Wednesday, December 07, 2011
Anita Mae Draper informed me the winner of her book giveaway for her post last week is KarenK, so the book is already on its way to Karen. Congrats, Karen, and thanks to Anita for her generosity!
Now for our daily dose of Christmas Cheer!
Excerpt of Sarah’s Christmas Miracle by Mary Ellis
“What drew you here this morning?” the priest asked. “Why did you come inside St. Stephen’s?”
“Because I saw everybody coming to your church looked happy. I haven’t felt that way in a long time.” Cal’s words were little more than a whisper. “I wanted to know what was going on that folks were so all-fired-up eager to come.”
“I would like to say it’s the rousing sermons, but more likely, it’s the season. It’s impossible not to get fired-up when we remember God sent his only Son to earth that we may be saved—that through our steadfast faith in Him, we can one day enjoy the rewards of heaven.”
There it was—the same basic principle taught by the ministerial brethren—here in a place looking like a king’s palace. “God wouldn’t be too happy about your church spending this money on fancy decorations when so many are suffering out there.” Cal gestured toward the street and spat the bitter words, borne of frustration.
The priest’s expression revealed surprise but not outrage. “Sounds like you’re angry, son. Who are you mad at?”
“The job market, my mess of a life, mostly me, I guess.” Resentment drained away as quickly as it had appeared.
The priest placed his hand on Cal’s shoulder. “Then what’s keeping you? If the city life holds nothing for you, why not go home?”
Cal released a weary sigh. “I can’t go home. You don’t know what I’ve done. One night I drank an entire six-pack and passed out on the couch, sleeping all night in my clothes.” In a barely audible voice he continued, “I haven’t prayed or opened my Bible in ages. I haven’t kept myself pure for marriage, and I’m a disgrace to my family.”
Several long moments passed before the priest spoke as the magnificent church grew deathly quiet. “Do you think you’re the only Christian who has sinned? Do you think you’ve done so much wrong your parents could never forgive you? Do you think God can never forgive you? Because I assure you, if you are penitent, God will hear and answer prayers for forgiveness. God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and our Savior Jesus are the same here in St. Stephen’s as back home. Just close your eyes, still your mind, and listen with your heart.”
Cal couldn’t speak.
He could barely breathe. His throat had swelled with a burning tightness. Tears he’d been holding back since the priest sat down filled his eyes. He didn’t want Father Al to see his weakness. He was a grown man, not a boppli.
For the first time in years, a Deutsch word came to mind instead of English. He hadn’t forgotten the dialect of his childhood. Memories of his mamm and daed flooded back, with her gentle words and his guiding hands. No longer able to contain his emotions, Caleb bowed his head and wept. The priest squeezed his shoulder once more and silently crept away. Tears flowed uncontrollably down Cal’s face, washing away the last vestiges of his arrogance, pride, and shame.
Mary Ellis grew up near an Amish settlement and fell in love with their agrarian lifestyle. She has now written eight novels set in their peaceful communities. When she's not writing she enjoys gardening, bicycling, swimming and traveling with her college sweetheart, her husband of many years. Before "retiring" to write full-time, Mary taught middle school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate--a job with amazingly sweet fringe benefits. Her debut Christian book, A Widow's Hope, was a finalist for the 2010 ACFW Carol Awards.