Thursday, August 21, 2014


An Afternoon with my Dad – Sandra Merville Hart

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” 1 Kings 19:11a (NIV)

As I crossed the covered bridge into the prayer garden, the serenity immediately welcomed me. I drank in the beauty of the blooming flowers in the midst of the Mountain Laurel. The brook sang as it skipped over smooth stones.

How I wished I could share this moment with my dad! Seven years ago, he had joined my mother in Heaven a mere five months after her death.

Always most comfortable outdoors, this peaceful garden and the beauty of the surrounding mountainside would have fed his soul.

If I could spend one more afternoon with him, what would we talk about?

On second thought, I wouldn’t bring him to this mountain. I would take him instead to a clear stream near his childhood home in the Smoky Mountains. Maybe we’d hike along those paths he once loved as he talked of old memories.

I’ve often wished for his wise council in the past year. His words had a way of pointing me in the right direction. He helped me consider the costs. Even so, if there was a way to spend an afternoon with him, I wouldn’t ask questions. I’d simply listen to whatever he wanted to say. I’m sure we’d stop talking to enjoy the gentle rush of the stream as the birds serenaded us.

Even though my dad couldn’t meet me in the garden, God did.

God joins us wherever we are - serene gardens, neighborhood parks, and quiet times on our knees. He offers wisdom from His Word and from His heart, freely given to His loved ones – each one of us. Like a parent with a toddler, He gently guides faltering steps. In times of prayer, He helps us count the cost of our decisions. Our choices matter since answering 'yes' to something may mean closing the door on another opportunity. God's instruction is always just what we need.

God will be with us not only for an afternoon in the garden, but for all our days.  

A Stranger on My Land by Sandra Merville Hart

Back Cover

Carrie and her little brother, Jay, find a wounded soldier on their land after a battle which later became known as "The Battle Above the Clouds." Adam, a Union soldier, has been shot twice in the arm. Though Carrie is reluctant to take Adam to their cave where her family hides their livestock from both armies, she cannot turn her back on him.

But her Aunt Lavinia, bitter over what Yankees have done to their land, urges Carrie to allow Adam to die. Carrie refuses, but cannot remove the bullets. Adam's friendship with Jay softens her heart toward him. It's not long until his gratitude and teasing manner spark a friendship between the young couple. Even though Carrie's father fights for the Confederacy in far-off Virginia, her feelings for the handsome young soldier begin to blossom into love.

When Adam's condition worsens, Carrie knows a Union surgeon is needed to save his life. How can she accomplish this and keep her family's hiding place a secret?

Book summary:

Carrie and her little brother, Jay, find Adam, a wounded Union soldier, on their land after a battle near their Lookout Mountain home. Carrie takes Adam to the cave where her family has been hiding from the soldiers. Before long, she falls in love with him, but she can't save his life. He requires a surgeon. Carrie weighs the potential danger of revealing her family's hideaway with saving Adam's life. 

Bio:     Sandra Merville Hart loves to find unusual facts in her historical research to use in her stories. She and her husband enjoy traveling to many of the sites in her books to explore the history. She serves as Assistant Editor for where she contributes articles about history and holidays. She has written for several publications and websites including The Secret Place, Harpstring, Splickety Magazine, Pockets Magazine, Common Ground, Afictionado, and Her inspirational Civil War novella, A Stranger on My Land, released on August 21, 2014. It is available at Amazon: