Wanda’s Journal

A Joyful Heart

The first novel I had published is called “A Merry Heart.” It’s about an Amish schoolteacher who has become negative and lost her faith in God. Some people lose faith when going through difficulties, like many of us are dealing with right now.

Do you have any favorite Bible verses that have helped you during times of sadness, depression, or a weakened faith? One of my favorite scriptures is found in Proverbs 17:22 — “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine; but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” What this verse means is that a joyful heart is like medicine to our soul — making us feel better physically and emotionally. Whereas, a broken spirit (or a depressed state) can cause is to feel unwell.

The need to find joy in life. even while going through hardships, is emphasized in my novel, “A Merry Heart.” What are the benefits of having a joyful heart? Why does God want us to find joy in life?

Some Things to Ponder

In my novel, The Crow’s Call, the King family suffered a great loss when three of their family members were killed in the same accident.

Have you ever suffered a catastrophic loss like the King family did? If you have read The Crow’s Call, how did each of the main characters in the story cope with their loss? Which character handled it the way you would?

Belinda, the mother of the family and owner of the Kings’ greenhouse, was unsure of who could be vandalizing them and wondered if it might be her own son, acting out his frustrations. If someone caused vandalism on your property, what would you do? Would you get a watch dog, an alarm system, or call the sheriff? Do you think Belinda did right by not notifying law officials, or even telling her eldest son about it?

According to God’s Word, it’s important to ask for His guidance when going through difficult times. “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye,” saith the Lord.. Psalm 32:8.

Complete Trust

I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress:
my God; in him will I trust.
Psalms 91:2

The Amish are some of the most trusting people I know. They trust their horses to pull their buggies. They trust their older children to care for the younger ones. They trust God to provide for all of their needs.
When my husband and I visited an Amish schoolhouse for the first time, even though the teachers had never met us, they trusted us to come in peace. In fact, we were welcomed into their classroom.
God wants us to trust Him in all things. He is our fortress, our shelter in the time of storm. Are you able to lay your worries and cares aside and trust that the Lord will see you through anything life throws at you? In Numbers 6:25 we are told that the Lord makes His face shine upon us. Knowing that God is always with us, and that His face is actually shining on us, should give a sense of security and trust, even in the most frightening circumstances. A calm mind and a confident heart are available to every believer. Ask God to teach you to trust Him more and help you to relax in Him.

Heavenly Father:
When my world seems to be crashing in,
I feel frightened and insecure.
Give me a gentle reminder that
I need to put my trust in You,
and not focus on my circumstances.
Give me a calm mind and confident heart.
Teach me to trust you more. Amen.

Twelve Remedies to Counteract Stress

During difficult times like our world is facing now, it’s important for us to find some ways to relax and de-stress. Here is a list I have compiled that helps me when I’m dealing with worry or stress.

1. Pray (listed as number 1 because it’s the most important.) “The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers.” (I Peter 3:12). “Be careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
2. Read the Bible and meditate on God’s Word. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Colossians 3:16) “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
3. Read a good book that includes inspirational thoughts, and it will take your mind someplace else.
4. Take a walk, run, or ride a bike. Exercise is good for us physically and mentally.
5. Listen to uplifting/relaxing music.
6. Talk with a friend or relative on the phone or in person if possible.
7. Go outside or sit near an open window while you watch and listen to the birds’ uplifting melodies.
8. Pick a flower—smell it—enjoy the fragrance.
9. Feast your eyes on a sunrise or sunset and remember that God is the creator of all things.
10. Take a warm shower or bath.
11. Watch an uplifting or humorous movie on your TV or some other electronic device.
12. Eat your favorite comfort food. Indulging in chocolate is comforting for some people. I personally find that drinking certain kinds of herbal tea can help me relax.

Above all else, don’t give in to fear or extreme worry. Those emotions will make you feel more stressed. I am reminding myself daily to replace “Fear” with “FAITH.” One of my favorite verses is Psalm 34:4: “I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”

How are you coping with our situation right now? Have you found some ways to relax and de-stress?

The Importance of Family

In my novel, The Crow’s Call, the King family was faced with a serious trial they never expected would happen. It was a time when they had to work closely with each other in order to survive. The emotional and physical support they received from one another was what held the family together. In many ways the trials they faced brought the family closer, despite the discord that sometimes occurred.

Has you family ever been faced with a difficult challenge, and because of it, you were brought closer? Or did the traumatic event seem to pull you apart?

When a family experiences a tragedy, how can they come through it with a stronger bond and greater faith in God?

Love and Romance

During the month of February, in which Valentine’s Day occurs, many people’s thought turn to love and romance. A few years ago one of my readers asked me why I include romance in my inspirational novels. This person said they thought that Amish people probably didn’t do romance. So just to be clear, before I answered this question, I spoke to one of our Amish friends and asked him if he thought Amish men were romantic. He laughed and said, “Of course we do romance. How else do you think we could get a woman to marry us?” I just smiled in response, and said, “Thank you, Sir.”

So in thinking about love and romance during the month of February, I’d like to ask you two questions: 1. Out of all my books that you may have read, which one did you feel was the most romantic and why?
2. Do you enjoy reading novels that include a bit of romance sprinkled into the storyline?

Imprint

When I was a young girl, growing up in a dysfunctional home, I was shy and lacked confidence in myself. However, a very special second grade teacher left a positive imprint on my heart that stayed with me throughout childhood and into my adult life. Mrs. Rueger saw something in a shy second-grader, who thought she was not important, and planted a seed in the young girl’s heart. Based on a poem I had written, the intuitive, kind woman told me that I had a talent for writing. She called me up to her desk one day after class and whispered, “Wanda, someday I believe you will become an author.” Little did I know then that her encouraging words would eventually come true. The one thing I did know was that it felt good to realize that someone cared about me and saw a potential that my parents did not see.

I thank God often for the imprint Mrs. Rueger had on my life, and also for opening the doors many years later for me to take my first writing course. While I didn’t get published immediately after finishing those classes, it wasn’t long before my first fiction story was accepted. After writing and having several hundred stories, articles, devotionals, and puppet scripts published with various magazines and Sunday school take-home papers, I took another writing course that taught me how to write novels. In 1997 I had my first novel published with Barbour Publishing, and now, to date, I’ve had over 100 books published with that same publisher. Barbour Publishing took a chance on a new author over 20 years ago, and they, too, have left a huge positive imprint on my life.

Is there someone special who has left an important imprint on your life? Please share so that others will be encouraged.

Traditions

With Christmas just a few weeks away, I have begun to think about some of our holiday traditions. One very special tradition is going to church on Christmas Eve to sing Christmas Carols and light candles. Gathering with family and friends to celebrate the birth of Jesus is always a joyous time that brings us all closer together.

When our children were young and still living at home, we had the tradition of decorating the Christmas tree as a family. Once the boxes of decorations had been gotten out, and my husband hung the lights on the tree, we, along with our two children, would hang ornaments, garland, and tinsel on the branches. Then we’d turn off the lights in the room and sit back to enjoy the colorful lighted tree.

Now that are son and daughter are older and have families of their own, my husband and I decorate our home together. This gives us a time of togetherness which we both enjoy.

What special family traditions do you have during the Christmas season?

The Gift

In my novel, The Gift, which is book 2 in my Prairie State Friends series, the main character, Leah, does reflexology. She feels that God has given her this gift to help others. However, there are some in her Amish community who believe that Leah’s foot doctoring is not from God, and that massaging and pressure-pointing people’s feet does no good for anyone.

I personally feel that everyone has been given some sort of gift (or talent). I also believe that if we use our gifts to serve the Lord, we will not only be blessed, but others will be too.

Do you know what your special gift is? How have you used it to serve God and bless others? Has anyone ever made light of your gift? If so, how did you respond? Leah continued to serve others through her reflexology, despite any negative comments or avoidance.

Since I was a child I have felt that God gave me the gift to write stories. I faced ridicule by some family members when I was a young girl, but I kept focused on my goal to become an author. It is my hope that the words God gives me to write each of my books will bless my readers in some special way.

Whatever We Do

I’ve had the privilege of helping some of our Amish friends do a few of their chores—washing dishes, bagging homemade bread, setting and clearing the table. Never once did I hear anyone complain about the work they had to do. In fact, it was done without question.
There’s something satisfying and rewarding about work, and it can actually become an enjoyable task if we have someone to visit with while we’re doing it. Even tasks done alone can be satisfying. The smell of laundry that’s been hung on the line to dry outdoors brings a sense of satisfaction. Cleaning windows, scrubbing floors, and doing the dishes should be looked upon with gratification, knowing you’ve done your best.
Among the Amish, work is viewed as helping others. They work cooperatively within the family, and even young children are included when they’re given simple chores to do. Maybe the reason my Amish friends don’t complain about the work they’re required to do is because they’ve learned that whatever they do, they’re doing it, as unto the Lord, and not unto men.
Have you done any chores this week with the help of a friend or relative? If you determined to do it for the Lord, did it seem a little easier?