Sunday, December 27, 2009

A New Year Dawning - What's Up with That?

With a full moon hung in the sky on New Year’s Eve, we will all turn in one direction or another as 2010 rolls in. Frankly, it’s my favorite time of the year. Here are some of my goals, prayers, and hopes for the New Year:

· I want to treat everyone like I would treat Jesus if He walked in the room, which He is already.

· I want to love more, in small ways and big, and open my heart wide to God’s love. I’ve missed a lot of it over the years.

· I want to treat my body and time like I’d handle a huge trust fund.

· With God’s help and personal discipline, I want to finish my first murder mystery this spring.

· A new retreat is in the works, “Reaching for God’s Best, based on The Best Life Ain’t Easy (Moody, 2008). I’ll need to complete that for Women of Grace in Canada in June.

· Lisa Troyer and I are teaming up in ministry this year with her new worship CD to accompany Meet Me at the Well. Jocelyn Hamsher has co-written a 13-week Bible study to launch in January. We are excited as we do our first two retreats in Jan/Feb. Moody radio stations and others will air an hour long radio special with Wayne Shepherd, Lisa and me in the next few weeks. Check it out at

· I want to be Steve’s best girlfriend, fishing buddy, and friend. Together we hope to support our kids, grandkids, and friends in prayer. Family and friends are super important, so planning time to be together is tops on our list in 2010.

· I don’t want to waste a moment of this life complaining about anything or anybody. Hold me to that, will you? How about doing the same?Write back and share your own list! In the meantime, reach only for God’s best.

May His hand on your shoulder and His Word in your heart guide you daily.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Merry Christmas from Virelle & Family!

Merry Christmas, Friends!

Here's a photo of our eight fantastic grand kids, the same one we sent out in our Christmas letters. Six boys and two girls ranging in age from two to thirteen. Does it get any better? God has been SO GOOD to us!

This past year has been full of challenges and blessings, just like yours. And like you, we wrestle with life and death issues in our family, too, and rejoice in times of harmony and love. We grieved the loss of my dear sister-in-law, Susan, last March, and pray we may have even more time with our three elderly parents, ages 93, 96, and 96. Wow. What blessings to have them this long.

Even though God allows sad events, He also blows us away with surprise blessings. I'll share more details in January, but for now, just know that Lisa Troyer, musician and Moody radio host, is one God's amazing gifts to me. Her gifts and talents have been poured out to enhance the ministry of Meet Me at the Well. We'll begin partnering in ministry in Cape Cod, Massachusetts in January. I'm so excited!

One of the best encouragements this year as a writer has been the many letters and emails I've received from friends around the world who've read Meet Me at the Well and The Best Life Ain't Easy. You never can imagine what God can do with your story.

My husband continues to feel well three years post heart attack. God has blessed us with 43 years of marriage. We have our sights set on 45 and then 50.

One of our favorite days is coming up, Jan 1, when Steve and I spend at last half the day sharing, dreaming, and seeking God about His plans for us in the new year. Why not do the same with your spouse or good friend? Journal what you pray for and commit to God, then peek at it throughout the new year for renewal and focus. If you want to, white and tell me what your hopes and dreams are for 2010. I look forward to hearing from you!
God's BEST LIFE to you in the new year!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Exciting new partnership

Don't you love it when God brings His plans together? Here's one of the best things in my life these days: a new ministry partnership with Lisa Troyer, a Cleveland based Moody radio host and musician, and her ministry Circle of Friends. Last spring, when Lisa heard me speak in Cleveland for Moody's Gathering for Women, she felt God's nudge to write and produce a worship CD to accompany my book, Meet Me at the Well. After we talked it over, we subsequently flew in August to Moody Publishers for their blessing and advice. By July, Lisa had written and recorded a number of songs in Nashville, and signed with a record label.
I'm delighted to say, God has blessed this venture beyond belief! Pictured here are radio host Wayne Shepherd, me, producer Joe Carlson, and Lisa Troyer at Michael Card's famed Mole End Studio in Nashville where we recorded an hour-long radio special announcing the January release of Lisa's new CD, "Meet Me at the Well," as well as our upcoming partnership in ministry. I will speak and Lisa will lead worship around this wonderful God-given theme of renewal. Isn't He wonderful? Our first retreat will be Winterlude for Grace Chapel in Lexington, MA, held at the Hyannis Conference Center January 14-17, 2010 on Cape Cod. In February we'll bring the same messages and music to Lisa's Circle of Friends retreat near Cleveland. (More details soon.)
As I write this, Jocelyn Hamshire, pastor's wife, speaker, and COF board member, is completing a 13 week Bible study to accompany Meet Me at the Well. I marvel at the goodness of God in all this. We are truly a Circle of Friends serving Him together. If you'd like more updates, or would like to schedule an event, please contact me via my website,
In the meantime, may God's goodness mercies overflow in your life.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Ever seen a pink full moon?

I wish I'd had a camera the other night as my husband Steve and I stood on the boardwalk of the Indian River Lagoon in Fort Pierce, Fl after a wonderful dinner at Cobb's Landing. Amazing. Suddenly, this pale pink full moon rose through the clouds like a rose in bloom. We were stunned by its beauty. I've seen an orange harvest moon in NY, full of brazen glory, but nothing like this. To the north of it were the densest thunder clouds you've ever seen, black as a wool blanket. We'd never have seen the moon rise that night if we'd stayed home, just forty minutes to our north. But here on the literal edge of night, God made a spectacle of beauty rising like hope next to the storm.
Like you, our lives often skirt big storms, sometimes landing right in them. We have a very black one right now in our family with a deathly diagnosis for my husband's mother. It's awful to see the darkness gaining on her, and on us all. But here is hope tonight rising for real in my heart like that rare pink moon. I know this is not all there is. Life has more. God has more of His goodness and mercy to give. And the darkness cannot overcome it. I'm sure of it.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

The Best Days of Your Life

The Best Days of Your Life

A few moments stick in my mind from our summer on the road as the very best. Here's a photo of our daughter, Lauren, with Steve and me right after completing a triathlon in Grand Island, NY near Buffalo. Cheering her on were hubby Michael, all three kids, brothers Bob and Dave, two nephews, and one sister-in-law, Jose. Just finishing the event was a high point, as Lauren has suffered with lupus for almost twenty years. We never expected this, but a remission period has allowed her to begin working out and running for the first time since high school. She's my hero.

What do moments like this mean to parents? The world and beyond. Because God gives them like unexpected gifts right when we need them. We had just returned from helping Steve's folks during a health crisis. Today, Lauren is anticipating knee surgery and an injection for back problems. Life goes on, doesn't it. But the best days linger in my mind. There's always cause to celebrate God's goodness.

What's your reason to celebrate today? Can't think of one? I love the sign in the mortician's office, "Any day above the ground is a good day."

Monday, September 21, 2009

What three months on the road will do to you...

A lot of my friends have asked, "Where's Virelle been all summer?" The simple answer is living out of a suitcase along with my husband, Steve, for three months traveling around New York State visiting our parents, kids, and grandkids. Sure, vacation calls us back home, so much of our time was spent reconnecting with loved ones, especially my husband's parents in western New York. We also came home with new appreciation for the busy lives our kids lead managing work, church, business and family life. Our eight grandkids are growing tall, strong, smart, handsome, and beautiful. Of course. They're our grandkids! Take a look at all eight lined up according to age. Pretty cool bunch.

We also spent three weeks at our wilderness camp in the Adirondack Mountains north of Lake Placid. Having been the only members of our family to have lasted that long in the woods, let me just say how good indoor plumbing, electricity, and running water look to us now. Still, there's no place else on earth as beautiful as our camp setting. Where else do you find moose tracks on the beach, pine scented breezes, and spectacular views everywhere?

Best of all, we were able to care for Steve's Mom and Dad, ages 93 and 96, for six weeks over the summer offering us priceless opportunities to return love they've given us lavishly over our lifetime. We wouldn't trade it for the world.

Guess what we learned?
- Nothing is more important than love
- Our family and friends are our greatest treasures
- We need very little to be truly happy

How about you?
Incidentally, I'm speaking at Cooperstown Bible Conference in North Dakota this weekend. Hope to see some of you there!
Grace to you,

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Let's talk about murder!

Those of you who know me well are probably tired of hearing me talk about my murder mystery. But for those who seldom associate my name with murder, no, I'm not "Kiddering" around. I'm happily writing the first in a series of murder mysteries revolving around a young journalist named Maddie, her seriously fun senior neighbor, Lil, and a host of characters from the most beautiful town in Florida, Vero Beach. It all starts with Maddie walking on the beach after work with a large iced mocha latte, a socialite's daughter who believed a lie and ended up dead, and a town that wouldn't be bullied. It doesn't hurt that Lil's handsome grandson, a professor from New York, feels compelled to fly down and solve this case, too.

So why's a Christian writer intrigued with murder? Because real life happens to all of us, Christian or not. I'm delighted to join the ranks of many fellow authors who have jumped into a new genre and found such challenge and delight. You'll find hints and updates, maybe even an excerpt or two, right here on my blog.

Feel like there's a budding writer inside you, too? Check out Jerry Jenkins' Christian Writers Guild website: You'll be amazed at all the new mini courses being designed for those with singular interests. My favorite courses are still the Apprentice and Journeyman courses, designed for serious students. Over the years I have mentored many and watched some go into full time writing careers. How fun is that?

Stay in touch. You'll be hearing from me when you least expect it.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Take a Hike with Me!

Here's a fun question:  Where does an elk go for breakfast?
Answer: Anywhere he wants to!

On our recent week-long trip to Estes Park, Colorado, Steve and I awoke daily to many huge elk grazing outside our door. They own the Rocky Mountains, basically, seldom moving for cars, and never for pedestrians. What fun! While I taught writing at 8,000 feet, guzzling water to prevent altitude sickness, Steve trekked down to the Big Thompson River with his new fly rod to catch a big one. In an entire week, he caught nothing, but who cared? It was a great place to spend his sixty-fifth birthday! I had an eager class filled with talented writers and a whole week to enjoy meeting with fellow writers and agents I hadn't seen in a long time.

After Colorado, I had two days to unpack and repack to speak north of Toronto at Women of Grace, held at the beautiful Muskoka Bible Conference Centre on Lake Mary. It was a remarkable time. Not only did a moose swim across the lake, as if on cue, but some amazing women attended whom I will remember for a long time. If you live near there, I've been invited to return in June, 2010. Please come!

May was a busy month, with eighteen days on the road speaking. Apart from doing some radio and television shows now, I'm gearing up to begin work on two novels this year. Pray I can write them with joy and not fear, as this is an entirely new genre for me. 

I'll be giving away several copies of The Best Life Ain't Easy in the next few weeks. If you'd like to receive one, just be one of the first five people to jot me a line with "book giveaway" in the subject line. Write to me at 

 May this day bring only God's best to you! 

Monday, May 11, 2009

Good writing makes good reading

I'm sitting in my living room surrounded by suitcases, book boxes, grandchildren's birthday gifts, and a small stack of papers begging to be looked at one more time before bed. Tomorrow Steve and I leave for the Colorado Christian Writers' Conference, a singular experience high up in the Rockies at the YMCA conference center in Estes Park. It's a favorite of mine, a place of miracles year after year. Some of my closest writing friendships were formed here. I'll be teaching a continuing course on "Writing a Life-Changing Non-Fiction Book." Should be fun.
But in the back of my mind, I'm forming the mind of a fiction writer. For several years a novel has grown roots deep in my soul, awakening me at all hours. I long for June's clear slate to get to know my characters "for real."
 Now I wonder, as you may, what's the real difference between good fiction and good non-fiction? The stock answer is that one is true and one is not. But I question that every night as I pick up Jan Karen's first book in the Father Tim series, Home to Holly Springs. "A childish title," I thought when I first opened it. But now, I'm riding on the front seat in Father Tim's old Buick, squeezed between him and his enormous black dog, visiting rooms in his life long shut.Some of them frighten me, as old rooms from my own childhood sometimes do.  It's a stunning revelation how this character has become real flesh and blood. I know him. I feel his pain, love his wife, experience his weakness, and struggles. He is no longer fiction.
 How I'd love to write such living prose that readers would find it impossible to separate from real life. That's what reading good writing does. It trains our ear to the sound of reality, allows us to peer inside the microscope and see what others miss. Good writing, finely honed by those who didn't quit, illuminates life. How perfectly fitted Christian writers are to listen to the Master, and see with His eyes as we write. That's what I long for. How about you?

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Surprise Gift from God

What an amazing gift God gave to Steve and me this week! Those of you who have read The Best Life Ain't Easy, But it's Worth It will remember the story of Steve's miraculous conversion to Christ on Halloween Day when our wonderful Dutch pastor, Jan Senneker, came to visit me to talk about church membership. Instead, I stayed in the kitchen while he and Steve spent an hour unearthing Steve's last few questions about the Christian life. Sometime around 10 PM, Steve bowed his head and quietly prayed. All he said was, "I accept." In my mind I've photographed his face, and Jan's, the joy of that moment, the sense that something life-changing had just happened. 

That was thirty-seven years ago in Baltimore, MD. Within days, Steve's job changed to the Boston area, our wonderful Christian friends had a dinner for us and gave us a copy of The Living Bible. With great sadness, we kissed them all good-bye and left. Most, we have never seen again. A few, like Ginny and Keith Edwards, have stayed in close touch. 

Some years later we heard that tragic news that Jan and his wife Ruth had begun a new pastorate in Melbourne Beach, FL, not far from where we live now, and that their two oldest children were killed while waiting for the school bus. The sorrow was enormous. 
I regret now that we didn't try harder to locate them and express our love and condolences, but those were wild and crazy days and for some reason we didn't. We often spoke of their family and longed to be with them again.

And now yesterday, our of nowhere, Jan Senneker's name appeared in my inbox. I yelled to Steve, "Guess who just wrote us?" We read his letter out loud, hearing again of his joyful memory of that Halloween night long ago, of his and Ruth's love for us, and recounting it ourselves. A happy correspondence has since ensued. How good is God?

Another joyful wrinkle in all this, is that now we have a Dutch daughter-in-law, Jose, as well! We are linked in a new way! It has to make God and all of Heaven chuckle at the way He works out even small details in our lives: where we move and when, the jobs that just "happen" to fall into place, the "bad things" that eventually become a ministry, the giants of faith like Jan and others who walk into our lives right when we need them. Even on Halloween! 

Joy to you, my friend! Watch for His surprises today.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Special Gathering

This past weekend I had the privilege of sharing the platform with Leslie Vernick at Parkside Church in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, where a "Moody Gathering for Women" filled the church with more than the 1700 women who attended. We rocked the place with worship, led by Christy Nockles and her band, filled it with prayer orchestrated by Moody radio station WCRF, and laughed our heads off in joyful fellowship. Leslie and I have never spoken together, but what a treat it was. She is my all time favorite "go to" relationship expert, and taught us all much about how to obey the Lord and apply Scripture to our lives. Memorable. 

The theme was "Growth to Grace." Leslie's messages emphacised growing in the Lord, and mine centered on grace to rest, and grace to love. We were wowed at God's working in answer to prayers. So many women, over 30 in all, prayed to receive Christ for the first time. Many more rededicated themselves to full surrender to Christ.  If you'd like to hear the messages, consider checking out 

Many new friends have written asking where I'm speaking next, so here's the info:
  • May 1-3 Christ the King Conference Center, Greenville, NY (Episcopal Clergy Wives retreat)
  • May 9 King's Baptist Church, Vero Beach
  • May 13-16 Colorado Christian Writers' Conf., Estes Park, CO
  • May 22-24 Women of Grace, Muskoka Bible Centre, north of Toronto, Canada
Please leave a comment and let me know if you'll be attending any of these conferences. I'd love to meet you!
Be refreshed!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Doin’ Life

It isn’t every day you drive home a new car, but that’s what happened in the Kidder household today. We took the bait – a super sale where we’d leased our present Honda CRV (a honey of a car). Sadly, two years isn’t nearly long enough to own a car. Cars become like family members to us. Turning it now in felt like taking a puppy to the dog shelter: unnatural. Almost immoral. But that’s what we did.

Feeling an urge to go green, we’d planned on leasing the new Honda hybrid, the Insight. I even liked the name. Steve liked the mileage. We both liked the ride, but not the price.

“Want to look at an Accord?” our favorite salesman, Mike, asked.

“Sure, why not?”

You got it. The first one we sat it called our name. Even the color, a romantic Basque Red Pearl, sounded sexy. Mileage is good, but not 43 MPG like the Insight. And it’s the basic LX model, with minimal bells and whistles. But we loved it. And the price? Just right, like Goldilocks and little Bear’s bed.

As the blue Honda CRV was driven away, we waved good-bye to a good friend, then sniffed the new car aroma of the little red pearl. This one we’ll enjoy a whole three years. After months of sadness over Susan’s illness and death, it felt good to celebrate a bit.

Even so, I’m learning life’s celebrations come in unexpected ways. Big ones, like a new baby born, or the five women who received Christ as Savior last weekend when I spoke in Clifton Park, NY, are forever recorded in Heaven. But small ones, too, evidence God’s love, things like cards of condolence from dear friends, the red flash of a cardinal darting across the road, or the smile of a friend at church tonight and her words, “I’ve been praying for you.” Love gifts from the Father’s hand.

How’s your life been lately, my friend? Why not write and tell me? Please know how much you mean to me.

His best to ewe,


Thursday, March 19, 2009

She called me “Toadie”

Not much worse than going home for the funeral of a loved one, is there? Unless it’s waiting for death, praying it doesn’t come. But that’s where we’ve been for the past month or more, waiting and praying through the extended lung infection of Steve’s dear sister, Susan. Having miraculously recovered from pancreatic and liver cancer eight years ago, Susan’s life and faith blossomed into fresh joy, amazing energy, and service for God. Best of all, she became an unfailing prayer partner to many, including Steve and me.

After Susan’s first bout with cancer, she named me “Toadie” in her funny bent for sarcasm. It stuck. Following her recovery, we began an email volley of “Toadie notes.” I named her “Weezer.” We did things like that. Notes from Susan took priority over editors in my email. Her words meant that much to me.

No one prayed or encouraged like Susan. She had little money, if any, and a life of hardship none could deny. But she seldom complained, marking instead each day’s joys. God filled Susan with Himself.

We’re certain now that Susan knew she was dying, but told no one. We all waited and prayed for another medical miracle. But none came, just a request from Susan for family to come. We left in the morning. But Susan entered Heaven that night. Glad and pain free, she ran into the arms of her Savior. What a moment! I can almost hear her shouting, “Hey, Toadie. You should see this!”

But there will be no more Weezer notes, encouragement, or prayers. Just peace on both sides of Heaven’s door. But I must admit, Steve and I, along with all the family, find the quiet side of the door lonely tonight.

Peace to you. Enjoy each day and hug the ones you love.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A New Direction

Starting in a new direction is exciting to me but scary at the same time. You, too?
For the past four years, I've felt God redirecting my writing life, calling me to a new direction: fiction. But I was afraid. Could I do it? What if I fail? Non-fiction is definitely my comfort zone. What if I don't even try?
In a tiny step of faith, I herded three other writers with the same dream into an online critique group. We four: Melanie, Michelle, Christa, and I, call ourselves "Novel Friends" and all put our toes in the ring at the same time. Since then, Michele and Chrisa have produced great novels,and Christa's has even been nominated for the Gold Medallion Award!(Watch for her upcoming interview on "Virelle & Friends." Sign up for that on my website.) Melanie and I have busy with non-fiction books that were first on our lists, doodling with our novels on the side. My two new books came out in 2008 with Moody Publishers, Meet Me at the Well and The Best Life Ain't Easy. I'm happy with them and have a full year of speaking scheduled ahead. This fall I've labored over a new book proposal to follow them, but a nagging unrest plagued me. What about the novel? When will I complete it?
Yesterday I spent time at the library trying to write my proposal again and realized something big and honest and a little frightening. I'll be miserable if I have to write this now and put off the novel yet again. I shared that with Steve last night, when simultaneously, Melanie wrote me about how Karen in her prayer group said she sensed I was going in a new direction after finishing the Best Life. Was it fiction? It really surprised me...another clear nudge from God.

This morning, Steve read me this old poem from a devotional we use and it was the confirmation I needed. Maybe you need it today, too.

"God is not in a hurry, dear!
The work He chose for you can wait,
If He’s giving you another task to do.
Or, if He call you from your work to quietness and rest,
Be sure that in the silence you may do His bidding best.

You cannot be a joy to Him, if thus with frown and fret
You turn at each new call of His, to find new lessons set.
The old familiar tasks were dear, and ordered by His hand;
But come and tread another way: it is as He has planned.

And yesterday He led you there; and now He wants you here;
And what shall be tomorrow’s work? Tomorrow will make it clear.
So patiently and faithfully let each day’s course be run;
God is not un a hurry, dear,
His work will all be done."

--Edith Hickmann Divall

That was it. I’m happy to say the decision is made. I’m turning to the two novels I need to write. Even if I appear unsuccessful, I will be obedient. Thanks for your prayers and encouragement, and your honesty. I love it when you write back.
Are you sensing a new direction in your life, too? Maybe it's small, like the new haircut I got yesterday, or it might be bold and wild, like moving out of state. Why not share it with your best friends and ask them to pray as my friends have for me. Then, buckle up. Sniff the wind for change. Something very God is in the works!
His best to you!



Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Good Things Still Happen!

Hi, friends,
It's a rare day for any of us to anticipate good things ahead all day, but that's how my day is shaping up, and I hope yours, too. It began at 7 AM watching the sunrise golden against a mauve sky, then breakfast and coffee in bed, followed by a good long walk praying and praising God. I'm always amazed God lets me live another day. Think of it.

You might imagine a writer's life is full of excitement. Quite the opposite is true. More often it's full of quiet hours of business, frustration with handling filing and details, combing through email and correspondence, meeting deadlines, and tracking our slim progress before any actual writing begins. Then the plague of flies arrives to buzz around my brain with doubts, interruptions, phone calls, and difficulty staying on task. That used to send me to the kitchen for a snack, now I head more often to the library for a quiet study room and a few hours of creativity.

That's why today is so special. I'm leaving in a few hours to speak to the Orlando Word Weavers Writer's group, a singular honor. It was begun by my good friend Eva Marie Everson, and is now led by full-time writer Larry Leech. I'm so excited to share my story, "One Writer's Life" with this group of men and women I so admire. If you live in the Orlando area, I hope you'll join us.

In addition to today's fun, I had a great interview recently on Momlogic, which is an arm of Time Warner. Take a look. If you know of someone who might want to see it, please pass it on. The link is:

I hope your day is back to back blessings, too. When you think of it, just waking up and having another day to serve God is pretty exciting. Drop me a line and share your good things, too!
His Best to You!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Nudging the Slug

Hi, friends,

I LOVE hearing from you! Thanks to all who have written or stopped by my website ( and signed up for my newsletter "Virelle & Friends." Many have asked for prayer and shared your lives. I can't tell you how much that means to me.

Like many of you, I'm working on "nudging the slug" inside me that would rather read a good book or hang out on my computer than exercise. Aiming for 30 minutes a day, I've already walked twice this week, which is a small, but good beginning. That scares me.

We all know how easy it is to begin grandly, and soon lose our head of steam. Before too long, the path behind us is littered with good intentions. Lots of people tell me they plan to write a book one day. Some envision a financial boom with their first novel. But books are small stuff when compared to health issues like stopping smoking, or seeking help with drug or alcohol abuse. Those who've succeeded will say it takes huge courage. And what about healing a wounded marriage? Even a glance at the divorce statics in America proves good plans dissolve quickly when we encounter trouble.

So here we both sit wondering how anyone accomplishes her goals? Is it worth trying to lose that weight, or write that book, finish college, or stop unhealthy habits before they kill us? Do we dare hope for success? I think so. In fact, I know so.

Listen up, friends. We have a Father in Heaven who cares about every moment in our life. (Psalm 139) He has good plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11) and will strengthen us to do His will as we ask Him to. Sound amazing? It's true, and too wonderful for words. Sure, in my pathetic flesh I'll fail. But in God's strength, you and I can accomplish every dream He's put in our hearts. I believe it.

Write me and let me know what your dreams are. We can pray for one another as we move forward in faith, one step at a time.

Don't forget to post a comment and write back.

His Best to You!