28 May 2017

Overcoming The “Empty Nest” Blues by Susanne Dietze

Overcoming The “Empty Nest” Blues
By Susanne Dietze

Earlier this year, my oldest child left for college. She was eighteen, fresh out of high school, and ready to start a new adventure.

I knew it was coming. I had eighteen years to plan for it. Nevertheless, when she left I experienced Empty Nest Syndrome—the grief, lack a purpose, or depression parents can experience when a young-adult child leaves the house for the first time. While a child growing up and going to school or starting work is a normal, healthy thing, sometimes letting them go can be painful on Mom and Dad. Empty Nest Syndrome is not a clinical condition, but it’s common enough to be recognized by its name and experienced at some degree or another by many parents.

I should clarify here that my nest was not exactly empty. I still have one at home. Nevertheless, I missed my daughter’s presence in the house, her companionship and insights. I wondered how she would do, if she’d be safe or sad.

But stronger than those feelings, I wanted her to grow. To learn more about who God made her to be. To meet new people and make new friends, hopefully the ones that last a lifetime. To gain independence.

As hard as it can be to be the Mama Bird and watch our babies leave, I knew beyond the horizon God had something magnificent in store for my child. Living in the nest is a good thing, for a time. It’s intended for our safety, our growth, our nurture. But we can’t stay there. No matter our ages, we are all more the people God created us to be when we stretch the wings He gave us and fly.

And sure enough, one school year later, she has grown in independence, confidence, and happiness. She has made true friends. She’s learned things about herself, tried new things, and her relationship with God has deepened.

I’ve done all right, too.

Here are a few things I did to cope:

Talk to God.
He loves our children more than we do. I asked Him to care for my daughter and told Him all about my fears, hopes, and feelings.

Go ahead and grieve.
Take a little time to allow yourself to be sad. It’s normal and appropriate to miss a member of your family who is no longer living under the same roof!

Seek Support—but Don’t Compare.
Friends—especially ones who’ve been through what you’re going through—can be a strong source of comfort and encouragement. Take advantage of it and allow people to love you. However, it’s important for our sakes’ and our children’s sakes that we don’t compare our experiences in a way that could be harmful. Not every child is ready to go away to school at the same age, if at all, and no two families share the exact same dynamics.

Take advantage of technology.
Back when I was in college, long distance phone calls cost money, so chats with my family were scheduled things. Now, we can text any time. I’m so glad my daughter can reach me whenever she wishes to, and that I can see her face on FaceTime or Skype! What a huge difference this makes! We also send each other photos of funny things and keep up on social media. I love how we can stay connected this way.

Go Old School.
We may be able to chat over our cell phones any time, but I still send regular old snail mail from time to time. It’s a huge boost to get something in the mail, so we try to fill her postal box now and then! Letters, gift cards for coffee or a movie, and care packages are always welcome. I’ve also ordered her a shirt or two from her favorite retailer and had it shipped to her.

Pursue New (and Old) Interests.
Find something that gives you LIFE, and then do it! Pursue a new (or forgotten) hobby. Try something different. Cook something you like but your child was never crazy about. Be positive and keep moving!

Susanne Dietze began writing love stories in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she's the award-winning author of over a dozen historical romances who's seen her work on the ECPA and Publisher's Weekly Bestseller Lists for Inspirational Fiction. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne lives in California and enjoys fancy-schmancy tea parties, genealogy, the beach, and curling up on the couch with a costume drama and a plate of nachos. 

Twitter: @Susanne Dietze
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Susie has TWO brand-new releases out: a novella is Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Cowboys (June, 2017 from Barbour) AND a novel 

My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho: Rebecca’s Plight

Here's the blurb from Rebecca's Plight: Is it possible to marry the wrong man? Rebecca Rice was looking forward to a quiet life and a full stomach by becoming mail-order bride to her shopkeeper intended, Mr. Fordham—until the justice of the peace calls him Thaddeus, not Theodore, proceeded by the title Deputy. Rebecca would never marry a lawman like her father, so an annulment seems in order—and fast, since Rebecca’s true intended is impatient to claim her as his own. But when the legalities take longer than expected, Rebecca wonders if Tad Fordham wasn't the right husband for her all along....

Purchase links:

My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho: Rebecca’s Plight at CBD
on Amazon
at B&N

Susie also has a novella in Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Husbands, releasing this week on June 1st! 
Purchase links:
Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Husbands (Barbour Publishing, June 2017) Barnes & Noble 

Giveaway: We're giving away a copy of choice of either of Susie's new releases! Leave a comment on this post.

23 May 2017

Carrie Turansky's "Shine Like the Dawn" -- Audiobook Review by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Shine Like the Dawn
by Carrie Turansky
(narration Anne Flosnik)
Tantor Audio (2017)

To be Savored!!!

I listened to Carrie Turansky's newest novel via a download from Audible.com. I really enjoy her books! 

One of the things about this book is that is is very well suited for audiobook because there is a fair amount of repetition to clarify things. That makes it easier to stop and start your listening. I usually listen while cleaning or if I am not feeling well. This is a sweet romance with lovable characters set in England. I loved spending time with Maggie and her family! I am hoping little sister, Violet, gets her own story later!

As far as narration, what a thrill! Anne Flosnik is one of my favorite narrators so having her narrate this book was a super treat. This also contributed to me wanting to savor the reading listening experience rather than rushing through it. Since it could be six to twelve months before Carrie's next novel I didn't want to binge listen. 

Extras: There are secondary romances in this book to enjoy. I will say that was a little bit distracting while listening. I think if read with the eyes that would all be a super bonus to the book. I will likely re-listen to this book sometime so I can catch all the lovely layers better. If you are a dedicated one-time read type of person you might want to opt for the ebook or paperback versions. 

Genre: This story overlaps a bunch of subgenres, which is fun. It is primarily a Christian historical romance but with mystery/suspense. There are mystery components as this is a murder mystery and some interesting "red herrings" that will have you wondering. 

Bibliotherapy: This is a great book for people to listen to while going through court cases or when involved in situations that resulted in death or injury. The unfairness in situations, the dealing with people lying, the stress of court -- all those things are portrayed very accurately in Ms. Turansky's book. This story is a contender for Bibliotherapy Book of the Year on OWG Blog. 

Giveaway: Audible.com download of Shine Like the Dawn. Answer this question -- Have you ever had to deal with a grievous injustice? How did God get you through it?

21 May 2017

Transitions & Trusting in God by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Matt & Beth Fehl

Today at Northside Christian Church our Executive Minister Matthew "Matt" Fehl, spoke about transitions, relationships, and  trust as part of current church study on life transitions. I don't know about you, but I'm in the midst of some of my own possible transitions, some of them pretty big for me. Rev. Fehl spoke about how when you isolate yourself you become overwhelmed, when you aren't getting help from others. As someone with a disability, I understand where some of that isolation comes from. When you are unable to do many things that others take for granted as ordinary, and you need help with some of those things, you end up learning that there are many people who do not want to help you. And that rejection can lead to isolation to avoid the upset that comes with people being unhelpful or in some cases downright rude.

I have found, as strange as it might seem to a fully-abled person, that it is often others (emphasizing not shouting!) WITH DISABILITIES or issues themselves who are most helpful! Yup. You read that right. It may seem counter-intuitive, but those who know the eye-rolling and smart-aleck comments one gets for doing things a certain way because of a disability, understands what it takes to be truly helpful.

Rev. Fehl talked about being in relationship and in community and learning to trust one another. I've found on this blog and in my personal groups, such as Pagels' Pals, my readers' group, that it is often the others suffering and overcoming something who are quick to pray for each other, fast to offer suggestions for help, who step into the gap and send private messages to encourage. This blog would not still be going had it not been for Diana L. Flowers, who despite her health issues came forward to join me and what a blessing she has been (we miss Diana here on the blog, but God knew she needed to focus her attention on her condition which had worsened.) Similarly, Teresa Mathews, despite her health difficulties came on board to help encourage others who are overcoming and despite having lost her husband, having had surgery for esophageal issues, having had breast cancer this past year, and a host of other Job-like problems has continues to minister to our OWG blog guests. Our other OWG reviewers who have been with us for longer and some shorter seasons, Noela Nancarrow, Marian Baay, and Bonnie Roof, despite life's difficulties stepped in to encourage others.

In my recent Christian fiction release "Dime Novel Suitor" in Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Husbands, my heroine, Caroline Kane, doesn't trust the notion of having a husband come to her via an ad and a mail-order husband scheme. You see, she has some serious trust issues having lost her husband years earlier and her father the previous spring, who left her with her siblings and an inn to watch over. And her older sister ended up being untrustworthy as far as helping Caroline out. My heroine does, however, have some trust in God, even as rocky as that trust is. And God has used a man-made event to bring her what looks like a God-ordained answer  -- it is? Can she trust that God has brought her a possible husband even though it is through something her controlling sister contributed to bring about?

Have you ever had something like that happen -- where God stepped in even when it seemed like something driven by worldly desires? I have. God can use any situation to bring about His will. We have to LOOK, SEARCH, LISTEN, and OBEY when He gives us His direction in life. And we have to TRUST that He will prevail. As Matt Fehl said this morning -- if we can trust God with ETERNITY can we not trust Him with our present situation?

GIVEAWAY: Autographed (personalized if you wish!) copy by Carrie of Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Husbands (Barbour, June 2017). Any Carrie's question to enter! 

18 May 2017

Audiobook Review of The Ebb Tide by Beverly Lewis

The Ebb Tide
By Beverly Lewis
(Recorded Books, 2017)

I listened to this novel via an Audible.com download. I'd not read a Beverly Lewis book in a while. I simply adored "Just Like Mama" a children's book I purchased years ago, about Amish life and a little girl trying too hard to be just like her very capable and beautiful mother.  So I was looking forward to this novel and I wasn't disappointed.

Like Enjoying a Favorite Ice Cream Sundae!

My review:
This is a contemporary Amish story but primarily set in Cape May, New Jersey, which becomes a character in the story. It sounds like a gorgeous place and Ms. Lewis's descriptions made me want to visit there! Sallie Riehl is living in her Amish community and has never found a love interest among those living there. A wealthy family, who has known Sallie through her job waitressing, asks if Sallie can come be a nanny to their little girl. But Sallie has finally, after saving her money for years, saved up enough to go to Australia. She hasn't yet committed to the Amish church and once she does so, Sallie won't be able to make such journeys.

SPOILER alert: But then something happens that tests Sallie's faith. She's strong and the result is she and her family accept God's pushing her in the direction of the New Jersey shore job, before she joins the Lancaster community Amish church. She's begun to consider courting with Perry Zook, a nice young man.

Sallie enjoys all the fun activities there are to do in Cape May.  She meets a marine biology student, Kevin Kreider, who expresses a lot of interest. They become friends. The romance is very slow in developing. This young man is Mennonite, so Sallie realizes they can never be together if she keeps her promise to her parents.

A very nice job with the narration. The story unfolds slowly and is a very good leisurely listen. You can take your time and come back to it and not forget where the story had left off, which I like because I'm often cleaning while I listen to audiobooks.

So take your time is listening and savoring this tasty treat of a listen! I'd highly recommend for a summer listen if you haven't already read the story.
Carrie with Beverly Lewis

This book is available at audible.com (click here), at local Christian bookstores, at book retailers such as Christian Book Distributors in CD audiobook format, and online.

Question: What are your favorite types of summer reads?

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