Monday, August 26, 2013


My guest today is multi-published, best-selling Christian author, Mary Connealy. What a treat. 


I went to a one-room Country School. My cowboy husband went to one. Our four children went to one. One room country school houses aren’t all buried in the distant past. In Nebraska, and other rural states, they still exist.

In fact the school my children attended had Connealys in it going back five generations, to the founding of the school. We live a long way out. My children drove 15 miles every day to high school. When the distances are great, it is wonderful to have a school nearby.

Our whole school

Our school, at its largest in my children’s years, had 13 students. The numbers dropped as low as five students. My oldest daughter started school with one boy in her grade. By eighth grade she was alone in her grade.

We had computers and the internet. In fact we had a computer for every kid in school.We took great field trips, get one mom to drive and off we’d go. We often had museums almost to ourselves.
We had up-to-date text books and access to videos and all the supplies any school has.

I loved it. It was a mile down the road to school every morning, they often road their bikes. 

I had a huge amount of influence in that school, something that is very unusual in a school today where parents are invited in under very controlled circumstances only. The teacher became a good friend and we made a great team educating my children.
This is a picture of Nebraska Governor Kay Orr, a supporter of Rural Schools, who came for a visit. The little blonde girl facing the governor in this picture is my daughter.

There was no shirking in class. If you’re alone in your grade no one’s gonna slip through the cracks, no matter how hard they try. 

The school my children went to is closed now, but there are still rural schools in Nebraska and other states. In remote areas it just makes sense to educate a child near home. I feel blessed that my children had this experience. 

Mary Connealy writes romantic comedy with cowboys.She is a Carol Award winner, and a Rita and Christy finalist. She is the author of Fired Up, just released book #2 of the Trouble in Texas series. She is a contributor to A Bride for All Seasons, a novella collection with Robin Lee Hatcher, Margaret Brownley and Debra Clopton. 

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Monday, August 19, 2013


Christine here: Today, Shirely Corder gives us her final installment on my blog. I hope her story encourages you, especially if you are going through the Cancer Valley.

About two years after my cancer treatment ended, I attended a cancer survivors' seminar in Cape Town, South Africa, with my oncologist and some other cancer survivors. Part of the program included a panel of ladies sharing their cancer experiences. I listened in dumbstruck amazement as one after the other gave praise for cancer. That's right. For cancer.

The last woman to speak gripped the mike and blurted out, "Cancer ruined my life!" She dissolved in tears, and a couple of ladies rushed forward to assist her from the stage. One of the leaders got up to explain that the poor woman was only a few months out of her treatment regime, and that it took time to gain perspective on something as drastic as cancer.

"Gain perspective?" I said to my husband when I got home. "She's the only one that made sense! The others are crazy. Sure, I'm thankful God brought me through it, but to be thankful for cancer? Never."

I knew of the promise in Romans 8:28 that "in all things God works for the good of those who love him." But honestly? How could that include cancer?

As I mentioned in my previous post, once my treatment was over, doors started to open for me in the writing field. At the age of 60 years, I flew unaccompanied from Cape Town via London to the United States of America where I attended a writers' conference in Baltimore. The Lord provided finances for the trip in miraculous ways. A few years later, I started work on a book of meditations in which I shared 90 stories of how the Lord blessed and protected me through the journey of cancer.

In 2010, I flew from Johannesburg to attend another conference, this time in Florida, USA. While there, I met an editor who liked my book, and in 2012 it was published by a mainline publisher in the States.

Today, I can see how much richer my life has become because of cancer. I speak at meetings on a variety of topics. But they all bring out the same point. I am thankful for cancer, the lessons I learned and the blessings I received. Would I go through it again? I pray daily that I will never have to. I hated every moment of the journey. Yet I can honestly say I'm grateful for the experience.

I guess I have gained perspective.

Oh . . . one more thing. When Scripture says in Romans 8:28, "in all things God works for good to those who love him"? Yes, that even includes cancer.


Purchase Strength Renewed (print or Kindle)

Rise and Soar Website (encouragement for those in the cancer valley) 

Monday, August 12, 2013


Christine here: My guest for this week and next is author Shirley Corder. I hope you will drop by again next week to be encouraged by Shirley's inspiring story as she went through the Cancer Valley and came out the other side.

For some years, my husband and I lived in the beautiful Elgin Valley of South Africa, home of Elgin apples and Appletiser®. We often traversed the magnificent Houw Hoek mountain pass, about an hour from the city of Cape Town. After leaving the valley with its acres of apple trees, the road ascends at a fairly gentle gradient to the summit. Majestic mountains tower overhead, casting long shadows across the road.

After negotiating a steep U-turn, the road continues down a steep descent to a spectacular valley. It's like entering another world. The farming landscape is dotted with small buildings and grazing cows. And as the mountains slip into the background, the road is often bathed in bright sunshine.

One sunny afternoon, my life journey arrived at just such a pass, only it wasn't beautiful. One minute I was enjoying life as a busy registered nurse and pastor's wife, and the next I hit a U-turn.

"You have cancer," announced a radiologist. "And I don't think they'll be able to get it all out." My life spun out of control as I attempted to negotiate this unexpected twist in the road. God promises in his Word that "in all things God works for the good of those who love him" (Romans 8:28). I had often seen this verse in action, but I admit, I couldn't see how he was going to do it this time.

With the use of a skilled surgeon, an unconventional and courageous oncologist, a supportive family, and many praying friends, God pulled me through a pretty grim year of treatment. At the end of the year, I started the descent into the valley. My future lay spread before me, but it was so different. I could no longer nurse, due to a weakened immune system. What would I do with my life?

I hadn't anticipated being blindsided by cancer, so I had made no plans. But then God had known about the cancer long before I did. And he did have plans.

Suddenly doors opened for me that I would never have anticipated. My hobby of many years turned into a full-time occupation as I began to share in print some of the good things God had done in my life as a result of cancer.

At the time my treatment came to an end, I had no idea how long it would take for my life to get fully back on track. Nor did I realize that when it did, I would be travelling in a different direction. From nursing sister to published author. But then, isn't that what a U-turn is all about? 


Purchase Strength Renewed (print or Kindle)

Rise and Soar Website (encouragement for those in the cancer valley)