Connections That Entangle The Heart

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Note: Donna Cronk recently shared her guest blog, Friendship is One of Life’s Sweet Places.  This was my guest post on Donna’s blog to share my perspective on our unique connections. Thank you Donna for a friendship that continues to grow and entangle our lives and hearts!  

Connections are our sense of belonging. We have connections from our tight-knit circles to ever-expanding circles that eventually connect us with people throughout the world.  A week ago, I was invited to spend time with one of my Indiana connections: Donna Cronk.

Donna was launching the “book tour” for her sequel, That Sweet Place: At Home in the Heartland. The venue was the aftercare group at the local funeral home in New Castle, Indiana. Witnessing her connections prompted me to reflect on our connection through the years.

I trace our connection back to our boys growing up together in the same school district, playing on the same sports teams, and living on the same street. We were friendly neighbors busy with life. Donna likes to remind me that Carriage Lane was not the place where we first met. Over 26 years ago, we were in the same Sunday school class at the same local church.

In a way, our connection has also been a journey of faith where God kept putting us together for a reason. God eventually revealed the reason a couple of years ago, when we shared our mutual desire to self-publish a book. In practice, the enduring connection has been our shared love of writing.

Writing was natural for Donna as she went to college for journalism and has been a community journalist for over 27 years in one Indiana town and county. Writing was never on my radar given my engineering background with its focus on numbers and logic. I was the stereotypical engineer. I never aspired to be a writer and I did not care about writing, other than what was necessary to complete an assignment.

Hence the surprise when shortly after I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior in 1994, God prompted me to write. God was very specific. I was to write devotions for our church’s monthly newsletter. When I approached my pastor, Dick said “Yes” and allowed God to use me. Pastor Dick’s encouragement enabled me to “blossom where I was planted!”

Donna’s recently published book was the day’s connection for the crowd that attended her new presentation. As I was introduced to people, I asked, “So how do you know Donna?” Some connections were common to all of us: work-related circles with both current and former co-workers. Other connections were more specific to the book: editors, reviewers, fellow self-published authors, and readers who wanted to know what happened next in the Sweetland story. It was a friendly crowd with people Donna knew and friends of friends that became part of Donna’s new connections.

Donna shared her presentation, “Bloom Before You Are Planted!” Her message reminded us that God has good plans for each one of us. The deeper take-away involved self-reflection. Am I paying attention to God’s nudges? Will I act on the seeds that God plants in my heart? Do I embrace God’s joy for my growth? Will I praise God for His beauty inside of me, waiting to bloom in the perfect season?

After Donna’s program, she and I enjoyed our unique connection by simply sitting and chatting for hours. We covered much territory, revisiting old connections and discovering new connections. Finally, it was time to walk out to our cars and say goodbye for the day.

That’s when I remembered my family cookbook that made the trip with me. Over the previous six-and-a-half hours, I had completely forgotten about the cookbook I wanted to share with Donna. Conversations about family, recipes, memories, and traditions are some of our favorite connections.

I was struck once again by the nature of genuine connections. The time goes by too quickly and we are left with a longing for the next visit. The best connections always explore the nuances of life and entangle hearts!

 

2 John 12

I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.

 

 

 

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Friendship Is One Of Life’s Sweet Places by Guest Blogger Donna Cronk

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Although I am the taller of the two of us, I look up to my friend Donna Cronk. She repeatedly has said, “Yes!” to God and stepped out in bold faith. God has given me the special gift to be a small part of those adventures and to experience the excitement of God doing something new in Donna’s life. Donna slows down enough to write this guest post. 

Friendship Is One Of Life’s Sweet Places By Donna Cronk

Are you ever amazed at how God works? I sure am.

For years, Debbie McCray was a friendly neighbor down my street. She was Andy and Ben’s mom, and their home was one of those lovely “safe places” where I knew my son was safe and happy when there to play with her sons. When life moved the family from Indiana, I never expected to hear from, let alone see them again.

This is apparently where God chuckled.

Many years later, ten perhaps, and I’m not even sure quite how (hear Him laugh?) Debbie and I started emailing each other. It wasn’t so much, or even at all, about rehashing life on our familiar lane, or detailing about what our sons were now up to. No, our cyber chats were about writing.

Debbie listened and commented with helpful prompts and good sense when I shared that I was writing my first women’s Christian fiction novel, “Sweetland of Liberty Bed & Breakfast.” And when Amazon put it up on its website, she even saw it –and bought a copy – before I knew it had gone “live.”

But a year or so ago, our friendship took an advanced turn. Debbie allowed me the privilege of editing a project of hers. As a writer of newspaper and magazine articles, and now two novels, I know firsthand that it is a big deal to entrust my labored-over words with an editor. It’s also a risk because an editor’s job is to question, find flaws, attempt sharpening and tightening copy. It can be a painful process for both writer and editor. Usually it’s not something friends should probably tackle together.

Yet I knew that I would treasure Debbie returning the favor and editing my new book’s manuscript. My book, the newly published “That Sweet Place: At Home in the Heartland,” went through three editors, each assigned with specific tasks in the project. Debbie’s was to react and provide general suggestions, point out any problem areas, but most specifically, to look at it with spiritual eyes and recommend scriptures that might inform each of the chapters.

She did a beautiful job. There was one area of the story, a turning point, really, where the lead character, Samantha, experienced a meeting of the minds with her boarder after they started out with a tense relationship. Debbie gently pointed out that she wasn’t quite feeling the specifics of that turning point.

Her nudge sent me back to the manuscript where I added a more direct change in their relationship. It greatly helped move the story forward. In fact, it was an essential edit.

As readers of Debbie’s blog, you might enjoy seeing this other side of your friend: that of editor. I asked Debbie if I could write this piece. I’d be less than honest if I didn’t admit this up front: I’m hoping you might consider having a look at my book. You can read all about it on Amazon … as well as Debbie’s comments about it in the book description there.

But I also wanted to thank Debbie publicly for her role in this book. Thank you, Debbie.

And Lord, I am amazed. Even when Debbie and her family lived on the same lane and then moved away, You were not done with our overlapping stories. You even knew that mine would be called “That Sweet Place: At Home in the Heartland.”

Donna Cronk still lives in Pendleton, Indiana. She blogs at www.donnacronk.com. Contact her on her Facebook author page at Donna Cronk. And if you read her new book, please share with her what you think.