Greetings From Germany!

Greetings from beautiful Germany! I’m writing this month’s blog while Ken and I are on a book tour with my German publisher, Francke. The German translation of my newest book, Long Way Home has just been released over here. I hope you’re enjoying some of the pictures I’ve been posting on Facebook and Instagram.

I’m traveling by car all across the country with the publishing team, sometimes giving two speeches a day to groups as large as 200 people in bookstores and churches. Ken plays his trumpet and I share God’s Word through a translator, telling how to find hope in God during difficult times. Our goal isn’t only to publicize the book but to spread the good news of God’s love.

I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to do this with Ken, and I sometimes have to pinch myself to see if I’m dreaming. When we married 53 years ago, neither of us could have ever imagined being used by God in such an amazing way.

I wish I could describe how thrilling it is to be among hundreds of Christians, singing God’s praises in German to familiar tunes such as “Bless the Lord, O My Soul,” and “In Christ Alone I place My Trust.” It’s a little taste of heaven when we’ll be part of a great multitude from every tribe and nation, praising God together.

I’m struck by how at home I feel here.  Even with the language barrier between us, we feel like brothers and sisters. That’s because we are all children of God and citizens of His kingdom. In my devotions this morning, I read the passage in 2 Samuel 7 where God promises King David that “your house and your kingdom will endure forever before Me; your throne will be established forever” (v.16). That promise is fulfilled in King David’s descendant, Jesus Christ. Our true citizenship isn’t in the U.S. or Germany but in the kingdom Jesus came to establish.

It seems like so many things divide us these days. But when we’re part of Christ’s kingdom, national barriers disappear, and racial and ethnic barriers become meaningless. We’re children of God and citizens of Christ’s kingdom. We’re His ambassadors and representatives in a broken world. Whether at home or abroad, speaking to hundreds of people or just one, I pray that I can reflect His character and His love wherever I go. 

Thank you for your prayers!


Saving Ellis Island

Several years ago, when I was writing and researching my novel, “Until We Reach Home,” my sister Peggy and I took a day trip from her home outside New York City to visit Ellis Island. As I’m sure you know, Ellis Island was the iconic landing place near the Statue of Liberty for millions of immigrants who came to U.S. shores seeking a new life. My novel tells the story of three sisters, Elin, Kirsten, and Sofia Carlson, who leave Sweden to come to America, so I wanted to walk around the grounds of Ellis Island and get a feel for what they may have experienced.

As Peggy and I toured the Great Hall and other buildings, putting ourselves in our great-grandparents’ shoes, I became intrigued with this cluster of islands that greeted our immigrant ancestors. Their ordeal, in a babble of languages, was likely very frightening and frustrating at times, but most newcomers passed inspection and were released from the island within 3-5 hours. One of the reasons why 2% of immigrants were detained was if they showed symptoms of a contagious illness. Authors love to put obstacles in their characters’ paths to create tension and spin an exciting story, so of course the Carlson sisters ended up staying in the hospital and detention center on Ellis Island.

You’ll have to read the novel to see how they fared, but in the meantime, you’ll have a chance to hear me speak about my research, do a reading from my novel, and answer your questions in a free virtual event that I’m excited to participate in on October 20. The event helps support the non-profit organization, Save Ellis Island, which is raising funds to restore the Historic Ellis Island Hospital Complex – twenty-nine buildings on the south side of Ellis Island. Registration is free, but you’ll receive an autographed copy of “Until We Reach Home” when you make a $25 donation. You can go to their website: to register and see the amazing work they are undertaking to save this valuable piece of history. I hope you’ll be able to join me.

Besides gleaning new ideas for my novel, one of the other happy results of our visit to Ellis Island was the information we were able to discover about our great-grandparents who came here from Germany in the 1890s. We knew a little bit about their journey from the stories that our grandmother told us over the years, but seeing their names in the registration book was an amazing moment. Also listed, was the name of the town and region in Germany where they came from, something that had been lost to us over the years. Using that information, I was able to visit their village of Bornstedt on a trip to Germany a few years later.

The little town in the countryside is very small, but I was thrilled to wander through the remains of a castle on the hill above it, dating from the time of Charlemagne. How fun to imagine my adventurous great-grandfather playing in those castle ruins as a boy. And maybe dreaming about America?

It’s hard to visit Ellis Island or Germany in these days of Covid restrictions, and I have missed meeting with readers through various live events in churches and libraries and bookstores. I hope this virtual event for a very worthy cause will give us a chance to meet together and talk for a little while. Please join me on October 20 at 7 pm EST. For more information and to register for the event, click here.

Book Club Picks

I love book clubs!

I joined my first one nearly twenty years ago, and it was such fun to read new books that other members had chosen, especially when their reading tastes differed from mine. I loved hearing the variety of opinions on our monthly selections and discovering themes or insights that I had completely missed. Several books were ones I never would have chosen on my own, but I was glad I read most of them. I can also remember a few books that our club unanimously disliked. I once struggled through 3 or 4 chapters of a William Faulkner novel and just couldn’t finish it in time for our meeting. I went to book club anyway—only to learn that I had made it through more pages than anyone else! 

When my own books began to be published and were being chosen by other book clubs, it dramatically changed the book club experience for me. I was a little nervous, at first, but soon learned that book lovers are very kind and encouraging people. The leader of one club asked if I’d like to come anonymously and listen to the discussion before she announced who I was. I said yes, but told her if they hated the book, just say I’m your cousin from Australia. It turned out they loved the book and I didn’t have to converse in my fake Australian accent.

Reader Insight

I really enjoy talking about my plots and hearing how my characters have “come alive” for readers. It’s very helpful to know what readers like or dislike about my books so I can write with future readers in mind. And I love to answer questions about the book or about my writing process. Most of all, book clubs are a wonderful way to socialize with other book lovers.

Whenever I’m able, I like to visit in person, especially if there’s food! Some clubs are very creative with decorations and treats that relate to the story in some way. But when distance (or Covid-19) makes it impossible for me to meet with a book club in person, I sometimes visit via Skype or FaceTime or Zoom to answer readers’ questions. Afterwards, I like to question them and ask which other books have been club favorites. It’s a great way to add to my personal reading list. 

If you belong to a book club and are compiling this year’s list of titles, I’m very excited to announce that my novel, “If I Were You” has been chosen by Books-A-Million to be a Book Club Pick for the month of August. My book will be sold in Books-A-Million stores and their online website. 

Here’s the link for the Books-A-Million Book Club group you can join on Facebook. I’ll be checking in this month to answer your questions and read your comments.

Book Club Kit Available!

And if your book club decides to read “If I Were You,” my publisher, Tyndale House, has put together a fun Book Club Kit with some special recipes and quizzes for your members to enjoy.

Do you belong to a book club? What are some creative things your group has done? Are you still “meeting” in new ways because of the virus restrictions? I’d love to hear your ideas and comments.

Many Plans

This past week, my publishing company invited me to attend the Public Library Association conference in Nashville. Librarians are among my very favorite people because they share my passion for books and reading. And the librarians I met were a warm, dedicated bunch who knew their patrons and were focused on finding the very best resources for them. I had a wonderful time. I also made a fabulous new friend, Robin W. Pearson, who was signing copies of her debut novel “A Long Time Comin’” right beside me as I signed Advance Reader Copies of my newest novel, “If I Were You.” (Releasing June 2.)

But in the days leading up to the conference, the weather reports predicted a snowstorm that threatened to derail my plans. Would the roads to the airport be clear? Would the planes be able to take off? Would the storm cause a cascade of delays and cancellations that would strand me in Chicago and make me miss the conference? I anxiously checked the weather reports several times a day before realizing that my endless worrying accomplished nothing—except to unsettle me. I vaguely recalled a scripture verse about making plans, and finally decided to look it up. It’s Proverbs 19:21:

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

Why is that such a difficult concept for me to grasp? As much as I hate having my plans scrapped, why can’t I remember that the delays and interruptions that change my plans might be exactly what God purposed all along? If I’m stuck in an airport waiting lounge, maybe there’s a lesson He is trying to teach me, or another weary traveler He wants me to reach out to. If I’ve given my life to Him, I shouldn’t be surprised when He calls me away from my plans on a mission that He has chosen.

Paul and Silas’s preaching tour of Philippi was going great until they were arrested, beaten, and thrown into jail. Late that night, God added in an earthquake for good measure. Talk about a change of plans! But these “disruptions” were all under God’s sovereign control and ultimately led to the conversion of the jailer and his entire family. The Lord’s purpose prevailed.

In the end, the snowstorm I had dreaded bypassed our area. I didn’t encounter any delays or flight cancellations. I had spent three days worrying for nothing. It reminded me of one of my characters in my novel “If I Were You.” She takes matters into her own hands after her life veers off in a direction she didn’t plan, instead of trusting God. Her schemes and lies cause a chain of consequences that make matters even worse for her. As I was writing her story I had to sigh and shake my head and say, “If only she had put her trust in God.”

Yes, Lynn, if only you would remember to trust God’s plans.

What a Privilege!



The lyrics of an old, treasured hymn remind me “what a privilege it is to carry everything to God in prayer.” And it’s an even greater privilege for me to join in prayer every month with a trusted group of friends and fellow authors. The six of us have been praying together through the magic of Skype for some time, now. We live thousands of miles apart—Elizabeth Musser is in France, Susan Meissner in California, and the rest of us (Robin Johns Grant, Deborah Raney, Sharon Garlough Brown, and I) are scattered around in the middle in two different time zones. Yet we “meet” regularly to pray for each other and for our calling as writers.

Being an author can be a lonely and isolated profession at times, but we don’t need to feel alone. My prayer partners understand the challenges that come with editors and deadlines and book contracts. We can pool our collective wisdom to help each other resolve problems, while offering sympathy and understanding. All six of us know how difficult it is to balance our writing, our faith, and our family lives, and how a concern in one area effects all of the others. Their prayers have helped me maintain that delicate balance and have enriched my books.

During our on-line prayer times and in the weeks between meetings, I’ve felt reassured, knowing my friends are praying for me, just as I’m praying for them. Along with their prayers, my partners have offered me wisdom, understanding and friendship. And when we’ve seen answers to our prayers, all six of us celebrate and rejoice together.

“Oh, what peace we often forfeit!” the hymn says. “Oh, what needless pain we bear! All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.” Praying together is life-giving. Shared burdens are lighter, shared joys more joyous. Might you be able to find a group of friends to pray with on a regular basis? Distance is no longer an obstacle thanks to modern technology. And the benefits of communal prayer are life-changing.

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More giveaways can be found on each blog post of the Transformational Fiction Giveaway Tour.

 Visit my sister in faith and fiction Elizabeth Musser to learn How It All Began and a chance to win her novel The Sweetest Thing! Click the picture below to visit the next blog post from my friend, Elizabeth.  


Busy Days!

The past few days have been busy ones for me. On Saturday, April 28, the alumni board at Hope College, my Alma Mater, presented me with the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award at their annual banquet. What a huge honor!

Years ago, I chose to attend Hope, a Christian college, because I wanted to build my life and my education on a spiritual foundation. I found what I was looking for there. (And also met my husband—an added bonus!) The education I received at Hope has formed the basis of my writing, and it was thrilling when they chose to honor me this way.

The following Monday I had a great time with the 150 people who joined me for the Dutch Heritage Bus Tour, visiting some of the sites they read about in my novel, “Waves of Mercy.” The novel is based on the true story of the Dutch immigrants who founded the city of Holland, Michigan in 1846. They came to America seeking religious freedom after being persecuted for their faith in their homeland. They tamed the wilderness, endured a malaria plague, and dealt with numerous other hardships including a fire that destroyed ¾ of the city in 1871. The community they built is thriving today and is rated second in the nation for charitable giving. The tour was a testimony to the founders’ faith, courage and perseverance.

I wore my period Dutch costume to serve as tour guide

On Thursday, May 3, I was invited to speak at a fund-raising luncheon for The Bible League, an amazing international organization that provides Bibles and study materials to people around the world. I had a great time meeting new friends and eating delicious food. My speaking topic was “Living Fearlessly”—daring to step out and do the “impossible” with the Holy Spirit’s help.
It’s interesting that the Bible League’s founder, William Chapman, did just that. In 1936, he became seriously ill and ended up in a Chicago hospital. An elder from his church visited him and prayed that God would spare his life and lead him to serve Christ. When he recovered, Chapman vowed to give all of his strength to God. He and his wife Betty purchased 1,000 Bibles and went door-to-door, offering to give one to any home that needed it if the recipients promised to read it. Today, The Bible League distributes millions of Bibles and study materials all around the world.

I have one more fun event coming up this week. On May 10, 11 and 12 I’ll be joining a wonderful group of authors and readers for the first-ever “Fiction Readers Summit” in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This event is sponsored by Baker Book House and registration is open to anyone who loves to read and wants to connect with authors. If you live in the area, I would love to see you there! Go to for more information.

The Bus Tour

I’ve done some unusual things during the course of my writing life, but my upcoming bus tour next month will be a first. The idea came from my friend Paul, who thought readers would enjoy touring some of the interesting sites from my novel, “Waves of Mercy.” The novel is set in the town of Holland, Michigan where Paul has lived most of his life, and it tells the story of the Dutch immigrants who founded the town in 1847. Paul happened to mention his idea to a friend from church who leads the 55+ Seniors’ Group—and the “Waves of Mercy” bus tour was born.

I imagined maybe a dozen of us climbing onboard the church van for a spin around town. Ha! I had no idea how popular this tour would be! The group has had to hire two chartered buses carrying 56 passengers each—plus the church van. The “Waves of Mercy” tour will begin at the church with a lunch of Dutch pigs-in-the-blankets and pea soup, then we’re off to see the sites. Here are just a few of them:

A typical settlers’ cabin from 1847

The first church built in 1856

The original light house on Lake Michigan

The Hotel Ottawa Resort on Black Lake

The town’s founding father, Rev. Albertus Van Raalte

I’ve been trying to figure out what makes this tour so appealing to so many people. The sites we’re visiting aren’t unusual ones, but places that can easily be seen in Holland every day. I’ve concluded that it’s the settlers’ courage and faith that makes their story so compelling. They left their homeland of civilized cities to carve out a town in the wilderness because they longed for religious freedom. Their boat caught on fire and was delayed for repairs. The delay kept them from their goal and forced them to spend most of the winter in Detroit. They walked through knee-deep snow to reach the town site because there were no roads. They ran out of food and starved. Their first summer here, so many people died from malaria that they had to build an orphanage to house all the children. But they worked hard, cleared the land, and built farms and businesses. Then, only twenty-four years after the first settlers arrived, fire destroyed the town.
I’m guessing that many of us would have given up—or at least questioned where God was in all these disasters. Had He really called us to settle here or not? It’s so easy to feel like our work is in vain when our carefully made plans start to fall apart. But the settlers’ faith remained strong. Today, there are more than 70 churches in this town of 33,000 people. What an example of perseverance and faith! If they had a life-verse, I think it would be this one:

“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you.
Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord,
Because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
1 Corinthians 15:58

That verse will give us something to pause and think about on our “Waves of Mercy” bus tour.

Greetings From Germany!

By the time you read this blog, I’ll be in Germany on a book and speaking tour. I know, right? I’m so blessed to have this incredible opportunity! I would love to bring you along with me on my journey, but since that isn’t possible, I’m going to let the two sisters from my newest novel, “Where We Belong,” stand in for you.
If you’ve read the book, you know how much Rebecca and Flora Hawes love to travel, even though they lived in the 1890s when travel was much more challenging. Their trans-Atlantic Ocean voyage would have taken weeks, compared to my 9-hour flight. And they probably would have packed their clothes in something like this steamer trunk—which weighs at least 40 pounds empty. (There goes my weight limit!)
Granted, the trunk is a lot roomier than my suitcase, but ladies’ dresses and petticoats and bloomers took up a lot more room back then than my clothing does. Even so, I’m having a rough time cramming enough clothes and shoes and toiletries for two whole weeks into my suitcase.

You can stay connected with the sisters and me on Facebook and Instagram while we’re on our journey. I’ll be posting pictures of some of the fun things I’m doing and seeing. You can expect to see the sisters photo-bombing my pictures. I especially love to note the differences between our two cultures, and some of the ingenious ways people do things in Germany. Here’s one of those differences—these crazy electrical plugs!
If you have any questions you’d like to ask me along the way, I’d love for you to send them to me in the “comments” section and I’ll try to answer you. It will be fun!

What I’m looking forward to most of all is meeting some of my wonderful German readers. Even with our cultural and language differences, the bonds of fellowship are so strong. I love talking with them about their faith journeys and the spiritual lessons they’ve learned along the way. I always come home so blessed and encouraged.
If you think of it, please pray for my husband and me. For safe travels, to begin with. It’s a l-o-n-g flight across that ocean! And the cars really do drive 100 mph on the autobahn! Then there are the challenges of jet lag, and the cumbersome process of speaking through translators. But most of all, please pray for all of the people I’ll be meeting—that their hearts and lives will be touched by God’s love. I’ll be speaking at women’s conferences in the cities of Gunzenhausen and Kassel, as well as in more than a dozen smaller venues. I can’t do it without God’s power and strength.

Jesus told His followers to “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15). My way of obeying that call happens to be through writing and speaking. But each one of us is called and gifted to be His hands and feet and voice in our own unique way. May you be filled with His power and strength as you serve Him today.

From Small Beginnings

I had the privilege last week of speaking to a wonderful group of women who volunteer for the International Bible League, an organization I love to support. I told them my story—how I sat down and started writing my first novel 31 years ago, even though I had no formal training, no clue how to get published, and three small children at home. I wanted my audience to know that they shouldn’t be afraid to trust God when He nudges them to step out in a new direction. He is able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). I told them my story, but I also shared two other stories with them.

The first is about a Canadian mom named Fern Nichols. In 1984 her two oldest children were starting junior high school and she feared that their faith would be tested as they faced immoral values and peer pressure. She prayed for God to protect her children, and asked Him to send another mom to pray with her. He did! More moms joined them, and the group began meeting regularly to pray for their children and schools. The idea spread all across their province of British Columbia.

The following year, Fern’s family moved to California. Once again she prayed that God would raise up mothers willing to pray for their children. Again, these prayer groups multiplied, spreading around the state and across the nation.

That is how “Moms In Touch” began, now renamed “Moms in Prayer International.” Today, groups of mothers are praying in every state in the USA and in more than 140 countries. My neighbor, Marlae Gritter, joined a small prayer group years ago when her children were school-aged. She never imagined that today she would be the Director of Global Advancement for the international group. Below is a picture of Marlae and me with our new friend Kathrin Larsen from Switzerland. Kathrin also started out as a praying mom, and is now the European Director of the organization.

The second story I told my audience is about a man named William Chapman. In 1936, he became seriously ill and landed in a Chicago hospital. An elder from his church visited and prayed not only for William’s life to be spared, but that he would be led into the service of Christ.

“At the time, it seemed a strange prayer,” Bill said. “Why should God be asked to give me health and strength for this purpose? What could I possibly do for Christ? I came to the conclusion that this was a ridiculous prayer. But as the night wore on toward morning, it became increasingly apparent that my elder’s prayer could not be easily forgotten. That’s when I made my commitment to God. If God would restore my health, I would give all my strength in any avenue of service God would lead.”

William and his wife Betty purchased 1,000 Bibles and went door-to-door in Walkerton, Indiana asking, “Do you have a Bible?” If the home didn’t, they offered one for free if the owners promised to read it. From this simple beginning, William Chapman went on to form the “Bible League International,” the organization I was speaking to. Today, the “Bible League” shares Bibles and Bible study training tools in countries all around the world.

Thirty-one years ago, I laid aside my fears and excuses and started writing. Today I have 24 published books in a dozen different languages. I urged my audience not to ignore God’s little nudges. I invited them to step out in faith and to trust God, and then wait to see the amazing things He is able to do through them. I think William Chapman, Fern Nichols, my neighbor Marlae, and our Swiss friend Kathrin would all agree that “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Have you felt God’s gentle nudging in your life lately?

New Friends

WP_000818Writing can be a lonely job, sitting at my computer all day with only my imaginary characters to talk to. That’s why I love getting out every once in a while and meeting some of my readers face-to-face. And I had a chance to do that last week.

The first event was with a group of wonderful ladies at the Grandville United Methodist Church in Grandville, Michigan. I spoke about all the changes that have taken place in women’s lives since our grandmothers’ and great-grandmothers’ generations, and the new freedoms we now have—including freedom from these!IMG_7279

How about it, ladies? Are any of you sorry we don’t have to wear these crazy contraptions any more to keep our nylons in place and slim our waistlines? “What are nylons?” some of you younger ladies are asking. Go ask your grandmother—or I suppose your generation will just Google it! Afterward, you can enjoy your freedom to walk around with bare legs and flip flops.

WP_000821I met a second group of wonderful ladies last night when I visited with their book club, also in Grandville, Michigan, in one of their members’ home. They had all read my book, “Eve’s Daughters,” and we had a wonderful time discussing it. In writing this family saga about four generations of women, I used some of the real-life historical events from my own family tree. For instance, Louise immigrated to America from Germany at the same time that my great-grandmother did; Emma went through WWI like my grandmother; Grace studied to be a nurse during WWII like my mother; and Suzanne experienced the turbulent Vietnam War years during her college studies, like I did. The Book Club discussion was especially fun for me because my mother is visiting from New York and had a chance to join in our lively conversation.WP_000820

So thank you to both groups of new friends for your warm hospitality and encouragement. Now, as I sit down at my computer once again I am reminded to “Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58).