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Letters to the Lord: Release Day!

                                                             

Today’s Release Day for my new novel, and yes, it’s true: By Way of the Moonlight was chosen as A Publishers Weekly Top 10 Religion and Spirituality Book for Fall 2022!

I was shocked and thrilled and humbled and grateful. We authors know that even though there are lots of new ways to do it, the old-fashioned ‘word of mouth’ is still the best marketing tool—that is, having readers who have enjoyed the book share about it with friends, in person, on social media, in a book club etc. I’m super thankful and excited that the editors at Publishers Weekly have used their ‘word of mouth’ to tell others about By Way of the Moonlight.

This is how I feel about it (yes, I’m in my bathing suit and all the grass in the yard has died because it has been in the upper 90s over here. And we have mosquitoes. Lots of mosquitoes.)

Right now I’m sharing a few photos from our summer travels. As many of you know, Paul and I provide pastoral care for our mission, One Collective. This summer we’ve attended two conferences in Europe, both postponed several times because of Covid. The first was in Greece where we met with our colleagues from around the world for a time of fellowship, teaching, and encouragement.

The view from our hotel room. Yes, there are definitely perks to this ministry life!
We even had a baptism in the Mediterranean!

Then Paul and I had the joy of welcoming newlyweds Chris and Ashlee to join us on a week-long road trip through Greece, on a ferry, and into Italy (yes, we drove to and from Greece in our car!)

Lefkada Island

Sunset on the ferry ride across the Ionian Sea.
Tuscany
Florence
Cinque Terre
We all felt revived, restored, and spoiled rotten.

While Chris and Ashlee were hiking one last trail in Cinque Terre (I’d already hiked with them that morning), I sat on my little balcony overlooking the Mediterranean and read a Mary Higgins Clark novel that I had found at our Airbnb.

Back in the 90s, as a young missionary, mother, and wannabe writer, I would read Mary Higgins Clark mysteries in French. They were quick, clean (if at times a bit psycho) reads, filled with suspense, and reading in French helped me with my vocabulary. That was my escape.

So I was tickled to find Daddy’s Little Girl on the bookshelf in Vernazza, Italy! I didn’t finish it on the trip but persuaded the lovely hostess to let me take it with me! 

All during my childhood (Nancy Drew), youth (Mary Stewart and Agatha Christie), and young adulthood (Mary Higgins Clark), I was enthralled with mysteries. I think that’s why I love to incorporate mystery into my novels. I don’t have the brain power to write crime or real suspense, but I love to put little hints in the novels, and By Way of the Moonlight has several mysteries and twists that even I didn’t see coming when I first started writing the story!


As you are reading this, I’m at another conference, this time in Germany with our colleagues from all over Europe. But to you, my dear readers, I want to say MERCI for taking the time to read this newsletter and for taking even more time to read my novels. I so, so, so hope you will enjoy By Way of the Moonlight!

By Way of the Moonlight Virtual Tour is right here. All fifteen videos are included! And if you’re looking for ways to share these with friends, you can point people toward my Instagram Reels, the Facebook Playlist, or (this is new!) my YouTube channel.

Lastly, if you don’t mind helping me share the good news, By Way of the Moonlight was selected for Publishers Weekly’s Top Ten list for the Fall!

Thanks for joining me on this journey! I’m thrilled this book is finally available for all of you!

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Good News, Bad News, and Amazing News

In an unexpected twist of events, you all did such an amazing job helping to spread the word about my new book and preordering from Baker that we ran out of signed book plates and we won’t be able to get more before the books are shipped out on release day.

So, thank you all for helping spread the word! Sadly, this does mean that some of you won’t end up with the signed copy. But you still get the discount and free shipping if you preordered, and your books will all arrive on time. However, if you’re in the Atlanta area, I will be having a book signing (location and time TBD) and I’d love to see you there and sign your copy the old fashioned way.

In more fun news, I wanted to let you know that you can now download and print out the discussion questions from An Open Book! There are discussion questions printed in the back of the book, so this won’t be vital if you’re reading with your book club in person, but if you’re reading an ebook copy or want to keep from flipping back and forth, this link will help you out.

And lastly, I wanted to let you all know of one other amazing thing that happened this week–Publisher’s Weekly selected By Way of the Moonlight as one of their top ten books of fall! They only release a list like this twice a year, and mine is the only novel on this list. I’m incredibly honored and still processing what this could mean.

Thank you all for walking this path with me!

I’m praying that your summer is filled with sunshine and time to rest and read a good book.

Blessings!

ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and her blog, Letters to the Lord.

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Letters to the Lord: A Countdown Q & A

It’s countdown time–two weeks before the release of my new novel, By Way of the Moonlight. Yikes! The months and weeks preceding the launch of a novel can be a bit stressful for us authors. We wonder will my readers like the book? What about reviewers? So I was absolutely delighted to receive a lovely review from Publishers Weekly. You can read the whole review here.

Way before Publishers Weekly called By Way of the Moonlight ‘perfect for book clubs’, my publisher chose to feature the novel as their July pick for An Open Book, a resource for book clubs. Your book club can find out about An Open Book here.

My publisher gave me permission to share on my blog this Q & A about the novel that I prepared for An Open Book. Enjoy!


Q&A with Elizabeth Musser
By Way of the Moonlight

Please provide a brief summary of your new novel, By Way of the Moonlight.
It’s 1943 when Dale Butler, riding her dappled mare, comes upon the body of a merchant sailor on the shore after his tanker is sunk by a German submarine during the Battle of the Atlantic, and subsequently, she inherits a treasure too big to reveal. Almost eighty years later, her grand-daughter Allie needs that gift to keep the property that ties their lives and their dreams together: a stable filled with horses.


By Way of the Moonlight is set in Atlanta, Georgia, which is the same setting as your bestselling novel, The Swan House. Why did you choose to return to Atlanta for this novel?
As a Southern girl, most of my novels are set either in Southern France or the South in the USA, with Atlanta being my favorite city setting. But in this novel, I am not just focusing on Atlanta or even Buckhead, the neighborhood where I grew up and the setting of The Swan House. This time, I focus on the house and property where I grew up in Atlanta. I weave a fictional tale around my parents’ home on Nancy Creek Road as I ask questions about the worth of land, family history, memories, and shared dreams.


Can you tell us a little more about what and who were the inspirations behind this
book?

The inspiration for the Atlanta part of the novel came from growing up in the middle of Atlanta with a barn filled with horses in my backyard and several buried in the riding ring. Our five-acre property has been in the family since 1938, when my grandfather built a small house and a two-horse barn out in the boonies of Buckhead on a dirt road for his only child, my mom, to keep her horse and indulge her in her love of riding and showing. My mother was a great equestrian, showing and jumping until she was seventy, and I rode and showed as a child and teen.


Over the years, the house and barn have evolved into something of a rustic private paradise for our family. But estates like my parents’ are being bought up and sold to contractors who implode the house and create cluster mansions on the property, and that was my mother’s worst nightmare, and I feel the same way. So I’ve wrestled in my mind for years with the question of “How can we keep this property after my parents are gone?” My novels often touch on themes that mirror events and ruminations in my own life, and so I began to pen a novel about finding alleged dinosaur bones in the backyard of an estate.


At the same time, I serendipitously happened on a photo of a group of military men galloping their mounts along the beach of Hilton Head Island—my family’s favorite vacation spot for the past fifty years. But this photo was taken during the Battle of the Atlantic in WWII when the island was mostly deserted. I found myself cantering into the world of the Coast Guard Mounted Patrol, affectionately called the Sand Pounders, and what a wild ride that was! So I created a dual-time novel that highlights the wonder and adventure of my mother’s life as a young equestrian star, referring to real events but scooting the story line back to the 1930s and ’40s (Mom’s heyday was in the ’50s) combined with the intrigue of the Battle of the Atlantic, and then brought in my present-day protagonist as her granddaughter, who has dreamed for all her life of turning Nana Dale’s estate into an equine therapy center.


Your present-day protagonist, Allie Massey, is a gifted physical therapist who specializes in equine therapy. What type of research was required to accurately portray both Allie’s profession and this form of therapy?
I was privileged to interview Gwen Hanna, who just happens to be the mother of my wonderful marketing assistant, Jori Hanna, and hear her firsthand experience working in equine therapy. I also studied the different programs at the real Chastain Horse Park in Atlanta and read and watched different depictions of this type of therapy. Most interesting was learning the story of the Danish champion, Lis Hartel, who overcame polio by using this therapy in the ’40s and ’50s before it was known in the US. But of course, as a horse lover and a gal who grew up with ponies and horses who were like my best friends, I knew all about the healing power of horses from the time I was young.


Your story in the past focuses on the Coast Guard Mounted Patrol during the Battle of the Atlantic—how did you research that period?
After finding that photo of the Sound Pounders, I started doing research in earnest. I discovered an article about a father-daughter team who reenact the famed Beach Patrol horseback units. Wayne Ormsbee, a civilian employee at Coast Guard Base Boston, and his daughter, Petty Officer Keisha Kerr, a coast guard active-duty boatswain’s mate, make appearances at parades, civic celebrations, veterans’ events, and horse shows, helping to rekindle interest in the storied Beach Patrol units.


Keisha was kind enough to do a Zoom call with me while she was on duty in Guam. She also pointed me to the book, Prints in the Sand by Eleanor Bishop. From there, I dug down many rabbit holes and learned about the two US tankers who were sunk by a German U-Boat off the coast of St. Simons Island. Then my husband and I journeyed to the island and spent hours perusing the excellent displays at the World War II Homefront Museum. We met a docent historian, Dr. George Cressman, who also provided previously classified documents detailing the creation of the Coast Guard Mounted Patrol and the different stations along all of the coasts of the United States. We also spent an afternoon on the grounds of what was Camp McDougal on Hilton Head Island, where the military camp and horses were housed during WWII. Suffice it to say, I spent many, many hours understanding the Battle of the Atlantic and found it inspiring and fascinating. Especially the heroism of so many Stateside civilians doing their part to construct Liberty ships and guard the coasts when the German threat was at its height.

Both Allie and her grandmother, Nana Dale, are determined to risk everything to save what they love most. Without giving away any spoilers, can you explain how this impacts both of their lives?
Allie and her nana are both strong women who are courageous, savvy businesswomen with a deep respect for family and a deep love for horses. One of the themes in the novel is about obsession. I wanted to examine the thin line between fighting for what you believe in and developing an unhealthy obsession. Both women learn important lessons about pursuing dreams at all costs, which may cause them to sacrifice something or someone they love.


By Way of the Moonlight is a dual-time novel. What challenges did you experience when focusing on characters in two different time periods?
I loved every part of writing this novel because it was so close to my heart—I was doing research in my childhood home, reliving my mother’s past, and digging into history that was brand-new to me, which was all about horses! I had such fun including lots of slightly altered incidents from my growing-up days with horses, my favorite by far being the mystery of finding “dinosaur bones” in a Buckhead backyard. Truth is stranger than fiction, and my family’s story has a lot of delightful strange in it!


I also absolutely loved creating two sweet love stories that, in my humble opinion, are swoon worthy and sure to bring laughter and tears. Love in the 1940s and in present day aren’t so different when they involve a besotted girl, a kind and adventurous guy, and horses. Lots of horses!


What lessons do you hope readers gain from reading By Way of the Moonlight?
• Be careful about obsession.
• Be kind and courageous.
• Find joy in helping others.
• Fight for what you believe in but fall on your knees often to make sure the Lord has the
last say.
• Hold tightly to those you love.
• In life, you often have to take the risk of being misunderstood.
• Practice gratitude—Husy, Dale’s nursemaid, says it well: “It will never be enough, Dale,
until you decide that you already have it all. You settle in your mind a grateful heart, a
content spirit, and everything else will be gravy, girl.”
• Embrace paradox—Nana Dale tells Allie, “Life is paradox, Allie. When you learn to
embrace it all, let it mix together like molasses in oats, well, the sweet fragrance comes
out. Even when life stinks.”
• When life gets hard to stand, kneel.


Dear readers, I hope you’ve found this Q & A fun and informative. And I hope it makes you want to read the novel! My publisher is providing 40% off, free shipping, and a signed bookplate (by me=) for pre-orders. Feel free to share the news!

I’m praying that your summer is filled with sunshine and time to rest and read a good book.

Blessings!

ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and her blog, Letters to the Lord.

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Letters to the Lord: America!

                                                             

Please enjoy this essay penned by my beloved mother-in-law, Doris Ann Musser.

America!

The word brings an infusion of warmth to my soul.  It means country, flag, people, freedom, God, beauty, family. Specifically, it includes parades, church spires, massive malls, “Play ball”, Boy Scouts, women’s soccer, majestic mountains, wavy water, small towns, busy workers.

One moment I am bowed down with deep gratitude to God plus respect for the brave.  My gratefulness deepens for those families who, over the years, received the dreaded visit from uniformed officers.  Their window stars reflect lingering pain.

The next moment, memory finds me standing tall with old and wrinkled hands covering a proud heart.  My cracking voice joins the crowd in asking, “Oh, say can you see….?”  No.  I can’t see.  Eyes blurry with tears prevent viewing the flag, but I know it is there.

Photo by Sawyer Sutton on Pexels.com

Americans form a tremendous mass of one melted pot family.  We enjoy various languages, attitudes, expectations, achievements.  We are colorful in skin and actions.  We experience challenges and joys like families of any size.

At any given moment we………..

                     love & antagonize

                          work & goof off

                                 dream & dread

                                          birth & die

                                                 fall & rise

                                                        remember & forget

                                                                 win & lose

                                                                        worship & pray

Imperfect though we are, we reach as far as possible toward perfection.  In spite of wars, problems, miseries, disappointments, broken dreams, fractured families, and inequalities, God’s goodness and grace has sustained us.

We are a motley crew under the care of an organized government…

                    defined by constitution and creed

                             refined by freedom in choices

                                       combined into one inclusive nation

                                                          for the people and by the people.

Thank you, America, for blessing me with so many spiritual and physical blessings.  May God continue to guide you. My prayer is for many individuals in their personal lives and leaders in government positions to seek you as we move into a constantly changing future.

Photo by Scott Platt on Pexels.com

As a small town girl who has lived only 86 years, 200 seems quite old.  God, in His wisdom, deemed it so. Countries much older must consider us upstart children.  We accept that and build on past discoveries to make a brighter future.

America!

                                       So much to explore.

                                        Your wonders…..some ignore.

                                         A land of plenty….plus more.

                                          May your free spirit ever soar!!!   

                              H  A  P  P  Y      B  I  R  T  H  D  A  Y       A  M  E  R  I  C  A

Doris Ann, aka ‘Mamaw’, leading the choir at a 4th of July Reunion for the adult students of the school in Brazil she and ‘Papaw’ directed for 10 years.
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Letters to the Lord: Food, Glorious Food!

The simple joys of being back in France in the summer are many. Today I’m celebrating the FOOD!

Fresh breads from the boulangerie
Breakfast outside with my family visiting
Dinner outside with my family visiting
My favorite quiche recipe made with lardons (real bacon bits)
A simple dinner on our front porch

Watermelon, goat cheese, sweet onion, and cherry tomato salad. Find the recipe here.
Cheese! Comté, Brie, Camembert, Morbier, Tome de Savoie, Fleury
Homemade chocolate chip cookies (yes, I brought the chocolate chips from the US=)
A delicious sundae at our favorite ice cream shop in Vieux Lyon

Next time I’ll show some photos of favorite places in and around Lyon. But for now, Bon Appétit!

ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and her blog, Letters to the Lord.

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Letters to the Lord: Harvard and Home Again

We landed on French soil this past Sunday. And it felt like coming home.

In the past 21 months, we’ve only spent six weeks in our adopted country. We’ve, of course, been deep down grateful for extended time in the States to celebrate and to grieve with our beloved family. But we’ve missed France.

The two countries are so different.

Last week we celebrated our son’s graduation from Harvard Kennedy School where he received his Masters in Public Administration. The pomp and circumstance were indeed worthy of Chris’s achievement, and we delighted in spending time with Chris and Ashlee, meeting Chris’s classmates, and celebrating this milestone.

But in the midst of all the festivities, I couldn’t help but remember when our sons graduated from high school in France. No ceremony, no fancy diplomas, even though both received high honors. No black robes or mortar board. No congratulations by the school president. Just a paper pasted on the outside wall of their high school with all the students’ names listed and a subsequent ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ beside each name.

Different indeed.

Admittedly, we’re a bit confused by the term ‘home’ these days. Being near Andrew’s tribe outside of Chattanooga these past months certainly has felt like ‘home’.

House-sitting my childhood home in Atlanta, even as I grieve my sweet father’s death, has felt like a trip down memory lane and an emotional homecoming.

But now we’re back in France, in our little town of Rochetaillee, just north of Lyon. And this feels like home. Yesterday afternoon, shortly after arriving, we opened all the volets (those big wooden shutters that adorn every French home) and welcomed in fresh air. No air-conditioning over here.

Today, I hung clothes out on the line behind our house, one of the simple joys I’ve appreciated throughout our 30+ years in this country.

And I watched the French Open. I’m not a big sports fan. I rarely watch any type of game on TV. But for the past 30+ years, at the end of May and beginning of June, I love sitting by Paul and viewing this tennis tournament. For those two weeks, I am entertained as I watch tennis and pit cherries that we’ve plucked from the tree in our front yard. Cherries that ripen at precisely the same time Roland Garros is being played on the courts in Paris.

This is one of the simple joys of life in France that I have missed.

I find myself laughing and crying a lot these days as my jet-lagged brain bounces from Boston to Atlanta to Chattanooga to Rochetaillee with sweet and bittersweet memories. I find myself weeping with gratitude that my Lord has promised to “Guard my going out and my coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” (Psalm 121) And that is exactly what He’s done for so many years, in all our back and forths across the ocean.

And for today.

Because I may get confused about where home is, but He never does. Time and again I am reminded that ‘home’ is in the presence of my Lord.

ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and her blog, Letters to the Lord.

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Letters to the Lord: Wherewithal

A new word has crept into my vocabulary during these past few months: wherewithal. I mean, I knew the word before, but lately I’ve found myself using it on a regular basis, as in: “Lord, I just don’t have the wherewithal to…”

I suppose it’s the negative form of what I think life since Covid has been teaching me, something I learned decades ago from You, Lord, but have been forced to put into practice now. In fact the whole world has had to accept this: “Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

I haven’t had the wherewithal to write much lately, just barely keeping up with the necessary deadlines that go along with getting ready to release a new book. As my readers have perhaps noticed, I haven’t had the wherewithal to write a weekly Letters to the Lord post. I haven’t even had the wherewithal to ask the lovely writers who have contributed before to contribute again.

Life has been all about staying in the present, juggling lots of mind-numbing details about life in two countries and three houses, our home in Rochetaillee, our place in Flintstone, Georgia, and my childhood home, my parent’s home, in Atlanta, Georgia.

I am not a gal who is great with administrative details or many details at all. I am beyond grateful for my two brothers and their business acumen as we’ve walked forward in settling Daddy’s estate and trying to see the way forward for the next season.

But it has left me with very little wherewithal.

Webster’s defines it as “means, resources”, especially of money or time. “Wherewithal comes from where and withal (meaning “with”), and it has been used as a conjunction meaning ‘with or by means of which’ and as a pronoun meaning ‘that with or by which.’ These days, however, it is almost always used as a noun referring to the means or resources a person has at one’s disposal—especially financial resources.”

But I’m not talking about financial resources. I’m just talking about mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional resources. Some days, it just feels like I’ve run dry.

But Lord, it’s okay. Because You never, ever run dry. Isaiah 40 has always been one of my favorite chapters in Scripture, and these verses are my favorite in the chapter:

“Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
30 Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
31 Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.”

Isaiah 40: 28-31

That is the beauty of the Gospel, isn’t it? Jesus in us gives us access to that supernatural power, His power, to keep going. Yes, sometimes we feel so high with joy and praise, it’s like flying. Sometimes we can run through marathon days without collapsing.

But so often, the Christian life is simply accessing His strength in our weakness, so we can put one foot in front of the other, walking without giving up.

And as I do this, my dear Lord gives me the wherewithal:

To see the beauty and smell the sweet fragrance of His creation.

To delight in the dimpled joy of a baby:

And the trickle of water over rocks:

In ten days, Paul and I will fly back to France. There is much to do before then, and though I may not feel like I have the wherewithal to get it all done, I take a deep breath today, this morning, breathing in His goodness and asking Him for the wherewithal to trust to give me the wherewithal for each day, one step at a time.

How about you?

***For the foreseeable future, Letters to the Lord will come out every other Tuesday.

ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and her blog, Letters to the Lord.

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Letters to the Lord: A Full Quiver

We had a mini-Musser reunion this past weekend in Cincinnati. Andrew and Lacy drove up with their five little ones and joined Andrew’s two older cousins with their wives, each with their own five little ones. Yes, fifteen great-grandkids were all together for the day, the oldest being our grandson Jesse at 9 and the youngest being our granddaughter, Cori, at three months.

It was a time of happy bedlam, with much laughter and very few tears, as these little cousins played together. I love Psalm 127: 3-5 that says

“Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.”

There are quite a few full quivers in the Musser family and for me, it was such a delight to be part of the fun. These three young couples are all raising their kids to love the Lord, and it is an inspiration. We were so inspired that Paul and I offered for the couples to escape together for a little while, and we watched the fifteen little ones.

It may sound heroic (or crazy) on our part, but the truth is, Toy Story did a wonderful job of babysitting and we just patrolled the troops, pausing the movie every once in a while to do a count-off from oldest to youngest, just to make sure none of the toddlers had toddled away.

We also got to spend time with Paul’s older brother, H.A. (and the father of the two older cousins) and his wife, Rhonda, although we could only meet outside because H.A. had tested positive for Covid.

Yes, Covid continues to remind us that our best plans are only that: plans. Every morning I wake up with the thought that “each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6: 34) I’m thankful that way back almost 40 years ago during training for the mission field, one of the most important lessons I learned was to be flexible. Life is very unpredictable.

Traveling from Cincinnati to Louisville, we had planned to spend a few days with Paul’s mother, Mamaw, the beloved matriarch of the Musser clan, and great-grandmother to those 15 little ones (and ten others who weren’t present!). But again, Covid struck. Sunday morning, we learned we’d been exposed to Covid from another source. Mamaw is scheduled for heart surgery in two weeks and we didn’t want to take any chances of exposing her to Covid. So we only were able to have lunch with her and sit outside in her garden with Andrew and tribe.

Still, there was great joy in being together even for a few hours. I marvel at the way the Musser family is a microcosm of God’s family, each member, from youngest to oldest, sharing love, the older ones mentoring the younger ones so that we can all grow up to maturity in Christ.

One of my favorite parts of ministry is watching the younger generations catch on to the wonder of the Lord. Paul and I have always loved mentoring younger believers. It doesn’t happen overnight, does it? Occasionally we get the view of the body of Christ all together, in harmony, praising the Lord. More often, we are just an eclectic group, each with our own personalities, trying to get along with each other and glorify the Lord, in spite of all the things life throws our way.

It can feel a little like happy bedlam. And a lot like a blessing from the Lord.

ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and her blog, Letters to the Lord.

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Letters to the Lord: Signing My Life Away

One of the great joys for an author, at least for this author, is meeting my readers in person. I have had the privilege over the past twenty-five years of signing books in bookstores across the Southeast and many other states as well in France, Germany, The Netherlands, and Norway. I’ve also been in churches , conferences, the den of a book club gathering, in restaurants and auditoriums. Sometimes a few people show up, other times a few hundred.

For me, every time I sign my name in a novel I’ve written, it feels like a hug from the Lord. He answered my childhood prayers that spanned over decades and that little girl’s dream came true! I get to do what I was created to do. Write. Of course, the whispered ‘Thanks, your story touched my heart’ is an extra blessing.

Because of the pandemic, I’ve only attended one signing in the past two years. But this week, I get to be part of two of them and I am thrilled.

The first is in Chattanooga this Thursday, April 21 and the second in Atlanta on Saturday, April 24. And at both I’ll be joined by my dear and oh-so-talented friend, artist Jill Steenhuis.

I say this often, but readers taking the time to come to a signing or write a letter of thanks and encouragement are what makes a writer’s life oh-so-rich. It’s often the way the Lord gives me His gentle nudge to keep doing what He’s called me to do, even when life feels hard and inspiration is lacking.

I get to meet you!

And even if you can’t attend a signing, I’d love for you to participate in an Easter Giveaway in which I’m taking part. You can find all details here and below is a graphic with the novels in the giveaway.

I hope and pray that your Easter celebration was joyous and that you are basking in the glow of the Resurrected Christ who loves you so. Now I must go and get ready to ‘sign my life away!’

ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and her blog, Letters to the Lord.

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Letters to the Lord: A Sonnet for the In-Between

The sky was blue before and now it’s gray

And rain has wet the grass, seeped through the soil

And hope is held in hiatus this day

As, numb, we contemplate our Savior’s toil.

I wonder, were the soldiers not afraid

When Peter took a sword and sliced an ear

And Jesus, with a stroke that stilled the blade,

Reached out and touched the wound and made it hear?

Did they not know way down in wounded hearts

That This was He whose Power came to save?

His Innocence was where the Victory starts:

A thorny Crown, a bloody Cross, a Grave?

We wait to see if, as we watch and weep,

The Promised Power His Promises will keep.

ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and her blog, Letters to the Lord.

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Letters to the Lord: The Joy of Twosday

Oh, dear Lord, thank you so much for Twosday! I’d never heard of that term until my daughter-in-love Lacy invited us to Lena’s birthday party. I misunderstood at first, thinking that since it was called a Twosday party it would be on a Tuesday. But of course, the pun was only because Lena was turning two.

And so we celebrated all the wonder of that milestone with Andrew and Lacy, Lacy’s sister, the other four grands, and our ‘outlaws’ as I call them, Lacy’s parents.

It was a simple party, filled with the joyful chaos of a family finding its way through a house under construction (the renovation was supposed to be finished months ago, but You know the drama of that story, Lord) and Lacy’s courageous rehabilitation after she suffered a pelvic misalignment during her labor with baby Cori, and all of ‘life’ with five children.

And I watched in the wonder of it all, Lord, my heart filled to bursting with the way You allow joy and grief to coincide, how the veil of mourning can be pulled aside in my life to reveal unbridled giddiness at the celebration of a toddler.

And oh, how Lena celebrated, Lord! She received a refurbished doll house with living space on one side and a full kitchen on the other. And each of us had brought gifts to furnish the dollhouse, me unknowingly. I’d simply walked into an upscale kids store near my father’s house in the one hour I had free and delighted in ‘grief shopping’ for Lena.

And each time, Lena opened a wrapped gift, she would literally squeal with delight!

I had only recently been introduced to Jelly Cats, a brand of stuffed animals specifically sized for a toddler to cuddle. So when Lena opened the little lamb I’d purchased for her, we all giggled as she did just that. Cuddle the lamb like her mother cuddles baby Cori.

Later came the strawberry shortcake with its candle and again, Lena watched in wonder and awe.

And blew out the candle with a little encouragement and help from her daddy.

And she ate her cake with baby lamb in tow.

Oh, that I would squeal with delight this Easter, celebrating Your Resurrection, with You, my beloved Lamb of God, held tight against my chest, deep in my heart, and all around me.

It’s a dark week, Lord, for Your children as we remember Your passion. As we solemnly walk through Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. But we know that grief will be turned to rejoicing, tears to laughter, despair to hope.

Twosday for a toddler was for me a tiny glimpse of the Easter joy that is coming, both now and not quite yet.

And so we wait, dear Lord, with eyes toward the sky and faith, hope, and love warming our waiting hearts.

ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and her blog, Letters to the Lord.

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Letters to the Lord: Appraising My Life

Mr. Cardinal is still here, pecking at the window in Daddy’s den, reminding me of Your presence, Lord, in such a tangible way. Sometimes he even comes and sits on the outside windowsill and stares at me. And I speak to him in that voice I use for small children and animals. And I think he listens.

I’ve been in Atlanta for almost three weeks now. Andrew and Lacy and the five kiddos moved into our home in Flintstone (near Chattanooga) as they await the renovations on their home to be completed. I’m so thankful that we could offer them the house now that Lacy is able to manage the stairs. She has improved so much.

And it has been less stressful to be here for almost three weeks. Not to go back and forth every few days between Atlanta and Flintstone. But I’m still exhausted; I still feel so far behind in life. And the grief hangs heavy.

Today a man is coming to appraise many of the items in my father’s house. There are a lot of items in a home that was built in 1938 and has been added onto several times. My parents weren’t hoarders, but they did like to keep photos and letters and cards and lots of other memorabilia. Appraising it will take some time.

I pause to consider how You appraise my life, Lord. Because of Your sacrifice, Lord, I am worthy to be called Your much-loved daughter. So I am trying, trying, trying to sit with this and believe it today.

In spite of all that surrounds me.

Life is so ravaging. Ukraine is being ravaged by Putin, several dear friends are ravaged by cancer. Andrew and Lacy are dealing with countless headaches with their home renovations not to mention all the craziness of Lacy’s health and the five kiddos. Chris is stuck in Israel with Covid (update, he made it home safely), and some of my loved ones are dealing with unresolved conflict. The world and our lives are messy. And we grieve.

Oh, how I grieve. Great big sobs of expected and unexpected tears. Grief.

So please keep appraising my life through Your lens, Lord. And let me hear Your voice above the rumblings of my thoughts and the world’s cacophony.

Your voice is so sweet and clear and yet also so surprising. Like a gurgling brook.

Like the shock of yellow daffodils amidst the purple of creeping phlox.

For instance, today I read Psalm 110 and Hebrews 7, the next Old Testament and New Testament chapters in my oh-so-sporadic Bible reading these days. Those two chapters were not in any Bible reading plan because I wasn’t using one. But they were both about Melchizedek.

Really, Lord? Really? How random is that? I mean this guy, Melchizedek, doesn’t get a lot of written words dedicated to him in the Bible, but today, I ‘just happened’ to read two of those chapters where he appears.

And this brings fresh tears as I cry out to the God who knows my every breath, who orchestrates eternity and the veil to intrude in His loved ones lives in a way that prohibits mistaking anything for coincidence.

If Melchizedek, that high priest of peace, can show up twice for me today, then may I sit with Your peace that passes understanding, trusting that You will show us the next steps in this oh-so-hard season of life, one day at a time. As the psalmist writes: “Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go for to You I lift up my soul.”

May you find His peace today as you pour out your soul to Him.

ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and her blog, Letters to the Lord.