Today I’m thrilled to welcome author Ellie Gustafson as she share insights into her latest story. Read all the way through to the end to find out how to enter to win a free copy of An Unpresentable Glory.
Step into this particular scene from An Unpresentable Glory. Picture yourself among wealthy gardening aficionados in Westchester County, New York. Each year, the Abington Garden Club featured Linda Jensen’s magnificent garden. She was, by far, their greatest draw, and people came and went throughout the day. Linda led visitors through the labyrinth of annuals and perennials, roses, shaded ferns, rock gardens, garden rooms, and, of course, her marvelous water feature with its arched bridge, island, and gazebo.
By late afternoon, the crowd had thinned, but a few settled for the night, or so it seemed. They sat on the deck, conversation bouncing between men and women, like intersecting tennis matches. Sip a cool drink and follow these sentence fragments as they leap back and forth.
“Linda, dear, how did your Right to Life walk go? Such a controversial cause. Did anybody sign up to support you?”
“Actually, I brought in . . . ”
“ . . . assuming Graham pulls in the last remaining electoral votes.”
“Everyone knows shoes and purse make the woman. Everyone except Margaret . . . ”
“Well, he needs someone more centrist. Senator Darson, maybe, or even Shirley Gladstone. She’d bridge the—”
“Howard, dawhling, did you say Shirley Gladstone?”
“Yes, I did. She—”
“We bumped into her at the polo match last winter. Our cruise to Barbados—do you remem—”
“Shirley Gladstone—playing polo? On a cruise ship? I know they’re big, but I can’t believe—”
“Oh, Howard. Do be sensible. She wasn’t on our cruise ship. I don’t know how she got to Barbados. Chawming woman—folksy, down to earth, don’t you think? And why ever are you talking about her in the first place, my dear?”
“If Nelson Graham becomes the Republican candidate at the convention next month, he might name her as his running mate, and just think—you’d be on bumping terms with the future vice president of the United States.”
Gardening has many metaphors—growth, beauty, and even weeds. Linda writes in her blog:
Go for a walk along a country road and search for plants we commonly call weeds. Dandelions, clover, assorted grasses—these guys are quick to flourish and tough to dislodge from our manicured beds.
What can we learn from these lowborn beauties? Maybe nothing. Maybe we just breathe in their simple charm and then go home and dutifully hold the hands of the elegant darlings we have chosen to showcase in our gardens. We pay a high price for our sort of beauty; weeds simply are.
Weeds simply are. Never had Lawrie felt more weed-like. The soil of his soul welcomed even gross weeds—thistles, nettles, poison ivy. What would Linda say about those? Kileenda . . .
What weeds grow happily in your soul? I have plenty in mine. Am I brave enough to name them and consider pulling them? Please share your thoughts on this.
- I was once chosen as Miss Branchville for the county fair. I did not win the title of Miss Sussex County, and I’m still laughing over that strange, long-ago event.
- I went from being one of the top musicians at my high school to flunking out of band at Wheaton College. Sussex County did not specialize in quality musical education!
- For six weeks, I was Mom to a baby raccoon. Did you know you have to rub their bellies with a warm cloth after eating, to get them to pee? I chose not to lick them, as their real mom would have.
Relaxation—I’m addicted to Sudoku.
How can you help my book succeed? First, you read it, then you post a review, and finally, you stick the book against some exotic backdrop and take a photo and send it to me ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) or post on Facebook.
- Born in a NJ county that had more cows than people.
- Went to Wheaton College IL.
- Married a multi-tasker; 3 kids, 8 grands, with a great-grand on the way.
- Tried on the cloak of writing; found it fit well.
- God first touched me through story, and he still speaks through story. I love Him passionately.
Preface and first couple of paragraphs:
THE NIGHT BEFORE MY HUSBAND’S dad died, I volunteered to take the night shift, as a bladder infection made him restless and required constant attention. I sat beside him, serving him—my father-in-law—as needed. But through those difficult hours, I felt I was on holy ground, the room peopled with angels.
This awkward stint of servanthood affected me profoundly, eventually moving me to write An Unpresentable Glory. Whatever hidden, “unpresentable” ways He asks us to serve may reflect God’s glory more vividly than our more well-dressed benevolences. Places or situations that are awkward and not for public view may become God’s platform for displaying His love. This love could be for all to see (presentable) or only for the eyes of the participants.
This unpresentable thread is woven across political, gardening, and Native American venues through various acts of kindness and caring that similarly need protection from public view. Over all of these happenings, God’s glory is revealed through a developing fabric of strength, courage, spiritual growth, responsibility, and love.
The bottom line: God can cover our messes with His glory—if we submit to and trust Him wholeheartedly.
From Chapter 1—
ON HER RETURN FROM CHURCH, Kileenda Jensen discovered a problem, and it had nothing to do with her name. Hardly anyone called her Kileenda. Early on, her parents shortened her name to Leenda, which quickly morphed to Linda. Now she herself, on all but the most serious and sacred of documents, signed herself as Linda. Though her parents, deeply rooted in Westchester County, New York, had made tiresomely sure she knew her uncommon heritage and social standing, Linda herself was comfortable with a plain name because her real worth did not rest on money or position.
Her immediate problem lay face-down between her perennial border and clematis arbor—more specifically, a man who looked to be either dead or unconscious. She assumed the less bleak view and spoke to him.
“Hello. Are you all right?”
Stupid question. He was obviously not all right, but she could see neither blood nor bruise. Inordinately handsome, yes—but what was wrong?
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An Unpresentable Glory https://tinyurl.com/y9lpft6a
The Stones http://tinyurl.com/nf5o63d
Blog Same, only scroll down a bit.
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Final Question: Have you experienced unpresentables in your life that have ultimately shone with God’s glory? And how are your weeds doing, these days?