Friday, January 30, 2015

AnnaLee Conti: The Secret Of Managing LIfe Storms

Everyone's Story is blessed by this week's appearance of AnnaLee Conti, not only a dear friend but a wonderful author. Every now and then one just knows when God has introduced you to a special person and without hesitation, I know this is true when I met AnnaLee. The times she and I have met (living within driving distance of each other) I've been warmed by her genuine warmth and regaled by her stories of Alaska, which I think you will be as well. Please check out AnnaLee's opening of TILL THE STORM PASSES BY and her special BookGiveaway offer. We both look forward to hearing from you!

AnnaLee is offering 1 e-book edition of the reader's choice of either TILL THE STORM PASSES BY or A STAR TO STEER BY to 1 randomly drawn commenter. The winner will be announced here on Friday, February 6th between 5-6 PM EST. To be entered in the Giveaway, please leave your contact information within your comment

Here's a sneak peek at the opening of TILL THE STORM PASSES BY:


Chapter 1
I awoke with a start, my heart skipping like my fourth graders playing double dutch with their jump ropes. Even my fingers and toes were pulsing to the pounding rhythm. My body was clammy with sweat. My parched throat ached.
A sense of profound loss sucked the breath from my lungs. I sat up in the predawn darkness and shivered as the chilly air turned my damp nightgown icy. I pressed my trembling hands to my cheeks and found them wet with tears.
“Why now?” I moaned. I hadn’t had this nightmare in years—the one that had tormented my childhood. I thought I’d outgrown it along with my fear of the dark and the bogeyman.
My bedroom door opened. “Evie, are you all right?” Mother asked. “I heard you cry out.”
“Oh, Mother! Remember that nightmare I had every night as a child? I had it again. Why now?”
She turned on the table lamp and sat on the bed beside me. Blinded by the soft light, I squinted at her as she pushed the damp hair from my forehead as though I were a little child, not her almost twenty-three-year-old daughter. She looked a little pale, but I assumed it was the lighting.
“You want to tell it to me again?”
Closing my eyes, I tried to gather the fragmented scenes of my kaleidoscopic dream. Drawing a deep breath, I licked my lips and attempted to clear the cotton from my throat. “It’s never a connected scenario—only flashes and impressions. I’m a little girl again, but I’m in a place I’ve never been except in my nightmare.” I paused and opened my eyes, looking beyond Mother, trying to see something I couldn’t quite grasp.
“Is it always the same place?”
“Yeah, I’m standing on a sandy beach surrounded by mountains. Water ripples at my feet. A beautiful woman appears. Her long blond hair is pulled back into a ponytail, and her scarf flutters in the breeze. Excited to see her, I wave. As she turns toward me, a monster looms over her head, and she suddenly disappears.”
Fear and sorrow constricted my throat, and I broke off. Swallowing hard, I rubbed my forehead to ease the tension behind my eyes, but it didn’t help.
“I’m sorry, dear.” Mother stroked my hand. “Is that all?” Her tone sounded strangely flat.
“No.” I hesitated, trying to put into words what had only been pictures—like a rapid slide show. “After that, I see men running, people shouting, water splashing. Then the woman lies stretched out on the beach, cold and wet and still.” I shuddered. “So still.”
“Do you know who she is?” Mother seemed to be holding her breath until I answered.
“No, I’ve only seen her in my nightmare, but I throw myself on her, crying, ‘Mommy! Wake up, Mommy!’ She doesn’t respond. That’s when I wake up sobbing, feeling all alone and afraid.”
As waves of sorrow washed over me, I shivered and lay back against my now-chilled pillow. Mother tucked the blanket around my shoulders.
“Thank you. I guess I’m not too old to need a little mothering now and then.” I sighed, studying her concerned brown eyes framed in tousled dark hair sprinkled with gray. “You know, the strange thing about my dream is the woman I call ‘Mommy’ doesn’t look like you at all. She’s tall and blond and doesn’t resemble anyone I know.”
Mother’s fleeting look of pain—or was it fear?—caused me to break off my recital and sit up. “Oh, Mother, I’m sorry I woke you when you haven’t been feeling well. You’d better go back to bed. I’m all right now.” I faked a bravado I didn’t really feel.
“Well, if you’re sure you’re okay.” She seemed anxious to leave. I assumed she wanted to get back to her warm bed. She turned off the light and slipped softly from the room.
I was wide awake, though. With the adrenalin pumping, my thoughts raced. I lay still a few minutes but couldn’t stop shivering. Hoping to warm up and be able to go back to sleep if I changed into a dry nightgown, I slipped from beneath my covers and tiptoed barefoot to my dresser. Brr! Hopping from one foot to the other on the cold plank floor, I changed quickly and rushed back to my snug bed.
Even then, my thoughts wouldn’t turn off. Why did I have that dream so often as a child? Why did it recur now that I’m a grown woman? It must mean something, but what?
That place. I’ve never been there, have I? There are no snow-capped mountains in Rhode Island.
And I don’t know anyone who looks like that woman. Why do I call her “Mommy”? I frowned into the darkness. Haven’t I always lived with my parents, Jack and Louise Parker, in this tidy white Cape Cod house on High Street in Jamestown, Rhode Island? And hasn’t Father owned his hotel on Conanicut Island overlooking Narragansett Bay toward Newport since before I was born?
As the questions swirled through my head, an impression slipped into my mind. I was a tiny child being put to bed in what seemed like the top drawer of a very large dresser. I could almost hear the wind scream all around outside and feel the tiny room rock violently. Then a black curtain fell on my memory—if it really were a memory and not just my imagination.
The questions pounded on relentlessly. Still, no answers came. Finally, I gave up trying to sleep and got up. Since I was awake anyway, I might as well calculate the grade averages for report cards due the end of the week. Maybe that would break the endless cycle.
 Quietly, so as not to awaken my parents, I turned on the lamp. Pulling on my slipper socks and blue chenille robe, which I belted snuggly at the waist to keep out the chill, I padded over to my desk and slid my grade book out of my briefcase. I sat down and began to add the numbers, a chore I usually enjoyed since I like math, but my mind refused to focus. I would add a few figures and catch myself staring off into space, and I would have to begin adding the same column again.
Enough of this! I stuffed my grade book back into my briefcase. Hoping a brisk walk to school in the fresh air would clear my head, I decided to get dressed and leave early.
I smoothed the covers and pulled up the quilt coverlet on my bed. Mother had made the star-patterned quilt in my favorite colors—the colors of the sea—when I outgrew the frilly pink bedspread of my childhood. Otherwise, my room looked much as it always had with its painted white steel bed frame and furniture and a round braided rug on painted gray floorboards. The walls I had painted a soft sea green, the color of the waves as they foamed and hissed against the rocks at Beavertail Lighthouse, my favorite refuge.
Quickly surveying my room to see that everything was in its proper place, I wished I could so easily set my thoughts in order too. If only I had time to go to Beavertail. Oddly, those restless waves, always constant and rhythmic, seemed to soothe and reassure me.
Slipping down the hall to our family bathroom, I brushed my teeth and splashed cold water on my face. As I ran my brush through my blond, shoulder-length hair and pinned it up into a French twist, a few wisps escaped and fell softly around my face and nape. I decided I liked the look, less severe. I usually didn’t wear makeup, but seeing how pale I was, I pinched my cheeks and bit my lips to bring some color into them. I didn’t want my bad night to show on my face.
Before going back to my room to dress, I checked my appearance one more time. My image in the mirror suddenly caught my attention. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I peered more closely.
I looked like the woman in my nightmare.
Who is she?

My Watershed Moment by AnnaLee Conti

The watershed moment that would change my life forever interrupted my freshman year at Seattle Pacific College on March 27, 1964.

I grew up in a missionary family in Alaska in the fifties and sixties. We lived by faith on Daddy’s meager pastor’s salary. My personal faith grew as I experienced many answers to prayer. Feeling called to fulltime Christian service, I wanted to attend a Christian college, where I hoped to find a godly husband. I knew I couldn’t expect financial help from my family, but with a scholarship and money I’d saved from hundreds of hours of babysitting and ironing, I enrolled at Seattle Pacific College, an accredited Christian college closest to home.

Clocks stopped at 5:36 p.m. that memorable Good Friday in 1964 when the largest earthquake ever to hit North America struck South-central Alaska. At 9.2 on the Richter scale (the recent Japan quake registered 9.1), the quake centered in Prince William Sound, along the northern edge of the Gulf of Alaska. It generated tsunamis and devastated every city, town, port, connecting highway, and railroad in the region. 

Seward, before the quake. Courtesy US Geological Survey
Horrified, I watched coverage of the destruction on television. Seward, a port just south of Anchorage, where my entire family lived, had been hard hit: the docks swallowed up by Resurrection Bay; oil storage tanks ruptured, belching flames and black smoke for weeks; homes destroyed; bridges stranded 8-12 feet above shredded ribbons of highways. Several tsunamis carried burning debris inland, setting everything on fire. Many people were killed. For a torturous week, I didn’t know if my family had survived.

That summer, I returned home to a very different landscape. Miraculously, our church and parsonage had survived, but everything south of us was gone—many homes, the docks where my father had worked as a longshoreman to supplement his income, the shrimp cannery where I had pulled several night shifts while in high school. Ninety-five percent of the industrial area had been destroyed. Family men couldn’t find work, let alone a single college girl. And no one needed a babysitter.

As that jobless summer progressed, I prayed and tried to have faith, but I knew it would take a miracle for me to return to college that fall. In July, evangelists visited our tiny church. We agreed together to make it a matter of special prayer, and my faith increased.

Seward, ayer the quake. Courtesy US Geological Survey
The first week of August, the local librarian asked me to help her catalog new books. She could only promise me babysitting wages (50 cents an hour at that time). It wouldn’t pay my way to college, but it was something useful to do.
While I was working at the library, a bulletin from the Ford Foundation arrived announcing an “Earthquake Relatedness” Scholarship for those who had lost a family member, property, or employment due to the earthquake. It would cover up to full expenses according to need. I was eligible.

But there was one catch. This scholarship was only for students attending universities in Alaska. I could not use it at Seattle Pacific College.

Although it was not what I’d hoped for, I knew this was God’s answer to my prayers. I immediately applied to the University of Alaska in Fairbanks and felt peace. At least I would be able to continue my education.

The week before school started that fall, I received my letter of acceptance and a scholarship covering full expenses for the year. It even included money for books, a fur parka essential to living in the interior of Alaska where the thermometer reaches 50 and 60 degrees below zero for weeks on end, and spending money. And all of my credits transferred. When I graduated three years later, the scholarship had covered all of my expenses for all three years.
But that’s not all. Not only did God meet my needs, He gave me the desire of my heart. The first week of school that fall of 1964, I met a young man at Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. We married three weeks after our graduation in 1967. We will celebrate our 48th anniversary in June.

I often laughingly say, “God had to send an earthquake to introduce me to my husband.”

Check here for more photos of Alaska's Good Friday Earthquake.

AmnaLee's Ah-hahs To Tweet:

Any benefit from the Good Friday Alaskan Earthquake? Author @AnnaLeeConti shares on Everyone’s Story (Tweet This)

Meet @AnnaLeeConti, pastor & author of novels set in #Alaska. #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)

Like novels set in #Alaska? See what @AnnaLeeConti offers: #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
AnnaLee Conti is an author, teacher, and ordained minister. She resides in the Mid-Hudson River Valley with her husband, Bob. Together, they have pastored churches in New York State for 35 years, including pioneering a church. She has taught ministerial and Bible courses, and served as minister of Christian education and music in the three churches they have pastored as well as statewide on denominational Christian education and women’s ministries committees. Now retired, her greatest joy is time spent with their son and five grandchildren who live nearby.

Conti worked as an editorial assistant at Gospel Publishing House, where she wrote freelance articles and short stories which were published in EPA award-winning magazines such as The Pentecostal Evangel, Youth Alive, and Woman's Touch, as well as church school curriculum on assignment.

While showcasing the majestic beauty of Alaska in these stories, she explores important themes she has struggled with in her own life—God's love and human love, forgiveness and reconciliation, rebellion and redemption, fear and faith. She tries to give readers satisfying stories that inherently illustrate, without being preachy, the value of choosing God's way.

Places to connect with AnnaLee:


  1. Wow - a great story! I didn't even realize there was an earthquake in '64 (of course, I was an oblivious teen at that time.)

    Success to you, AnnaLee.


    1. I hate to admit it, Gail, but I also wasn't aware of this devastating earthquake until AnnaLee shared about it… and to think that it was actually bigger than the one that struck Japan a few years ago. Wow! It's a sometimes scary world out there and that's why I'm grateful AnnaLee brought it right back to leaning on God.

    2. Thank you, Gail. I'm working on my fourth book about Alaska now. It is fun to write stories that I can incorporate my memories of growing up in Alaska. Hope you check them out and enjoy them.

  2. We had earthquakes all the time in Alaska, usually no larger than Magnitude 7. I laughed when I first heard the news. Thought it was an exaggeration. But when I saw the pictures on TV, I recognized all the places. I'd been there! It still is the largest earthquake to ever hit North America since records have been kept. The only thing that prevented greater loss of life was the low population in Alaska.

    1. Fascinating world we live in--both geological wise and sadly, here we are living in one country and we may not even know what happens on the other side. Though bad enough, I'm thankful it wasn't worse… grateful you survived, AnnaLee!!

  3. What a way to meet your husband, because of an earthquake.... 48 years, wonderful... Would love to read your book :)
    dkstevensneAToutlookDoTCo M

    1. Deanna, I must agree: of all stories that I've heard through the years of how couples met, AnnaLee and Bob's the most amazing.

      I appreciate your visit--always do.

    2. We experienced another earthquake and a major flood in Fairbanks, Alaska, in the first two months of our marriage that had further impact on our lives. I wrote about that in past posts in my blog,, which covers God's many provisions in our lives and in our family's.

  4. I remember the earthquake and the tsunamis that resulted. Love the story. Is the college you mentioned SPU now? I went to a writer's conference there.

    1. Wow--possibly another small-world thingy if indeed it's the same college you went to. Looking forward to AnnaLee's reply :)

      Thanks for your support, Pat.

    2. Yes, it is now Seattle Pacific University. I haven't been back there since I left in 1964, although last summer driving from the Bremerton ferry through Seattle to I-90 west, we got lost and ended up in the neighborhood. No time to look for SPU, though. Maybe this summer.

  5. Hello Elaine! I have nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! Go to for details!


    1. Oh my, Patti. Heartfelt thanks and much appreciation. What a wonderful surprise to wake up to today.

      And you're so sweet for making the time to visit. Blessings, my friend.

    2. Patti, I too find Elaine' s blog an encouragement and so informative. I love to hear the stories of writers and why they write.

  6. Oh my what a post. Glad to meet AnnaLee Conti. Hard to believe I had never heard of this tho I was living right here in Pasadena, TX. and my youngest was 3 years old. This was horrible. Hard to believe there weren't hundreds more deaths. What pictures. Scary. Thats what I've always pictured of earthquakes was the land cracking and falling in it. Thanks for those pictures. It is hard to imagine without pictures. Of course we have had towns completely destroyed by Hurricanes and Tornados. I would love to win the book, "Till the Storm Passes By. Sounds sad but good. Please put my name in the drawing. God bless both of you ladies.
    Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

    1. Maxie, it's so nice to see you again… I've been missing you. You always have wonderfully reflective comments that I love to read.

      You're in the drawing for AnnaLee's novel.

    2. Maxie, that earthquake was terrible. It is still the one Alaskans measure all others by. Thank you for your interest in my book. It is based loosely on a true incident my missionary grandparents came across in Alaska during their 65 years of ministry there. I hope you enjoy it.

  7. Another fascinating anecdote, AnnaLee! I shared the link on my author page. Good luck!

    1. Andrea, thanks for visiting Everyone's Story. And thanks tons for sharing the link on your author page.

      With Asperger's touching my world as well, I'm going to check out your blog!

      Hope to see you again.

    2. Thank you for sharing my link, Andrea. Hope you enjoy my books.

  8. I love the way God takes the things meant to destroy our lives and turns them into blessings. He sure watches over His kids. I know how He's provided for me through some very tough times.

    I just "Liked" your author page on Facebook.

    1. Susan, thanks for the strong, brilliant reminder that God isn't the one who creates the bad in this world but instead is the One who creates all that is good and wants only the good for each of us.

    2. Thank you for the like, Susan. You might also like to check out my blog. In the past two years I've recounted many stories of God's provision in my life and in my family's.

  9. Wow, what an amazing time. I have never heard of this, it was before my time. I would love to read more about this in the book. Thank you for the opportunity !
    Deanne Cnnamongirl(at)aol(dot)com

    1. Deanne, welcome back to Everyone's Story! So nice to see you.

      Yes indeed, AnnaLee certainly knows how to open our eyes to what life can bring us and how God can grace us with beauty despite a far less circumstance.

    2. Demand, more about the Great Alaskan Earthquake is included in my first book, Frontiers of Faith, the true story of my grandparents who went to Alaska in 1917 as Pioneer missionaries and spent 65 years there. That book can be ordered through my website, Theirs is an amazing story of living by faith.

  10. AnnaLee, thanks so much for being an awesome guest on my blog. Sure, you're my dear friend, but you also are an excellent guest, captivating us all with your personal story of earthquake survival, reliance on God, and how you met your husband.

    Thanks for the BookGiveaway of your novels. And the winner is…

    Maxie!! Congratulations, Maxie. Both AnnaLee and I will be in touch with you shortly.

    Blessings to all.

    1. Thank you, my friend, for so graciously hosting me on your blog. It's been fun! I pray for God's continued blessings on you and your ministry of encouragement in writing.

    2. You're so welcome, AnnaLee. And again, I thank you. God bless.


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