THIS LITTLE LAMB

It’s that time of year again. The shepherds are bringing their flocks down from the hills and into the warmer valleys for winter grazing. I love driving past fields filled with hundreds of sheep; some nestled on the ground, others standing calmly observing the world.

Even more, I love watching a shepherd lead his sheep down a country road to a new field—a black guide dog at the front and end of the flock; white guardian dogs in the midst to protect the sheep along the way.

But best of all is seeing the sheep and remembering Jesus’ words: “I am the Good Shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me” (John 10:14).

At one time in my journey of faith, this verse would slip in and out of my head, never quite making it into my heart. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit kept working on both my head and my heart until the overwhelming impact of Jesus’ parable was clear.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd guides me—His sheep—and I belong to Him.

Jesus searched for me when I was lost and celebrated when I returned to Him.

I recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd and follow Him.

I am helpless without the Good Shepherd’s protection from the Predator.

Each day, I set out from my subdivision and turn onto a country road, hoping to see another flock grazing in a field. When I do, I smile and whisper “Thank you, Jesus,” happy to be one of His little sheep, no longer lost but now a much-loved part of His flock.

Carol Peterson
CarolPetersonAuthor.com

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MONUMENTAL MOMENTS

Let me start by saying that GOD can use you. God CAN use you. God can use YOU!  All you have to do is say one word: “Yes.” This one word can feel like the longest grammatical sentence ever. I don’t want you thinking of that tiny word as a jail sentence.  Rather, it is a word that can bring freedom and deliverance, not only to you but to anyone who may cross your path.  However, you have to start by laying your “Yes” on the table.

One thing that is very important if you don’t want to miss an opportunity to see God work is that you have to be willing to be interrupted. Then be ready to move. Simple gestures can be a big deal to other people. We can get so bogged down with being busy all the time and because of it, we refuse to pay attention to our surroundings. We don’t see the downcast person whose day could be turned around by someone smiling at them or the person who would light up if someone told them how nice they looked.

Earlier this year I was really stuck on feeling that I had to make a difference.  I WANTED to make a difference, but I fell into thinking that any difference I made had to be monumental in order for it to count.

I had one moment in particular where I was able to witness the patience of a precious young mother as she worked with her children, one of which was autistic. I had only met her briefly before but didn’t really know her. As I was getting ready to head home, I hugged her and whispered in her ear, “You’re a good mama.” When I got home that night, she had messaged me and thanked me for saying that to her. She felt people did not understand how hard it was for her. She then said I was the only one who had invited her and her kids to be part of the pictures being taken that day. We had a beautiful exchange of words, and it dawned on me in that moment that something that was so minimal on my end was monumental to her.

Monumental moments may take you out of your comfort zone. It might mean you have to talk to a stranger. It might mean that you will have to slow down enough so you can be perceptive to the needs of the people around you. Your child or grandchild may need you to put aside your busy work for a moment and play a board game with them or read a book to them. You can make a difference to that friend who may call at an odd hour but knows that you have the words of comfort or encouragement that they need in that moment. Text a verse to a friend who is hurting to let them know that they have not been forgotten. So many things can be done to create monumental moments that people will never forget. Those moments build memories. Kindness is free, so there is no excuse to keep it from others.

Be willing to be interrupted. Be ready to move. Commit to making a difference in someone’s life by doing simple things. Lay your “Yes” on the table and make the most of every opportunity that is laid before you. You will never regret it.

Guest post by JoEllen Claypool
http://joellen-love2write.blogspot.com/
joellenclaypool.com

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THINKS

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.  Phil.4:8

God’s word is filled with encouragement, and this is one of my very favorites. This verse encourages us to “get out of a funk,” or our negative thinking, by plugging into thoughts that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Not too long ago, our pastor explained the acronym: THINK

T          Is it THOUGHTFUL
H         Is it HELPFUL or HONEST
I           Is it INSPIRATIONAL or INTELLIGENT
N         Is it NECESSARY or NICE
K         Is it KIND

In an article I wrote for 1ChristianVoice (February 16, 2019), I added an S to THINK

S          SALT

In Colossians 4:6, Paul exhorts us to do this so that our conversations will always be full of grace and seasoned with salt.

When someone says something nice to you, doesn’t it put a spring in your step and lighten your heart? That’s the message behind THINKS! We can change our direction, the course of our day, or our mindset, and someone else’s, if we use the THINKS method. Imagine the impact we can have in our family, our friends, our community, our church, infinity!  🙂

In the above-mentioned article I adapted the old carpentry adage that says measure twice, cut once to: think twice, speak nice.

Today would be a good day to examine our words, the way we THINKS, and change our world – one encouraging word at a time.

 

By Amre Cortadino

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MY ENCOURAGER

God is my comforter, my teacher, my motivator.

In these verses, we are told our comfort/encouragement abounds through Christ.

God has comforted and encouraged me in so many ways. By his word, by the people he sends into my life, by the work he gives me to do.

God has comforted me through my struggles, then tells me to use that comfort to comfort others when they go through similar troubles.

He is so wise.

How better for me to be encouraged if I am able to take what I have learned, from my own healing and forgiveness, and help someone else who is in pain?

God has helped me much over the years, through his forgiveness, by bringing me out of hardships to new wonders. He’s led me to friends who needed someone to listen. He’s given me the chance to write, to share with others the hope they can have from the forgiveness of Christ, from the care of a loving Father.

God is our comforter. He longs for us to abound in the joy he wants to give us, and then to share that with others.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

Guest Post By Kathy McKinsey,
www.kathymckinsey.com

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FINDING ENCOURAGEMENT

Writing is one thing. Becoming published? Well, that’s a whole different deal, and my heart’s desire has never varied—to be published by a traditional publishing house in Christian fiction. It’s frustrated me at times, but the dream has never died. It just bounced back on sweet little cat’s feet and never let go. Finally, I realized if I didn’t at least pursue the dream, I would always regret it.

My grown children knew about my dream. After all, I had talked about it the whole time they were growing up. Once, I even had 150 pages of a manuscript written. But I hated it—not the idea, but the way I wrote it. How sobering to realize that my writing skill didn’t match the fabulous story in my head about sea turtles.

But my son gave me a sea turtle necklace. He said the publishing world was like a big ocean and I was just a tiny little turtle crawling from the beach to the water. “But you’re going to make it,” he said.

His words of encouragement and the beautiful necklace kept me going.

Years passed. I gained better writing skills through practice and the ongoing advice and help from an online critique group. My daughter, who is not a huge fan of contemporary romance,  said the first two chapters of a new story were super fun to read.

Bolstered by her words, I pitched to an agent at the recent ACFW conference. She told me to send a book proposal once revisions were complete. The agent also said to remind her that I was the lady who wore the pretty turtle necklace.

My dreams would have died had I not received encouragement. Find your tribe. Your dreams depend on it.

Guest post by author Mary Pat Johns
Faith-filled Stories of Hope and Redemption
MARYPATJOHNS.COM

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Gifts of Encouragement

As a preteen, I devoured novels. While living in Budapest, Hungary, my only access to movies was the American commissary rentals, or the shows and cartoons I had taped from cable while on leave in the States. So when I wasn’t riding my bike, I read up a storm. I enjoyed the classics, the ‘90s fledgling market of Christian Fiction, even local Hungarian fiction translated into English.

My love for stories spilled over into writing spontaneous clips of stories in a notebook I kept beside my bed. One day, my friend, Rebekah, found the notebook and read the story clips I’d written. Upon learning that I hadn’t finished them, she screamed, laughed, and playfully pummeled my arm, demanding that I finish them. Her response intrigued me. I wondered, would people actually like the stories I wrote? Could I write something like the novels I loved and consumed?

The first short story I completed, I wrote for English credit in high school—a comic retelling of the book of Esther. At 30K, it was a horrible mess—cheesy, melodramatic—but oh, so much fun to write. It impressed my English teacher, and I began to think about writing another. A year or so later while spending time in the States, I wrote about a Christian girl hiding Bibles in a communist country. I submitted it to a regional teen talent contest under the creative writing category and won first place. That about floored me. How could anything I wrote win anything? I told myself I only won because they hadn’t received many submissions. I’d probably been the only one.

In 1997, I put down the adventure romance novel I was enjoying, went into the den and sat down at the computer. I opened up a blank document and began my first novel, a time travel story I named “In Time.” Within a few months, I had 70K words on the story, never mind that it started with a dinosaur chase (I kid you not), skipped to an Indiana-Jones-type of palace with secret tunnels, made a stop in Rome to visit the persecuted church, and ended in Medieval England. When you’re writing your first book, or even a first draft, you have to let loose and have fun. Otherwise, it won’t get done.

My mom cheered me on, as proud as she could be. She went around telling everyone that her seventeen-year-old had written a 70K novel. During my graduation party, she talked me into reading a portion of my manuscript to our guests, and I’ll never forget the delight on the faces of youth group friends as I picked out my favorite parts. Two of my guy friends went on to be wonderful encouragers and supporters of my work.

Years later, while sorting out a difficult time in my life, I took inspiration from the Roman portion of that crazy draft and wrote For the Sake of One Lost. I couldn’t have done it without the tireless encouragement and feedback from one of my best friends, Ginny. She pulled me through the muck of self-doubt and loved on every chapter of my story. I could never tell these dear friends and family members how instrumental they were in helping me become the writer I am today, and how deeply I’m blessed by them.

 

Gwendolyn Gage is an aspiring author, one of ten contestants to semi-final in the Historical Romance category of the 2013 ACFW Genesis Contest. She writes faith-filled, romantic adventure with the ambition to offer adventure lovers clean, uplifting stories that encourage them to reach for God.

Not your average American, Gwendolyn spent the majority of her childhood outside the United States, and she’s forever picked on for her ignorance concerning “eighties” and “nineties” culture. She’s lived in Hungary, Indonesia, and the Philippines, and visited many countries in Europe and Southern Asia. In 2001, she returned to the United States and attended Christ For the Nations Institute, majoring in theology.

Writing, reading, and research–yep, Gwendolyn’s pretty much into all things nerdy. She loves cats, coffee, and rocking chairs, though not necessarily all together at once… She makes her home in Bluegrass Kentucky with her husband and two children.

 

Book blurb of For the Sake of One Lost:

Texan native Pearl Benton arrives in Australia expecting to vacation with her family, but instead, she’s carried by a wormhole to Roman-ruled Egypt. Kidnapped, made a slave–Pearl doesn’t understand why God abandoned her to such a horrible existence. Another time traveler works for her master, and the chance of finding the wormhole that robbed them both of normal, just might be worth putting up with his incessant teasing. Might.

An Aussie stockman turned fleet helmsman, Trey Bradley has spent years building a life for himself in Alexandria. When his boss decides to use Pearl as a bargaining tool in a summons with the Emperor Nero, he asks Trey to accompany them as her translator. Trey wants to help Pearl escape as he’s helped countless others, but God says “no.” How can he help deliver Pearl to Nero and live with himself? Can that truly be what God wants?

As they journey to Rome, Pearl and Trey struggle to set aside their ambitions and choose God’s will above their own, even at the cost of life and love.

Guest post by author Gwen Gage

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My Blind Cheerleader

When I first started writing, I kept my publishing dreams on the down-low.

What would people think of me? That I’d lost my mind?

Was I some kind of snowflake millennial who thought they were special? Special enough to pursue a challenging goal and actually succeed?

So many people want to break into the publishing industry; my dreams were no different than theirs. Why should the outcome be different for me?

I hid with my laptop like a high-tech Smeagol, until my friend, Joe, found out what I was doing. He asked if he could be in my book and was instantly convinced I’d write a New York Times bestseller. One that would take the world by storm.

Not only has he cheered me on, he’s helped me believe my goal is more attainable than the typical dream—you know the one—Bigfoot riding a unicorn to his house made out of candy with a Leprechaun doing Riverdance on a rainbow.

Even though the Lord has sent many encouragers on my path since then, Joe was the first to believe in me and give me the boost I needed. In fact he’s a pivotal character in my trilogy.

The funny part is—he’s never read a word I’ve written other than text messages. He’s my blind cheerleader.

Guest post by author A. D. Lawrence

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The Penthouse ©

Please, God, let him telephone me now.

The morning began like most others. Hammett hurried onto the balcony while securing the knot in his tie. After forty-two years, the fit of his black suit and crisp white shirt still stirred butterflies in my stomach. I poured two cups of black coffee as he buttered the toast, our usual pre-work breakfast. Between bits of conversation I followed the movements of a jogger as he plodded his way through Central Park, a view we’d paid dearly for.

As September mornings go, humidity already presented a challenge, but the pale blue sky and mid-60s temperature offered Hammett a perfect seven-mile bike ride to his office in New York City’s Twin Towers.

He pushed his plate away and gazed toward the tall green trees. An occasional hint of autumn splendor painted the leaves. Hammett leaned back and clasped his hands behind his head.

I enjoyed him this way, relaxed, with a slight upturn in his lips. “Are you sure you have to finish out the week?” If only I’d bitten my tongue. Instead, the words rang like an alarm clock.

Hammett looked at his watch then sprang out of the chair. “I promised Julia I would.” He bent down and kissed my forehead. “Just three more days.”

He touched my shoulder, and I held onto his hand. I stared into his deep blue eyes—the worry lines in his forehead more pronounced than I’d ever noticed. I held back words I wanted to say. Words like, you don’t owe her anything; I’ve always admired your dedication, but; it’s such a beautiful day, let’s ride the ferry. Deep inside, I knew it wouldn’t help if I said them.

We’d married two years before we graduated college. Hammett began his career as an intern and continued to work for the same marketing firm for forty years. I stayed home and raised our children. Hammett climbed the corporate ladder until he’d earned a place at the table—chief financial officer. With our debts paid, children’s futures secured, and nothing preventing us, we sold our home in the country and bought a penthouse on the upper west side. Our wallets took a wallop, so I accepted a part-time job as an at-home editor. After ten years, we achieved our dream. We paid off the mortgage and breathed easier. We owned the penthouse free and clear.

Though we had means, we’d chosen to live with fun and frugality in mind. We’d gone on a few cruises but stayed in hostels when we’d toured Europe. Our friends bought yachts, we rented kayaks. Skiing in Aspen never made it on our radar. The nearby Poconos filled that need.

Several months ago, as our knees shook, we met with our investment banker. A month later, Hammett signed his retirement papers. At the firm’s request, he agreed to work as a consultant on an occasional basis, and at his discretion.

That afternoon we went through our scrapbooks and picture albums. Every page told the story of our lives. Days, weeks, months, and years passed before our eyes. Though I hadn’t voiced the thought, I wondered how many more years we’d have together.

As if he read my mind, Hammett took my hand. “It’s the beginning of the rest of our lives. Whatever time we have, we’ll make the most of it. You and me.” A tenuous smile spread his lips.

The sun warmed me as I stood at the edge of the balcony and waved to Hammett, his bike pointed toward his trek to work. He leaned over the handlebars, his satchel slung on his back, the path through Central Park a little busier now than thirty minutes ago. He stopped pedaling long enough to throw me a kiss, something he hadn’t done for years. I pretended to catch it and threw one back to him. He smiled and rode down the sun-dappled pathway. No longer able to see him, I lingered on the balcony, absorbed in the moment. Hammett’s words from months ago, “the rest of our lives,” flashed through my mind like a shooting star. A quiver shook my spine.

Somehow, the thought took me back several years when our daughter-in-law and son, Solomon, an administrator at Cedar Sinai Hospital, traveled to Haiti. Unable to conceive, they adopted a newborn in Port-au-Prince. Solomon returned a changed man. “Mom, Dad, you’ve gotta go there. We take everything for granted here. They have nothing, yet they’re the happiest people I’ve ever met.” A week later, Solomon lay in a hospital bed with fever, severe abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Diagnosed with malaria, he slipped into a coma. A few days later, he left our lives forever.

Hammett and I grieved in different ways. He poured himself into his work and allowed it to consume him. “Can’t we talk about this?” I’d asked him. He shrugged, undressed, and fell asleep the second his head hit the pillow.

To cope, I skipped meals. Lots of them. If Hammett and I were invited out, I sometimes pretended to eat. Other times, I’d polished off my plate like a ravenous wolf. When my stomach rebelled, unable to handle its contents, I excused myself to find the nearest restroom.

My friend Jessica noticed my weight loss and unhealthy eating patterns. She invited me out to lunch. But, instead, she took me to meet with her therapist.

After several sessions, I asked Hammett to go with me. “Don’t ever ask me to go to one of those shysters. It’s mind over matter. You think they’ll help you, but all they do is take your money.” He pointed his finger at me. “Besides, I’m not the one that needs help.”

In five weeks, I’d gone from a healthy 152-pound, 5’6” woman to a lethargic 129 pounds. I knew I was out of control when I caught a glimpse of my skin-taut rib cage in the mirror. It didn’t surprise me when I woke up in a hospital bed, disoriented and bewildered, with tubes and monitors all around me.

Hammett stroked my hair. “I found you passed out in the bathroom. I’m so sorry. I should have done something . . .  I.” His eyes met mine. “We’ll get counseling. The two of us. We’ll get better.”

We did get better. Hammett made it a rule—he’d get home by dinnertime every work day, and he stuck to it. Over the course of time, our therapy sessions went from twice a week to once a month. We learned so much more about each other, and as Solomon had said, we began to appreciate what we’d taken for granted.

By now, our daughter Madilyn had graduated medical school, and joined a small emergency medical practice in the City. Our daughter-in-law visited often with our grandson, Oliver. He lit up the room and kept us young. We enjoyed spoiling him with toys, books, clothes, and electronics.

Another shiver moved up my spine. I glanced at my watch, stunned that I’d daydreamed on the balcony for so long. I hurried to clean off the table and brought the breakfast dishes to the sink, then turned on the TV so my favorite morning show could accompany my mundane chores. As water splashed over my hands I hummed and scrubbed the plates.

“We interrupt this broadcast to bring you. . .” My head snapped toward the television—its picture captured my attention. The camera lens zoomed in close, as if I rode on the wings of a misguided jet. The commentator’s words pricked my ears.

Sirens and horns blared outside and in the background while the TV newscaster narrated the uncertain reality. Clear blue skies above the Twin Towers blackened with billowy smoke. Again and again, images of the plane as it flew into the North Tower appeared on the screen. I flipped through the channels. There had to be some mistake, maybe some sick reenactment of War of the Worlds.

I ran to the balcony and looked toward Manhattan, to the steel towers that graced our view. “God, help us.” Dark smoke rose into the air until it entombed the silvery tower.

Back inside, I grabbed the phone from the receiver, relieved that I still had a dial tone. Before I pushed a button, the phone slipped from my sweat-drenched palm. My breath caught in my throat. The TV camera tracked another plane soaring at low altitude on approach to the South Tower.

My body crumpled to the floor. My heart hammered as flames erupted through the tower’s jagged opening. The newscaster’s voice faded away. Eerie figures fell from windows of the north building, surreal and horrible. On the street, people screamed, too stunned to cry. Their confusion matched my own.

My cell phone rang. I leaped off the floor and raced to my desk, then read the number on the screen. “Hammett, where are you?”

For a nanosecond, everything moved in slow motion before rocketing forward. Shattered glass and noise rumbled in the background. Desperate screams almost drowned Hammett’s words.

I dug my nails into the desk. “Hammett, I can’t hear you.” I yelled over the chaos that probably surrounded him.

He sniffled. “You were right. I shouldn’t have come to work today.” His words came between stilted breaths.

I gripped the phone so tight my hand ached. I could only imagine what Hammett saw, how he felt at that moment, the thoughts going through his mind. I wanted to say something of comfort, something to encourage him.

“Hammett, I can’t live without you. I don’t want to.” The words left my lips and, oh, how I wished I could get them back. They weren’t helpful or what he needed to hear.

He sobbed. Hard. And I’ll never forget the sound of his voice as he gasped and choked out these words. “You’ve made my life so happy . . .  I wish I had . . . a million more. Take care of . . .  Madilyn. Suzanne . . . and Oliver. I’ll . . . watch over you.”

The line went dead. “Hammett. Hammett.” Bile burned in my throat.

Thunder rolled in the distance, or did the noise reverberate from the television? I ran into the living room and sank to my knees. “Oh, dear God, no!” The North Tower crumbled to the ground. Glass and metal hurled through the air. Frantic people scrambled in every direction only to have ash and soot swallow them. The TV screen became a gray-black blur as the camera crew darted for safety, their nervous voices lost in the melee.

Someone screamed, her shrill, loud voice filled the room and pierced my ears. Her tears flowed down my face into trembling hands. Pieces of priceless pottery sailed through the air, their broken sound less hysterical than she. I had to stop her before she lost complete control.

The wet carpet under my face became my first wake up call. Too weak to push myself up, I laid there. Garbled voices from the television drifted toward me spewing words that ran together. A third plane crashed somewhere in Pennsylvania, its destination shy of its goal. A man wrung his hands and mumbled something about the Pentagon but the information didn’t fully register. I forced myself to read the words on the screen. “America Under Attack.” Voices narrated their impromptu speculation. Eyewitnesses reported chilling accounts. Some commented about children in a nearby preschool whose parents would never pick them up.

No one tried to explain why my husband had to die in the attack.

Time lost its meaning. I don’t know how long I laid there while television commentators continued their analysis. Heat, humidity, and smoke wafted through my open windows. Damp hair stuck to my face.

A blinking red light caught my eye, and I thrust myself off the floor. Cell phone plans were expensive, and I’d only given my number to a few people. I racked my brain but couldn’t imagine who would’ve left a message. My chest tightened.

Engaged in a dizzy dance with the cell phone, I staggered like a shipwrecked sailor into the bedroom. Before I flopped on the bed, I grabbed a coverlet. Curled in a fetal ball, I clutched the phone. Shattered nerves prevented me from listening to the message.

I replayed conversations Hammett shared when he’d headed the safety committee. He often conducted fire drills, equipped the offices with fire extinguishers, and made regular trips up and down the thirty-seven flights of stairs. No wonder he stayed in great physical shape. Hope flooded my thoughts.

I blew out a long sigh, pushed the button, and retrieved the only message.

“Hi, Mom, it’s Maddie. It’s about 8:37 on Tuesday morning, September 11. I don’t have to be to work at the hospital until noon today. These twenty-four-hour emergency room shifts are brutal, and I haven’t seen you guys as much as I’d like. I picked up some bagels and cream cheese at that deli you two always rave about. I’m gonna take them up to Dad’s office, and wondered if maybe you could join us.

“By the way, I got bored at work Sunday and weighed myself. Big mistake. So, before I eat these bagels, thought I’d take the stairs up to Dad’s office. If it doesn’t kill me, maybe I’ll lose five pounds by the time I get there.

“Okay, I’m about to enter the stairwell so I might lose reception but I’ll count off the steps for as long as I can. Ready?

“Two, four, six, eight, ten, twelve, fourteen, sixteen . . .”

Written by Amre Cortadino
(This fictional story was written to honor those fallen heroes of 9/11. We offer our heartfelt prayers for the families and friends of those who died that day, or because of injuries sustained that day. “We will never forget.”)

Please click on the title above, The Penthouse, and leave a comment below.  Thank you.

 

The Long Game

In third grade, Mrs. Cobb asked us to write a story.

When she gave mine back to me, she said, “Andra, when I’m an old, old lady, I’ll go to the Bixby library and I’ll see a book by Andra Coleman.”

I already loved reading, but this was suddenly a new love. To have the vision and encouragement of my favorite teacher? To write a book? To have it published and be in the library?

I should have swelled with joy and excitement. And I did, really. I’ve never forgotten it. I’ve returned to that memory of specific encouragement countless times when the words wouldn’t come out on my paper. I’ve considered it as a life-altering act of truth-speaking love.

But still. I was a literal ten-year-old. My main thought was this:

“No, she won’t. My book won’t say Andra Coleman. I’ll be married by then.”

(I know. Again, let me remind you, I was ten.)

So Mrs. Cobb, if you’re out there, I’m going to print one copy with my maiden name and personally deliver it to the Bixby public library. Because I want you to find me and know. Your words to a quirky, awkward third grader made a difference — they gave hope, they created a dream, and they helped make something beautiful happen.

Sometimes encouragement requires playing the long game.

Guest post by Andra (Coleman) Loy
www.AndraLoy.com

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Amore

“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie…”

Amore touched Rose in Coahuila as deep feelings of awe and respect. A Rose in Mexico, by Jessy Alvarado

Amore touched Rosie just before dawn, when Nina saved her from drowning, right before Bobby kissed her. From My Window, by Amre Cortadino

Amore transforms Louisa Howerton’s desperate attempt to fan signal a friend across a ballroom floor into a flirtation with the mysterious Earl of Altamont. Engaged to the Enemy, by Gwen Gage

Amore first tossed Brenna’s salad into the air and showered Jesse with lettuce, tomato and bits of carrot. Then she toppled onto his lap. Countin’ On You, by Mary Pat Johns

Amore crept in despite Blair Morton’s efforts to keep things professional with Lt. Trevor Carlyle while cracking codes that lead to a cold-blooded killer. Faces, by A.D. Lawrence

Amore rang Elle’s doorbell. Ryan stood there, rumpled from travel, a hint of salt and pepper stubble, but a roguish smile and mischievous spark in his eyes. “I wasn’t done talking to you.” Word Fall, by Andra Loy

Amore pointed to a sheep with two heads. One head seemed to detach. It showed loose black curls around a face of olive skin. Milkah glanced up. “We’ve got company, Chops.” Elijah, by Dave Parks

Amore shadows Frank Pride and Anne Nelson as they travel the same path to forgiveness for the past and an uncertain future. Desperate Dreams, by Patti Shene

Amore steals Billie’s suitcase as well as her heart when she meets a handsome stranger and his nephew at the airport. Finding Wisdom in Noel, by Janie Winsell

Amore still works the way Dean Martin saw it. “When you dance down the street with a cloud at your feet, that’s amore.”

Guest post by Dave Parks

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