The Making of a Novel

by Shelia Stovall

My new novel, Every Day Filled with Hope, is the second book in my Weldon, Kentucky series. The first reviews are in, and readers are delighted to reconnect with the locals in Weldon.

The main character in this book is former runway model Casey Bledsoe. For an exciting twist, I took the readers from the make-believe small town of Weldon to Niger, Africa, and back to Weldon. It was fun to put the most unlikely person on the mission field in one of the poorest countries in the world.

I’ve traveled to Africa seven times in the last decade, and most of those trips were to Niger. Like Casey, I’m probably the worst missionary ever, but I’ve learned that God can still use me if I’m willing to surrender and go. Each trip to Niger changed me and removed scales from my eyes. When I first went to Africa, I thought God’s purpose for sending me was to tell the Nigerians about Jesus. Perhaps God’s reason for sending me to Niger was to change me.

The news media paints West Africa as a hostile place. And perhaps it is, but I’ve never experienced hostility. Sadly, terrorists have spread throughout Niger, and today, it’s not safe for Westerners to travel outside the capital city of Niamey. However, the people I’ve met in the villages were kind and generous. When I stopped to visit, the women pulled out a mat and offered me a place to sit in the shade.

Something I noticed about the African women is they are always working. Their daily tasks include pounding millet, cooking over an open fire, and walking to the river or to a well to collect water. Usually, this is done with a baby strapped to their back. Still, they never rush, and as the women work together, there is much laughter.

While launching my new book and juggling my career and family demands, I felt like I was drowning. Sadly, I didn’t spend as much time with the Lord as is my normal habit, and that’s probably why I’m feeling more stressed than ever.

As I fretted about what I might share with you, this morning, these are the words that Jesus spoke to my heart. I hope they touch you as much as they did me.

Why are you fretting?

Peace, be still.

Your thoughts are streaming in many directions.

Peace, be still

You can’t fathom how much I love you, but you know I’m right beside you.

Peace, be still.

Breath in deeply and let My goodness push out all your worries.

Peace, be Still.

Trust me. All will be well.

Peace, be still

Sing praises to my name and I will lift you to the heavens.

Peace, be still.

My peace is there for all.

Peace, be still and know that I am God.

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27

About the Author

Shelia Stovall is the director of a small-town library in southern Kentucky, and it tickles her to see shocked expressions when folks learn she’s traveling to Africa—again. She’s the worst missionary ever, but God continues to send her to the ends of the earth. She and her husband, Michael, live on a farm with their two dogs. Spending time with family, especially her grandchildren, is her all-time favorite thing. The only hobby Shelia loves more than reading uplifting stories of hope is writing them.

For more information about Shelia, visit her website and follow her on Facebook.

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