Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Guest Post by Sarah Loudin Thomas

A few years ago, I had the privilege of stumbling across a pre-published author's blog. Sarah Loudin Thomas was at once genuine, kind, and welcoming. I loved getting to know her on her blog, Appalachian Blessings, and when I finally met her in person at the 2013 ACFW Conference, I immediately thought she had the biggest, most contagious smile I've ever seen. She is a gifted author, and a wonderful friend. Her debut story, Miracle in a Dry Season, has done exceptionally well, and I'm sure her second will be just as well received. I'm thrilled to have her on my blog today! She's talking about true love--and not the romantic kind...
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Until the Harvest is a love story. Oh, sure, there’s romance, but that’s not what I’m talking about. It’s ultimately a story about the greatest love there is—God’s love and how he expresses it through . . .people. My main characters have given up on love for a variety of reasons, but eventually they realize just how critical love is and how it can feel just as good to give it as it does to receive.
While I was writing this book we had a lively discussion in my Sunday School class about what it means to love one other. You know, like Jesus loved. Turns out it’s hard to do, loving like that. Pastor, author, and speaker Chip Ingram defines love like this: “The real me meeting real needs for the right reason in the right way.”
Which is harder than it sounds (and it sounds hard!). And yet the very week following that discussion was jam-packed with LOVE. I wisely made note of some of those moments (cause it’s so easy to forget!):
• My husband spent his birthday representing our church at a meeting in a city two hours away. Personally, I’m a big fan of my birthday and the idea of giving it up like that, well . . . that takes love!
• While we were at the meeting a friend with a pet-sitting business came to walk and feed our dog. She left a note saying, “This one’s on me.” After an eight-hour trip on a Saturday, let me tell you, that most definitely felt like love.
• I delivered the children’s sermon for a friend who was sick. I asked each child to say what he or she is thankful for in a lesson about being thankful. They gave great answers–family, food, Jesus, the Bible. After we prayed one little girl leaned over and said, “I’m thankful for you.”
• We went to see a 92-year-old neighbor who was in the hospital. We arrived about an hour before she was being taken to surgery. Her family said our timing was perfect–distracting her from the procedure she wasn’t looking forward to. She held our hands and said, “I love you so much,” over and over.
And there’s the thing. Throughout that week I had opportunities to give love, to receive love, and to watch others love. And no matter where I fit in the equation, I benefited. Like Margaret and Henry in Until the Harvest I experienced firsthand how love is a fire that warms everyone in its vicinity. And I stayed toasty warm.
How about you? How have you experienced love either by giving or receiving?
John 13:34-35 – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
About Sarah: 
Sarah Loudin Thomas grew up on a 100-acre farm in French Creek, WV, the seventh generation to live there. Her Christian fiction is set in West Virginia and celebrates the people, the land, and the heritage of Appalachia. Her first novel, Miracle in a Dry Season, released August 2014 through Bethany House. Book #2, Until the Harvest, released May 2015. Sarah is represented by Wendy Lawton of Books & Such Literary Agency.

A graduate of Coastal Carolina University in Conway, SC, Sarah once dreamed of being a marine scientist. But her love for words won out and she has spent much of her career in public relations and marketing. She currently oversees fundraising and communications for a Christian children’s home in Black Mountain, NC.

Sarah and her husband Jim live in the mountains of Western North Carolina with Thistle–the canine equivalent to a personal trainer pushing them to hike, run, and throw sticks. Sarah is active in her local church and enjoys cooking and–you guessed it–reading.

About Until the Harvest:
Take This Journey of Broken Souls Restored
and Tentative Hearts Brought Fully to Life
When family tragedy derails Henry Phillips's college studies, he's left unmoored and feeling abandoned. The only things that can tamp down his grief are the family farm, his fiddle, and an unexpected friendship with sweet but unusual preteen Mayfair Hoffman.

Unfortunately, Mayfair's older sister, Margaret, despite her spray of freckles and cute, turned-up nose, has a completely different effect. His grandmother's helper, she's always around, ready to push his buttons, and it seems at first that she doesn't care about his troubles.
Henry soon realizes, though, that Margaret's facing her own struggles. Mayfair's health and unique gift sit at the heart of those worries. Henry and Margaret soon find themselves relying on each other as potential tragedy collides with growing hope in a warm story of family bonds and the surprising ways healing finds us all. 
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Sarah, thank you for being my guest! Sarah has graciously offered to give away a copy of Until the Harvest to one lucky winner. Please comment on this post and enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win.
a Rafflecopter giveaway