I have heard some say that Jesus doesn’t perform miracles in these modern times. That miracles are only in the Bible. I have a very different view on this. I happen to know with all my heart that our Lord performs miracles every single day. Sometimes you have the privilege of seeing them happen before your eyes. And sometimes you have no idea.
In September 2010 my husband took me to Amish Country in Ohio. He was fulfilling a promise he had made to me that year on June second, our 9 year anniversary. The trip was my gift. We went to Charm, Ohio to meet and have dinner with Wanda Brunstetter at an Amish Farmhouse! At that time her newest book was Lydia’s Charm, set in Charm, Ohio. That trip was my dream come true! I had never met Wanda, I had never been to an Amish farmhouse, I had actually never visited Amish Country! To say I was excited is an understatement.
When we arrived at the dinner there wasn’t room to park cars at the Amish Family’s house, so we parked across the road and waited for a shuttle bus to take us to the Farm. So we parked in the designated lot and stepped out of the car to wait. I saw another lady waiting. I could contain my eagerness no longer! I walked closer to the lady and asked her, “Have you ever met Wanda Brunstetter?” She said she had not met her. Then I said the sentence we will never forget. “I’ve never met her either and I’m so excited I’m about to pee on myself!” Now those are the words that could begin something beautiful……right? The lady gave me a funny look and stood stoically, waiting for the shuttle to come.
The shuttle came, we go into the building where the dinner is being held. I get in line to get my book signed, and who is in line next to me? The lady from the parking lot. We chatted just a bit and I tried to keep my excitement to myself.
I got my book signed and found my husband who had already found a seat across from another man. It was crowded, so the seating choices were slim to none. I sat beside him and noticed there was a space beside the man across from us. I figured he was saving that space for his wife and I hoped she would be nice. I wanted this night to be perfect. I saw “the lady” come towards us and sure enough she sat in the space beside the man. She was his wife! She was so nice, her husband was as well. We talked all through dinner. We exchanged names and invited each other to be friends on Facebook. She even told me she would send some books to me that she no longer wanted. I didn’t think that would happen, but I gave her my address anyway.
When the dinner was over us and the couple across the table were the last ones to leave. Our chatter never ceased. The couple was Bill and JoEllen from Cleveland, Ohio, who almost didn’t come to the dinner. JoEllen wasn’t feeling well before they left.
We were home about a week when I received a package with 20 books in it from none other than JoEllen! We had already become Facebook friends. We also exchanged phone numbers. The next year in August she wanted to spend her birthday here with us in Kentucky. Since then we have each spent many nights at the other’s house, we talk on the phone all the time, and we even went back to the Wanda Brunstetter dinner together in 2011. JoEllen is one of my very best friends, and it isn’t an accident that we met. It is a miracle from God! A lot of things, seen and unseen, had to happen for us to meet, and it was all orchestrated by God, our Father. So you see, this is a miracle. We do not live in the same area, we’re not the same age, and I said pee in the first sentence I ever spoke to JoEllen! We still laugh about that. So, although the odds were against us, God was for us, and that is what matters.
So this week I am interviewing JoEllen to see a reader’s point of view. Let’s get into it!
TRD: If you could read only one fiction book for the rest of your life what would it be?
JoEllen: As crazy as it sounds, Dr Suess The Cat in the Hat. As we age and life becomes more complicated I want to go back to simpler times where we do not have to over think every thing but just enjoy. I still have my original Dr Suess library on my shelves today. Just looking at them makes me happy.
TRD: What genre (within Christian Fiction is your favorite to read?
JoEllen: The genre that is my favorite is Amish fiction. As a child my Grandfather (Pappy) would go with our family to Heini’s Cheese Factory in Berlin, OH which is still there today. I was so fascinated with the Amish culture that I would tell people when they would ask what I wanted to be when I grew up….Amish 😁.
TRD: Who are your top five favorite authors?
Joellen: My five favorite authors is a very difficult choice.
1) Dr. Seuss – He taught me to read as well as promoted my love of reading.
2) Beverly Lewis- The Queen of Amish fiction. She allowed me a glimpse into a life that was very secretive to me.
3) Suzanne Woods Fisher – For the development of Amish families we got to know who became our families. She also shared her heart through her and her father’s journey through Alzheimer’s.
4) Wanda Brunstetter – For her book signings and dinners in Amish homes which allowed me to meet my Kentucky sister.
5) Amy Clipston – For the so well developed characters throughout her series who always wanted us leaving more. She also endeared herself through sharing her husband’s journey which in turn made her an organ donor.
TRD: What is the best thing an author can do to make you want to read their book?
JoEllen: The best thing an author can do to interest me in their book is to post a pic of the cover and to let me know if the book is an upbeat easy read or a troubled life (abuse, sickness, losing Faith, etc.) More in depth read. At different seasons in my life I’m more drawn to a book that is the opposite of where I am in life.
TRD: What is your favorite Facebook page or website that is dedicated to Christian Fiction in some way?
JoEllen: My favorite FB page or website that is dedicated to Christian Fiction in some way is Keeping Up With The Amish. All the participants enjoy sharing not only books but events, prayer requests and much more.