Serena B. Miller's Blog
March 10, 2014
I am a spoiled brat. It’s true.
This is how I know:
Our church is having home groups the next four Sunday nights this month and my husband–the preacher–has been having a little difficulty getting enough homes to host everyone. Therefore he and I are hosting a group– yet again–even though it is very inconvenient to do so right now.
I have extensive edits to finish on this latest manuscript and they are due April 1. I have a screen-writing class I’ll be flying out to L.A. to take in less than a month that I need to prepare for. I have a family birthday coming up next week, a little grandson needing help getting to and from physical therapy, a book discussion group to talk with, and a new book coming out April 4th to promote. There’s e-mails to answer, phone calls to make, and meals to prepare. And for health reasons, my sister and I are attempting to fence in some acreage because we are planning to purchase a couple nanny goats to milk in the near future.
It really isn’t fair to expect me to have to clean my house and prepare snacks for home groups. Right? I mean–how much can one woman accomplish. I work hard. I need a break. At least that’s the way my mind has been running the past couple of days.
And now I’m so ashamed. I’m so very, very ashamed.
Unless God intervenes, 33 Christians will be killed tomorrow in North Korea for the crime of possessing a Bible. For quietly meeting together to pray and talk about Jesus.
My guess is that these people would not consider it a sacrifice to host home groups right now. To be able to openly meet with other Christians.
I have no power to keep those murders from happening. But I know one thing for sure–suddenly, my whole attitude has changed. It feels like an honor and a privilege to clean and cook and welcome my friends into my home this next month. We will sing and pray and learn from our multiple copies of the Bible we’re allowed to possess. We will eat good food, and get caught up on one another’s lives. And we will do so with no fear at all that we will be taken away and killed for it.
I pray the Lord will either change the hearts of the North Korean leaders, or give these Christian martyrs courage. I also pray the Lord will forgive me for being so carelessly ungrateful with this gift of the freedom to worship.
February 10, 2014
Terry Cunningham, the director of Love Finds You In Sugarcreek, Ohio, just sent me a behind-the-scenes glimpse of working on the sound track for the movie. The shot in front of them is of Bertha (Kelly McGillis) telling Officer Rachel (Sarah Lancaster) that they will not compromise when it comes to doing God’s will.
At this point, we know for sure that UP TV will be airing it in June. Probably the 1st. I’ve seen a rough version of the movie, absolutely loved it, and can’t wait to see the final product.
Inside the sound booth – working on the audio for Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio. In this scene Bertha (Kelly McGillis) is telling Rachel (Sarah Lancaster) that they will not compromise when it comes to doing God’s will.
January 6, 2014
One more week and this latest book I’ve been writing will–Lord willing–be finished. I’ll send it off to my editor and then I will begin my clearing-out stage. I’ll wad up and throw away reams of scribbled notes, put my research books back on the shelf, and maybe even dust and vacuum. I love this part of the process.
This isn’t me, but sometimes it feels like it!
I’ll also spend time clearing out the clutter in the rest of the house. Drawers, closets, garage, overflowing trash cans, inedible objects in the refrigerator. It feels so good to organize and reclaim my house after allowing everything to fall apart as I try to hit my deadline.
It isn’t just my house I’ll put back together. I’ll also try to repair the friendships I’ve allowed to stagnate during this “birth” process of getting a book finished. I’ll get to start cooking again.
The oddest thing about having a career as a writer is that it has made housework very appealing when it didn’t used to be. But back to clutter……
For many years, I lived several hundred miles away from my family back before e-mail, and I would compose weekly letters to my mother detailing everything that had happened in my life that week. Since I was raising boys, I included cute little things they would say and do. Mom saved every letter religiously. When my family and I move back home, she gave me a big, plastic, garbage bag filled with twenty years of my life in letters.
I carried that bag home with me, put it in the garage, and made plans to go through each single letter to glean all the wonderful memories and tidbits that I’d want to put into a scrapbook. It was a big project, and one that I kept putting off. Then the big day arrived when I decided that today I’d really take a run at that small mountain of letters. I went out to the garage and…..there was no big plastic bag on the shelf where I’d put it. I looked behind boxes, and everywhere I could look. The bag of letters was nowhere to be found. I went inside and questioned my husband. He came out, took one look at the shelf where I was pointing, and said, “That bag was your letters to your Mom? I’m sorry. I thought it was trash and put it in the garbage several weeks ago. Those letters are gone.”
There was nothing that could be done. It was completely out of my control. Twenty years of my life had been set out with the garbage and I could never get it back, no matter how apologetic and contrite my husband was.
Then something odd happened. I realized that instead of being angry, all I felt was RELIEVED! I didn’t have to go through those letters after all. I didn’t have to work on scrapbooks. I could do anything I wanted. The day’s agenda had suddenly lightened up.
It’s been several years since my husband accidentally threw my letters out, and I’ve never regretted the fact that he did that. Instead, every time I think about it, the only thing I feel is relief.
Clutter is like that. If it isn’t something you love or need or find useful or beautiful–be kind to yourself and get rid of it. Life will fee so much lighter if you do.
December 10, 2013
I’m so excited! Just a few months ago An Uncommon Grace was on sale and now the sequel, Hidden Mercies, is on sale!
My publisher just informed me they are only charging $1.99 for the ebook from now until December 22th. (Instead of the $10-$15 they usually charge.)
I don’t know about you, but where I live it’s getting really cold! I’m just glad they’re giving readers a chance to cozy up with a cup of cocoa, a quilt, and a bargain copy of Hidden Mercies!
December 5, 2013
I’ve been bawling off and on all day after seeing a video my friend Kendra posted online of her husband giving their newly adopted daughter a bottle this morning. They had just arrived at the orphanage in China where Anna Mei has been waiting these many months for them to cut through all the red tape and get to her. The little girl is most definitely a fighter. We could see it in her eyes the first time we got pictures. With a cleft palate, eating was extremely difficult and she was underweight–she needed to be a fighter.
There have been so many seemingly insurmountable problems to overcome. Breathless, prayer-filled days when we didn’t know if the paperwork would come through on time. Terror over a surgery she had to endure–while Kendra and Matt ached to be with her.
Daddy and Anna Mei
And then early this morning, they got to hold her in their arms for the first time. The thing that set me into such a crying jag wasn’t just the pictures, but it was hearing Kendra from behind the camera saying “She’s okay! She’s okay! She’s okay!” The great relief in her voice broke my heart.
Big sis and Anna Mei
I’m looking forward, someday, to getting to watch that little girl run and play tag with the other children in our church–her little mouth repaired completely, good nutrition strengthening her tiny body, her mother admonishing her to slow down, to not run too fast in church.
Grandma and Anna Mei
Today is a great day for this sweet family. Because of their courage and faith, because of their love and dogged determination, there is one less orphan in the world today…and one very, very happy family.
In Kendra’s own words about having shared details of their journey with us: “Maybe you need reminded today, because we all do sometimes, especially a day like today…there is good all around, too. Good people. Good deeds. Good things happening. A God that, who at the very core of his character, is good. Hope when there wasn’t any before in sight. Miracles. Incredible acts of kindness and sacrifice. Flowers pushing their way up through concrete and refusing to not grow and bless the world with its beauty even if it had to break through rock to do it
One big very happy family!
November 21, 2013
June Bentley contacted me a few weeks ago inviting me to come for tea at her home in Garrison, Kentucky. June is the grandmother of one of my son’s former co-workers, and is an avid reader. She also has a lifetime of interesting memories and stories gleaned from helping her husband run the local grocery store for many years. Her roots in Garrison run deep. She’s an elegant woman who makes being 86 years old look good. We set a date for November 16.
Ruth Miller (My Mother-in-law) and June Bentley greeting everyone coming through the door!
A couple weeks later, June called back to change the address she had given me. Instead of her home, we were going to meet at the First Christian Church in Garrison. She laughed and said that she had too many friends to fit into her house and they all wanted to meet me.
Some of the beautiful centerpieces Lisa and Jennifer put together!
When I showed up at the First Christian Church, I was astonished at the time and effort that had gone into preparing for the tea. June’s daughter, Lisa, and her daughter-in-law, Jennifer, had turned the fellowship hall into an absolute work of art. Each seating table was set with beautiful tea sets, lovely centerpieces, and there was a serving table filled with so many different kinds of sandwiches, cookies, muffins, etc. that it was hard to decide which ones to choose. They also had just about every kind of tea imaginable available. They’d used blackberries from my latest book, Under A Blackberry Moon as their theme.
Just a part of the awesome spread they had prepared!
Approximately forty of us met in the auditorium, where a friend of June’s who has a gorgeous voice sang, and June read a poem about friendship. Then I stumbled through a talk about my journey as a writer. The women were kind enough to listen attentively in spite of my inability to refrain from dodging down frequent rabbit holes whenever I’m talking.
…and of course you can’t have a Tea, with out tea!
Afterward, I had the pleasure of visiting with so many wonderful women. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–those who read inspirational fiction are some of the nicest people in the world!
They also made a very nice setup for me to sign books!
November 11, 2013
One of the things that impressed me most when I joined Romance Writer’s Of America, was the support and encouragement women writers give other women writers. A seasoned author who has helped me enormously is Emilie Richards. One day, I had reached the point as a wanna-be writer where I decided to quit. Getting published, I decided, was just too hard. When Emilie heard this, she basically threw an e-mail fit and threatened to drive to my house from her home in Virginia and personally drag one of my unpublished manuscripts from beneath my bed and send it in to a publisher. I remember thinking two things: 1) Emilie did not make empty threats and 2) I did NOT want her crawling beneath my bed among all the dust bunnies. I promised her I’d stay in the game, and I signed a contract with a publisher soon afterward. Emilie is one of my favorite people in the world and one of my favorite authors. It’s an honor to have my latest book featured on her website today. Blackberry Moon featured on Emilie’s website
October 30, 2013
As many of you know, my niece was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer a few weeks ago. She discovered it early enough that the surgeon was able to remove it all. The biopsy of the lymph glands was clear. We celebrated.
She is now in the process of enduring several months of “preventative” chemotherapy. The prognosis is good.
Frankly, I don’t even like thinking about the word “cancer.” I don’t like using the word “chemotherapy.” I don’t like pondering anything that involves hospitals or illness or pain. I am infamous in my family for having passed out cold on the doctor’s office floor when he mentioned that my elderly mother might have to have open heart surgery.
And so, wimp that I am, I’ve been privately annoyed in the past by all the pink ribbons constantly in my face–annoyed because they made me think about a subject I wanted to ignore.
That has changed. My annoyance has now changed to gratitude. Within 24 hours of my niece’s diagnosis, the phone calls began. Phone calls from survivors. Women from her church, women who knew women from her church, women from our home town who know her mother. Encouraging phone calls. Strengthening phone calls.
What I’ve discovered is that there is a sisterhood of thousands (millions?) of women warriors who’ve fought the breast cancer battle and won.
The pink ribbon symbol doesn’t annoy me any more. Instead, it represents a celebration of life, of victory, of a society that is capable of linking arms and marching against a common enemy. Because of the money raised by the pink ribbon campaigns, my niece’s hospital is on the cutting edge of helping women beat the disease.
There is another sisterhood involved in the pink ribbon society–those who help their loved ones get through the chemo. At the present time, that’s where I am. I will be spending large chunks of time in another state, helping my niece take care of her family. I would give anything if my niece didn’t have to go through this, but since she does, it is an honor to be a small part of the sisterhood of the pink ribbon.
October 17, 2013
I LOVE IT! MY PUBLISHER IS GIVING READERS A BREAK!
Some of you might remember that my book, An Uncommon Grace, was one of three finalists (out of several hundred entries by published authors) in the Carol Awards last month.
The good news is–my publisher informs me they are only charging $1.99 for the ebook from now until October 25th. (Instead of the $10-$15 they usually charge.)
These chilly fall days could be a perfect time for cozying up with a cup of cocoa, a quilt, and a bargain copy of An Uncommon Grace.
October 14, 2013
So…little Miss Clara Grace Miller finally decided to make her appearance at 12:52 p.m. yesterday afternoon, more than a week past her expected due date. She weighed eight pounds five ounces, was twenty-one inches long, has curly black hair and is a healthy baby!
She’s also gorgeous. We are, of course, not a bit prejudiced–but it is our contention that she is quite possibly the prettiest baby girl in the universe!
Our daughter-in-law, Meaghan, had been hoping for a completely natural childbirth, and managed to have one in spite of being overdue more than a week. Eleven hours labor. She is tired but so happy. This is her and Caleb’s first baby. He is nearly as relieved as Meaghan–not only about the safe arrival of his newborn daughter, but of the fact that he did NOT pass out (as he greatly feared) and the staff did NOT have to drag him out of the birthing room feet first.
Thanks to having a Canadian mother and American father, Clara Grace will have dual citizenship, which is very cool, as is having plenty of grandparents and uncles and cousins and aunts who totally adore her. It has been ten years since we had a newborn in the family, so I doubt she’ll be laid down for awhile. We’re just kinda spending all our time passing her around right now, taking turns rocking and admiring her.
Here’s what has been running through my mind every time I look at that sweet little face: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8 NIV)
Serena becoming a grandma again! And thoroughly enjoying it!
Caleb is completely mesmerized by the new addition to their family!