Thanksgiving, the unique day set aside for giving thanks, is nearing. Ever struggle to say Thank You in a way that feels sufficient?
I’m embroiled in this experience at present.
My first novel, The Calling of Ella McFarland, is due to be released on December 1. I expect to hold an actual book in my hands very soon and have yet to link together the words and phrases that will express my gratitude.
What emotions will the sensation of holding that first book engender?
Between the covers will be pages filled with words I chose with care. For readers’ sakes. For the sake of the memory of my mother and grandmother who identities are woven into the characters Ella and her mother Betsy. And for Jesus’ sake, which is the closing line of every prayer I’ve prayed over this story.
The seeds for the story were planted decades ago when I sat on my grandmother’s lap for tales bout life in Indian Territory prior to Oklahoma statehood. Mother watered the seedlings with intrigue and love for that state of her birth.
As I grew up the daughter of a South Texas farmer in the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s, I learned what connected me to my family roots buried in rural soil was the constancy of Jesus Christ who heals, enlivens, and sustains.
For generations He has brought the sweet aroma of the Rose of Sharon to the gruesome stench of death and heartbreak. He has taken the dreadful sultriness of a summer hail storm, destined to wipe out a cotton crop and a year’s earnings with it, and replaced it with the gentle breeze of Hope, the Anchor for the Soul. And He has transformed the gut-wrenching sight of a loved one, maimed and becoming more so each day, into a vision of a new body in a new heaven.
I thank Jerry B. Jenkins and his team of judges for choosing this story as the first place winner in the 2014 Operation First Novel contest. The award has made possible the revealing of Ella McFarland who was born as I imagined what shape my gentle, quiet, shy grandmother’s world might have taken if the kaleidoscope of her life had twisted a hair’s breadth in either direction.
On Thanksgiving this year I will give thanks for Jesus, my family, friends, a home that shelters me, food in abundance, and more conveniences than are good for me. But this year I’ll add a Thank You for a once-in-a-lifetime blessing of a debut novel. Surreal.
My words of gratitude won’t feel sufficient, but they’ll be the best I can muster.
Thankfully, the Lord can read my heart.