Choosing Love

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From our Publisher’s Desk

As the new year continues to unfold, it brings with it a very special holiday. Whether single, dating, or married, Valentine’s Day can be a very special day for everyone. It is a day where we can show the loved ones in our life (whether that be family members or a significant other) just how much they mean to us and how much we care. Not only that, but we can also remember how much our heavenly Father loves us and wants what is best for us. It is important that in any relationship (no matter what stage it is at) that we keep God first.

Lindsey Holder explores how to keep God at the center of life while dating in her book, Waiting While Dating. Although dating can be a challenge in today’s culture, Lindsey focuses on the questions we should be asking as we take steps towards that special person and grow deeper in our relationship them. Some of these questions include how much time should be spent together, should we serve in the same area at church, and what do social media boundaries look like?
“[God] is not to be argued with, half listened to, or disputed against. You do not doubt God’s direction. There is no option of partially obeying the Lord without bearing the consequences of shame and separation. Partial faithfulness is non-existent. It is one way to believe God’s Word, and it is another to obey it. It is one way to believe God’s Word and another to admit what you are actually doing.”
“In today’s culture, we plan and prepare for our future with education, training, and working diligently to be successful in our business ventures and career. We thirst for knowledge, crave to be the best, and chip at it every day to be the guru in our field. But in relationships, we tend to fail ourselves so easily. We allow our hearts to be carefree, not planning for our heart’s future, for our emotional health, or for the memories we make. We easily connect, giving so much of ourselves before it is time and without truly understanding who we are giving that to and without having received an ordained commitment of marriage in return. Why are the most precious gifts given so freely?”
“It’s easy to read and be clear on paper prior to reality. To get to know someone requires you to share gradually to establish if indeed they are that marriage partner. What questions do you ask your potential partner and when? What boundaries do you set? At what point in the relationship do you bring Christ into it? What is over the limit and appropriate?
As you study His Word, you will find God provides you all of the wisdom you need to find the qualities and characteristics of a marriage partner. But He expects you to study His Word, obey His Word, and have a faithful heart in the interim.”
“God’s Word is God’s protection. Your free will is not free, as every choice has its consequences. It is up to you to decide whether you want positive or negative ones. However, those set boundaries may be different for every couple. May this book help you along your way to finding your partner with holiness, faithfulness, and obedience, with God’s word at the center.”

For those who have passed the dating stage, Randy Blankenship, Sr. in his book, The Mystery and the Masterpiece, discusses what a Biblical portrait of marriage should look like. There are many who are no longer dating and have moved into the next stage of life: marriage. But do we understand the message that marriage was designed to teach us? Randy shows this message throughout the pages of The Mystery and the Masterpiece.
“Marriage is the picture God painted to portray and reveal the kind of relationship He desires to have with mankind. He painted this picture in the beginning, and this has been His intent from the start.
I have heard many teach about marriage. I have read many books on marriage. The vast majority of them miss the main point of God’s purpose for marriage. It seems to me, in most teachings today, the main purpose of marriage and human sexual behavior is completely absent.”
“The first brushstroke in God’s great portrait of marriage begins with man being made in the image of God. Our marriages are intended to be an illustration of the relationship God wants with us! He made us in His image. We are to show forth His picture.”
“I have used terms like portrait, picture, and masterpiece to illustrate what I believe to be this central truth: that Christ will be eternally married to His people and our earthly marriages are intended to be the greatest illustration of that truth.”
“As followers of Christ, sometimes we try so hard at getting other people to also follow Christ. We make all kinds of efforts – that’s not bad. Marriage is work too. We should work at our marriages – but if it is only work, it’s not a happy marriage.
If we will simply allow Jesus to come into us – if we will experience the joy of Him coming into us, new life will automatically happen. It can’t not happen!”
“Marriage is God’s masterpiece. It is His great piece of artwork designed to show the relationships that He wants to have with us. It can only be what the Master Painter painted. It should be cherished and highly valued as He intended. It should be our desire to live that out before the world in our relationships.”

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, let us remember to keep God at the center of our relationships, strive to serve Him and His plan, and to follow His purpose in both dating and marriage.

The Heart Changer Winner of Silver Award

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Illumination Book Awards recognizes The Heart Changer by Jarm Del Boccio in its Seventh Annual Illumination Book Awards {2020} as silver award medalist in the juvenile/young adult fiction category.

Feeling sorry for the children in the Bible who had no name and no back story but important roles, debut author Jarm Del Boccio tried to answer these questions for inquisitive minds while also sparking a love for Scripture in her  middle grade fiction The Heart Changer (Ambassador International, April 26, 2019, $12.99).

In The Heart Changer, Miriam has been wrenched from the only home she has ever known. But that’s mild compared to being taken and employed by the wife of her captor. How can she possibly live in this strange household and be content? Not even this Hebrew girl could guess the far reaching influence of her presence.The Heart Changer

This middle grade biblical fiction addresses the angst and homesickness a young refugee experiences in a foreign land where all seems lost.

The Illumination Book Awards, hosted by Jenkins Group, are designed to honor and bring increased recognition to the year’s best new titles written and published with a Christian worldview.

Learn more about The Heart Changer and Jarm Del Boccio HERE.

Five Things: Allen Steadham

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Learn more about your favorite Ambassador authors with our “Five Things” series. Author Allen Steadham is the author of Christian speculative fiction novels. Here are Allen’s five things:

My wife and I are interracial. Angel is African-American and I’m Caucasian. We have two adult sons and a younger daughter.

My wife and I have been in a Christian band called “First Light” since 1997. First Light plays both contemporary Christian and traditional Gospel styles, cover tunes as well as originals. We perform songs in other languages, including Spanish and Hebrew. Angel and I were asked to join the band by its leader, who is a guitarist, singer and songwriter for many of our original songs. First Light has been like a second family to us. We are also one of two interracial married couples in the band.Allen Steadham

From 1997 to 2015, I ran a not-for-profit organization called the International Size Acceptance Association (ISAA). I created ISAA with the help of some very dedicated people. The organization’s purpose was to educate the public about size/weight-related issues (self-esteem, positive body imagery, fitness at any size and how to make healthy food choices) and to alert the public about weight-based discrimination. ISAA even created a holiday called “International Size Acceptance Day” and had it proclaimed by the City of Atlanta, Georgia on April 25, 1998 and 1999 and in Austin, Texas in 2003. ISAA educated the public through its website, email lists, an e-zine and two different podcast shows between 2002 and 2010. And though ISAA was non-political and not overtly religious, I did run the organization as a Christian man. The Lord put that cause on my heart and helped me run the organization. With His help, ISAA reached people all over the globe and offered kindness and hope. I shut down ISAA in 2015 for two reasons: the internet had changed with the rise of various social media, so people became less inclined to rally to a cause; and my own health had begun to suffer (not weight-related), eventually requiring surgery. I am doing well now and continue a more subtle message of size acceptance even now in my books.Allen Steadham

I began writing and drawing my own comics by hand at age ten (in 1980). Specifically, I created a superhero team comic called “The AR-MEN.” I continued creating those stories for twenty years, even scanning those pages and putting them on the internet as early as 1994. Many characters and certain story elements from the AR-MEN comics were adapted into what became my debut novel “Mindfire” with Ambassador International. In 2003, my wife helped me co-write an original Christian webcomic called “Due East,” which we continued until 2009. “Due East” won two webcomic awards in 2008: Best Spiritual Comic and Most Profound Comic.

I am a Star Trek nerd. I grew up loving the stories and characters in the Original Series and watched all of the movies and series that followed. Between 2005 and 2016, I only read Star Trek novels. And in 2009, I had the opportunity to interview Leonard Nimoy for one of ISAA’s podcasts. I do not do cosplay.

Learn more about Allen Steadham and Jordan’s Arrow, book two of the Jordan of Algoran series, by visiting www.allensteadham.com.

New Year’s Resolutions: A Letter from Our Publisher

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Every year millions of people make resolutions of changes they would like to make in their lifestyle with a “New Year’s Resolution.” Some common changes people want to make are becoming more active, getting into shape, and getting back on track spiritually. In fact, many of us can probably say that we have followed this trend and made a resolution at some point in our life that matches up with one of these three changes. Many of us can probably also say that we have fallen short when it came time to keep the resolution we made. Change can be hard when it means we have to step outside of our comfort zone in order to accomplish a task that we previously couldn’t.

Kelly Wypych talks about stepping outside of your comfort zone and pushing through difficult changes and challenges in life within her book Ten Iron Principles: Persevering Through Difficult Situations. She tells her story of becoming an endurance racer, and how, through God’s grace and mercy, she came to salvation through a triathlon. As she became stronger physically, she found that she was also becoming stronger spiritually. By making changes to her lifestyle and old routines, she found her Kingdom purpose. We can learn about the power of perseverance from Kelly’s experience and words of wisdom.

“Many parallels existed in my life between the quest for physical endurance and my trek to salvation. During this unbelievable life voyage, I completed the race and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. He became real to me. As I inched nearer and nearer to race day, I grew closer and closer to God.”Ten Iron Principles

“My achievement definitely did not result from my inner strength because I demonstrated incredible weakness. God wanted to settle His love unequivocally in my heart and mind. I am not alone; I never have been. God carried me to the finish. He showed me my life is powered by God.”

“Nothing is wasted. [God] uses whatever sufferings occur in our lives to mold us, teaching us the necessary lessons, so we may change our behaviors. This growth enables us to become the sons and daughters God needs us to be. He knows you, too.”

“My words of advice? If He calls you, go. Bring all you’ve got. But don’t take it from me; remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 14:27, ‘Take courage! It is I. don’t be afraid’ (NIV).”

“The road to the Ironman proved to me that change is a process and occurs even when I take a few steps backwards. Chipping away requires dedication and persistence, especially when the road is long, and the outcome is unknown.”Ironman

Iron Principle #1 – You Are Not the Driver
“The biggest self-perpetuated delusion of my life (and possibly your life, too) is I retain control of it…As much as we sometimes wish we were in control, think we are in control, or even try to be in control, God holds the reins.”

Iron Principle #2 – Show Up
“Showing up is one of the hardest things for people to do and one of my greatest frustrations in relationships…Things are tough? Show up. Don’t give up. Do not give in. Keep participating to the fullest in your life and in the steps God has shown you for your recovery and inevitable victory in Him. Do not fall short of your pledged commitment. But if you do: smile, shake it off, and start again. Forgiveness is always available.”

Iron Principle #3 – Rounding the Bend
“Perseverance produces power. But take heart. You will make it through this time and “round the bend.” I call it “rounding the bend” because of the way I visualize it. Think of a learning curve depicted on a graph. The line on the graph steeply rises and then begins to arc as it plateaus and levels out. I imagine myself as a stick figure or cartoon running up the curve as if on a mountain. My little stick figure self struggles and sweats, huffing and puffing up the steep climb. Then, like magic, I go over the curve and things get easier, and I get faster because the trajectory flattens.”

Iron Principles #4 – Buoy to Buoy
“In my first open water swim, I heard a coach nearby ask his athletes how far they had to swim. After mumbled responses, he told them they only had to “Swim to the next buoy.” I stood transfixed thinking what an amazing philosophy this was. Sometimes looking ahead to a big goal can be disarming and overwhelming. Keep the big goal or the finish line always in in the back of your mind but remember to focus on the next upcoming goal or ‘buoy.’”

Iron Principle #5 – The Skittle Philosophy
“In the Beach to Battleship iron-distance triathlon, I altered my nutrition strategy from sports products to Skittles and Sweet Tarts because I could not stomach the nutrition products any longer. The Skittles tell the twisted tale of how we all need to be adaptable. Not all things will go according to plan, and you need to roll with the punches. Create the plan and follow it step by step, rounding the bend, and aiming for the next buoy.”

Iron Principle #6 – Run the Mile You Are In
“No matter how long the race, you can run only one mile at a time; you can run only the mile you are in…While keeping your eye on the prize, do not forget today is all you have. Try to ensure every day you are doing something, however small, to push you closer to your goal, to your “finish line” even if it means resting. Make the most of every effort and avoid getting so caught up in the finish line that you miss the journey.”

Iron Principle #7 – Use Whatever You’re Doing as a Time for Worship
“In whatever you attempt, remember God blesses you with the necessary gifts to be able to attack your goal. Be thankful and show your gratefulness through your efforts… You can easily incorporate prayer into your job, relationships, or into the dark times.”

Iron Principle #8 – Some Days Just Suck
“A few big misconceptions are that successful people never fail, they never experience pain or doubt, and they have it all together. No, they don’t… You will fail now and again when trying to reach your goals. Failure happens, but do not dwell on it. Get back up and dust yourself off… If the day beats you up, go to sleep and remember tomorrow is another day.”

Iron Principle #9 – CFM (Continuous Forward Motion)
“No matter how far, no matter how big the goal, no matter how insurmountable the task, if you keep moving forward, regardless of speed, you will get to the finish line. Whether with big strides or baby steps, keep moving forward.”

Iron Principle #10 – We Win
“It is easy to get engrossed in our problems and trials and how they affect us. It is easy to get stuck in the pain and hurt. But, try to keep a part of yourself focused on the eternal reward even if only a teeny, tiny bit. You may not understand or see the outcome of your situation, your struggle, or your life, however, if you are saved, you know how your soul turns out. You realize the result of the final fight. Jesus wins. He triumphs in victory. The battle was fought and won two thousand years ago on a cross. Jesus defeated Satan and death. Boo-yah.

Try to remember this. Try to keep the hope of spending eternity in heaven with the Lord in your mind’s eye! Amazing! Keeping salvation at the forefront helps us to remember the right choices are not always the easy choices, and it gives us the strength to move in the proper direction. Focusing on our deliverance helps us to stand up when we feel more like sitting. It guides us to remain in His strength when we feel weak.”

As you head into your new year, take Kelly’s advice and her Ten Iron Principles to heart. Don’t become overwhelmed by the length of the coming year, the amount of work required to reach your goals, or the many daunting tasks you may have to accomplish. But instead, try to take it day by day, one task at a time, hour by hour, or even minute by minute. Remember the words of Ecclesiastes 9:11, “The race is not given to the swift nor the strong but he who endures until the end.”

A Fresh Approach to New Year’s Resolutions

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A Fresh Approach to New Year’s Resolutions
by JJ Gutierrez

One of the most common traditions to kick off the beginning of a New Year is to create a resolution. A resolution is simply a personal decision to do or not do something.  It is an act of the will that often fails somewhere between January 1st and January 31st. Many New Year’s Resolutions include losing weight, eating healthier, saving money, making career changes, or spending more time with God.

I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions because they lacked success which usually left me feeling like a failure. Most likely it was due to my inability to “will” myself into accomplishing them. However, there is enormous value in re-evaluating life, setting goals and re-prioritizing at the start of each year. It’s a natural time of reflection and one I embrace fully.

Several years ago I decided to abolish this age-old custom that didn’t produce much fruit and replace it with something new. I decided to take a fresh approach that would actually help and not hinder my desire to follow God and achieve goals in the new year. This will be my fourth year practicing this new tradition and it has become one of my favorite end-of-the-year activities.

Creating a personal motto is my new annual tradition. I couldn’t be more excited to share this with you because it actually works! And it’s easy to make one of your own.

A motto is a short and very specific phrase that can easily be remembered and repeated.  It’s used to convey a message with few words. It is a quick, go-to phrase that becomes an over-arching theme.  Mottos are widely used for groups and organizations to draw attention to a cause, but a personal motto is for the individual.  It is useful for self-encouragement, a personal pep talk or to change bad thoughts into positive thoughts. Mottos supply courage and strength, and most importantly they can direct our attention back to God and remind us of our goals and priorities.

In my years of creating a motto, all of my sayings stemmed from an area of personal growth- a much needed character improvement or an attitude transformation that supported the work God was doing in my heart. By focusing on character and attitude development instead of willing myself to accomplish a New Year’s Resolution, I have found success. The self-will is weak and prone to temptation, but a motto can weave truth into our hearts all year long, producing lasting change.

Recently my husband, daughter and I moved to a brand new city.  We left behind family, friends, established networks, Bible studies and well-known routines.  Our new surroundings are unfamiliar and different. Nothing looks or feels the same and the temptation to want to replicate the old, familiar way of life is strong, but God has directed our path to something new. This year’s motto is in response to this recent change and I am excited by the perspective it will provide all year long.

My 2020 motto is Finding a New Normal. Each time life feels out of place or I am tempted to look back on what was I will whisper to myself, “I am finding a new normal.” Within these few words lies the power to renew my mind and redirect my thoughts back to truth. Instead of giving into feelings of awkwardness, loneliness or fear I am able to embrace the new path God is paving. It’s a reminder that feeling out of place is only temporary and that God is equipping me for the road ahead. I am also reminded of Noah after the flood, Abraham after leaving his country, and Paul after the road to Damascus…they too had to find their new normal.

If you’ve found little success with New Year’s Resolutions, then maybe it’s time to try a personal motto.  Always start with prayer.  Asking God for insight and direction is critical. He knows our heart better than we do (Psalm 139:1, Psalm 33:15) and we can trust Him (Psalm 9:10, Psalm 33:4).  Be open to areas of character growth, attitude adjustments or ongoing struggles. Focus on what is within your control. Many things are beyond our ability to govern so leave those out of your motto…you can’t do anything about them anyway. Scripture can be very useful for mottos too.  If you cannot think of one, adopting a Bible verse is a great place to start!

To learn more about JJ Gutierrez and her book Chickening IN: From Fear to Courageous Faith releasing March 24, 2020 visit HERE.

Is Christ in Your Christmas?: A Letter from Our Publisher

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For many adults and children alike, Christmas truly is “the most wonderful time of the year.” Families come together, gifts are exchanged, and plenty of food is eaten. But with so much going on, we can find ourselves so wrapped up in the business and blur of the season that we miss what Christmas is all about. We become so enveloped in trying to find the perfect Christmas tree, sing the perfect Christmas songs, and find that perfect gift for loved ones that we forget that these minor things are not the true meaning of Christmas. It is so important for us to realize that we need to slow down and be reminded of our Savior’s birth and the story of the first Christmas.
 Author Karen Straszheim shares her experience and thoughts about Christmas in her book A Sanctuary in Our Midst. She walks readers through that first Christmas night, shares of the events leading up to it, and explores what it means to us today. She reminds us not to get caught up or strung out in the midst of the holiday madness and rush. Her book helps place the focus where it should be during the busy Christmas season: on Jesus.

“People in the Bible were glad for what they learned about God from prophecy. At Christmas, we also can be glad for what we learn about God from Scripture. One day, we will enter heaven with everlasting joy. For now, we can enter Christmas with singing, gladness, and joy. He came so we can know Him.”

“If God had not loved and protected Joseph, Mary, and Jesus, what would have been the outcome for them? In Matthew, it says that “Herod gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under.” There was heard among the people “weeping and great mourning . . . Parents weeping for their children . . . because they [were] no more” (Matt. 2:16,18). But Joseph and Mary returned to Israel with their child still living. God’s love was shown to them through the protection of their child’s life.

“Some people feel unloved or abandoned throughout the year and these feelings are noticed even more in the Christmas season. Our culture says this is a time to be with family. But for some, the people they’d like to be with are absent. A parent hasn’t been there for them as a child or an adult. For others, an important person has left, quit, walked out or died, leaving them feeling deserted, cast off, or rejected. A person who has been abandoned can feel lonely, forgotten, forlorn, or sometimes hopeless.
”God, however, says, ‘I will live among the [people] and won’t abandon my people’ (1 Kings 6:13). Jesus had a Father who loved Him and didn’t abandon Him to permanent death. We have the same Father who gives the same love and care to us He gave to His son Jesus (John 17:23, 26). We have hope in a love that is unfailing (Ps. 147:11). He shows us His love with the forgiveness He of­fers us. His compassions are new every morning (Lam. 3:22-23). He is merciful and faithful to us (Heb. 2:17). God is a parent who is there for His children. He listens to us attentively: ‘ . . . You will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart’ (Jer. 29:12-13).

“If you are feeling lonely or forgotten this Christmas, call on your heav­enly Father. A Sanctuary in Our MidstPray and let Him know how you are and what you need. He will be there for you.”
“God is both supremely above us and with us. Jesus, He who saves, is also Immanuel, God with us. He is a king who is a servant to His people (John 13:1-16). God gave me a banquet of knowledge about Himself and then proclaimed a holiday. He “distributed gifts with royal liberality,” which included the gift of rest (Esther 2:18). This idea changed my thinking about Christmas.

“Christmas, for me, now isn’t the usual, a time to be busy. It has become a time for understanding what rest is: rest from sin and rest from work; a time for having joy in who Jesus is and what He came to do. Ezekiel 37:28 says, “The nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy when my sanctuary is among them forever.” As a sanctuary, God shelters His people. He watches over us and takes care of us. He is in our midst to help us in the ways we need. This Christmas, may you, too, find Him doing the unexpected in your life in ways that show you He is a sanctuary.”

To learn more about Straszheim and A Sanctuary in Our Midst, visit HERE.

2019 Christmas Gift Guide

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It’s never too early to start thinking about that special book lover in your life, whether it’s your family, friends, or coworkers, and especially now that Thanksgiving is behind us! Ambassador International wants to help you with your Christmas gift shopping so we’ve put together this 2019 Christmas Gift Guide. This gift guide includes gifts suited for all ages!

Click below to browse the gift guide.

HUGE Thanksgiving Weekend Sale Starts Today!

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IT’S OUR BIGGEST FICTION EBOOK SALE OF THE YEAR! This Thanksgiving and Black Friday Ambassador International is slashing the price on our most popular fiction titles! That makes this our biggest Black Friday sale ever! These deals will expire at the end of the day Friday. All of these Ebooks are only $.99 each – just click on the cover and add to your cart before the opportunity is GONE!

Rebeccastubbs-99

Joanie BruceClearedForPlanting

Allen Steadham

All That Glitters

Fate of the Watchman

An Unpresentable Glory

Kathy M. Howard

Will Montgomery

Solitary Man

The Redemption of Jedidiah Pinkney

The Shadow Things

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Reading from Ambassador International!

To Love a Child…: A Letter from Our Publisher

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As families come together to celebrate Thanksgiving, one tradition is to go around the table and list the things which you are thankful for. Many give the expected response of friends, their home, food, etc. But what we may not realize is that while we are thankful for these things, November also recognizes children without homes, without families, and some without friends. November is Orphan Awareness Month. There are many children around the world who will not have the opportunity to sit down and enjoy a meal with a family this holiday season.
Mary Sandford explores life for children in an orphanage in her book titled Unwanted. Mary follows the life of Debbie Spencer. She is like most children her age, she has friends who she cares about, she loves to play and laugh with them, and she has no fear praying to her Heavenly Father. However, unlike most children, she lives in an orphanage…even though she is not technically an orphan. Mary Sandford shows how Debbie, and many of the other children in the orphanage, felt not having a family there with them to comfort and love them.

*****

       “I didn’t know what made me more embarrassed, wanting Daddy or being scared over a silly commercial in the first place. After I was back in the dormitory, thinking about the awful music kept me awake for hours every night. That’s when longing for Daddy was the worst. He should have been alive to protect me from scary commercials and bad dreams.”
“For weeks I’d cried myself to sleep. I’d hoped and prayed and waited. My mother never came to see me. Not once. Not even when I had the mumps. After that, I had stopped thinking of her. I’d made myself stop, and now, I never did and didn’t want to start.
Patricia [one of the members of staff at the orphanage] led me into the office and closed the door behind me. My mother stood next to Miss Ritz and her desk.
“Thisss isss my daww-ter.” My mother’s voice was loud but might not be heard over the singing. She wrapped her arms around me and clung to me like she needed me, if only to stay upright. I wanted to step aside and watch her fall. I wanted to pay her back for all the times I’d longed to be needed and wanted but never was.
I pulled away from her arms.
She gave me a bleary-eyed gaze squinting like she couldn’t see clearly. “Ssstill looksss jusss like her Daddy.”
Miss Ritz went around the desk to her chair as if my mother wasn’t there bent over and crying into her lap.”

*****

       “Concentrating on the chairs worked only for a moment. Everything that happened before I came to the home bombarded my thoughts.
I remembered waking up to find a cake on the table with “Happy Birthday, Debbie, 12 years old,” written in blue letters across the smooth white frosting. I’d swiped a taste off of the side and ran into Gram’s room to thank her. But Gram wasn’t there. Before I could figure out why, Uncle Lloyd came bursting in.
“What are you doing in here?” he’d asked. “My mother is gone. Her heart gave out, and it’s all Carol’s fault.” He grabbed my arm and added, “And yours.” Then he shoved me out of the room and slammed the door.
Ever since Uncle Lloyd came home from the war and he’d had to sleep on the orange velveteen davenport, he’d been mad. Mad at Gram for letting us move in when Daddy went back to Korea. Mad like he wanted Gram all to himself to take care of him and his wounded hip without my mother and me there, too.
My mother never even tried because, ever since Daddy left for Korea, all my mother did was lay on Uncle Lloyd’s davenport all day with the brown and yellow afghan spread over her. Until the day after my ninth birthday when she got the telegram.
She had started to read it out loud. “We regret to inform you…” but she stopped, and no one ever told me what else it said. No one told me why my mother ran out of the house without a coat or even shoes. No one told me where she’d been before Uncle Lloyd found her. I heard him tell Gram he’d taken her to the hospital, but I didn’t know why until Gram had tucked me into bed with tears in her eyes.”
Just before all of the chaos with her mother coming to visit her in the orphanage, Debbie’s heart was lightened by some much-needed good news.
“An outing. Folks who cared for orphans were coming to take us out? Folks who liked children and maybe wanted a child. My chest swelled up with hope. Was God answering my prayers for a new family?
No matter what I knew, telling Sharon and Noreen wasn’t a good idea at all. I wasn’t telling anyone. It was supposed to be a secret. A secret that could make my biggest wish come true. I was just sure of it.
Gram would have been proud of me thinking of someone else’s feelings like she’s always told me, a sure sign I was starting to put others first or at least for a quick second.”

*****           Mary E. Sandford

It is important to recognize the children who spend holidays in an orphanage or alone, and if we are able, to show them the love they need and deserve as shown in Mary Sandford’s book, Unwanted.
We also want to thank and show gratitude to those who have opened their doors to children and embraced them as their own with loving and outstretched arms. Thank you for sacrificing your time and energy in order to invest in a life. Thank you for being Jesus to these little ones and saying, “let them come unto me, and do not hinder them” (Matthew 19:14).

To learn more about Sandford and Unwanted, visit HERE.