As the author of Fruit of My Sprit, I love that I got to tell my story. I did not intend to write a book. I just wanted my sons Kyle and Kevin to know how I met their father. One story became two stories, two stories became four stories, and suddenly I was announcing to anyone within earshot, “I think I wrote a book.”

Now I love that I get to share my story. It’s been an absolute joy and delight to hear back from readers and reviewers, to learn how they have connected to my tales of challenge and hope. We laugh over camping fiascos. We wonder about those plaid pants from 1973. We mourn losses. Without ever meeting, without ever sharing a latte, we’ve bonded in ways that I have truly treasured.

As a young person, my son amassed many “friends” on Facebook. When his total edged over 900, I sat down with him to have “that chat.” “You know, Kyle, friends on Facebook are not real friends…” In a heartfelt and at times passionate conversation, I shared with him the definition of true friendship. I discussed the value and characteristics of “real” friends. It was one of those conversations that only a mother could have. I watched his eyes glaze over and his forehead crease into an I’m-not-sure-what-the-fuss-is-all-about expression of puzzlement, letting me know that this would have to be the first of many topical discussions.

And then I wrote a book. And then I began to share the book.  And then a strange thing happened: I started to develop some very special online connections. No, I’m not reveling in 900 “friendships.”  I’m just having an ah-ha moment as I’ve realized with a loud “Whoa….” that I’ve been blessed with many unique and wonderful relationships through life and now I’ve been blessed with many more through the publishing process, relationships that have surprised and delighted me. I’ve been given the chance to support and encourage others in the book world. I’ve been blessed with prayer requests and updates on personal family adventures. I’ve been enriched and enlightened as someone has hit “reply.”

In her blog’s title, a reviewer shares a beautiful quote by Vera Nazarian: “The world is shaped by two things—stories told and the memories they leave behind.” If I might be so bold, I would add “and the friendships they encourage and the hearts they connect.”