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By Way of the Moonlight

From the author of The Swan House, a classic in the South, comes a new heartfelt story for fans of Heartland and When Calls the Heart.

For as long as she can remember, Allie Massey, a gifted physical therapist, has dreamed of making her grandparents’ ten-acre estate in the middle of the city into a trauma recovery center using equine therapy, a dream her grandmother, Nana Dale, embraced wholeheartedly with her financial support.

But when her grandmother’s will is read, the money left to Allie and her family is barely enough to cover the cost of hiring a lawyer, and worse yet, the property has been sold to a contractor.

With just three weeks until the house and barn will be imploded, a backhoe unearths one of Dale Butler’s best-kept secrets and perhaps a clue to keep Allie’s dream alive. As Allie cleans out her grandmother’s home and searches for the missing chest, convinced there is money somewhere, she uncovers bits and pieces of her grandmother’s past with her champion filly, Essie, a young man named Tommy, and one fateful night in 1943 during the Battle of the Atlantic.

Preorder now from Amazon, Baker, Barnes and Noble, or ChristianBook.com!

Don’t forget to add the book to your “To Read” list on Goodreads!

Available August 2, 2022!

Preorder Now!

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Letters to the Lord: Thankful Tuesday

Thanksgiving Week passed in a delightfully chaotic and joyful blur, Lord. At one point on Thursday, twenty-five of us ranging in age from 20 months to 87 years were spread around my father’s house. We managed to gather all the family in the front yard before eating the meal. The sky was cobalt blue and the mood was high.

And we were deeply grateful. We all held hands and sang the Doxology in praise to You outside. Then Daddy gave his Thanksgiving prayer–just as I described last week. It. Was. Perfect.

Daddy with his grandkids, grand-daughters-in-law and great-grandkids

The newlyweds had arrived on Tuesday evening, eager to be back with ‘Granddaddy’.

Andrew and Paul drove to Atlanta from the Chattanooga area on Wednesday so that Andrew could participate in the birthday meal for Chris and my brother Jere on Wednesday evening. And Lacy brought the four grandkids and #5 (in her belly) up on Thursday.

For three days, various members of the Goldsmith-Musser tribe gathered to eat, share, laugh, and enjoy each other’s company. And be so, so thankful, Lord, for family in all its different forms.

You know the things that fill my cup to overflowing, Lord. A walk around the block with each of my sons, building Legos and Lincoln Logs with my grandsons and coloring with my older grand-daughter. These are some of life’s greatest pleasures. Of course, another highlight is cuddling with Baby Lena and speaking to her in French, as Andrew has done since her birth.

The attendance at the annual cousins Ultimate Frisbee game the day after Thanksgiving keeps expanding as our grandkids are welcomed into the mix and Paul keeps up with the younger generation: a six-year-old and a sixty-two-year-old sharing the field with teens and twenty and thirty-somethings.

My father even picked out a Christmas tree on Black Friday and many of us took turns decorating.

On Saturday, I had the special privilege of watching the Georgia Tech vs Georgia football game with Daddy from the President’s Box at Georgia Tech. The joy, Lord, was being with my dad, the most loyal Tech alum in the world.

The game wasn’t, ah-hem, such a joy, but at least Georgia only won by 45 points! While Daddy and I watched the game from the luxury of the President’s Box, Paul, Chris, and Ashlee watched from below us in the stands.

And I admired the beautiful Atlanta skyline against another perfect cobalt blue fall sky.

The longer I live, the more I see that what’s important in this life on earth is taking deep breaths and allowing ourselves time to love those we love. To really, really love them in the best and simplest of ways: with our presence. Whether our presence be physical or separated by a phone screen halfway around the world.

It’s what Advent is all about, isn’t it, Lord? You loving us with Your presence in the Incarnation. You came down and stepped into our mess and showed us a love that is still changing the world and our lives.

Now I’m back at my desk in my office in Flintstone, Georgia, working on final edits for By Way of the Moonlight. In so many ways, Lord, writing this novel has been a nostalgic trip through my past and even further back into my mother’s past, with lots of fiction added in. It’s about family and horses and holding onto dreams.

Join My Reader Newsletter where I’ll be revealing the full cover tomorrow!

Whether crafting a story for my readers or baking cookies with my grandkids or encouraging one of our workers via Zoom or attending a Georgia Tech football game with my father, I have an abundance of reasons to say “Merci” to You, dear Lord.

So I enter this Advent season with a heart filled with gratitude for all that I have been given and a prayer on my lips that I will take Your presence with me wherever life leads me next.

“You will make known to me the way of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” Psalm 16:11

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: Thankful

It’s the question we are used to being asked at this time of year: What are you thankful for? And I imagine we all can cite numerous people/experiences/possessions we are thankful for, especially after coming through two really difficult years globally and perhaps personally.

Photo and graphic by Sherry Peters

My heart is full of gratitude that my two jobs allow me so much flexibility between two continents and countries and coasts and cities and that on Thursday, I’ll be celebrating with my dear father at the home where I grew up in Atlanta. There will, in fact, be 23 of us together, determined to make this Thanksgiving deeply memorable as Daddy grows weaker and yet keeps that sparkle in his eyes and that good-humor in his heart.

Daddy with Bettina, his amazing sales assistant when he worked at Merrill Lynch

We’ll smile and perhaps even chuckle a little as he gives the Thanksgiving prayer which inevitably turns into a thankful monologue as we encircle him in the den before moving into the dining room with the table laden with good food and my mother’s china and silver.

We’ll make sure to place little portions on his plate and pray that he can enjoy a few bites of turkey.

We’ll head out back and take a family photo in front of the barn and walk the trail up to the riding ring where a one-eyed pony will greet us. I’ll smile to think of the story I’ve crafted for you that takes place in my childhood home and in the barn and the riding ring. Yes, By Way of the Moonlight is set on this very property (with many fictional additions to the scenery and plot, of course!) The novel releases next August but I’ll be revealing the cover in my newsletter (you can sign up for it here) on December 1.

After our stroll to the barn, some of will walk around the block while others watch a ball game with Daddy.

The great-grands will doubtless be full of energy, and Paul and I will do our best to keep up with them while our sons and daughters-in-law grab time together along with their aunts and uncles and cousins.

And we’ll be thankful.

It will no doubt be bittersweet as we acknowledge Daddy’s continuing battle with cancer, but I’ll take bittersweet. I’ll take nostalgic, too. I’ll take it all because this is a season where life feels especially precious and fragile and good and hard.

For years now, I’ve feasted on the photography of Sherry Peters. We met when I did a book-signing at her store, Bradbury Lane, back in 2007. A few years later she visited me in Lyon and took a lovely author photo of me in front of the Writing Chalet.

Nowadays, Bradbury Lane is online, and oh, my, you must check out Sherry’s note cards, stationery, calendars, prints and much more. In addition, I daily receive holy inspiration from the Morning Prints she creates on Instagram and Facebook.

With her permission, I’ve sprinkled this post with a few of these beauties, with prayers they will cause your joy and gratitude to grow even greater to our Great, Great God from whom all blessings flow. No matter what season of life you’re in.

And yes, oh how thankful I am for my sweet father who has helped me keep my creative flame alive throughout my life.

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:

Searching for Mt. Hood

We’re heading home, Lord, after two weeks Out West in California, Oregon, and Washington. I’d only been to California once and never ventured to the Pacific Northwest, but now I’ve been totally enamored with the beauty of Your creation in this part of the world.

We spent six days in Fresno, CA with our mission’s leaders from around the world, gathering for training. The joy of being together in person was palpable as we visited the communities in Fresno where our colleagues work and heard stories of transformed lives. It was a gift to get to see their work up close, dear Lord. In Paul’s and my roles as pastoral caregivers, we shared many conversations and meals together, listening to so many colleagues whom we respect.

Years ago, Lord, You helped us learn how to care for ourselves so that we can care for others. So after an intense six days in Fresno, we headed to San Francisco for two days to take a break and soak up this fascinating city: the Piers, the city’s famous streets, and of course, the larger than life, Golden Gate Bridge. We also ventured to Alcatraz.

Soon it was time to fly to Portland for our second conference where the Global Member Care Team (GMCT) from One Collective met together for 4 days, finally getting to be all together, Lord, with our team of 11 adults who give pastoral care to our colleagues around the world. Both of these gatherings had been postponed twice because of Covid. At last we were face to face with time to worship and pray and discuss ways in which we can improve our pastoral care. Time, too, to absorb the (wet) beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

Visiting Scott and Vicki McCracken in Portland, Lord, brought back so many memories of our visits with them in Athens, Greece where they had a vital and vibrant ministry among refugees. Now they continue to serve You faithfully in one of the neediest neighborhoods in Portland.

I spent way too short of time in the enormous readers’ paradise called Powell’s Bookstore before traveling to Manzanita, OR to meet with my longtime friend and literary agent, Chip MacGregor, and his wife, Holly.

And everywhere we went in the PNW, I was searching for those beautiful snow-covered mountain peaks, the ones I’d seen out the window of the plane as we flew from San Francisco to Portland. But with all the rain and wind and fog and clouds, try as I might, I couldn’t find Mt. Hood. Or Mt. St. Helen’s. Or Mt. Rainier.

But we found beauty in foggy views from way above Portland…

…and the mind-boggling redwoods in Kings Canyon.
In the wind and waves of the Pacific…
And a hummingbird in flight…
Crossing the majestic Narrows suspension bridge in Tacoma, Washington…
And the seaside town of Gig Harbor with its seals playing in the bay…

We’re on the plane now, heading back to the Southeast, but I want to say a simple ‘Merci’, Lord, for all we experienced on the other side of this big and beautiful country.

Sometimes we may be searching for one thing but end up finding beauty and blessing in something else. What are you searching for today?

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 Young Mother and a Faithful God

As Paul and I are attending a conference for the leaders of our mission, One Collective, (formerly International Teams) this week, I thought you might like to read a short testimony I shared at another missions’ conference way back in 1991.

The Young Mother and a Faithful God

                Sometimes I wonder, perhaps like many young mothers today, how God can use me for His glory during these years of raising little children.  I had greatly enjoyed serving the Lord with International Teams in France as a single woman back in 1983-1985.  My work challenged and fulfilled me.  But I knew, when I returned to the mission field two years ago as a wife and mom, that my role would change a lot.  I was right.  With a three-year-old and a baby, my ministry outside the home is much more limited.  Yet I have found God to be faithful, as always, in this different season of my life.

Creative Quiet Times

                He’s been faithful to help me find creative ways to spend time with Him.  After my second son, Christopher, was born, I felt God’s freedom from guilt as day upon day went by while my Bible gathered dust on my bedside table, hidden under a stack of unanswered thank-you notes and a mile long “to do” list.

                One day while I was nursing Christopher on our bed and trying to keep my eyes open, I glanced up at a poster that hung on the wall in front of me.  Pictured in the center of the poster are children running, laughing, and playing.  All around that drawing are Bible verses.  I’d looked at the poster a thousand times before, but that day the words jumped out at me. I started reading the verses.  They were like water to my thirsty soul:

                “The Lord is my shepherd; Your Word is a lamp to guide me.  Praise the Lord, all the living creatures.  Never forget that the Lord is God.  Children are a gift from God, a real blessing.”

                I paused then and there to thank the Lord for what I now call “the witness of my walls”.  This phrase refers to the Bible verses that hang as framed cross stitch and posters on the walls of my home.  Those verses, as well as the many I’ve memorized over the years, lift my spirit and invite me into fellowship with Jesus as I pick up a stray toy, calm a temper tantrum and prepare a meal.

                I remember years ago hearing a godly, older woman exhort us as young single women to store up the Word of God in our hearts so that we would have verses embedded in our memory during that period of mothering young children.  This woman also said that God gives special grace to moms in those years.  I have found this to be true.  God is faithful.

My kids, My teachers 

                He’s also been faithful to teach me about Himself, my Father, through my kids.  First of all, I love my children.  That love springs from my innermost being.  It is intense, unconditional, full of joy for my boys.  This reminds me that God’s love is even stronger and purer for His kids–and I’m one of them.  I’ve always known this, but now, because of my children, I understand it better.

                Secondly, my kids love me, their Mommy.  Their love is innocent, pure, joyful, trusting, expectant–rarely guilt-ridden or fearful.  Do I approach my heavenly Daddy with this same kind of child-like love?

Modeling Jesus 

                Another way in which God has been faithful is to give me ministry opportunities.  My first ministry is to my kids.  The Spirit reminds me everyday to enjoy them while they are here with me in this oh-too-short season of life.  During the first four or five months of Christopher’s life, I was pretty much a walking zombie.  My prayer times were most often during a three a.m. feeding.  One day, Andrew, my three-year-old, was talking to me and said, out of the blue, “Daddy prays, but Mommy doesn’t pray to Jesus.”  My first response was shock.  Then I laughed.  He’d said it so innocently. He reported what he saw.  Yes, I prayed.  But I realized that he wasn’t seeing me pray.  Talk about conviction.  Imagine a missionary whose son tells everyone that she doesn’t pray!  Now, often throughout the day, we stop and pray about a fear, frustration or for hurting people around us.  It is my responsibility to model Jesus to my children.

Motherhood, a Privilege

                I’m also responsible to model Jesus to mothers around me who don’t know Him.  Western society continues to de-valuate the role of mothers.  We’re getting a bum wrap.  As Christians, we want to show other moms what a great privilege and responsibility we have to be raising children.  Our natural tendency is to compare with each other.  I battle this daily, asking God to give me the courage to do and be what He has called me to without comparing myself to other moms and what they are doing.  My self-esteem must come from Him.  We moms need to build each other up and remind each other of the great value that God places on motherhood. 

A Ministry Mom

                God is also developing in me the ministry of hospitality.  It doesn’t always come easy for me.  I’m the type of person who would rather have a deep, one-on-one conversation than prepare a meal for lots of people.  But in this season of life, long talks are out, and fixing meals is definitely “in”. 

                I often feel like there is a revolving door on my apartment and that I run a hotel, restaurant, counseling center and Bible college.  But God keeps reminding me of two things I learned while in training at International Teams:  cultivate a sense of humor and be flexible.  So I’m learning to let others in on our hectic schedules.  I’m finding that the French don’t care so much about four-course meals as a listening ear, knowing someone is there.  They are not only hungry for fancy cuisine but also for friendships.

Growing through our Gifts

                Finally, the Lord is allowing me to explore and develop my spiritual gifts and passions while being a young mother.  One of those is evangelism.  I find that my kids are natural door openers.  People will stop to admire a baby or chat with a toddler.  They don’t feel threatened.  Then when I open my mouth, that little accent that I wish I didn’t have makes people ask, “Why are you here?”  Now if it’s been a really bad day, I feel like saying, “I have no idea!”  But usually, I see these questions as a golden opportunity to talk about my faith in Jesus with others.

                I also love creative writing.  Many a day when I’m at the end of my rope with tears welling up in my eyes, I’ll think about the humor in everything that is happening and say to myself, “This will make a great story.”  Then I try to look at my situation from God’s perspective and apply biblical principles to my daily concerns. 

                I’ll admit that these past few years as a missionary and mother have been some of the most challenging of my life.  But God has been faithful to keep molding and teaching me in new and unexpected ways.  As each of us continues to give Him our dreams, passions, and gifts, no matter what our season of life, we will find that He is always faithful.  “Faithful is He who calls you, and He will also bring it to pass.”  I Thessalonians 5:24

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.

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Letters to the Lord: Good-bye, Joe

My amazing mother-in-law, Doris Ann Musser, is back again with a heart-wrenching, thought-provoking post. She and my equally amazing father-in-law, Harvey Musser, served as missionaries in Haiti in the early 1980s, directing a hospital in Leogane. The photos are from their years at the hospital in Haiti, although they are not specifically of Joe and Joe’s Mother.

Eighteen-year-old Joe lived in the high mountains of Haiti. where no school was available.  Being anxious to learn, he found part time work at the mission hospital, Hospital St. Croix, in Leogane. The cook invited him to live with her.

He was delighted with this opportunity.

One fateful day, Joe was playing and horsing around with some buddies. A friend threw his school book on top of a hospital building.  Joe started the climb to retrieve his book, lost his footing, and crashed to the concrete. A compound leg fracture and broken neck.  Paralyzed.  He was taken to the hospital in Port-au-Prince.  The physicians said nothing could be done.  No rehab programs available.  In a few weeks, Joe returned with deep bed sores to his final home in the corner of the men’s ward, bed eight.

Visiting American physicians suggested comfort measures.  Nurses said they didn’t have time. Bed sores eventually extended from near the shoulder all the way down his back.  His mother assisted with all treatments.  The only times he cried were during dressing changes.  Tearfully, he begged, “Just leave me alone.  Please leave me alone.”  Our daughter, Beth, being the same age, enjoyed visits with chit chat in Creole.  Smiles and laughter interrupted routine days.  She took the outside world to him by providing a small portable radio. They shared social activities while crunching on her baked cookies, singing with her guitar and praying.  She fulfilled his last requests:  a pair of her gym shorts for him and a dress for his mother.

Beth and Doris Ann

Joe’s Mother served in the supporting role of this tragic drama.  She had a name, but it seemed inappropriate to call her anything but Joe’s Mother. Forty years later, memories bring a flood of tears. Her example vividly remains with me.  She exemplified the fruits of the spirit with a calm and peaceful manner.  Always on duty with a smile; compassion, patience, sacrifice, dedication. gentleness, generosity.

She tenderly and courageously tended Joe’s every need; assisted in dressing changes, cooked his meals, did his laundry, slept on the floor by his bed, assisted other patients… never complaining, never away from Joe’s side more than 15 minutes at a time.

We watched Joe deteriorate for nine long, agonizing months.  Harvey stopped by on Sunday.  Joe smiled and said a few words.  Later, he told friends, “I’m dying and I’m so hot, so hot.  Please pray and sing.”  Joe softly joined in the chorus of “He Leads Me.”   Doctors said it wouldn’t be long.  Pere Albert, the chaplain, gave communion.

At 10:35p.m., a knock on the door.  “Joe died.”  Harvey is running.  Edson is dashing.  Joe’s Mother is screaming.  A nurse comes to the back gate, stares at the stars and wipes her eyes.  Another nurse is praying.   Joe’s best friend wheels his stretcher down the empty corridor.  I am watching through the open cement blocks at the end of our home, glued to my spot.  He is taken to an air-conditioned room.  The first time in months he has been alone.  I whisper, “Goodbye, Joe.”

The funeral at Joe’s Mother’s home was attended by hospital staff, family, and friends.   We drove to the foot of the mountain, walked across a muddy creek and climbed up quite a distance with mud soaked shoes.  The distant sounds of pounding accompanied us. Friends were making the casket.  As we waited in the front yard, Joe’s Mother periodically went through the very small house, wallpapered with the Presbyterian Survey, to the far back yard.  She screamed to the top of her lungs, then returned, spent and quiet.  The casket was carried up the hill.  The closer it came, the louder the screaming and wailing from the women.Joe was laid to rest in his brand new, freshly painted casket with silver trim, paid for by the Samarian’s Fund.  Joe’s sister had to be carried away during Pere Albert’s beautiful service.   Joe’s Mother remained while sobbing quietly.  An exhausting and extremely emotional final goodbye.

“Lord, keep these precious memories in my failing brain. Thank you for the example of Joe’s Mother and the encouragement it has given me.  May I be faithful in serving You and others until the day I join You, Joe and Joe’s Mother.”

May we continue to intercede for the 17 missionaries held in Haiti now and for their kidnappers.

DORIS ANN MUSSER has been sharing her creative talents for 88 years, spanning the globe from Lewisburg, West Virginia, to Brazil, France, Haiti, and China, and back to Kentucky where she lives now. She has her one and only, Harvey, waiting for her in heaven, but remains delightfully busy on earth keeping up with her five children, their spouses, thirteen grandchildren, and twenty-two great grand-children at last count. She has friends around the world and loves all things Mickey and Charlie Brown.

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Letters to the Lord: Winning an Award

We finally made it back to our little home in Flintstone, Georgia, after a train ride from Lyon to Paris, a transatlantic flight from Paris to Newark, NJ, a layover and then a flight to Boston, a weekend in Boston with the newlyweds and then a flight to Atlanta where we stayed with my father for a few days.

And awaiting me was a pile of mail and a package that contained my Carol Award that The Promised Land won in Contemporary Fiction back in September. As I savor this lovely award, here are a few thoughts straight from my author-heart to the Lord.

Yesterday I woke up to the wonderful news that The Promised Land had won the Carol Award in the Contemporary category. It was past midnight in France when the awards banquet was being held via Facebook Live and I didn’t stay up to watch because I truly, truly didn’t expect to win. So it was such a fun surprise, Lord, to wake up to this fun announcement. Thank you. I actually was giggling with pleasure.

To celebrate, my wonderful, spur-or-the-moment hubby joined me for crepes at our favorite little creperie down by the Saone River. We split a savory and a sweet crepe with a glass of sweet cider. And it was a perfect little celebration.

So simple and yet, really so extravagant, Lord. Celebrating a hard-won award in France, by the Saone River on an enchanting early fall day.

I was tickled and delighted, and yes, shocked, Lord. I won.

It’s been 25 years of longing to win an award for my writing, Lord. Only You know the full extent of that longing. And the disappointment. And of course, the other side of the coin—that you can’t win unless you enter (and you can’t lose either.)

So often I get mixed up in my reasoning, Lord. I want the honors without the hard work. Or that’s not exactly it. I put in hours and days and months and years of hard, hard work. But I don’t want the embarrassment of entering a contest and the heartache of being overlooked.

We writers are sensitive souls, often questioning if what we write is worth it. It’s safe to say, Lord, that all of my writer friends, along with me, wage this battle of comparison, of fear of bad reviews, of disappointment with low sales, and many other emotions that are a gut-punch to our self-worth.

I’ve fought the good fight—sometimes. And I’ve held on to You and trusted, most of the time. And yes, there have been tears and doubts, but there have also been great joy and delight. So many emotions spiral through a writer’s life.

You know it all, Lord. You have heard it all. For all these years.

So today, I just want to tell You that I am overjoyed in my heart and thankful beyond words for this recognition. You know I don’t take it for granted, Lord.

I have learned throughout the years that I don’t need awards or accolades for my self-worth as a writer. I need mostly to be checking in with You, day by day, as I sit in front of my computer screen, working hard and trusting hard that You will use my words to point others to Your Word. With my spirit in tune to Your Spirit if ever You ask me to stop writing.

Because You know I’ve asked You that question many times. So far, You’ve kept nudging me on in this writing life.

And there is one award, Lord, that I do want to win. It’s expressed so perfectly by the Apostle Paul in his epistle to the Philippians: “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do. Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward of the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3: 13-14

And by Your great love and grace, I know I will gain that prize! Merci!

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.

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Letters to the Lord: Wedding Wonder

Over two months ago I promised to post more wedding photos in Letters to the Lord. And then life happened and alas, no more photos. Until now. Last weekend while visiting the newlyweds in Boston, Ashlee gave me a thumb drive with ALL the professional photos and video on it. (Kudos to Peacock Photo and Video). No worries! I’m only sharing a handful of photos today. I can’t even say these are my favorites, just a few of my favorites.

And since a picture paints a thousand words, well, you don’t really need many of my words. I think these photos capture the bliss of wedding day wonder.

The Beautiful Bride.
The Debonair Groom.
I was so privileged that Ashlee wore my veil.
Together before the ceremony.
The groom and groomsmen with Daddy.

I love the expressions on Chris’s and Andrew’s faces as they watch the flower girls walk down the aisle.
And my brother Glenn’s expression as the groom kisses the bride!
Proud and joyful parents.
The Paul Musser family.
And this one captures the joy!

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.

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Letters to the Lord: It’s a Wonderful Christmas

Bonjour, dear ones, from Atlanta! I’m jetlagged and a bit heartbroken as I’m here with my precious father who has pancreatic cancer. So grateful to be able to be back with him after our 7 weeks in France. We’ll be here in the States indefinitely as we navigate this season with my dad and also attend two conferences with our mission that have been postponed several times because of Covid. And we had a marvelous weekend with the newlyweds in Boston. Soon, soon, I’ll be sharing more photos of the wedding and all that joy.

But for today, I needed some encouragement, and maybe you do too. Five dear author friends who are also amazing writers have teamed up to give us some much-needed joy.

“If you love holiday movies—and who doesn’t?—I can’t think of a better read than this charming, inventive anthology by five of today’s most talented authors. Completely original and filled with heart, each story proves that Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year! I savored every page and can’t wait to unwrap this gift of a book year after year!”—Kristy Woodson Harvey, New York Times bestselling author of Christmas in Peachtree Bluff

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

To celebrate, five bestselling authors have joined together to create this enchanting set of holiday novellas.

Nothing jump-starts Christmas nostalgia quite like the movies. With stirring images of snow-covered hills, crackling fireplaces, and happy families gathered around the decorated tree, these silver-screen tales capture all the magic and wonder of the season. Inspired by some of their favorite holiday films, each of these novelists has paid homage to the classic stories we all love, crafting an eclectic collection that delivers something for everyone.

From small town romance to a Sugar Plum Fairy, this Christmas box set includes five stories sparked by National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, The Nutcracker, and Remember the Night.

Topped with a whole lot of cheer and sentimentality, It’s a Wonderful Christmas: Classics Reimagined will delight readers from the first page to the last.

So grab a cup of hot cocoa, nestle under a cozy blanket, and enjoy these holiday stories in a whole new way!

It’s a joy to support my fellow authors as we strive to glorify our Lord in all of our words. I look forward to cuddling up by the fireplace and savoring these stories. I hope you will too, dear ones!

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.

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Letters to the Lord: Savor

As we are packing to return to the States for at least four months, my mind is a blur of emotions. Such a short time in France, yet so rich. In seven short weeks, we’ve soaked in the wonder of Your people and Your work in France, Lord.

My spiritual director has often encouraged me to savor the good, good gifts that come our way, both little and big. And that is what we’ve done.

We traveled to the nearby French Alps for a week’s vacation, staying in the first floor of a chalet posed on the side of a mountain in the little village of Les Allues. Typically a booming ski resort in winter and a golfing and hiking mecca in summer, we arrived in September at the beginning of low season. And we savored the goodness of the quiet, the breathtaking beauty of the Alps, the challenging mountain hikes, the simple delicacies of yummy cheese on fresh French bread.

That is Mont Blanc peeking through the clouds behind me!

And we remembered other vacations in the area, when we used to ski with my parents and boys and sometimes, even our extended family. It is in this area that several pivotal scenes in my novel, Two Destinies, take place, a novel written in the late 1990s.

We also spent a weekend in the south of France, reconnecting with so many dear friends from our Montpellier days. Though fiction, many scenes from Two Destinies mirror what our life was like in the 1990s as we helped start a French church built of all different flavors and ages of people living in the area. Eventually the small congregation pitched in to transform an old garage into a physical building where the church would meet.

What a joy to be reunited with many of these friends and remember the old times and savor God’s goodness to each of us in the present.

And this past Sunday we rejoiced to worship in a brand new building, constructed by many members of our little church in Trevoux, a village just to the north of where we live.

Seventeen years ago, when we first arrived in Lyon, we, along with a few other believers from the church where Paul was interim pastor, began a Bible study. Over the years, the members of that Bible study developed a heart to start a new church in the north of Lyon. We have watched God’s provision, often from afar as we began to travel with our pastoral care ministry, but always with joy to see the love and deep faith of so many dear ones who have become this little community of believers in the north of Lyon and our ‘family’ in France.

And of course, we savored the potluck lunch after the worship service!

We’ve also savored long walks by the river, eating crepes by the river, our village’s annual ’empty your attics’ sale (the equivalent of a huge neighborhood garage sale) and the simple beauty of our yard (after, ah-hem, a bit of work to get it tamed!)

I’ve even enjoyed hanging our clothes out on the line!

And I’ve delighted in being back in my Writing Chalet to work on the edits for my novel, By Way of the Moonlight, which will release next summer.

Seven weeks seems too short of a time to be back ‘home’. But we have savored these weeks. And we are deeply grateful that we can do our work of pastoral care on both sides of the ocean.

And so on Friday we fly back to America, just in time to savor a quick stopover in Boston to visit the newlyweds and then head to Atlanta and Flintstone to be with my father, Andrew and Lacy and their growing tribe!

In all the comings and goings of your life, what are you savoring today?

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good. How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” Psalm 34: 8

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.

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Letters to the Lord: Why Are You Thinking These Things?

As we were coming to the end of our mandatory month off from Member Care, I listened to this podcast about spending a day alone with God. I’d had many sweet times with the Lord during this month, but I felt the Holy Spirit encouraging me to follow the suggestions from The Potter’s Inn blog that gave a schedule for a Solo Day with the Lord. I’m sharing some of my reflections below in hopes that they will encourage your soul and even more, encourage you to take a solo day with the Lord. Listen to the podcast and you’ll see it is a lovely, freeing schedule, that even includes a Napio Divina (a nap!)

Solo Day with the Lord

After spending thirty minutes in silence–not praying–not doing anything except being sitting silently, I was asked to write down Five Adjectives to describe The State of My Soul

            longing

            pursuing peace

            teetering

            convicted

            grateful

Immediately I thought back to what had happened a few weeks ago when Paul was doing his solo day. We’d only recently returned to France and I was a bit discombobulated. So I’d driven to a nearby town to buy scrapbooking materials (one of my favorite hobbies) and then escaped into the beautiful Beaujolais wine region.

This is what I wrote:

I’d awoken with dark thoughts and knew my soul just needed to see the beauty of this region again to feel connected with you, Lord. So I drove and cried and confessed and drove and cried and confessed.

Now that life is again bright, I don’t exactly know what was so dark, but I know I continue to see my selfishness and feel discouraged about it. Then I spiral to thinking negative thoughts about the past. But You rescue me as I cry out to You, dear Lord.

And, Lord, I’m teetering again with these darker thoughts, feeling overwhelmed and selfish and wanting to just keep on being alone in our sweet yard with Paul and You. I know You will lift me up again today because that is what You do.

Looking at the above adjectives, I think I am longing, longing to keep pursuing peace, to have my soul existing in a peaceful state no matter the circumstances. But I teeter with debilitating self-criticism when I see my selfish heart and when I hear of the selflessness of so many people I dearly love. I want to be more like them, Lord, and more like You.

Except I don’t. Not really. Deep down I just want things to go my way and to have life make sense and to tie each day up with a beautiful bow and see that I finished what was before me and everyone I love is doing okay and I am comfortable and warm and safe and so are they.

That’s really what I want, Lord, and so I teeter and am tempted to just fall into the trap of beating up on myself instead of running with all my heart into Your arms, flinging myself on my knees in front of You, confessing that selfishness and pride and jealousy, and then accepting Your forgiveness. Again. For today.

That’s the convicted part—yes, I’m convicted of my sin, and I confess it, but if I’m not fixing my eyes on You, I don’t really experience the FREEDOM of FORGIVENESS. That’s what my soul is longing for, that peace that passes understanding, knowing You love me, forgive me, pick me back up, and off I go again on this great adventure.

And oh, how I am grateful for this, precious Lord. So may it be again today.

Lectio Divina—Mark 2: 6-12

As I awoke, Paul had already gone to work on the new church building and then would be playing soccer. I had the day alone in front of me. I was tired and feeling the darkness and a headache, so I just washed my face and put a cool rag on my head and lay back down and listened to the Lectio 365 for today, and it was about selfishness and control. It was about You healing the paralytic. And usually I feel like I’m one of the bystanders, but today, I felt like I was one of the religious leaders, criticizing You.

Now as I’ve slowly reread this passage again three times, I’ve finally seen what was grabbing my heart. It’s after the religious leaders think to themselves basically, “Who does this fellow think he is? God?”

And Jesus, knowing what they are thinking, asks them, “Why are you thinking these things?”

And precious Lord, that’s what You are asking me again today.

“Why are you, Lizzie, thinking these things? You know Me. We’ve walked together for over 50 years. You’ve grown a lot, you’ve realized you don’t have to be perfect, that you certainly aren’t in control, that the women you work with aren’t yours at all but Mine. You’ve allowed Me to humble you time and again, and you’re getting better at confessing your sins more quickly and crying at your sin and then falling to your knees. You have seen Me rescue you time and time and time again from those dark thoughts. So why are you thinking these things? Don’t you know, don’t you know, don’t you know, that I am the ONE who does the work?

“Don’t you realize that enjoying your month off while hearing of hard things others are going through will pierce your heart? That’s okay. It should be pierced. Cry and pray and care, but DON’T COMPARE. I have you here right now to rest, to soak up France, to reconnect with your brothers and sisters in Christ and sprinkle love to others all around.

“You’ve come through a trying year. It. Was. Hard. And you saw My Power. So just take that deep breath and relax and soak in My peace and My presence and giggle at My goodness in your life and TRUST, TRUST, TRUST that I am with you, giving you this time off as a precious gift.

“And I know you will tend to try to peek around the corner and start worrying about what is next. But remember what you’ve been telling others: Every day has enough trouble of its own.

“Just enjoy, soak it all up. Breathe deeply and know you are deeply loved. And yes, today the flowers are for you and Me. Together.”

Oh, Lord, thank You. Merci. Help me keep thinking Your way, not mine. I realize I haven’t been meditating on Scripture as much as I need. May I be thinking of You today and enjoying our time together, just You and Me and whatever joy You want to bring along my way.

And the sweetest bonus: After I did my Lectio, I rode my bike to the little Rochetaillée marché and as soon as I parked, who came walking up to me but a precious older friend who I only see when I’m out for a walk and whom I hadn’t seen for 18 months. We were shocked to see each other and spent 30-45 minutes together.

Lord, You are the ONE who brings the people in our lives You want. I stand in awe of how BIG You are and yet so involved in the smallest details of our lives.

I am so, so, so grateful for this time here in France, Lord, where You have restored our souls.

“My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we are living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and He knows more about us than we do ourselves.” I John 3: 18-20, The Message

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.

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Letters to the Lord: Taking Time Off

We’re home in France! I am sitting in the chaise lounge behind the house, drinking a cup of chai tea from my favorite mug bought in Aigues-Mortes two summers ago, with my Bible and prayer list and freshly cut ‘belles de nuit’ sitting on the little wrought iron table beside me.

This is My. Place. With. You. Lord. Being alone with You in our backyard in Rochetaillée, sipping tea in the morning while doing my devos or sipping wine and popping nuts in my mouth for apéro in the evening, as I did last night.

It is a perfect late summer day, the sun gradually creeping up to warm my toes. Soon I will have to move the chaise to the shade on the right, but for now, I am happily ensconced in the wonder of being home.

We are sleeping in the guest suite behind the house and that feels perfect because we are, in a sense, guests in our own home. We’re back here after a whole year in the US filled with so many unexpected things in our lives and in our world. We thought we’d be there for four months, but life and Covid and many other events, both delightful and difficult, changed that.

But now, right now, we are back and we are taking time off. This is a delight.

I remember Paul’s labor of love to turn this big old garage into a spacious suite for our newlyweds, Andrew and Lacy, eleven years ago. Since that time, countless others have enjoyed the rest and refuge and simple beauty of this room, not the least of whom are we, are us! A little haven and retreat where we are surrounded by reminders of Your goodness and faithfulness to us, where every photo and quilt and piece of used furniture tells a story of Your provision throughout the years. This is the story of our guest suite, of our home, of our lives in France serving a God who cares for His children, a God who provides.

I smile, seeing Paul’s handmade wooden frames that surround pastels of water scenes from some of our favorite places in Europe that we’ve been privileged to visit:

The Great Canal in Annecy

A beach on Ile de Ré

The blistering white buildings and deep blue Mediterranean of Santorini, Greece,

The quaint village of Collioure, the coastal town on the border of France and Spain. I bought this print 30 years ago from a wandering artist who appeared at my door in Montpellier, needing encouragement. 

There are little candle holders from Athens and dried hydrangeas from the yard, held in old wine bottles and vases given to me at book events or picked up at a neighborhood garage sale. The birdhouse and wrought iron bird candle holder, gifts from our good-bye party in Montpellier all those years ago, chirp at me from atop the old armoire, one of the first pieces of furniture we bought in France at the used furniture store near our apartment home in Montpellier way back in 1990.

It is these simple things, Lord, that bring such joy.

After I finish my devotions, I step inside the house to where Paul is reading his Bible in the green leather chair that we won—yes, we won—from a furniture store that was just opening its doors when we first moved to Lyon seventeen years ago.

Paul looks up at me with those tender, kind, loving hazel eyes and says, “Thirty-eight years ago—no, thirty-nine years ago—today was the day we met.” And I grin and kiss him and we say, almost in unison, “The best almost-forty years of my life.” We stand in awe of the God who brought together two starry-eyed recent college grads, ready to change the world for Jesus.

All these years later, we know, we know, that WE are the ones Jesus has changed. By His grace.

And now, I’m sitting in my Writing Chalet, my sweet tool shed that I redecorated last year during the pandemic, the place where nine of my novels have been penned and where I’ll soon be editing the newest one. It is another delight to look out the window at the newly-mowed lawn and see the geraniums perched on the well. We returned to a complete jungle and have happily spent the last few days taming our garden.

Yesterday, we received a What’sApp video from Andrew of the grandkids’ delight—especially  eighteen-month-old Lena’s—as they played with a bucket filled with little frogs. Then Andrew called us on Zoom and we spoke en francais with him and Lena. He speaks only in French with her! Yes, we miss our family, but how we rejoice in the full year we were able to be near them.

Later in the evening we zoomed with the new newlyweds, Chris and Ashlee, home from their honeymoon and living for one more week with my sweet Daddy. We plan to host them here next summer in the ‘nuptial suite’! For now, we listened as they shared about shipping all their belongings to Boston where they’ll be moving on August 31, our 36th anniversary.

And we talked with my father. He was the hardest to leave, especially because of the shock we received right before Chris and Ashlee’s wedding. Daddy has pancreatic cancer. In God’s kindness again, I was able to go with him to see the surgical oncologist the day before we flew back to France and hear the doctor reassure me that I should return to France for a brief time, that my father is doing well right now. But, oh, it was hard to leave him.

Paul and I will be back in the US by mid-October because we have two conferences with our mission scheduled on the West Coast, conferences that had been postponed several times due to Covid. And we’ll stay for awhile, who knows how long? At least through January, 2022, when Baby #5 is due to arrive for Lacy and Andrew!

But for this month, the leadership at our mission has mandated a time of rest and refreshment and renewal for Paul and me, a time away from our usual responsibilities of pastoral care for workers around the world. We are grateful for their concern, for seeing the signs of fatigue and burn-out that have been hovering around us for quite a while.

A month to reflect and read and sit before the Lord, to take some vacation. A month to rest.

Letters to the Lord will be paused for the next four weeks as will my presence on social media. Oh, I may pop in with a photo or two now and then. Or not. It is hard for me to take a break. But I am really, really going to try. Because I need it.

And I’ll just bet you do too.

You may not be able to take time off right now. But my prayer for myself and for each of us is that, no matter what circumstance we find ourselves in, we can take a deep breath, pause in our spirits, and thank our God for His goodness and faithfulness so far in our lives. Doing just this simple act of worship changes things, doesn’t it?

So much is wrong in this world, but our God is right, and we can find rest in Him.

“Truly my soul finds rest in God;
    my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” Psalm 62: 1-2

May you find rest for your souls this month, dear ones!

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