Friday, September 15, 2017

Hymns through History - Introduction

Hello all! I hope this blog post finds you well! Our week has been a bit crazy, but good nontheless. Also, I promise I will reply to comments this weekend. I've gotten a bit behind in that area. xP

Today brings us to the start of the new mini-blog series I mentioned last week. And, as y'all have probably guessed by now, it has something to do with hymns.

Hymns are very special to me. You see, I didn't grow up listening to contromporary christian music. And until I was around eleven, I didn't even know it existed. For me, songs were always, always either classical or hymns. My greatest dream when I was little was to be able to play the piano so I could play out of the hymnbook in church. To this day, piano hymns are my favorite kind of music to listen to...and play. (And yes, my dream came true and I have played hymns in church. ;) Seriously one of the highlights of my life.)

Nowadays I do often listen to contemporary music and enjoy it very much, yet the old hymns always inspire me like no other song ever will. There's just something about hearing the sweet, gentle strains of How Great though Art  drift through the autumn air, or singing Christ the Lord is Risen Today at church on Easter morning. Yes, maybe it's because of my upbringing that hymns will always be precious to me. Nearly every memory I have is connected, in some way, with a dear, old hymn.

Yet, I think it's more then that. Hymns have such a rich history. And the words, many times, are more thoughtful and reverant then most contemporary songs. (Don't start yelling at me, guys. I agree that some contemporary christian songs can be just as powerful. ;)) Our forerunners in the Christian faith often sang the same hymns as they went through persecution, or were faced with hardships in their own life. And still, more then a hundred years later, the same lyrics are speaking to my soul. That's amazing, guys. Sometimes there will be days when I'm having a hard time, and I just can't seem to get my mind to focus on Christ in the midst of things going on around me. And then a line from Be Still, My soul will come to mind. Other days, I struggle with feeling lonely, even though I'm surrounded by people who love me. And then What a Friend we have in Jesus will remind me that He's always right beside me.
In every hardship I've gone through in my life, I've had a hymn to encourage me. To get me through it.
And in every blessing, in every happy occasion, I can call to mind a hymn from that time of life as well.  After all, life in the summer doesn't get any better then driving down a country road with the windows down while you and your siblings sing I'll Fly away so loud you'd probably give a heart attack to anyone who heard you coming.

So, all that to say . . . because of my love for them, I've decided to do a mini blog series on hymns. More specifically, the hymns I've used in my books. Those of you who have read them know that I try to incorperate a hymn into each book in some way, shape, or form.  The reason is because I personally think that there come times when the gentle yet pointed lyrics of christian hymns can drive a point home more then any amount of explaining we could try and do.

Also, so often hymns seem to be labled "old fashioned" and looked down on by many people my age who I know, So I'd also like to show that hymns aren't just for older people--they're relevent in the lives of us younger teens and adults as well.

So what do you say, are you excited for the series? Worried about my sanity? xD Did you grow up listening to hymns, and, if so, what is your favorite hymn?

Monday, September 11, 2017

Never Forget

The thick smoke clung to everything, almost as though it had been pasted on. But it wasn't just smoke. Even though the attack had heppened hours ago, ash still rained down from the sky. Ash, and bits of white paper, floating down so gently you could almost close your eyes and envision a winter's snow storm. 
But to do so, you'd have to ignore the smell. It clung to everything, just as hard, if not harder then the grey mist. And as I wondered down the streets, still in shock from what had happened, one thing burned in my memory, every bit as strong as the fires that had consumed the towers. 
Our nation would never forget this day. Our nation couldn't forget this day. The moment we did, we would cease to be Americans. Because the very minute we forgot this day, the freedom we so loved and held dear would slip from our grasp.
It has often been said that it is the memories with teach us of the past, and inspire us to make the future a better place. And the day we let this horrible attack slip from our memory, we wouldn't be worhty to fight for freedom's cause. Because without remembering the horrors of the past, we become complacent to the future. I pray that we will never settle simply for peace. And that peace would never become so dear that it would be worth giving up the fight for freedom. 

Sixteen years have passed since that horrible attack on our Nation. At the time of that attack, I wasn't old enough to understand what was going on, or what was happening. But I do remember coming out of my room and seeing my parents on their knees in front of the T.V. as live footage of the attack made it's way across the nation. 

Life changed that day. Perhaps we didn't all realize it then, but our nation would never quite be the same 

We still fight for freedom, and for that I thank God. And every year, we still remember. Looking back isn't just a way to honor the memory of those who died, though to do so is fitting. Many died in that attack. Many died in the rescue operations. And many more were wounded as they risked their lives to pull people from the rubble. 

However, looking back also serves as an spark to ignite the passion of those who still love our freedom. For those who fight for it. That it may never, never happen again on our shores. In the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

May God bless America. And May God save America, and turn us as a nation back toward Him. 

On that day, 16 years ago, all eyes turned to heaven, seeking help from our Creator. We as a people need to not look across the aisle to politicians or political leaders to save us. We need to turn out eyes to heaven with the same earnestness that we had on 9/11. And when that happens, American will be strong. Because it isn't the people, or the documents that make us a mighty nation. It's the God we serve.

Always remember. Never forget. And never, never stop praying, 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

A Summer to remember for always

Okay, so, somehow it just hit me that September is here. SEPTEMBER, Y'ALL! I honestly don't know where the time has gone. So, so much has happened. I fell like this was that one, last, delightful summer of childhood before adulthood comes knocking. It's been precious. Beautiful. And a summer I'll never forget.



I've learned many new things, and I've had to let go of the old and familiar. I've glimpsed new horizons, and been made aware of new dreams that I have. But most of all, God's been teaching me that His timing is always the best. And that hasn't exactly been an easy lesson to learn, but it's been the one that I needed to learn the most.

Our house has sold, and my family is currently in the process of finding another home. I graduated highschool, and am working toward entering college next year. And I've also gotten very behind on blogging. Which I do apologize for!

And that brings me to my next point. (Did I even have points? This was more like a ramble of what's been going on lately...xP)

After a rather long, sorta unplanned blogging break, I'm back! During the weeks I've been away, I've gotten many new ideas and inspiration for blogging, and I can't wait to share it with you all! First off, the nest couple weeks I'm going to be doing a small blog series on a topic that is very near and dear to me, both in my writing and in my everyday life. So I'm excited about that, and hopefully you  are, too! And then near the beginning of October, I've got a bit of a surprise for y'all.

On the writing front... things have been going well! A Question of Courage has been gone over by beta-readers, and I'm about ready to start the next edit before sending it to an editor. . . and then from there I'll give it one last edit, and then it's on to a proof copy! The release date for it, as of now, is November 3rd. I'm still hoping for that, but we'll see. I've gotten a bit further behind then I would have liked with it.
Also, As in Olden Days the Christmas Prequel to A Question of Honor that I wrote last year, is going to be published as an eBook and special edition paperback on October 10th. So yes, I haven't totally abandoned writing while I've been gone. ;)

And...I think that's all for right now. Thank you guys so much for bearing with me in the craziness of life these past few months. I'm so looking forward to being more active in the blogging world again!

God bless, and I hope your summer was every bit as memorable as possible. :)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Top Five Favorite Summer Books

*waves* Hello, all! Long time no see, ehh? Yes, I know, it's been a while since I posted. It's been even longer since I updated y'all on anything life/writing wise. And I wish I could say that I'm back for good, but...life is still crazy and so it'll most likely be a couple more weeks before I get back into a posting schedule. I do have some fun things planned for when I return, though! ;) As well as a huge update post. So be prepared.



Today I'm posting as a part of Victoria's blog party! It's quite epic and has some amazing giveaways going on, so be sure and check it out!
The topic for today was books, so I'm posting a list of my top five favorite summer books. Some of these I've read this summer, others are just summer-y books that I love reading during the summer. ^_^

1.) A Secret Courage by Tricia Goyer


Ahh, guys! This book was just so sweet! It was a light, yet surprisingly deep read. It kept my attention and I never wanted to set it down. It's WWII and takes place in England. It deals with spies rather than soldiers and battlefields, yet it's still just as real.


2.) Chasing Jupiter by Rachel Coker

Now just try and tell me that the cover and title don't just scream 'summer'! It's such a beautiful, yet sad story. It's the kind that reminds you just how summer, one summer, will change everything. So treasure every moment you have.



3.) Old-Fashioned by Rene Gutteridge


I haven't seen the movie that this is based off of, but the book is lovely. It's sweet and simple, and it deals with the 'old-fashioned' look at realtionships, and it's just beautiful. Most of it takes place in the fall, but I think it's a perfectly beautiful late summer/early fall read. And both of those are my favorite seasons, sooo... ;) I'm almost finished with it, and while I'm sad for it to end, I know it's a book I'll want to read again sometime. My only caution is that it does deal with some more mature content, so I wouldn't reccomend it to anyone under 16.


4.) This Quite Sky by Joanna Bischof


Oh my goodness, people. This book. It reminds me so much of Chasing Jupiter. The way it's written, the way it shows change... it's just beautiful. Heartbreaking, but in a sweet and precious way, if that's even possible. It's will break your heart into a million pieces, but do it in such a way that you don't even mind. It's precious, y'all.
It is a bit more on the romance side than I normally prefer, but it's still all sweet and innocent. However, it's another book I wouldn't reccomend to people under 16.


5.) Dandelion Dust by Faith Potts



*sighs* Don't all these books have the most fabulous covers? I have three on my shelf and I must get the others soon. ^_^
This was a beautiful story that takes place as summer draws to a close. For some reason, books dealing with summer, change, and new roads in life have meant a lot to me this year. Probably because I've been going through some of it as of late. :) This is a sweet book about realationships, testing, and how God is indeed in control of every ascpect of our lives, even when we may not see it. It's one I'd reccomend for all ages.

And... I know, I've already listed five. But I'm adding this one because it probably doesn't really count. I mean, it's a book I've written. BUT. I wrote it this spring, and I've re-read it countless times this summer. Editing and all. ;) But it holds a special place in my heart. I think so far it's my favorite book that I've ever written. A lot of it takes place during the summer, and I just love the characters so much. A lot of the struggles and growth they go through were things I was experiencing at the time I was writing it. So yes. It'd be #6 of my favorite summer books. ;)


Annddd I think that about wraps up the post for today. Be sure to head over to Victoria's blog for an AWESOME giveaway she's hosting for the party! :D
(click picture for link)

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Reflections




You know those days... weeks, even....when it seems like life just won't slow down? Yet, in all the moments that are slipping by, you put out a hand in a feeble effort to make it stop. To slow it down. 
The effort is always pointless, for the time is like grains of sand that slip deliciously through your fingers and land in the earth below. The sand on the shore behind you is where you've been; the ocean ahead of you is your future. And you're scared. Scared to leave the sand of what you knew. Of what is familiar, and take the first hesitant steps into the ocean waves that softly brush your feet. 
But you can't remain where you are. And the only chance is to take the next step. And trust that Jesus will be right there beside you, taking your hand and helping you to walk atop the waves. 
And He will. But that first step is always the hardest. Why is it so hard to let go of the sand, when in reality, we never really could hold it to begin with? 

You know those moments where you feel as if suddenly, you aren't... right. It's as if you've been startled awake to the reality that you are a lot different than others. In that moment, there's a choice. To accept who God has made you, and smile in your differences. To let other people know that you're okay with being different. Or to shrink back, afraid. Afraid of perhaps not measuring up to the standard that we think we need to meet. But then again, why should we feel the need to be the same? Is not life made even more beautiful through differences? 

You know those summers, where life changes. It seemed impossible. What would one summer bring? But it brings so much. It's marked with little things, that add up to be big things. Little choices, that remain for a lifetime. New interests, that you didn't even care about before. A new awakening in your soul that you are being called to do more. A new confidence in who God has made you. A new life He's opened up for you. And then, as the lazy days fade away, you look back. And suddenly, you realize that while you never felt it, everything changed. And nothing will ever be quite the same. 
It only took one summer. One magical, beautiful, summer. To change the course of a life. Forever. 

Days. Years. Moments. Summers. All ways we measure time. Live each moment to the full. Fill each day with joy. Spend your years making others smile. And those summers... well, treasure them. Because no two summers are alike. And one thing is for certain. 

After summer is over, nothing is ever the same.




Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Dreams and Devotion blog tour!


Hello all! today I'm joining in the blog tour for Sarah Holman's new book Dreams and Devotion! 


Some dreams will be dashed, and their devotion will be tested.
Dara's life is full of farm work and worries, especially now that her older brother is a priest in a far off city. Yet she still has time to dream of the life she hopes will someday be. She dreams of marrying her dear friend and the worries of her family ending. Now, the selfishness of one person threatens her very way of life.
Dresden's initial excitement about living a life devoted to the service of God quickly is dashed on the rocks of reality. The life of a priest is nothing like what he imagined. To make matters worse, he finds out his family back in his home village is on the brink of disaster. Torn between his vows and his love for his family, what will he choose?


Buy the book for the special preorder price, here.



About The Author:

Sarah Holman is a not so typical mid-twenties girl: A homeschool graduate, sister to six awesome siblings, and author of many published books and short stories. If there is anything adventuresome about her life, it is because she serves a God with a destiny bigger than anything she could have imagined.
Find her at www.thedestinyofone.com

Stops on the blog tour:
July 8

July 9
His Princess Warrior ~ Katie Hamilton

July 10
In the Book Case ~ Tarissa Graves
Jessica Greyson ~ Jessica Greyson

July 11
Read Another Page ~Rebekah Morris

July 12
Shannon McDermott ~ Shannon McDermott

July 13
The Page Dreamer ~ Deborah O'Carroll

July 14
Knitted by God’s Plans ~ Kendra E. Ardnek
With a Joyful Noise ~ Amanda Tero
Once Upon an Ordinary ~ Kate Willis

July 15
Jaye L. Knight ~ Jaye L. Knight

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Old River Road birthday!



It’s been one year since Ivy Rose’s debut novel was released! To celebrate The Old River Road‘s first birthday, the eBook will be discounted to $.99 on Amazon July 8th - 10th. Also, she is revealing the title of book two in the Long Lake Legacy series.


 1885
     When seventeen-year-old Clara Boutwell married her dashing coworker, William McDonald, she was convinced her life was near perfect. The journey before them as newlyweds in the great city of Chicago was promising and exciting. But a frightening disease soon takes William in its grip, forcing them to the clean air of the western frontier in a desperate attempt to save his life. But pioneering doesn’t prove to be easy, with miles between neighbors instead of fences. On the eastern Washington prairies, the McDonalds face hardships and trials in a new world where everything is tested, from physical endurance to emotional strength—down to their relationship and faith in the Lord.
     This novel tells the incredible true story of Clara and William, the great-great grandparents of the author, in a sweet narrative full of laughter, tears, and the struggles of an early pioneering family. Prepare yourself to share in their experience as you read this account of a pioneer family in Washington state, and see their lasting legacy that has endured into the fifth generation.


Get on Amazon ~ Add on Goodreads



 MOCK COVER, not the final product


Add on Goodreads


Check out the other blog stops this weekend:

Abigayle Claire @ The Left-Handed Typist
Faith Potts @ Firefly Story Space
Victoria Lynn @ Ruffles and Grace
Jesseca Wheaton @ Whimsical Writings



About the Author



Ivy Rose is a young novelist with a passion to create beautiful fiction. She’s been accused of wearing out coffee makers and clearing the entire house of its chocolate supply. Armed with a desire to create scenarios readers can easily relate to, she writes in many genres about ordinary individuals faced with extraordinary choices. When not studying for exams, she can be found practicing fiddle, TaeKwonDo, or ATV-ing the Pacific Northwest.



Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Freedom

Hello all, and Happy Independence day! 




241 years ago, fifty-six men signed their lives and fortunes away while affixing their signatures to the Declaration of Independence. Many suffered for that act, but they never looked back. 
We had proclaimed our liberty from Great Britain. We had the groundbreaking idea that all men were endowed by their creator with rights that could not be taken away. And because of it, the world would never be the same. 

Independence day is one of my very favorite holidays. And after coming back from a  missions trip, I view it in a new light. Guys, we have so, so much here. So much to celebrate. Don't take it for granted. Thank God for how He has blessed our nation. And than pray that He would turn back to Him. 

We have a freedom here that the rest of the world does not have. Don't ever let it be taken away. 


Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.
~Ronald Reagan 

Freedom is in your hands. Are you going to keep it, or let it go? 

Okay, anyway, on a lighter note. . . ;) I wrote a short story for the Fourth, and I'm sharing it here. Hopefully you enjoy it, and I pray you have a blessed Independence Day Celebration! 



Freedom 

July 4th, 2017

Jana hiked her backpack further up on her shoulder and took a small step forward to keep her place in line. Everyone around her was speaking Spanish, and even after studying the language for a year, it took her a while to figure out what was being said.
The bright lights of the international airport buzzed overhead, and as she looked around, a twinge of sadness hit her. I’m gonna miss it here.
You couldn’t live in a place for nearly four months, and then simply leave. No, it affected you in ways you never would have imagined.
She swiped at the hair that insisted on coming loose from her ponytail. You’re gonna miss this, you’re gonna want this back, you’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast.
The country song from her playlist ran through her mind. In fact, it hadn’t stopped running through her mind all week. When she first arrived in Mexico for the short term missions trip, she couldn't wait to get back to the states.
And now… now she wished she had treasured her time a bit more.
The person in front of her stepped up to the counter, and Jana took another step forward, pulling her suitcase behind her.
Apparently, this guy had been through this before. He showed the passport to the woman, placed his suitcase on the scale, and in less than two minutes he was making his way toward security.
“May I see your passport please and your boarding information?” The lady at the counter had her hair pulled back into a bun, but a smile lit her red lips, and her voice was cheerful behind the thick, spanish accent.
Jana handed over her passport and the folded slips of computer paper she had printed the night before with her flight registration. “Oh, wait, I have the departure thingie.” Janna dug through her carry-on while the woman watched her. Drat this thing. I knew I should have kept the paper with my passport. 
At last her fingers located the folded slip of paper she had been given when she went through customs after entering the country. “Here. The lady told me you’d need this, too.” At least, she hoped that was what the woman had said. Her spanish had been so fast Jana had only managed to pick out the words “keep” and “departure”.
“Ah, yes, very good.” The lady took it from her and made a few more changes to the screen in front of her. Jana watched, hoping everything would go smoothly. She wasn’t sure she could handle something going wrong.
The woman pointed to the scale. “Suitcase, please.”
Jana hoisted it up and set it atop the scale. It weighed right under twenty-two kilograms, and she breathed a sigh of relief. While she had weighed it before she left, there was always the chance that the scale wasn’t correct. And She didn’t have the pesos to pay the extra money had it been over the designated fifty pounds.
As the suitcase was whisked off to the black conveyor belts, the woman behind the counter handed over a white slip of paper. “Here is your boarding pass. Thank you for choosing United Airlines.”
Jana smiled and hoped she said something acceptable. She could feel her heart rate return to normal as she headed over to security.
She had made it through that without any problems. God, help the rest of the trip to go as smoothly.

***

Security went without a hitch. In fact, it was the easiest checkpoint she’d been through. A smile lit her face as she took a seat in the waiting area. American security was about ten times as thorough as this had been.  I bet once we get to Houston they’ll put us through security again, there. She didn’t see them trusting the Mexican security.
Settling down into a chair she glanced at her watch. It was 7:50, and the plane took off at 8:30. So she had about twenty minutes till boarding began.
Closing her eyes, she rested her head back against the seat. She was tired. Waking up early had never been her strong suit. 
As she lay there, thoughts and memories came pouring back through her head.
What would it be like to go back to the States after having lived her for a good amount of time? She knew there were many  things she;d never look at in quite the same light again. And she would never take fresh, running water and indoor plumbing for granted.
She smiled to herself. God, thank you for the freedom and blessing you’ve poured upon our nation.  Of course it wasn’t perfect. Far from it. But America was so very different to any other country in the world.
Her thoughts strayed then to Andrew. He’d been overseas for nearly six months now. She wondered what it would be like for him to be back in the states. Though, she had no idea when he was due back.
She missed him. Yet, it had been good. They left within a week of each other. Him to some undisclosed area in the middle east, and her to Mexico. It had helped. A lot. She wasn't at home moping him, wishing he were there. They had both been out on their own. They had both seen new places, and had their eyes opened to a different way of life. A way most of the world still lived in.
I lived the life of a missionary, he’s been in the military. One thing was sure. Neither of them were going to be the same people they were when they left.
A yawn worked its way up her throat and she brought up a hand to stifle it. Lord willing tonight she’d be back him in Nebraska. Just in time for the Independence day celebration the town hosted every year.
Well, I definitely understand freedom a lot more than I did last year at this time. They had it so, so good. And that was something she’d never take for granted again.
“Flight three-twenty-seven to Houston, Texas boarding now.” The voice sounded over the loudspeakers, and Jana jerked her head up. Had twenty minutes really already gone by?
Gathering her carry-on, she sat on the edge of her seat as first boarding group one, then two was called. Then, at last, boarding group three was given permission.
Making her way to the end of the line, she waited as one by one the people were led outside to the waiting plane.
As she stepped out into the early morning sunlight, she squinted her eyes against the rays of sunlight. The sun was coming up on the other side of the airport, and the planes and trucks were framed in shadows. Like silhouettes, rising from the ground. Attempting to paint a portrait against a barren backdrop.
Her breath caught in her chest. It’s so beautiful. The mountains rose in the distance, their tops free of the cloud cover for a rare moment. Grabbing her cell phone from her pocket, Jana snapped a quick picture before continuing on her way to the plane.


It was small, and only a few steps were needed to step inside the plane. The male flight attendant greeted her at the top with a, “Good morning and welcome aboard.” 
She smiled and nodded, returning his greeting.
As she walked past, she sent a quick glance inside the cockpit. The instruments winked back at her, their dials and buttons lighting up the panel. One day, she thought. One day I’m gonna sit in there and fly. Though, who knew just when that would be. Perhaps she could convince Andrew to take her up for a spin when he got back. The plane he’d purchased just before he left still sat patiently in the hanger. And being an air force pilot, the little bit of aircraft would be no difficulty for him.
She slid her way sideways through the narrow aisle between the seats. Seat A9. The way this plane was situated, she’d get a seat by herself on the left side. She smiled. Single seats were the best. There was nothing more awkward than trying to sit next to a complete stranger.
She took a book from her bag, and then slid the rest of the bag into the overhead compartment. That done, she stepped down and ducked her head as she slid into her seat. They really don’t make these too well for tall people.
Settling into the seat, she reached down the the seat belt and slid it across her lap, securing it with a click.
Looking around the seats in front of her, she could see the flight attendant closing the door to the ground. Good, we’ll be in the air soon.That was her favorite part of flying. The way the wheels left the ground, taking you higher, and higher still. It was a feeling all it’s own. Something you couldn't experience any other way. And she loved it.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard flight three-twenty-seven in route to Houston. The flight deck door has been closed, and at this time we ask that you turn off all mobile and cellular devices, or switch them to airplane mode. Please stow all laptops and tablets into the overhead compartments. You may continue to use your phones and lightweight devices on airplane mode. Please be sure your seat belts are secured and the fold-out table in front of you is secured for takeoff. Thank you for choosing United Airlines, and we hope you enjoy your flight.”
By the time I get home, I’m gonna have that speech memorized, Jana thought. Not that she minded. Hearing the speech meant she was flying, and that made up for any speech she had to listen to.
A moment later the plane began to move toward the lone stretch of concrete. Then, it began its ascent. It whirled down the runway, the scenery whizzing by faster and faster. And then, all in one, glorious moment, the ground relinquished its grip on them, and the plane was airborne. The concrete fell away beneath them as they rose toward the blue of the heavens. The mountains and city below grew smaller and smaller, and Jana took a picture of it as they turned away from it all.
With that behind her, she settled back to rest and attempt to read. She had two hours before she;d be back in the States.
Back Home.

***

The American flag has never looked so good. She hadn’t realized just how much she missed her country until she came back. It was like stepping back into a room where you knew everyone after being in a  place filled with strangers.
Security had taken a while, as had customs. But everyone had been smiling and welcoming her back, and she couldn't keep the smile off her own face. She was back in time to celebrate her country’s independence.
What could be better than that?
According to her ticket, she had a six hour layover before the flight would take off at 4pm. She looked at her watch. It was eleven thirty. Well, I’ll grab a bite to eat and then head to the flight gate. There she could try and get some shuteye. For some reason, she had never been able to sleep in an airplane.

***

“We regret to inform you that due to weather conditions, United Flight three-sixty-three to Omaha, Nebraska has been cancelled. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Please bring your tickets to the United Airlines counter located in Terminal B and we will be happy to help you with anything you may need.”
Jana stayed in her seat, stunned. My flight has been canceled? Suddenly, the night that she had so looked forward to seemed to stretch out in front of her like a long, dark, road with no light in sight. She was in Houston. She didn’t know anyone here. Where would she spend the night? At the airport?
As the questions swam around her head, she brought up a hand to massage her neck. "What am I going to do?” Sleeping in the airport was an option, but she wasn’t sure it was the best course to take. Her constant headache throughout the day had already reminded her how her body reacted to too little sleep.
Around her, passengers made their way to the United ticket desk, exchanging their boarding passes for new ones.
Letting out a deep breath, Jana slipped her phone from her pocket. “I guess I’ll have to see what dad says.”
She wasn’t aware she had spoken out loud till she heard a voice behind her. “Is something the matter, ma’am?”
Turning around, she caught the khaki of the man’s jacket, and felt her face flush. Great. She had been caught talking out loud to herself in an airport. By a man in the military, no less.  She shoved her phone into her pocket and avoided his face. “No, I’m okay.”
She hoped that would be the end of it. She didn’t need to make anymore fool of herself than she already had.
“Sis, it’s gonna be okay.”
Sis? The way his voice softened … she whirled around, whipping him on the side of his cheek with her braid. “Andrew?” The word came out in a whisper. If she was wrong, she was never going to be able to forgive herself for mistaking a soldier for her brother.  
But the grey-green eyes and the teasing grin that met her gaze told her that she wasn’t imagining it. Somehow, they had ended up at the same airport, on the same day, at the same time.
With a squeal she jumped to her feet, not even caring when her bag fell off her lap and the contents spilled out onto the floor. A moment later, Andrew’s arms went around her, and she buried her face in his shoulder.
“Well, it’s good to see ya, too, sis.” Andrew’s voice was close to her ear, and she could hear the laughter in it.
And it was so good to hear it again.
At last he let her go and she stepped back. “But what are you doing here?
He shrugged. “My tour was over. So I shipped back yesterday.” He tweaked her braid and then brushed it over her shoulder. “But I didn’t expect to see you here. We just came in off the last flight and I happened to walk by as you were talking to yourself. Otherwise, I might never have seen you.”
He was here. He was really, truly here. Suddenly, the cancelled flight didn’t matter much at all, and the possibility of spending the night in the airport was no longer an ominous undertaking.
Andrew was here. And if he was here, everything would be fine.
“So, what were you gonna call dad about?” Andrew asked as they took a seat.
Call. Putting a hand to her pocket to be sure her phone was still there, Janna suddenly darted up and ran back to the other side of the seating unit, picking up her bag and stuffing its contents back inside, checking to be sure her passport and I.D. were still there.
Thankfully they were, and she lugged the bag onto her shoulder and returned to sit by Andrew. “My flight was cancelled.” The words were said simply, without the weight of responsibility she had felt earlier. Andrew would take care of it.
“I know. Mine was, too.” He grinned. “Looks like we’re stuck here together, doesn’t it?”
As he looked at her, Jana took the time to study him. He looked the same as she remembered. His eyes still twinkled down at her, and the grin that he so often wore settled on his lips. 
He sat back against the edge of the seat and dropped an arm around her shoulders. “Well, looks like we'll be spending the night of the 4th together here. What do you say we go and find a bite to eat, and while we’re doing that, you,” he reached down and tweaked her nose, “Can tell me all about this missions trip. “
Jana wrinkled her nose and ducked, then smiled. “Sounds perfect. But before we do that, you should call mom and dad. Or I should at least. To let them know I won’t be in tonight.” She would have a to wait another day to see them again. She’d miss it, but at least it’d give her time to catch up with Andrew.
“Wait, I gotta better idea. Smile.” Andrew whipped out out cell and snapped a picture, and then sent it via text message. “There. I let them know we were delayed, but that we would be okay. And I let them know I was watching out for ya.”
At that, Jana elbowed him. Always making himself out to be the hero.
He stood and swung his backpack onto his shoulder, and then reached down and picked up her back. Suddenly, he doubled over. “What in the world you got in here, Jan? All the bricks you could fit?”
Standing, Janna swatted at him, missing when he ducked. “Books of course. And two of them got left at customs in Puebla. Be thankful. And I never said you had to carry it.” She reached for it, but he quickly swung it up out of her reach. “Nope, nope, I got it. Come on, let’s find something to eat.”

***

It was late. Most of the occupants in the waiting area had either drifted off to sleep, or left to spend the night in a real bed.
Andrew and Jana sat near the window, their faces being lit up by the colorful array of fireworks that sparkled outside. Andrew sat with his chin in his hands, while Jana leaned against him. The lights lit up the city of Houston, and there, in the airport, Jana suddenly felt so very small. So many people out there. Yet God managed to get Andrew and I together on this special night. She leaned further against him, resting her head on his shoulder.
He slipped an arm around her shoulders, but his eyes didn’t move from the lights. The normal twinkle was gone from his eyes, and replaced with a sober expression.
“Andrew?” She cocked her head to the side. “What is it?”
Hearing her, voice, he turned and smiled. “I was just thinking of how very blessed we are.” He leaned back against the chair. “After being gone, coming back to America and seeing the freedoms we have, seeing how much we have. How much God has blessed us…” He trailed off, then cleared his throat and spoke again. “It sure does make me proud to be an America.”
Jana nodded. She knew that feeling. So many people didn’t realize just how blessed they were here. It was a country like none other on the face of the earth. They had freedom to seek the gospel, without any fear. Freedom to seek any other religion without fear.
They could come and go as they wished, and whenever they traveled, there was the feeling of having America behind you. Knowing that, whatever happened, they would do their best to make sure you returned.
The police here weren’t bought, and justice was still the reigning law. Fairness ruled the courts, and Constitution still upheld the freedoms of the citizens.
The Declaration of Independence still proclaimed “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." And only in America were all men known to be created equal, and endowed by their creator with unalienable rights.
It made Jana feel proud to be an American. Even though they were far from perfect, they still had a country that many longed to run to. Because of freedom.  
“Happy Independence day, Bro.” She whispered, before letting her eyes drift close.

She felt Andrew press a kiss to her hair, and then say, “Happy Independence day, sis. And may God bless America.”

Galatians 5:1 

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Happy Independence Day!