“Who would be passing by?” I interrupted.

“The circuit preacher of southern Kansas, haven’t you heard a word I’ve been saying?”

“I’m sorry, Papa, I guess I was daydreaming for a minute there.  Please, go on.  I really want to hear.”

“I had heard the Circuit Preacher who had spent the week in town would be leaving for his next stop early Saturday morning.  His route was to take Dr. Long’s Lane on his way to Independence in order to preach Sunday services there the next day.  It was the perfect solution to my dilemma, since our farm ran alongside Dr. Long’s Lane!  We could get married quickly without having to leave the farm.  I made all the arrangements for Sarah, family and friends to be at our house early on Saturday, July 7th.

“It was already a scorcher that day, even at 8 a.m.  We all gathered ‘round under the shade of our walnut trees waiting for the good preacher to pass by.  Not even an hour had passed when we saw his wagon appear on the horizon, and it was a sight to behold, indeed!  Sarah couldn’t believe that this was to be our wedding day; it was really happening, and her face shone like the morning sun.  She would finally have a home and a family of her own.  I was prouder than a peacock to provide for her.”

“So you were married right there on the road?”

“Well, I wish you could have seen the preacher’s face as his wagon approached our family gathering.  In those days a lone traveler, even a preacher, was wary of strangers waiting on the road.  We quickly made our request known, and he was obviously relieved and much obliged.  It was decided that the back of his wagon would make the perfect stage allowing our marriage to be witnessed by all present.  I pledged my vows to your Mama that day from the back of a humble wagon.  We saw it as a symbol of our journey beginning as man and wife.”

I want to encourage those who don’t have relatives to ask these questions, to use these as a springboard to record your own answers for those who will be following after you. What a rich treasure to leave our grandchildren and beyond. And please won’t you share what you discover in the comments below?

“Do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and your children’s children.”

Deuteronomy 4:9
We are taking part in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

30 Questions You May Not Know To Ask

Photo Credit: Sorayanulliah blog

Photo Credit: Sorayanulliah blog

Everyone who has ever lived has one.

It separates us from all others and can often make us stand out in a crowd. But sadly many don’t know their’s, or if it even matters. I’m talking about your family’s story. I was privileged to have a mom who loved researching our family’s story. I could ask her any question and if she didn’t know the answer, she would go to work trying to find it. I loved that about her.

But I didn’t always. There was a time when I found our family history quite boring. Didn’t we all? You may still think this subject boring, but please don’t click away from this post just yet. 

Here’s the plan. Starting on Monday, April 1st, I’m going to take part in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post one question each day for the entire month.


It will be a probing question about your story. You may already know the answer to it, and if you do, I invite you to share it with me using the comment button. If you don’t know the answer to the day’s question, then ask someone in your family who may know it. Taking one question per day will make the process easy to do, even for the busiest among us.

I hope you’ll sign up for my blog, so every day you’ll get the daily question in your inbox. This will make the challenge easy for you to remember, and it will make me happy to have more followers–call me sentimental! 🙂

Finally, I want to share with you the following music video by Brandon Heath, titled Paul Brown Petty. Brandon is an excellent story teller whom I had the privilege of meeting and seeing live in concert last year in Gainesville, FL. This song is off of his latest album, Blue Mountain. Once you listen, I think you’ll understand why I chose to share it with you. Enjoy…