Monday, April 13, 2009

The Secret

The Secret
By: Beverly Lewis

Grace Byler is at a point in her life where she thinks everything is going just right except for one thing - her mother keeps getting up in the middle of the night and wandering around. She knows her mom received some news that upset her terribly and Grace only wishes she knew what it was so she could help. Come along side Grace as she takes care of her family during this tough time.

This is another great start to what will be a great series by one of my favorite authors. There are so many great characters to meet and as always, you are left hanging at the end, not able to wait for the next book. It will be a hard, long wait, but I am eager to see what happens next in the Byler's lives.

Back of the Book:

The loving hand of God is at work in even the most unsettling circumstances. . .

In the seemingly ordinary Amish home of Grace Byler, secrets abound. Why does her mother weep and wander deep in the night? Andy why does her father refuse to admit something is dreadfully wrong? Then, in one startling moment, the queit life Grace has known is irrevocably altered, leaving her to question all she has been taught about love, family, and commitment.

Friday, April 10, 2009

An Interview with Emily Wierenga

Welcome! Today I am posting something new - an interview. I hope to have many more of these for us to be able to get to know the authors we love to read.

With us today is Emily Wierenga, author of recently reviewed book, Save My Children. Welcome to One Rainy Afternoon, Emily!

How did you first learn about the ministry at Bethany Homes for Children?
I first learned of Bethany Homes while serving as associate editor for Living Light News ( in Edmonton. Bethany was advertising in the paper, and I took the advertisement home to my husband. Both of us were working with teens at the time, and had dreams of one day starting a teen home. This organization seemed to feel our burden. I subsequently began to serve on the board of directors with the hopes of initiating such an idea, but we ended up moving to Korea and teaching English, and then relocating to Ontario because my mother is ill with brain cancer. Meanwhile, I stayed in touch with Bethany and they asked me if I would consider writing a book for their 60th anniversary, commemorating the work they'd done. I was employed by them for six months, and in that time, was able to complete Save My Children: The story of a father's love.

What an honor to be chosen to do this special project! Was it hard to choose which stories to include?
I tried to represent all of the children's stories in this book. Hence, using fictional characters to share the painful backgrounds which most endured prior to arriving at Bethany. It was challenging to write these stories--to imagine myself in these little ones' shoes, and the pain they endured, but since I used fictional characters, and took a lot of creative license, that helped me to space myself (and cushion my heart) a little.

It is so sad to learn what some children have endured. This is your debut novel (I apologize for the confusion), what other writing endeavors have you pursued?
Actually my debut novel was Canvas Child, which was shortlisted in The Word Guild's Best New Author Contest of 2006. However, this is my first published work. I have also recently completed a memoir on my mother, called Mum's Dance (which talks about how my mother, in spite of not being able to walk due to brain cancer, can still dance when she hears music). That is currently in the hands of a literary agent. I am currently freelancing for Faith Today, Christian Week, Focus on the Family and others, as well as completing another commissioned project for a family whose daughter died of Leukemia last year. That book is called The Girl Who Became a Butterfly.

Sounds like you keep busy doing what you love. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
The hardest part was staying true to the spirit of the story while taking enough creative license to fictionalise it. While I based the bare bones of the story on facts, I imagined all of the children, the conversations, the settings, and circumstances. I knew Harvey Jespersen, the founder of Bethany, would be reading it once I was finished, and feared insulting him with my fictionalised account, yet also knew I needed to make it appealing to readers who'd never before heard of Bethany Homes and merely wanted a heartwarming read.

You have certainly accomplished that. I had never heard of Bethany Homes, but loved reading of the amazing ways that God worked in so many lives. What was the easiest?
While at the same time difficult, having facts to work with also made the story easy to write as I knew the founder (Harvey) personally, and had been inspired by him on more than one occasion. I also had numerous interviews to guide my pen, and the prayers of Bethany backing me up.

I found writing the individual accounts of the children easiest, for, in spite of a few details, there was hardly anything to go on, and so my imagination took full flight.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I am an avid painter ( I am also in a band with my sister (, and enjoy playing guitar and songwriting. I garden with my husband, go camping, and travel voraciously.

Who is your favorite author?
My favourite author is Heather O'Neill, author of Lullabies for Little Criminals.

If you could meet one character from a book, who would it be and why?
Similarly, I'd want to meet Baby from Lullabies for Little Criminals. A 13-year-old motherless child who's forced to live in Montreal's red-light district with an immature father, she still manages to find sparks of light in little, every-day things, in spite of her dark existence. I want to be like that.
That sounds like a great book! Thank you so much for joining us today! It was a pleasure to get to know you better. I look forward to reading more of your work in the future. May the Lord bless you in all you do.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Save My Children: The Story of a Father's Love

Save My Children
by Emily Wierenga

This month, CFRB presents Save My Children: The Story of a Father's Love by Emily Wierenga.

This book is an amazing testimony of God's grace, mercy and provision. The Jespersen's faith is something that we should all emulate. They were blessed abundantly for their continued faith and service in whatever way the Lord had for them - even when they couldn't see the road ahead. Learning about the unfolding of Bethany Homes is a wonderful journey as Emily tells the stories of many of the children that the Jespersens helped and influenced over the years.

I highly recommend this book. It is more of a non-fiction read, than fiction, but it is a great book! Save My Children will inspire you to give your all to God and allow Him to use you as He sees fit. God always takes care of those who put their trust in Him.

About the Book:
Save My Children is a fictional retelling of the true story of Harvey and Elsie Jespersen, the founders of Bethany Homes for Children. The Jespersens’ desire was simple: to provide a safe place for any child needing a family. Save My Children traces the lives of battered and mistreated kids who were cared for at Bethany Homes. From 1948-1991, the Jespersens fostered over 800 children, taking up to fifty-five kids at a time. The Homes consisted of old army barracks based on forty two acres of farmland. Through hard work, determination and patience, the Jespersens transformed those barracks into a place of refuge for generations of children. Refusing to take any payment except what parents could afford, Harvey and Elsie depended on faith and the generosity of others to see them through. Save My Children powerfully demonstrates love's ability to transform brokenness into beauty.

About the Author:
Emily Wierenga is the author of Save My Children and Canvas Child, a novel about Anorexia Nervosa which was short listed in 2006 for The Word Guild’s Best New Author Award. Ms. Wierenga freelances for various publications including Christian Week, Focus on the Family magazine and Faith Today. She also appeared on Canada’s most watched faith-based television show, 100 Huntley Street, and was interviewed by the number one spiritual talk-back show in the nation, The Drew Marshall Show.

Purchase Save My Children at Amazon (below)
Barnes and Noble.

All proceeds for the book go to Bethany Homes for Children.