Port of Call: Limon, Costa Rica with Renee Kessler
Renee, tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do when you’re not taking a cruise?
Hello. I’m Renee Kessler, a pediatric nurse from Charleston, South Carolina. The death of my fiance’ three years ago ripped my heart right out of my body. Since then, I’ve struggled to find meaning and purpose in my life to go on without Jeff. I’ve buried myself in my work, sometimes pulling extra shifts. And I’ve been actively training for the Ironman Triathlon. The crazy schedule I keep has helped me work through my depression, but it leaves little room to think, feel, or find romance. I love my church, partly because through Jeff, it was there that I learned about Christ. I’m there every Sunday that I’m not working. Since I live in Charleston, I’m near the beach. I make time to go there to think, reflect, and pray. It’s very soothing.
Why did you take “The Love Boat” cruise?
Great question! I’m the most unlikely person to be on a “Love Boat” cruise. It was my sister’s harebrained idea. I shrugged it off and even laughed about it, but my dear friend and mentor from church encouraged me to do it. She said that I really needed to start living again. But the thing that settled it for me was when I found out about the orphanage in Limon, Costa Rico. This Christian-based orphanage encourages people to come for short-term mission work. When I found out one of the ports of call was Limon, I felt God nudging me to sign up.
Besides the port of call that your story brought to life, what did you enjoy most about the cruise: destination, activity, food, anything you want to share?
My sister accused me of being anti-social, and I have to admit there was some truth to the accusation. I stayed in my stateroom a good bit catching up on some reading and sleeping. I loved getting up before most of the people on board and doing laps on deck. One of my favorite things was being on deck to watch the sun rise. God used the cruise to renew my spirit. After visiting Limon, I ventured out of my room more often. Jo-Jo and I took in some of the shows. And the food. Oh my goodness. The cruise awakened my sleeping appetite, and I even visited the midnight buffet a couple of times. Probably the best thing about this cruise was that I found my laugh again. I laughed from my gut. Oh, it felt so good.
Now that you’ve sailed the Caribbean, is there anywhere else you’d like to see? Why does that location intrigue you?
Another good question. I’m a pediatric nurse, so my heart gravitates to children in need. Sometime in my life I want to visit Ethiopia, or some other third world country. The Chuuk Islands, a remote set of islands between Hawaii and the Philippines, have a real need for medical missions. My home church would help sponsor my trips.
So, what did you really think about Brent Teague.
I literally ran into Brent Teague. I think God knew it was the only way I would even look at a man. What a great guy! Polite, funny, relaxed. Brent’s the kind of guy who puts you at ease. A part-time ship’s chaplain whose day job is being a pastor. So I felt totally at ease around him. I thought he was just being polite and helpful when he accompanied me to the orphanage, but then I saw him in action. Brent Teague is a kid magnet. It’s kind of weird but I felt a real connection to Brent, like he’d been through some heartache too. He’s really the reason I found my laugh again. We had a few bungling moments. Embarrassing and hilarious! It was like we both gave ourselves permission to relax and enjoy just being in the moment. It felt good. But what I liked most was sharing my thoughts about God and why He allows bad things to happen sometimes. Talking things out with Brent helped me regain perspective.
More About The Love Boat Bachelor:
Romance is a joke.
After the love of Brent Teague’s life came back into his world only to marry someone else, Brent is through with women. He might be through with being a pastor, too.
Brent was so sure that God brought Mara Adkins home to him so they could marry and live happily ever after. Six months after her wedding to another man, that theory is obviously a dud. If Brent could be so wrong about that, who’s to say he’s not mistaken about God calling him to pastoral ministry?
Tired of watching Brent flounder for direction, Brent’s feisty older sister boots him out of Spartanburg and onto a cruise ship. Brent’s old college buddy manages the ship’s staff, and he’s thrilled to finagle Brent into the role of chaplain for the two-week cruise.
As the ship sets sail, Brent starts to relax. Maybe a cruise wasn’t such a bad idea after all. But there’s just one little thing no one told him. He’s not on any ordinary cruise. He’s on The Love Boat.
What’s a sworn bachelor to do on a Caribbean cruise full of romance and love? He’ll either have to jump ship or embrace the unforgettable romantic comedy headed his way.
Read all the The Love Boat Bachelor chapters.
Read our interview with the story’s creative mastermind, Jerusha Agen.
Remember to catch a chapter every day because we’re counting on our readers to choose the heroine who gets the guy. When all the voting is done, the winning author (that’s why we’re not sharing the chapter author’s name with you until after the voting), will present the happily-ever-after ending. It will be published, along with the preceding chapters, and offered free on Kindle, starting … when else … Valentine’s Day.
A Dozen Apologies (the sequel to The Love Boat Bachelor)
Mara Adkins, a promising fashion designer, has fallen off the ladder of success, and she can’t seem to get up. In college, Mara and her sorority sisters played an ugly game, and Mara was usually the winner. She’d date men she considered geeks, win their confidence, and then she’d dump them publicly. When Mara begins work for a prestigious clothing designer in New York, she gets her comeuppance. Her boyfriend steals her designs and wins a coveted position. He fires her, and she returns in shame to her home in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where life for others has changed for the better. Mara’s parents, always seemingly one step from a divorce, have rediscovered their love for each other, but more importantly they have placed Christ in the center of that love. The changes Mara sees in their lives cause her to seek Christ. Mara’s heart is pierced by her actions toward the twelve men she’d wronged in college, and she sets out to apologize to each of them. A girl with that many amends to make, though, needs money for travel, and Mara finds more ways to lose a job that she ever thought possible. Mara stumbles, bumbles, and humbles her way toward employment and toward possible reconciliation with the twelve men she humiliated to find that God truly does look upon the heart, and that He has chosen the heart of one of the men for her to have and to hold.