I just returned home from a week in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. My husband and I enjoyed some sightseeing while we were there, but the main purpose of our trip was for the Hearties Family Reunion.
I’ve been blessed to co-author the When God Calls the Heart devotional books with Brian Bird. He’s the executive producer and co-creator of When Calls the Heart, Hallmark’s #1 show.
Each year, the fans of the show — the Hearties — are invited to a family reunion in Vancouver.
The event sells out in minutes when it opens for registration, with hundreds of more folks on a waiting list. It’s a fun weekend with panels from the cast members of When Calls the Heart and the spin-off series When Hope Calls, sessions with the production crew and Hallmark executives, opportunities for photos with the stars of the shows, and time to bond with other Hearties from around the world.
For most of the attendees, one of the highlights of the reunion is a visit to Hope Valley — the set where When Calls the Heart is filmed.
I love watching the faces of those who are there for the first time. It’s surreal to be in the little town that we’ve all watched on television.
I’ve been often enough that it feels like I’m coming home now when I visit. Like the other attendees, I love wandering through the carefully dressed buildings and enjoying the beauty of the grounds where the episodes are shot.
But the real highlight for me is the time I get to spend with Janette Oke. The “When Calls the Heart” television series is based on Janette’s books, and the spin-off series,”When Hope Calls,” just began airing this year.
The world of Hope Valley and the delightful characters who live there all began in Janette’s imagination many years ago — but they’re impacting the world with the values and faith that are woven into them.
I’ve learned some important things from Janette that I think are valuable for all of us:
1. If God calls you to do something, stick with it—
even when success doesn’t come immediately. Janette’s one of the queens of Christian fiction, but getting her first book published was a slow process.
2. Be faithful in the little things,
and God will amaze you with the big things. In her wildest dreams, Janette would never have imagined the huge doors God has opened for her books to be made into movies, two television series, a variety of products, paintings, and devotional books based on the content from the TV shows — but He did.
3. When success comes, remember that it came from God
and not you. Janette is one of the humblest people I’ve ever met. And because of that, she helps people to focus on God instead of her.
4. Pray about the purpose God has for you —
and pray for those who will be reached as a result. In one of our emails, Janette told me that she calls her books her “paper missionaries that go to people she will never meet.” I loved that.
Purpose paired with prayer and faithfulness can yield mind-boggling results.
I’d love to someday write as well as Janette Oke. But even more, I’d love to be as steadfast as this dear lady has remained faithful to God’s call on her life and to give Him all the glory. Because, as Janette Oke has discovered, when God calls the heart to faithfulness, it can touch the world.