Wanda’s Journal


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.


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?

The Sake of Convenience

In my recent novel, The Healing Jar, Jesse suffered a great loss when his wife died and he had trouble moving on. Although he still loved his deceased wife, and at first was not in love with Lenore, Jesse saw the need to move on for his daughter, Cindy’s sake. Jesse felt that Cindy needed a mother to care for her. He also needed someone to cook and keep house for him.

Can you understand Jesse’s indecision about marrying Lenore? Have you or someone you know been in a similar situation? How did you handle it? Would you marry someone for the sake of convenience if you did not feel any love for them?

Healing Help

In my novel, The Healing Jar (Book 3 in The Prayer Jars series), some of the characters are in need of emotional and spiritual healing that resulted from their past or present circumstances.
Is there something in your life that needs emotional or spiritual healing? Have you found answers or help by reading God’s Word. If so, what particular scripture verse or verses helped you the most?
The Bible is full of wisdom and direction for our lives. One of my favorites verses for emotional or spiritual healing is found in Psalm 147:3 (KJV): “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.”

Taste of the Valley

While visiting the town of Belleville, Pennsylvania this spring, I enjoyed eating at Taste of the Valley restaurant. This is the area where The Brides of the Big Valley novella collection is set, and there are some scenes in two of our stories that take place in the Taste of the Valley. We enjoyed eating there on two occasions, and my favorite selection was the Apple Roads salad.

We also had fun visiting with one of our Amish friends while we were in The Big Valley area, and we had the chance to stop by several Amish-owned shops.

If you have visited an Amish community, what is your favorite place to eat? If you have not had the opportunity to visit Amish country, where would you most like to go?


If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the Amish people I know, it’s their ability to accept things that happen to them as God’s will. Recently, one of our dear Amish friends was in a terrible accident, where her buggy got hit from behind. When the vehicle hit her, the impact was so great that it demolished the buggy, killed the horse, and injured my friend’s neck and spine. This sweet Amish lady kept an attitude of acceptance throughout her hospital stay, and is now at home recovering, where she is still keeping a positive attitude and a smile on her face. Some of her family and friends who have visited her say that when they leave this young woman’s home, they feel as though she has ministered to them, instead of the other way around. She even told one person I spoke with that if something good came out of her accident, it would be worth all the discomfort she’d been through.
Life isn’t always fair, but if we learn to appreciate what we have and trust God with our future, we’ll feel a sense of peace and acceptance. Remember this week to accept what you must and change what you can. Look to the future with a sense of hope and thank God for each new day. What do you have to thank God for today?


Are you a trusting person by nature, or is it something you’ve had to learn? Do you have a sixth sense about when you can trust another person?
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.
The truth is, there are some people we cannot trust. However, 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. How have you learned to trust God in your life?

Helping Others

In my novel, A Cousin’s Challenge, which was set in Indiana, some people in Jolene’s family saw her deafness as a handicap.
One of the best ways to help others with physical limitations is by encouraging and allowing them to do as much as they can on their own. I knew a young woman once who had cerebral palsy. She wanted to teach a Sunday school class at our church, and so the men of the church carried her wheelchair to the basement every Sunday so she was able to teach her young students.

I have an Amish friend who is partially paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. He doesn’t see himself as disabled and even holds down a fulltime job. Another Amish friend is blind, but she also has a job and it makes her feel useful, as well as providing additional income for her family.

From your personal experiences, what are some ways you have discovered that can help others who have physical limitations see that they can live useful lives?