Today we have author JoAnn Carter and her new release Hidden Paths.
Well, here we are at the close of another story... Hidden Paths. I have to chuckle a bit at the irony of the situation. You see, that's the perfect title for my own personal journey that the Lord has been guiding me through.
Although I have other books in circulation, this was the very first story I ever drafted fifteen years ago. I started writing on a whim. Don't ask me why. In fact, have you ever watched Night at the Museum? The first time we saw that movie I cracked up. I am so like that museum director. Some days it seems as if I can't put a complete thought -- let alone sentence -- together to save my life. Couple that with dyslexia and grammar and spelling that would make any English major cringe and... yup, that's me. Yet, here I find myself, walking down the path that once seemed so elusive and hidden to me.
Quite a few years after I wrote this book, I went to a writer's retreat. I prayed and prayed that God would show me what He wanted me to do and give me direction. I knew writing was something I enjoyed but was this what God wanted me to do? I struggled with that, and to be honest, still do on occasion.
I walked away from that weekend with as many questions as I arrived with. I was so discouraged. Didn't God hear me? I wanted to follow His will for my life, yet felt like He was far away and unwilling to give me the direction I so desperately craved.
He had heard my prayers, yet I was too close to the situation to see that He had been, was, and still is guiding me. I stand amazed as I think about this now... God has led me to friends who had a passion for the craft of writing and the gift of encouragement. I've been blessed with a family who supports my writing endeavors, and I've learned a ton of stuff along the way... I could go on, but I'm sure you get the gist.
What I've come to realize is I don't need to have everything figured out. I serve an awesome God who knows what's best for me. Sometimes I may not particularly care for what needs to be done. The road may seem long and hard and the mountains too big to scale. Yet, God loves me too much to let me settle for the easy road where I would forget where true strength is found.
Perhaps like me, you have been struggling with direction in your own life. I would like to challenge you to place your hand (and your life) in God's hands and allow Him to plot your course. You might find yourself in for a crazy ride -- on a path, like Julie, that you would have never imagined.
And that, my friends is my Christmas prayer for you. That you would follow the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul and strenght. Have a wonderful holiday season!
Hidden Paths a Young Adult/Adult Inspirational Romance
Staying in Vermont on the family farm wasn’t what JULIE HEMMINGWAY had envisioned for her life. After all, she had just spent two years at the community college in preparation to join a mission agency to use her nursing skills overseas. However, those plans quickly change when her father suffers a massive heart attack and dies. Out of necessity, she stays at home to help her mom manage the farm.
To help make ends meet, Julie accepts a new job at a construction company where many unexpected things happen, including working with the handsome, ADAM JACOBS. Will Julie learn that she can trust in God and the path He has planned for her life – even when it looks totally different than what she expected?
Julie Hemmingway's thoughts centered on one thing -- and one thing only -- the letter which had arrived yesterday. Her dreams were coming true at last. She hummed a little Christmas tune and pushed her cart to the return rack. Scooping up her bags, Julie turned to walk out of the grocery store. The next thing she knew, her face was planted against a wool sweater and a coat's zipper. The paper bag filled with groceries crushed against her midsection with a sickening crunch. Thankfully, with a firm grip, she somehow managed to hold onto the second bag. She stood stunned for a moment. Please tell me I didn't just run into the person behind me.
"Are you okay?" His warm bass voice vibrated through his chest and beat against her cheek.
So much for that wish.
Julie wrapped her arm tighter around the bag resting between them to prevent it from plummeting to the floor and pushed herself back.
The guy gently gripped her forearms to steady her. "I'm sorry. I should have been paying closer attention to where I was going." He pointed with his thumb toward the colored lights twinkling merrily in the window. "I was looking at the decorations. They're amazing."
Julie let her gaze travel up until she met his blue eyes. The second bag, which had managed to escape the fiasco, slipped out of her grasp. She looked down in horror at the mess on the floor. "Oh man, it looks like I just did some decorating of my own -- but not the pretty or festive kind." She groaned. "I think that bag had my eggs."
"If that's the case, they're now scrambled." He took the bag, with lettuce spewing over the side, away from her and stepped back to assess the damage. "Or at least, sunny-side up."
Julie grinned at his quick wit as she kicked loose coffee beans off the top of her shoe.
With a crooked smile, he introduced himself. "I'm Adam." Before Julie could tell him her name, he plucked a piece of lettuce draped over her sleeve like a scarf. "I must say, these lovely, um... accessories, don't do your beautiful coat justice."
Julie, caught between his humor and her self-consciousness, tried to think of something -- anything -- to say. Unfortunately, her mind was as blank as a school chalkboard over summer vacation. If only she could attribute this temporary loss of words to the near fall. However, that wouldn't be totally honest.
Perhaps it was his disposition, his good looks, or ease with himself, but something about him intrigued her.
The man seemed larger than life and although the groceries had been smashed between them, no food clung to his clothes as they did to hers. In fact, he looked like he could have stepped out from a magazine page.
"Let's get this stuff picked up." He stooped to retrieve a can of soup that had rolled toward the door.
"Let's." That was better than the alternative -- to stand and stare at him. The sooner this mess was cleaned up, the sooner she could leave and move on with the dream which had, up until the last few moments ago, been her sole focus. Once again, her heart galloped at thought of the acceptance letter. Her desire to become a missionary was nothing new. Rather, her heart and imagination were captured ever since a speaker, who worked in Africa, gave a presentation at her church when she was twelve. Now she was close to seeing it come to fruition.
Julie sighed. She couldn't wait to share the news from New Hope Missions with her grandmother, who was visiting for the holidays. She sank her teeth into her lower lip, hoping to hide the goofy grin that threatened to escape.
Adam turned, and whack! -- they collided again. She rubbed her head. That's what I get for daydreaming.
The whole situation suddenly reminded her of an episode of one of her father's favorite old-time television shows with one guy bopping another on the head.
Adam winked. "Jinx."
Mirth bubbled in the pit of her stomach until she couldn't help but laugh. She shook her head and stuffed a cantaloupe into a bag. "I am so sorry. My bad this time. I was thinking about something else." She narrowed her eyes. "I didn't hurt you, did I?"
"Nah, I have a pretty hard head." He reached for another bag and began to fill it with the groceries. "But I guess you found that out for yourself."
Julie rubbed her scalp. "I guess I did... the hard way," she chuckled.
The store manager rushed over with new bags and began to help pick up the groceries as well. "I saw it happen. Are you two all right? We need to hang a mirror or something over the door. This isn't the first time this has happened."
Adam gave a teasing grin. "You mean she does this all the time?"
Julie's jaw dropped, and the manager laughed. "No, no. Of course not. Other customers have had similar run-ins." He gave them both the once-over. "You sure you're all right?"
Nodding toward Julie, Adam answered for both of them. "We're fine."
"Follow me to the courtesy counter," the manager motioned. "I'll replace or reimburse you for the broken eggs and whatever else has been damaged."
How much does pride cost?
Julie ducked her head.
The manager continued, "What would you prefer?"
Julie had no idea what she looked like, but she knew how she felt -- a big, sticky, eggy mess, albeit a mess who was impatient to get home. "I think I'll just stop back later if that's okay."
"Sure. Just don't forget your receipt."
"Got it." Julie nodded toward Adam, "Thank you for helping me corral my groceries."
She turned and ran out the door, leaving traces of egg to mark her path. As she raced through the parking lot, she couldn't help but think about how she had clung to the stranger's arm and then whacked him in the head. Some days it felt like she could tackle anything the world sent her way, and other days -- well, it made her realize how woefully inadequate she still was.
Julie had been so sure of everything when she opened the letter this morning. But now that her elusive dream was about to become a reality, doubts about her future whispered and wrapped long, spindle-like bands around her heart. She wasn't quite twenty yet -- fresh out of community college. Did she really think she was prepared to join others of great faith in the mission field?
Yet, the light of her hopes and dreams flickered again then set ablaze the shadows that threatened to lurk. She pushed back her shoulders. Guatemala, here I come!
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JoAnn Carter writes stories that will encourage your faith through her inspirational romances. She resides in Vermont with her wonderful husband and four children. JoAnn is available for speaking engagements to book clubs, reader groups, library groups, women's ministry events, school events and church retreats.
You can visit her HERE