Archives For Deborah Raney

Just Like Going Home

Renee Ann Smith —  September 7, 2014 — 22 Comments
I'm fourth down on the right: the small blonde child facing the camera

I’m fourth down on the right: the small blonde child facing the camera

 My childhood was marked by large family gatherings, like the Thanksgiving in this photo

I grew up in the same small town as the families of my dad’s three brothers & my mom’s two siblings. My cousins walked the halls of my school with me, and I seemed to stumble over at least one relative every place I went. At one point, of the twenty or so homes on our street & extension, about seven of them housed relatives—granted some were distant.

The presence of my extended family left me with a strong feeling of being loved and watched over, of being part of something good.

Some of my best memories involve family dinners—my four siblings, I, and my parents sitting around the table during those few short years when we were all home and healthy and happy How quickly the time has flown since those days under my parents’ roof.

I enjoyed my childhood, but I truly did not realize what a rare treasure it was until I began teaching. I teach high school English at a small-town Christian school, and I calculated that in our tiny community of 80 kids, 20% of them come from fractured homes &traumatic pasts. Unlike me, their childhoods include abuse, foster care, a parent in prison or on drugs, death of a parent, being raised by grandparents, no father, never met their father, or unhappily married parents who divorced. So they are highly entertained when I share stories from my growing up years!

I enjoy going home again in my mind. I think that’s why I’m drawn to books about large, chaotic, loving families facing life together even after they’re adults. I call it my Walton’s Syndrome.

The latest book to provide my Walton’s Syndrome fix is Deborah Raney’s charming story Home to Chicory Lane.

Chicory Lane is where Audrey & Grant Whitman raised their five kids. Now that those kids are grown, they’ve invested a large part of Grant’s retirement and much sweat equity into transforming their home into a bed & breakfast. The book begins as they’re ready to jump into the new world of innkeeping. However, little do they expect their first—nonpaying!—guest to be married daughter Landyn, who has run back home after a fight with her husband. Though shocked that the newlyweds have run into trouble after just six months, Landyn’s family rallies around her and her husband Chase in a beautiful way.

Because that’s life in the Whitman family—parents, adult kids, and grandkids, supporting each other through tough times with grace, humor & prayer. And then, as Grant says, “Learning to enjoy the lull between catastrophes.”

What I liked best . . .

  • The gentle flow of the story—perfect for a crisp fall day & a cup of tea!
  • The whole idea of running a bed & breakfast (My Lorelai Gilmore Syndrome!)
  • Getting to know the Whitmans & their adult kids (They’ll be featured in more books to come!)
  • Going along for the ride as Audrey & Grant learn to handle scheduling and preparing and unruly guests (even young beauty queens)
  • Seeing their daughter Landyn grow & change as she puts her life back together
  • Speculating on the future relationship between Link & Bree

My favorite quotes . . .

deborah raney quote“We’re just imperfect people trying to follow a perfect God. We try to be obedient to all we know of Him. And we have to trust that He’ll take care of the rest.”

Deborah Raney quote“The more we see Him work in our lives, the easier it will be to trust Him.”

What you should do next . . .

You can grab a copy of Home to Chicory Lane at this link. ***Thanks to Deborah Raney & Litfuse PR for providing a copy for me to review.

Deborah RaneyAbout the author: DEBORAH RANEY’s first novel, A VOW TO CHERISH, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title. Her books have since won the RITA Award, ACFW Carol Award, HOLT Medallion, National Readers’ Choice Award, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. HOME TO CHICORY LANE released in August from Abingdon Press Fiction. Deb and her husband, Ken Raney, enjoy life in Kansas. They have four children and five small grandchildren, who all live much too far away.

You can connect with Deborah . . .

At her website

On her Facebook page

On Twitter

So glad you stopped by to soak in some nostalgia today. Blessings, friends!

***I’ll Tweet your post! I enjoy tweeting the posts and/or graphics of my visitors. If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Let me know in the comments how to find you in the Tweet-world!

***Photo Backstory: I made the quote graphics with images from my account at RGB Stock Photos & tweaked them with PicMonkey. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. Continue Reading…

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas!

Enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from some of today’s most beloved writers as each contributor shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched lives during this most wonderful time of the year.

AND just for fun … there’s also a giveaway! Fill out this simple {form} and enter for a chance to win a beautiful pearl necklace and earring set ($450 value). Contest runs 12/14 – 12/25 and the winner will be announced on 1/1. (US and Canadian residents only.) You may enter once per day.

The Snowflake Party
by Deborah Raney

The first snow of winter hasn’t fallen yet, but in our kitchen tonight we’re doing a pretty good imitation. The whole family is circled around the huge old oak table. The snip, snip, snip of scissors is background music as tiny scraps of white paper float down, making our floor look like a giant brownie sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Tonight has turned out to be the night for our annual Snowflake Party, a tradition that began when our children were toddlers. There has never been a date blocked out in red on our calendar, but one day we wake up and the brisk autumn air has turned bitter cold. Naked tree branches trace their stark calligraphy on a dull grey sky, and we need a taste of the joyful promises of Christmas and snow. It’s the perfect time for a party.

On such a day, one of the kids will fly in the back door, fresh home from school, and declare “Hey, Mom! Tonight would be a good night for the Snowflake Party!” First we round up every pair of scissors in the house. This is one time when sharing is not a virtue. While the kids search for scissors, I cut white paper into squares and fold them caddy-corner multiple times. The resulting triangles are artfully arranged in a basket, awaiting the beginning of the party.

Later, while the supper dishes dry on the counter, I recruit a volunteer to help me stir up a big pot of hot cocoa. For the next hour it will warm on the back burner, tantalizing us with its aroma.

Now the fun begins with careful cutting and snipping, shaping plain white paper into intricate works of art. Each snowflake we create seems as unique and spectacular as the genuine variety created by God himself. As each masterpiece is unfolded, collective oohs and aahs go up.

When the last dregs of our creative juices are drained, Dad oversees the vacuum patrol while I pour cocoa into generous mugs. We spread our handiwork on the floor around us and sit, quietly admiring our work while we dunk marshmallows and sip rich chocolate.

With empty mugs piled up in the sink, it’s time for the judging to begin. There will be awards for prettiest, most unusual, and as many other categories as we need for everyone to be a winner. Dad is the judge because he studied art in college. He also usually wins one of the top prizes––-because he studied art in college.

Snowflakes deemed runners-up might be pasted in scrapbooks or hung on the refrigerator. A few even “melt” into the trash that very night. But the winners are taped proudly to the picture windows in the living room for passersby to enjoy, while they long for the day when genuine snowflakes will color the world clean and white. Continue Reading…

“‘I remember going to this church one summer.’ Her voice was almost a whisper. ‘It was a Vacation Bible School or something—and they invited all the kids in the neighborhood. Mom made Becky and me go, and they talked about that—about Christmas. I thought it was so weird . . . talking about Christmas in July. But there was something I always liked about that.’

Part of the set for my church's VBS--happening this week!

‘I’m going to go out on a limb,’ he risked, ‘and say maybe God planted a seed in your heart way back then.’

She looked skeptical. ‘A seed that’s supposed to grow into what?’

He grasped for an answer that wouldn’t scare her off. ‘Into knowing Him. I think God knew we’d have this conversation one day. And I think He wanted you to know that you can know Him . . . just like you know me.’

She gave a humorless laugh. ‘Wow. You and God are pretty tight, huh?’

‘Oh, yeah’—he held up a hand and crossed his fingers—‘we’re like this.’

She nodded, leaning forward, so much hope in her eyes. ‘But how do you know, Luc?’

‘You just know’—he placed a hand over his heart—‘in here.’
~~from Forever After by Deborah Raney

If an author wrote about folks helping out in Vacation Bible School or teaching a Sunday school class or sharing a passing word about the Lord with a friend or neighbor, it wouldn’t make for a very exciting plot. I probably wouldn’t buy that book. Yet those are the moments that lead to reclaimed lives and eternal happy endings.

So it is with Jenna, the focus of Deborah Raney’s novel Forever After. She thinks of her past as a time filled with hurts and disappointments. But that’s when important seeds were planted that blossom years later—in spite of her poor choices, lack of forgiveness, self-doubt, and personal fears.

As in “real life,” God puts people in Jenna’s way to show her glimpses of His heart. One of the key players is Luc, a wounded hero whose faith—though a bit battered and bruised—shines like a beacon in Jenna’s world.

Luc, Jenna, and the other characters who inhabit Hanover Falls experience realistic problems and heartaches as they struggle to figure out how God wants them to live out their lives each day. Along the way, they find love, joy, and eventually peace. I loved seeing small seeds of faith grow to fruition in this sweet story. I’m glad I paid a visit to Hanover Falls. This book will definitely join my list as one I’d enjoy seeing made into a Hallmark movie!

Deborah Raney

Would you like to visit Hanover Falls? Follow this link to purchase a copy of this book. ***Many thanks to Glass Road Public Relations for providing a copy of this book for me to review.

About the author: Deborah Raney has written more than twenty books. Her newest series is The Hanover Falls Novels, published by Howard/Simon & Schuster. Follow this link to visit Deborah’s website.