Small Acts of Kindness—Extravagant Gifts

By Betty Thomason Owens

betty-hospital

In the hospital, after the crisis

Since I began my walk with the Lord, I’ve believed in the power of prayer. That’s because I’d seen the results time and time again. I know one way or another, God does answer.

But that isn’t all there is to prayer.

I found that out in a dramatic way this summer when my husband went through renal failure—a catastrophic illness. We rushed him to the hospital. According to the doctor, he was hours from death. The medical team went to work to save his life. I made calls and sent out texts, requesting prayer from everyone I knew.

Almost immediately, I had a sense of peace.

We were not afraid, once we made it through the initial shock of the diagnosis. We felt this amazing peace as if we were being carried. Borne by unseen arms.

We sat through four hours of dialysis, wondering what the outcome would be, wondering whether this was only the beginning of an ongoing situation. Would there be permanent damage? Peace reigned in our hearts. We were not afraid. The dialysis was successful—he wouldn’t need another. They located the root cause: large stones blocking both kidneys. As soon as he was stable, and the infection cleared, the doctors would deal with the stones.

I find it difficult to express the gratitude I feel for all those who took a moment out of their day to whisper a prayer. Some didn’t whisper—I know them—they shouted. That’s great. I love that. The prayers are heard, though you shout or whisper or only think. The important part is that you prayed.

Prayer for another’s need is an extreme act of kindness. It may seem a small thing to you. But it’s the shot heard around the world. It’s the mouse that roared.

So when you see that request on Facebook, how should you respond? Pass on by?  Comment with a sad face emoticon? Type the word, “Praying!” That’s often what I do, and I mean it, I really am praying. It may not be a complicated prayer, but it’s a heartfelt one. It only takes seconds, unless I feel I need to spend more time.

No matter how these calls come in, whether phonetexted or spoken—whether they’re coming from a family member, friend, acquaintance, or complete stranger—answer them. These small, very personal acts of kindness are laying a foundation, sowing seeds of faith, building relationships, and setting up a structure that you can draw on when you’re the one in need. Have you ever thought about that? I hadn’t, until I found myself in this situation.

During the times when we were too shocked to utter our own, I felt the strength of those prayers behind us, before us, and bearing us up. We weren’t alone. We had an army standing with us. We didn’t need to see them, we knew they were there. We felt their presence through prayer.

Small acts of kindness? No, extravagant gifts.



Betty Thomason OwensBetty Thomason Owens
writes romantic comedy, historical fiction, and fantasy-adventure. She has contributed hundreds of articles and interviews to various blogs around the internet and is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group. She’s also a mentor, assisting other writers and a co-founder of a blog dedicated to inspiring writers.

On a personal note, Betty Thomason Owens was born in the Pacific Northwest,  grew up in Southern California and West Tennessee. The daughter of a self-proclaimed nomad, she attended eleven different schools by high school graduation in Kentucky. She and her husband, an EIT (electronics instrumentation technician), have three sons, a couple of beautiful daughters-in-law, five granddaughters and two grandsons (at last count).

An office manager/bookkeeper for 15 years, she is semi-retired and pursuing her other loves––gardening, cooking, spending time with the grands, and of course, writing.

You can find Betty’s books available here: amazon.com/author/btowens

You can connect with her on her webpage, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Small Acts of Kindness/ACFW Conference 2016

patricia fay reeceBy Jennifer Hallmark

I love stories about small, often random acts of kindness. Even in the world we live in, people amaze me with their generosity, thoughtfulness, and compassion. Today I want to share about a person who touched my life in a very special way.

In 2014, I remember reading a post about a premiere Christian fiction writing conference, one sponsored by the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). The article mentioned that in August of 2016, the conference would be coming to Nashville, a two-hour drive from my house. I prayed.

“God, I’d really like to go to that one. Do you think you can make it happen?”

One quick prayer and I went back to normal life and didn’t think of it again until around Christmas of 2015. At this time, my husband and I decided to attend my nieces wedding out of state in June of 2016. Our son was getting married in May and I knew that our budget wouldn’t afford all these events. I let it go and decided maybe I could attend a smaller conference in 2017.

But God…

Fast forward to August 17th, 2016, one week before the ACFW conference. I was sitting in the recliner, wrapped in a blanket. I’d just called the doctor to make an appointment because of a sinus/cold/yucky thing I’d been dealing with for several days. I looked down and noticed I had a Facebook message from one of my good writer friends, Betty Thomason Owens. She said she’d just received word of a friend, Patricia Fay Reece, who couldn’t go to the conference because of an injury. Patricia was trying to find someone to take her place.

I messaged Betty, telling her I couldn’t phoneafford to go at this time and I was hoping to win a scholarship to another conference in 2017. At this point, I went ahead and called her so I could quit messaging. I asked again about the offer.

“You don’t understand,” Betty said. “Pat wants to give this to someone.”

I’m sure I sat there in silence for several minutes, so many thoughts going through my mind. I remembered the prayer. Tears welled in my eyes and I swallowed hard.

“Really? Like free?”

“Yes.”

Within 24 hours, I was registered at the conference and the hotel, and even had a ride to the event with my friend, Ginger Solomon, who lives in a town near me. I had a long talk with Patricia who lives on the West coast. She kept telling me to give God the praise. She was following what she felt like He wanted her to do.

So I am. I’m praising Him while deciding what to wear, what writing materials I need to take, and trying to find out which of my writer friends will be in attendance so we can meet and chat. I give Him all the glory for the week ahead. I hope I can positively impact someone else’s life while I’m there. And Patricia, I know you said not to, but I’m sending a big hug your way and another thank you.

For providing a special act of kindness…

famous-inspirational-quote-no-act-of-kindness-no-matter-how-small-is-ever-wasted-21394562


patricia fay reecePatricia Fay Reece lives in Washington state, along the Columbia River. A native of Tennessee, she enjoys researching the past history of her ancestors and the times in which they lived. The historical novels she writes have been inspired by that history.

Sometimes Angels Wear Aprons

By Betty Thomason Owens ACFWPhoto

I was a young mother with three sons, ages five, three, and eleven months. We lived in a small community near Ft. Knox, Kentucky. This was our experiment in country living. The lots were large, around two acres, so the houses were not close. My nearest neighbors worked all day, so were never home during the week.

One spring afternoon, I left my two oldest boys playing on the swings, while I went to the house to get something. I took the baby with me. At eleven months, he wasn’t quite walking, but he could get around very well, and tended to get into trouble quicker than you could blink an eye. Inside the house, I clicked the lock on the storm door, set the baby down near his toys, then trotted to the bathroom to get what I needed. I was only there a couple of minutes when I heard the baby crying. I headed back to the kitchen (mere steps away) and realized the crying was outside.

How had he been able to unlock that door? It wasn’t easy–I could barely unlock it. I knew before I looked, he’d fallen off the porch. Our back porch was high, nearly three-and-a-half feet. And the rails weren’t close enough to deter a wiggly eleven-month-old. He’d tumbled through and landed face first.

I found him standing up, screaming, with bright, red blood streaming from his nose. I grabbed him and held him against me as panic set in. I was alone, out in the sticks–no car–and an injured toddler. No nearby emergency rooms, and we didn’t even have a doctor out there, since we’d so recently moved.

These were pre-everybody-has-a-cellphone days. So I picked up the land-line and dialed the pastor of the tiny Baptist Church nearby. We hadn’t been attending long, but they had welcomed us. I spoke through my tears as I explained what had happened. A few minutes later, he knocked on the door. “I’ve called Ella,” he said. Ella was one of the deacon’s wives and my other boys’ Sunday School teacher. She’d dropped everything and headed over to take me to her doctor, just a few minutes down the road.

The pastor put the other two boys in his car, headed back to his house until we returned.

When the middle-aged woman pulled in the drive, I ran out the door, purse in hand, holding baby in my arms. He was still crying, but softer.toy

Ella took one look at me, covered in blood, and floored it. We got to the doctor’s office in a matter of minutes. Since it was an emergency, they took us right in. The doctor cleaned my son’s injuries and examined the inside of his nose. Because of the large amount of blood, the doctor believed there was probably some internal injury. “Emergency Room,” is all I heard.

We arrived home just as my husband was returning from work.

Ella helped us get everything we needed for the trip into town to the emergency room. “I’ll pick up the other boys,” she told us, “and take them home with me for the night. We’ll have a great time.” They loved her, so I knew I needn’t worry.

This woman had stopped in the middle of whatever she was doing to see that our needs were met. She fed and cared for our sons while we were at the emergency room. Our little boy had surgery to repair a couple of tears inside his nasal cavity. If we hadn’t taken him in, he could have hemorrhaged in his sleep. After several hours, we were able to take him home.

It was a great relief that we didn’t have to worry about anything when we arrived home. Our baby slept for hours and the other two were safe at Ella’s. She arrived late the next morning with our sons and a basket of food so I wouldn’t have to worry about cooking that day.

I nearly broke down and cried when I thought about what she had done for us. What a beautiful servant of God.

Betty Thomason Owens writes romantic comedy, historical fiction, and fantasy-adventure. She has contributed hundreds of articles and interviews to various blogs around the Internet and is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group. She’s also a mentor, assisting other writers. She is a co-founder of a blog dedicated to inspiring writers, and a contributing editor for the online magazine, Imaginate.

Annabelle’s Ruth, a 1950’s historical novel based on the Book of Ruth, is the first book in the Kinsman Redeemer Series (Write Integrity Press). Her 20’s era romance, Amelia’s Legacy, Book 1, Legacy Series, released October, 2014 (Write Integrity Press). She also writes contemporary stories as a co-author of A Dozen Apologies and its sequels, The Love Boat Bachelor and Unlikely Merger. She has two fantasy-adventure novels, The Lady of the Haven and A Gathering of Eagles, in a second edition published by Sign of the Whale BooksTM, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell PressTM.

Betty still lives in Kentucky, though in a more urban setting, with her husband Bob, close to her grown-up sons, their wives, and seven precious grandchildren.

annabelles ruthAnnabelle’s Ruth (buy at Amazon)

“If you think you can come back here and throw yourself on my mercy, you are quite wrong.” –Jensen Wade, Annabelle’s Ruth.

After their husbands perish in a fishing boat accident, Connie Cross determines to follow her mother-in-law, Annabelle, from Southern California to Tennessee. Her misgivings begin as they cross the bridge over the muddy Mississippi River. In their new town, where living conditions are far below their previous expectations, they must set up a household and hunt for work to survive. Thanks to the kindness of Annabelle’s handsome, young cousin, life begins to settle down. But Connie has a secret that could change everything once again.

Inspired by the Book of Ruth, Annabelle’s Ruth is a 1950’s era “Ruth” story, set in western Tennessee. How will Connie adapt to her new life amid the cotton farms, racial tension, and culture shock?

Annabelle’s Ruth by Betty Thomason Owens

betty owensToday I’d like to say welcome to my friend, fellow author, and blogger, Betty Thomason Owens.

Pull up a chair and sit a spell. Now for the first question:

What inspired you to write Annabelle’s Ruth? Where did this idea come from?

Betty: I’ve always loved the Book of Ruth. I’ve read it many times, seen several of the movies. A couple of years ago, I’d just read through the book again and I wondered, what if I wrote a story similar to Ruth’s, but set in more modern times? Say, the 1950’s, and what if…

That’s really how it began. Then I had the idea to blend in elements of my mother’s early life, a story I’d heard throughout my childhood, but more often now, as she ages. Mom was 17 when she met my dad, a sailor temporarily stationed in the Puget Sound. He was 19—they were both just kids! They eloped, and Mom ended up with his family in West Tennessee, far away from her home in Seattle. Far away in many ways. A step back in time, a different culture. You can read more of the story here in a blogpost I wrote.

That was the beginning. The characters I developed were loosely based on people I’d met near the location of the book, both friends and family. And it’s mostly written in southern—one of my favorite languages.

My favorite language also.  Please tell us…

What was the inspiration for Connie’s character?

Betty: Well, first of all, Ruth. She’s actually a combination of the Ruth character in the Bible, and a couple of real people in my life. I named my character Connie, short for “Constance,” because of her determination to stick with Annabelle. My first inspiration came from my mother, who made a similar long bus trek in the early fifties to marry my dad. Like Connie, she suffered culture shock, since life was quite different among my dad’s family.

The other inspiration came from a cousin, who happened to inherit a dark complexion from her father’s side of the family. She had thick, curly, black hair and dark brown eyes. She tanned especially well after a hot West Tennessee summer. So the kids at school teased her and called her an unkind name. She went home in tears. I’d heard that story many times. Why did I choose to bring this element into the story? Because prejudice is a fact of life for so many.

 It is and we’ve seen too much of that in the news lately. 

That brings up a question. Why the element of prejudice? Isn’t it cliché, when writing about the American South?

Betty: It can be cliché. But it’s not just stereotypical of the South. Unfortunately, it’s typical of the world. I chose to include prejudice and exclusion, so I could show love and inclusion.

Great answer. The next question comes from my Bassett Hound, Max. 🙂

I love the character of the dog in the book. Is he based on a pet you owned at one time?

Betty: Hi Max! I love dogs, especially a loyal pet like Samson. He dropped on the scene as I began writing Alton’s character. I guess Alton needed a good dog. I’ve always loved hounds. They are so reminiscent of my visits to my grandmother’s house. Lying in bed at night, I’d hear the coon hounds baying. I’m fond of beagles, but the “Blue Tick” coon hound’s coloring always drew my eye.

So what’s next for you, what are you working on now?

Betty: Right now, I’m marketing this one and also another collaborative novel, Unlikely Merger, for Write Integrity Press. I’m finishing up the second book in the Legacy Series for Write Integrity Press, Carlotta’s Legacy. Then I plan to write the second book in the Kinsman Redeemer series. I can’t wait to see what comes next for Annabelle, her neighbors, and family. I intend to visit the real-life Trenton this summer and do some additional research. You can check my Pinterest page for Annabelle’s Ruth to see pictures from the actual town. I’ll be updating that after my visit.

I can’t wait for the next book. Thanks so much for dropping by!

Anabelle’s Ruthannabelles ruth

“If you think you can come back here and throw yourself on my mercy, you are quite wrong.

After their husbands perish in a fishing boat accident, Connie Cross determines to follow her mother-in-law, Annabelle, from Southern California to Tennessee. Her misgivings begin as they cross the bridge over the muddy Mississippi River. In their new town, where living conditions are far below their previous expectations, they must set up a household and hunt for work to survive. Thanks to the kindness of Annabelle’s handsome, young cousin, life begins to settle down. But Connie has a secret that could uproot them once again.
 
Inspired by the Book of Ruth, Annabelle’s Ruth is a 1950’s era “Ruth” story, set in western Tennessee.  How will Connie adapt to her new life amid the cotton farms, racial tension, and culture shock? 

Betty Thomason Owens writes romantic comedy, historical fiction, and fantasy-adventure. She has contributed hundreds of articles and interviews to various blogs around the Internet and is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group. She’s also a mentor, assisting other writers. She is a co-founder of a blog dedicated to inspiring writers, and a contributing editor for the online magazine, Imaginate.

Annabelle’s Ruth is the first novel in the Kinsman Redeemer Series for Write Integrity Press. Her 20’s era romance, Amelia’s Legacy, Book 1, Legacy Series, released October, 2014 (also Write Integrity Press). She writes contemporary stories as a co-author of A Dozen Apologies and its sequels, The Love Boat Bachelor and Unlikely Merger, (2015). She has two fantasy-adventure novels,The Lady of the Haven and A Gathering of Eagles, in a second edition published by Sign of the Whale BooksTM, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell PressTM.
http://bettythomasonowens.com

https://twitter.com/batowens

https://facebook.com/betty.owens.author

https://pinterest.com/btowens

https://writingpromptsthoughtsideas.wordpress.com

 

Working With Family

betty owensBy Betty Thomason Owens

While working at an engineering  firm, I met two brothers who co-owned a construction company and later moved into design/build. They ran a successful business, and got along very well. Being the mother of sons, I could appreciate their close relationship. I once asked them if they always got along so well. They glanced at each other and chuckled.

“Seriously, we believe in presenting a strong front,” the elder brother told me. “If we have a disagreement, we handle it away from the office or jobsite.”

This is wisdom. Dealing with family on a daily basis and blending personal life with professional can be dicey at times, but it can be done.

I’ve worked in two family-owned businesses. Both had problems. One only occasionally–the other, more often.

The first family-owned business I worked for was owned by a husband and wife. He was “president” — she was “secretary/treasurer.” Though obvious to me their marriage was stable, there were occasional problems, which made it uncomfortable for the other office person (me). Since they were a small business, they treated me like family. Upside: really nice Christmas gifts and cool souvenirs from their vacations. Downside: getting caught in the middle of their periodic arguments.

One of the most memorable episodes happened when he commented on her makeup. A big no-no, especially in front of the office help (again, me). She stomped out, he shrugged and slinked away to his office. Embarrassed, I kept my eyes on my computer screen.

Later, I went to work for another family-owned business. The family was larger and blended, several times. The stepbrothers were not fond of each other and everyone knew it. Most of the time, they tolerated one another. But when the owner of the business (their father) died, emotions were high and one day, resulted in a fist-fight.

I packed up my stuff and was on my way out the door when the older brother came in and apologized for their behavior. The situation did finally get a little better when the younger brother stayed home. Actually, he was fired, which is not an easy thing to do when it’s family. The business eventually shut its doors. I was very close to the owner’s wife and stuck by her as long as she needed me, but I was not really sad to see it go. Neither was she.

I recently participated in a collaborative novella in which the heroine works for her father. She’s in the position temporarily to assist him as he recovers from a stroke. In the story, she hits a couple of snags working for family. Tough decisions. Can she gracefully refuse the position he places her in, which takes her out of her comfort zone into the unknown?

cover of unlikely merger

Unlikely Merger

No longer needed as her father’s nurse, Mercy Lacewell attempts to step into his shoes at his acquisitions firm. That means travel, engaging strangers, and making final decisions—nothing she feels equipped to do. If her best friend has her way, Mercy will simply marry one of the single, available men she meets, but they overwhelm her. So handsome and kind. And so many. Even if she felt obliged, how could she ever choose?

Should she shove all attraction aside and focus on her father’s business, or is God warming her heart with the possibility of forever?

 

Betty Thomason Owens writes romantic comedy, historical fiction, and fantasy-adventure. She has contributed hundreds of articles and interviews to various blogs around the Internet and is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group. She’s also a mentor, assisting other writers. She is a co-founder of a blog dedicated to inspiring writers, and a contributing editor for the soon-to-be launched online magazine, Imaginate.

Her 20’s era romance, Amelia’s Legacy, Book 1, Legacy Series, released October, 2014 (Write Integrity Press). She also writes contemporary stories as a co-author of A Dozen Apologies and its sequels, The Love Boat Bachelor, and Unlikely Merger, (2015). She has two fantasy-adventure novels, The Lady of the Haven and A Gathering of Eagles, in a second edition published by Sign of the Whale BooksTM, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell PressTM.

Coming soon, a 1950’s historical novel inspired by the Book of Ruth, Annabelle’s Ruth, book 1 of the Kinsman Redeemer Series (Write Integrity Press).

You can connect with Betty on her personal webpage, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and at Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My!