Sherry Ann Miller
"writer of miracles"
Oregon Flame February 2006
Charity's Gift August 2006
Debuting in August 2006
When Hans comes face to face with a ferocious shark, it strikes less fear than vivacious and attractive Charity, who throws his heart into a spiraling nose-dive deep in the Pacific Ocean. The only way he can salvage their crumbling romance is to find her missing father, who's been absent from Charity's life for more than twenty-five years. Charity's Gift will touch your heart forever. Fourth installment in the five-book Gift Series, Charity's Gift is debuting in August 2006. Please read the sneak peek below:
Charity's Gift -sneak peek here:
Juaniata listened carefully until she heard her daughter, Charity, fall asleep. The deep breathing sounds had not changed in the twenty-five years and three months since Charity was born. Silently, Juaniata slipped from her bed and knelt between her own and her daughter’s twin beds.
“My Father in Heaven,” she whispered. “It is only me, Juaniata Perez-Blake, troubling you again.” Tears seeped from Juaniata’s closed eyes, but she ignored them as her heart trembled inside her chest. “It has been twenty-five years today since my Daniel went to America, still he has not come for us, as he promised. In his absence, I have raised our two children by myself. I have struggled, but I have also been richly blessed. My children are healthy and strong, both in body and spirit.
“Yet, I am so lonely for my Daniel, Father. Sometimes my heart breaks inside me, and I cannot catch my breath when I think of the future and what it may hold for us. Where is Daniel, Father? Why have you allowed so many years to pass with no answer to this question?
“My mind returns to those first few months of our marriage. Remember when Daniel gave me that blessing? I had just learned I was pregnant with Charity. He promised me in that special prayer that I would give birth to sons and daughters. Not just one son and one daughter. Many, many times I have felt the whispering of the Holy Spirit tell me that there are still more children across the veil, waiting to come into my home. Without Daniel, they cannot come. I fear, Father, that my unborn children will be sent to other parents.
“Please, Father please. Help me understand what I am to do. I am forty-three years old, and in a few short years, I will reach the age when women begin to stop their child-bearing. I cannot remarry while I am still married to my Daniel. Besides, I cannot marry another because my heart still aches for my husband. Where is my Daniel? Please send him to us, Father. If you cannot send him here, then send us to America so we can look for him there.
“I beg you, Heavenly Father, please answer the blessing Daniel gave me so long ago. I am still young and healthy enough to have more children, but how many more years I cannot say. I do not want to miss the smiling faces of my unborn children.
“Besides, it is not good for my grown children to agonize over that which they cannot control. Perry will not even consider dating anyone, he throws himself into his medical studies to the exclusion of all other pleasures in his life. And Charity told me today that she will never marry, that she hates Americans, especially the men. I know her feelings stem from Daniel’s long absence. Charity could have married several times already, but fear holds her back. Please send her someone whom she can trust . . . and learn to love.
“Think not that I am ungrateful for all that you have done for me and my two children, Heavenly Father, for they are a choice blessing to me, and have brought me so much joy. But how can they move on with their lives if the question of Daniel’s whereabouts hangs over their heads like a great, gray cloud?
“Daniel promised he would come for us. It has been twenty-five years since he made that promise. Forgive me, Father, for I am weary of waiting. My impatience wanes like the summer sun in the evening sky. If you have taken Daniel home, it is time you should tell me. If he is still alive, I must go and find him. When we live on two different continents like this, how can I search for him? Show me the way, Father. Open up the windows of Heaven and pour upon me the answers for which I have pleaded these twenty-five years.”
After closing her prayer, Juaniata remained on her knees and wept softly against the bed sheets, waiting for God’s response.
After only a moment, she felt the Heavens gather close around her, comforting her, but God's response remained the same: “Not yet, my child . . .”
Just when she thought she would hear the Lord’s second echoing phrase, “Not yet,” as she always had until that very moment, she heard instead a still, small, whispering voice say, “But soon, my daughter, soon.”
Gulping great breaths of air in astonishment, Juaniata tucked God’s answer gratefully into a safe corner of her heart.
Chapter One Charity's Gift
"Shark!” yelled Tom from the swim platform, as he scrambled atop it and swung his legs out of the water.
Hans saw his companion’s fins raise above the waterline moments before the sleek blue shark reached him. He didn’t know whether to be grateful or fearful, for now the blank-eyed animal would turn its attention toward himself.
They had been filming dolphins moments before, but when the dolphins fled, Hans knew something was wrong. Unable to see the keel of Bridger, Hans’ Hallberg-Rassey sailing vessel, from his position underwater, he had just surfaced to watch a dorsal fin swishing quickly toward Tom, who had been tethered to the swim deck. Tom had used his powerful arms to pull himself forward and reach the stern deck in time to avoid a disaster.
As his eyes widened in horror, Hans saw the dorsal fin swing around, and slice through the water straight toward him. Hans was nearly five hundred feet from Bridger and the only thing between him and the shark was the underwater camera held tightly in his hands. Hans would have to use this awkward piece of equipment as his only weapon. As the shark approached, Hans swung the camera forward with all his strength, banging the lens against the shark’s snout as it charged him. Then, Hans swirled around so his back was toward the boat, and began kicking his way toward the stern’s platform.
Hans swallowed a lump of fear that had risen in his throat, and finned his way backward toward the swim deck, a prayer in his heart that the Lord would help him keep the shark away long enough for Tom to snag him from danger. The shark circled three times, and each time Hans spun around, keeping his eyes on the shark at all times.
Charging Hans a second time, the shark came in for the kill, but Hans used the camera again to butt the shark sharply on its snout, which now started to seep blood. Great! That’s just what I need. Blood in the water. That will bring all the other sharks within a three-mile radius. With bold determination, Hans thought, I have to reach the boat, or it’ll soon be over for me.
Trying not to panic, Hans watched the shark as he continued to work his way back toward Bridger. Hans’ eyes did not stray from the streamlined animal that obviously wanted Hans for supper.
With its snout now bleeding, the shark became angry. It darted straight for Hans several more times, trying to get between Hans and the camera, but Hans’ reflexes were excellent. Adrenalin quickened Hans’ reaction time. When he heard the slapping of the water behind him, he knew the swim platform was close.
Tom yelled, “Just a little farther! Hurry!”
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Look for Charity's Gift at your favorite bookseller in August/September 2006
Sherry Ann Miller "writer of miracles".