Category Archives: I CHOOSE JOY NOW

My review for Far Side of the Sea by Kate Breslin

Kate Breslin’s fourth book was released in early March. Since I enjoyed the first three, For Such a Time, Not by Sight, and High as the Heavens, I anticipated her new story to captivate as well. Far Side of the Sea, by Kate Breslin, is Historical Fiction at its finest and exceeded my expectations.

Kate weaves a WWI tale of intrigue, drama, suspense, romance, and faith-filled miracles that takes wounded British soldier, Lieutenant Colin Mabry and brother of Grace Mabry from Not by Sight, into danger. He travels three countries as his adventure unfolds. Colin struggles through deception, disappointment, loss, and fear while looking for answers, acceptance, honesty, love, and miracles.

As I read Far Side of the Sea, I found myself talking to the characters. “Don’t do it.” “Oh, no!” “Be strong.” “I knew it.” “Stay!” “Have faith.” “Sweet.” I’m one who guesses what’s going to happen in many stories, but Kate managed to keep me in the dark. In fact, on one page, I was shocked twice.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:

Humorous — “Why do women wear such hats? I imagine you must get headaches from all the weight on your head.”

Adventurous — “For the first time in his life, he was feeling just a bit reckless.”

Profound — “…what lay in the heart mattered more than what the world saw on the outside.”

Hopeful — “If she had faith, perhaps miracles would happen.”

Disappointment — “Duty and love. Sometimes they do not mix.”

Cutest exclamation — “Titan’s teeth.”

And finally, thanks to Kate for the unexpected Bible quote that encouraged me with a current balance problem — “For you, Lord, have delivered…my feet from stumbling.”

Surprise after surprise, Kate Breslin’s latest book kept me captivated and mesmerized. I highly recommend Far Side of the Sea.

Receiving JOY Through Miracles


This summer, my husband and I had an opportunity to attend the midget car races. When we were first married, we did the car race scene every Friday night. In fact, my husband helped in the pits for his racing friend. What a JOYful time of our lives.

After all these years, I’m here to tell you that the noise is the same and the dust still settled in my hair and clothes. But, I don’t remember quite as much excitement at the races as the night we watched the funny-looking midget cars.

They crashed often. A race would begin with sixteen vehicles, but end with only eight or nine. No one was hurt throughout the night, but the crews had a lot of work to do before the damaged midgets could race again.

These particular cars fascinated me. Each vehicle had a unique paint job. And not only were they screaming loud, they whipped around the corners sidewise. I took many pictures with my IPhone of the colorful vehicles spinning around the track.

I was putting my cell into my pocket when my husband grabbed my arm and yelled, “Look!”

I glanced up. A gigantic tire was flying through the air. It bounced about thirty feet on the grass in front of the stands. The wheel barely missed a group of children playing and four adults sitting on lawn chairs at the edge of the grass. It took me a second to realize that the tire had come off of a midget car on the turn closest to us.

The black blob bounced again on the cement directly in front of the stands, seven rows down from us. The tire kept going and bounded to our right, hitting the wooden seats. Finally, it sprang over the fence into the concession area. The wheel hit a building and came to a dead stop.

Not one person was hurt by the runaway tire.

A miracle? Perhaps, since the first seats we selected were on the front row—within a foot or two of where the huge bouncy tire vaulted. It was impossible to tell where the wheel would land next. People scurried to get away from the tire and could have been hit and killed.

For the next few days, neither of us could stop thinking about that night at the Midget car races. We reminisced about another time we faced a traumatic incident and walked away.

In 2011, Don and I sat in the stands at the Reno Air Races. It was our third or fourth year attending, and we were as excited as ever. On the third lap of the final race for the day, I started my long walk back to the motorhome via the flight line. Don chose to stay in the stands until the race ended.

I continued to eye the sky as I walked, stopping along the line for the final couple of laps. The viewing spot was a perfect place to cheer on my favorite pilot and plane, plus, see who would get the first checkered flag.

One of the planes turned out of the flight pattern directly in front of where I stood. I’d seen other aircraft pull up when they had mechanical problems so didn’t think too much about it.

But something else was wrong. A second later, the plane swerved toward the stands. It turned on its side before rolling onto its back and descended into the stands. The Mustang and its pilot disappeared.

No smoke, no crash sounds, no engine noise, no screams—just silence.

The plane went down in the area I had left a few moments before. My husband still sat in the stands. I called his cell. It rang ten times. Finally, I heard fumbling and Don’s shaky voice.

The P51 Mustang had dropped into the flight line seating boxes directly in front of the stands. It disintegrated on impact. Ten people on the ground died that day, plus the pilot.

My husband told me that during the airplane’s descent, he looked up and saw the propeller leading the plane straight down to our seats. He remembers thinking he was a goner. But at the last minute, the plane rolled and veered down to the spot eighteen rows in front of our reserved seats.

A tragedy? Most definitely. A miracle? Yes. Many more people, including my husband, might have died that day if the Mustang had hit the crowded wooden stands.


What I learned in 2011 was reinforced the other evening at the car races. There’s JOY after disaster and tragedy. It is possible to find JOY in every situation, hardship, and disease.

God does show up.

In an instant, lives change. But I take comfort in knowing He is faithful in all things—even those senseless incidents that leave us wondering why. We can make it through life’s obstacles, tragedies, fears, and diseases because JOY is a choice.

Perhaps you’ve been in a situation that left you in awe of God’s timing and protection. When trauma, disease, pain, or suffering steps in my way, I close my eyes and remember giving birth to my children. The pain was great, unbearable at times. But when that baby took a breath, I forgot the pain and grasped the JOY.

We should choose and grasp the JOY always. After all, what’s the alternative?



During my many years of school, the one class I didn’t do well in was History. I’ll never know for sure, but I have a theory–the  teachers ruined it for me when they expected me to memorize so many dates. Also, I’m a hands-on, visual person, and the History books were hard to relate to at that time. Historical fiction, however, shows the past in a unique, creative way. I’m now fascinated by History.

Author Kate Breslin opens the door to yesteryear in her Historical fiction, with a touch of romance, released last month. In HIGH AS THE HEAVENS, I stood alongside the characters as Kate wove them through a war amidst conspiracy, deceit, secrets, infiltrators, faith, hope, and a love that would stand the test of time.


Book Cover Synopsis

A British nurse in WWI German-occupied Brussels, Evelyn Marche spends her days at the hospital and her nights working at a café…or so it seems. Eve’s most carefully guarded secret is that she also spends her nights carrying out dangerous missions as a spy for a Belgian resistance group.

When a plane crashes as she’s en route to a rendezvous, Eve is the first to reach the downed plane and is shocked to recognize the badly injured pilot as British RFC Captain Simon Forrester. She risks her life to conceal him from the Germans, but as the secrets between them grow and the danger mounts, can they still hope to make it out of Belgium alive?


My Favorite Quotes from HIGH AS THE HEAVENS


“With every barrage of blue notes came the pain of remembering those who she had lost: her uncle, sister, brother…and the man she loved.”


“As he opened the tome and glanced inside, his pulse pounded. He’d discovered Eve’s secret.”


“Meet package, 2300 hours. Groenendael Priory.”


“An incomparable sense of freedom filled her as they soared through the heavens
like two birds in flight.”


“Eve remained where she stood, saying a silent prayer for his safety…and for her own.”


“…she wrapped her arms around him, clinging to the man she loved,
clinging to the hope of their future.”


“Do you love me? Her husband had asked that same question, and through his gentleness, his patience, and his understanding, he’d drawn her out from behind the wall of her pain.”


My rating: 5 stars out of 5

Can’t get much better than Kate Breslin for romantic Historical fiction. Romance readers will
‘feel the love and devotion.’ History lovers will be fascinated by the way Kate unveils Eve’s journey through WWI. HIGH AS THE HEAVENS is one book I couldn’t put down.

A very special thank you to Kate Breslin and Bethany House Publishers for providing me with a promotional copy of HIGH AS THE HEAVENS. Creating Stories to Inspire



“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:9













Two years ago, I blogged about how pets can make a difference in the lives of their humans.

We sent our little Gracie girl over the Rainbow Bridge a few days ago. I’m heartbroken but grateful for the JOY and love she shared with us. Gracie continues to bless us with her graciousness as she lives in our memories and hearts.

One of Gracie’s favorite places to run was along the shore of the ocean. I imagine her now chasing the gulls and the wind as the mesmerizing waves crash against her feet.

Run free, little girl. We’ll miss you. Thank you for touching our hearts. We’ll always love you.

<3 <3 <3

February 2015

Many of us have the JOYful privilege of a pet in our home or at some point in life, cared for an animal. Dog, cat, bird, rabbit, sheep, hamster, or horse, animals have a way of being part of the family from day one.

Our two cocker spaniels, Wing Man and Gracie, rule the roost in our home. Stormy, gone now across the Rainbow Bridge, kept me accountable for many years.

When pets move in, they bring many attributes to our homes. We become vulnerable as the companionship and unconditional love grow—in us and the animal. They work their way into our hearts and stay forever. We find it easy to accept most elements of our pets, but the negative ones might be difficult to swallow at times.

I enJOY the unique personalities of my dogs when they play. I tend to stay out of their way and smile in wonderment as this part of my family play with one another for fun. You can almost see their thought process. Wing Man is verbal as he charges Gracie. His tail wags a mile-a-minute. Gracie turns her sweet head, smiles at him, and tears through the house. I believe she laughs when he pounces at her but can’t catch her. They’ll continue on this way for a few minutes before she stops her teases, lies down on her bed, and pants to catch her breath. They are full of JOY and delightful to observe.

One day when a friend came by for a visit, we sat at the kitchen table. My cat, Stormy, jumped up on the back of the lady’s chair and began to bat her hair. We lost our train of thought and laughed at the distraction.

Once in a while, dogs and cats can get the best of us. Gracie forgets to use the facilities in the yard and leaves me little puddles on the carpet every now and then. Wing Man uses the outside facilities but insists his mark belongs upon the fence posts, patio furniture, and corner of the pond.

Stormy, whom I nicknamed Itty Bitty Kitty because of her petite frame and four-pound body, used to flick litter a foot out of the cat box. She loved to annoy me when I sat at my desk busy at work. Just like a small child, she did everything in her power to get my undivided attention. She batted the desk lamp, stood on my computer (while I typed), or slept across the papers which lay on my desk.

But what JOY I experienced when Itty Bitty’s meows turned into words. Now cats don’t speak – we all know that. She meowed and meowed while she tried to get my attention. Then, as clear as a cloudless day, her meows turned into a holler which sounded like the word “Mama”.  Who said animals don’t talk?

I scold my dogs as I would my children. I rant and rave and send them outside, to get them out of my hair. But a few minutes later, when I let them in the house, their tails wag with JOY as if I’m their best friend—and I am. I melt.

I often hollered at my kitty when I cleaned up her litter or when she interrupted my train of thought because she wanted my attention. She didn’t let my anger get to her. She would plop on my lap and purr and purr.

I am unable to resist these unusual creatures from God.


Each pet, throughout the years, has become a dear friend and part of the family. They accept my faults and flaws with JOY, as well as my kindness and love. When I find myself annoyed by my animals, they approach as if nothing has happened—happy to be with me as they snuggle up and put their heads on my lap.

Just like humans, pets smile, frown, and cry. They love me whether I feed them or ignore them. When I take the time to play with my animals or caress their furry coats, they help me forget my trials, tribulations, loneliness, or bad moods.

When they’re gone, we mourn and go thru grief because we loved these precious members of our family. After we mend our hearts a bit, we can continue to be JOYful as we reminisce about their quirks, cuteness, love, and everything they’ve given us. To this day, when I see a black and white cat, my heart warms with JOYous memories of Itty Bitty. I still miss her, but like my dogs, she gave me something no human has given me. She sat by my side and just existed—just for me, she lived. Wing Man and Gracie continue to give unconditional love, acceptance, and JOY.

During the process of grief for my cat, two of my daughters each shared a story with me. My youngest daughter told me her dad buried some old trout from the freezer a short distance from the waterfall and pond—near the spot where my kitty rests. She expressed, “Stormy is chasing fish by the waterfall. She’s in the perfect place.” The middle daughter told me something my granddaughter, six years old at the time, shared with her. “Grammy put a flower on top of where Stormy is planted.” Precious examples of the way our pets continue to live on within our spirits. My heart flutters with JOY.

May you be blessed as you enJOY your unique pet to the fullest, my friend. When they cross over the Rainbow Bridge, I pray you reach a point in time where you reminisce with JOY.









                                 The Rainbow Bridge


Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.

There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor;                                 those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in JOYous reunion, never to be parted again.

The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together.

Author unknown

(Some say the poem was inspired by Norse Mythology.)



ACTIVE                              RELATIONAL                   FAITHFUL                    HUMBLE

                    AVAILABLE                              VOCAL                            BRAVE                    WILLING                            

SERIOUS                        MIRACULOUS                 SPECIFIC                         TRUSTING                     

                   PROVIDER                              PATIENT                         GENEROUS                RELATABLE                   

UNDERSTANDING           CAPTIVATING               INCLUSIVE                      GENTLE                         

                  EMOTIONAL                 UNSTOPPABLE                      LOVE                               VISIBLE


If you have followed my Facebook page (LindaMarieCrawfordWriter), you might have read some of the Advent words and dictionary definitions that I posted in December. These twenty-four words had such an impact on me that I felt compelled to share a bit more.

Perhaps you were moved by my daily word posts and applied some of these powerful words to your everyday life. Maybe you thought of a particular person when you read a specific word.  I imagine you might have honed in on one or two of them and couldn’t stop thinking about the concept. Or, you may have figured out why I chose to use a different word each day to describe Advent.

At the beginning of December, the pastor of my church went over this list with the congregation. My fascination grew with each one he brought to our attention. You see, he was describing Jesus and how God moved from invisible to visible with the birth of His son.

After careful consideration of each of these twenty-four words, I found myself lumping them into one word this Christmas season. JOY!

As Jesus lived on earth, he brought JOY through his visibility and actions. The season of His birth is a reminder of all He was and is – all He continues to provide for His world.


Christmas brings never ending words of the season—like faith, hope, and love. My wish for each of you is a continuing JOY this coming year. My hope is for the world to act out these profound words as Jesus did and make a difference in each day. Even if we each choose just one of the words and practice the concept in our everyday lives, our world will be a better place and give the children of today a better tomorrow—one filled with faith, hope, and love.

Merry Christmas to you and yours. May the JOY of His promises fill you with love today and give you faith to trust and hope in your tomorrows.



A special thank you to Pastor Brandon Grant for his awesome perspective and Biblical teaching.