Welcome to my little bit of cyber-space. It is my prayer that all who enter here may be richly blessed by the God of all grace. All praise to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Greatest Christmas Story ever--part two

King James Version (KJV)
Luke 2: 1-20

1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Greatest Christmas story of all time--Part one

Luke 1:26-38

King James Version (KJV)

26And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
27To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
28And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
29And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
30And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
31And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
32He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
34Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
35And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
36And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
37For with God nothing shall be impossible.
38And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Day 23 of Christmas Cheer, part five from A Place Called Home by Janet Lee Barton

Scene five
Beth had come down earlier, and now he found her in the kitchen, just closing the oven door on the huge turkey she’d put in to roast while they were at church. Jeb leaned against the doorframe, thoroughly enjoying the chance to watch his new bride putter around, until she finally turned and spotted him.


The delicate color that stole up her cheeks and the sweet smile she gave him when she saw him were enough to warm him clear through.


“Jeb! I didn’t hear you come downstairs. Coffee will be ready soon.”


“I should have known you’d be down here with this stove. It’s the real reason you accepted my proposal, isn’t it?” he teased.

Beth giggled. “Well, I’ll admit, my fingers have been itching to cook a meal on it ever since I found out you bought it. But, it’s certainly not the reason I married you.”

Jeb crossed the room in two strides and pulled her close with his good arm. “No?”

She shook her head as she gazed into his eyes. “No. I married you because I do love you, Jeb. . .more than I ever thought possible.”

Jeb’s heart seemed to expand in his chest. He knew she loved him, as he did her. They’d told each other so over and over in the past few days. But he’d never tire of hearing it. . .nor of saying it. “I love you, Beth.”

Jeb bent his head and captured her lips in a kiss meant to assure her completely that he was telling the truth. Cassie and Lucas yelled for them to hurry, and Beth quickly broke the kiss and pulled away.

“We’re coming,” Jeb answered. But he caught Beth’s arm as she started out of the kitchen and pulled her back into his embrace. The children could wait another minute or two.

“Merry Christmas,” he whispered right before his lips claimed Beth’s once more in a lingering kiss.

“Uncle Jeb, Aunt Beth!” Lucas was getting impatient to open his presents.

Jeb chuckled as Beth broke the kiss and pulled him toward the parlor. He followed willingly, thanking the Lord above for leading him to Beth. . .and to a place called home.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day 22 Christmas Cheer, part four of Janet Lee Barton's A Place Called Home

Scene four
Jeb stood only inches away, looking deep into her eyes. “I told you I was going to ask you again once the house was done. Well, it’s done and you need to make up your mind.”

“Jeb, I—” Beth’s heartbeat sounded like thunder in her ears, and she wondered if Darcie could hear it. She’d never felt so flustered in her life. She knew she needed to be doing something. . .she was at work. She turned around and found Darcie watching the two of them, several lines in her hand waiting to be plugged into sockets. “Can this wait? I’m working. I—”


“I’ve waited long enough.” Jeb pulled her close with his good arm. “I need an answer now.”

Now. He needed an answer.

Beth looked back to see her switchboard lighting up all over the place and Darcie trying to take care of both switchboards while trying not to miss a thing going on in the office. For the first time since she’d come to work here, Beth decided some things were just more important than the Roswell Telephone and Manufacturing Company.

“An answer to what?”

“You told me that if I finished the house by Christmas, you just might marry me. Back then, when I asked you to marry me, we barely knew each other and it was for the children’s sake. This time I’m asking simply because I love you. . .with all my heart, and I can’t imagine not seeing you every day. I want you out at the ranch with me and Cassie and Lucas. I know you may never love me like you loved Harland, but Beth, will you please marry me?”

It suddenly didn’t matter if the whole town would soon know what went on here. She turned her undivided attention to the man she loved. “Oh, Jeb! I. . .you. . .”

Beth stopped and took a deep breath. She had to tell him everything. “I thought I could learn to love Harland. I truly did. But I’d been having second thoughts about marrying him for weeks before he died. I was going to tell him the next time he came into town, only I didn’t have a chance before he was killed in the stampede. I promised myself that I would never marry a man I didn’t know and didn’t love after that. Then, you came into my life, and I’ve felt so guilty over the growing feelings I’ve had for you. I—“


Jeb shushed her with a finger at her lips. “I understand. I’ve had my share of guilt over falling in love with you. But I have. Deeply and completely. And I want nothing more than to marry you, if you’ll have me—”

Beth’s heart seemed to have wings as it rapidly beat in her chest. “Oh, Jeb. You are the only man I’ve truly loved. . .and yes, oh yes, I will marry you.”

Beth tried to be careful of his bad arm and sore ribs as Jeb pulled her closer and bent his head toward her. Their lips met and clung in a kiss that turned the challenge of a moment into a promise of a lifetime.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Cheer Day 21, part three from A Place Called Home by Janet Lee Barton

Scene three
It hadn’t. It was a short note. . .from Jeb’s boss. . .telling him his job was open and the children were welcome. Beth’s heart twisted in her chest. Was Harland right? Was Jeb fixing up the house only to sell out and go back north?


Well, there was only one way to find out. Beth ran though the house, down the porch steps, and around to the ladder leading to the roof. She clambered up it as fast as she could in her long skirts and holding the offending letter in her hand.

Jeb’s back was to her when her head cleared the roof line. “Can you tell me the meaning of this, Jeb Winslow?”

“Beth?” Jeb whirled around. “The meaning of what? What’s wrong?

She waved the paper in her hand. “This is wrong! Have you been planning on taking this man up on his offer? Are you leaving here? Fixing up the house just to sell out? Are you taking the children with you?”

Jeb got to his feet and stared down at her. . .his mouth opening and shutting at first. Then he found his voice. “How could you think that? I just asked you to help me decorate this house! Why would I be working this hard. . .trying to get this roof finished before the first snow. . .the house ready before Christmas. . .if I didn’t plan on making a home here?”

“You said that Mr. Snow thought it would add more value to the property!”

Jeb shut his eyes and shook his head before meeting her gaze again. “Beth Morgan—can’t you see. . .I’m trying my best to get this house finished by Christmas to answer your challenge. And why would I be doing that?”

“I don’t know. Why?”

“Because I—” Just as the words were out of his mouth, Jeb slipped and started sliding down the roof.

“Jeb!” Beth yelled, but there was nothing she could do except watch him fall. She didn’t know if she heard or felt the thud as he hit the ground, but her heart seemed to stop beating as she saw him lying on the ground. Jeb didn’t move. No! Tears streamed down her face. It was all her fault. Had she killed the only man she’d ever loved?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Cheer, Day 20, scene two from Janet Barton's A Place Called Home

Scene two
“I’m glad I’ve had good weather,” Jeb said. “Christmas will be here before we know it.”


“It sure will be. And it will be time to decorate that tree at school. How about we string some popcorn and cranberries?”

“Sounds good to me.” Jeb chuckled. “How about you, Lucas? You ready to learn how to thread a needle?”

Cassie ran to get Beth’s sewing basket while Jeb and Lucas popped the corn. Then Beth brought out the cranberries she’d found at Jaffa-Prager, and they began making garland.

It took only a moment to teach Lucas what to do, and for the next few hours, they took turns stringing and eating the popped corn. By the time the popcorn was gone, they found that the cranberry garland was longer by at least half, but they had two beautiful contributions to the decorating of the school tree.

“Next time, I’ll have to pop more,” Beth commented as she began to clean up. “I think it’s time for bed, children. You have school tomorrow.”

Jeb got to his feet. “Guess I’d better get back to the ranch.”


Cassie and Lucas gave him a hug, and Beth walked him to the door.

“Did you ever get a chance to talk to Liddy about Christmas?” Jeb whispered.

Beth nodded and pulled a piece of paper from her pocket. “I telephoned her. These are some things she suggested.”

“Thank you. I haven’t had a chance to get by their place. I guess I ought to see about getting one of those telephones installed. Can I get one out there?”

Beth nodded. “Yes, you’re close to town, and there are lines out that way now. Cal and Liddy live farther out than you and they have one. Would you like me to place your order tomorrow?”

“Would you, please? I’ve never had a use for one, but I suppose it would be good to have, once I move Cassie and Lucas out there.”

“Well, naturally, I’m a big believer in having a telephone. Liddy and I can keep in touch much easier, instead of waiting to see each other on a Sunday or running into each other when she comes into town. Plus, if one of the children gets sick and you need a doctor to come out, it will make it easier and faster to get hold of him.”

“I hadn’t thought of all those things. Please, do put my order in tomorrow.”

“I will.”

Jeb stood looking at her for a moment. “You know. . .Christmas is almost here. The house is going to be finished soon.”

Beth held her breath.

He reached out and touched a wayward curl of hair on her forehead. “You haven’t forgotten your challenge to me, have you?”

She could only shake her head.

“Well, then. . .it appears you have some thinking to do. Because I haven’t forgotten, either.”

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Cheer, Day 19, part one from A Place Called Home by Janet Barton

This week we will be enjoying five scenes from Janet Barton's A Place Called Home. I want to thank Janet again for being so generous in her sharing with us this Christmas season! Enjoy, and come back tomorrow for part two.

Part One
Still, it would be the perfect answer for keeping the children with her, and something deep inside wished that what Jeb was proposing could become a reality. But it couldn’t—no matter how many somersaults her heart did or how fast her pulse raced each time he came near. After all Harland had told her about Jeb, she just couldn’t believe he could commit himself to her and the children. It was only a matter of time until he took off. . .in spite of how good his intentions seemed to be.


Now, she tried hard not to let Jeb see how deeply his proposal had affected her. “Jeb, your brother and I corresponded for months before he moved out here. Enough to get to know each other a little.” But, not well enough. “You and I have only known each other a few days.” And you cause my heart to race in a way your brother never did. “Besides, Harland told me you would never settle down. . .that you were used to going wherever you wanted to, whenever you wanted to. You aren’t used to staying in one place.”

“That doesn’t mean I can’t or won’t.”

Could he? Would he? Her heart thudded against her chest. If he did, might this be an answer to her prayers as a way to keep the children? Dare she allow herself to hope that he would stay? No. She couldn’t. She would only be setting herself up for disappointment and heartache.


Beth just couldn’t see him staying for long, and she had a feeling the only way she could deal with his proposal was to treat it lightly. “Well, I tell you what. If you stay around long enough to finish the house. . .maybe I’ll just agree to marry you.”

“Lady, I’m going to accept your challenge. I’ll have it finished by Christmas. And when I finish it, you are going to have a decision to make.”

Beth tried to ignore the warm wave of elation flowing through her at his words. She forced herself to laugh off his acceptance, praying he couldn’t tell how flustered she felt. “By Christmas?”

“Yes.”

“We’ll see.” Christmas was over three months away. He’d probably be long gone by then.

“Yes, we will.” Jeb grinned at her as he stood to go. He sauntered over to the back door and took his hat off the hook beside the door. “We sure enough will. Good night, Beth.”

Beth shut the door behind him and locked it with trembling fingers. Leaning her forehead against the curtained window, she took a deep breath and tried to will her rapidly beating heart to slow down. Had she really said she might marry him if he finished the house by Christmas? She thought back over the conversation. It appeared she had. And he had accepted her challenge.

She shook her head and pushed away from the door, trying to put it all out of her mind as she busied herself cleaning up the kitchen. But, she couldn’t get Jeb Winslow out of her mind. Part of her was sure he hadn’t meant what he’d said. . .and another part was afraid to hope that he did.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Cheer, Day 18, a book review of Remembering Christmas by Dan Walsh

I have read and enjoyed all of Dan Walsh's other books, so I wasn't surprised to find that Remembering Christmas is now one of my all-time favorite Christmas books, which is saying something since I write and collect Christmas books! And since my husband and I just listened to a Nicholas Sparks book on a long trip, I was struck by how similar their writing is.
All of the characters seem so real, flaws and all. The main male lead, Rick Denton, is the most unlikeable at the beginning, which makes his later transformation seem like the miracle all true transformations are. His mom and step-dad are very giving, people-loving individuals, well-loved by all who know them. His step-dad's aneurysm compels Rick to show up to help out in the imaginary town of Seabreeze, Florida.

Rick notices Andrea, a good-looking brunette, as soon as he walks in his parents' bookstore, but they are miles apart in many ways, plus she has a young daughter. The daughter and Andrea soon win Rick's attention, then his heart. But could it ever work?

I don't want to tell too many details, but there is romance, drama, and a big surprise near the end that I didn't see coming, but which helped tie many of the pieces together. I know this book will become a Christmas classic, so be sure to add it to your shelf and/or buy a copy for someone on your list who loves to read Christmas stories. You/they won't be disappointed!

I highly recommend this book to all Nicholas Sparks fans! And for those who haven't read Dan Walsh's books before, I suggest you buy all 4 because after you read one, you will want to read the others!

I did receive this book from the publisher (Revell) for review purposes, but this review is entirely my own opinion, not based on the gift.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Cheer Day 17--Savanna's Gift by Camille Eide
Savanna’s Gift is a Christmas story about second chances and recognizing God’s true gifts in your life, set in an elegantly adorned, rustic ski lodge in the beautiful evergreen Oregon Cascades.


(tagline) When Savanna gets a second chance at the love of her life, will her dream that divided them get in the way?

(summary) Forced to return to the ski lodge where she once worked, Savanna Holt is reminded of one special Christmas and how ambition led her to make the worst mistake of her life: Leaving Luke Nelson. Stunned to discover Luke never left, but worked his way up from lift operator to manager, Savanna sees the opportunity as a gift from God. She’s determined to win Luke back. But Luke wants no reminders of his past hurt, or a relationship with the woman who put ambition before love. Can Savanna convince Luke she’s changed and her interest isn't because of his position? And when her dream job beckons, will she sacrifice her dream for a second chance at love?

A snippet of the story: (Chapter one)
The steady drizzle switched to a fierce spattering of rain mixed with snow as Savanna Holt exited the freeway and headed east toward the mountains. She switched the wipers to double time and checked the rearview mirror. Mylie was still dozing, her soft, red curls pressed into her princess pillow. Savanna smiled. Her goddaughter had turned out to be a pretty good little traveler and hadn’t complained much in the four hours since she’d waved goodbye to her mama. Savanna suspected her best friend, Natalie, had mustered every scrap of willpower she had to keep from gathering up little Mylie for another last hug before sending her off to spend Christmas with her grandparents. Savanna also suspected Natalie was the one needing the extra hugs, considering what the coming days with her dying dad would bring.

Savanna scanned the radio stations until she found one playing upbeat Christmas music and hummed along with the melody. “But as long as you love me so, let it snow, let it snow, let it—”

She let a flat chuckle slip out. “OK, scratch that.”

According to the forecast, the pass was already getting plenty of snow. The couple winters she had spent working at Evergreen Ridge Resort taught her several things—like how a blast of fresh powder would heighten the holiday spirit at the popular Oregon ski lodge. Not that this trip would have her sticking around long enough to sample the Christmas spirit or the skiing. If she’d left home earlier, as she’d intended, she wouldn’t have to be on that mountain any longer than it took to deliver Mylie-Bug to her grandparents and kiss her goodbye. But as late as it was now, driving down a slick mountain in the middle of the night after a full day on the road was asking for trouble. The Freemans had insisted on booking her a room as a way of saying thanks for delivering their granddaughter. No problem; she could leave early in the morning and still get to her mom’s place in plenty of time to catch a Christmas Eve re-run of It’s a Wonderful Life.

Now that was ironic.

Lord, help my mom. I’ll do what I can to help her, but I can’t change her. Only You can.

Savanna eased out a sigh. I should know—You changed me.

The windshield fogged. She cranked up the defrost and checked on Mylie again. Turning up Rocking Around the Christmas Tree, she focused on the road. When Natalie asked Savanna for this favor, she had smiled to cover her reluctance and agreed to help her friend. Natalie's father was dying and her husband was deployed. Besides, all she had to do was take Mylie to Evergreen Ridge where Natalie's in-laws were celebrating Christmas. Natalie would do the same for her in a heartbeat. But the gnawing in her gut reminded Savanna what the task would entail. Seeing Evergreen Ridge at Christmas would unleash an avalanche of memories, taking Savanna back to her last Christmas there, summoning all the emotions and sensations as if it were only yesterday. The majesty of the pristine, snow-coated mountain rising behind the lodge, the glow of twinkling lights, the rustic-yet-elegant beauty of the décor, the blazing fire in the massive stone fireplace, the amazing aromatic blend of fir and peppermint and spice—everything would probably be just like it was before. Everything except for Luke’s quiet, heartfelt proposal and her melting into his arms with a breathless yes. Everything except that part.

Without warning, images of Luke’s calm, green eyes and amused smile spilled into her thoughts, stirring up a fresh burst of regret. The kind of regret she could only put to rest by praying, again, that she was done learning life’s most important lessons the hard way . . .

(where to find it:) SAVANNA’S GIFT by Camille Eide: a Christmas Romance Novella (eBook) *special holiday price: $1.00 thru 12/31/11* Available December 3, 2011 at: http://www.camilleeide.com/books.html



(bio) Camille Eide writes contemporary romance and romantic women’s fiction. She lives in Oregon with her husband and is mom to three brilliant college-age kids. She’s grateful for the amazing grace of God, and either in spite of or thanks to that grace, she has a PhD in Learning Stuff the Hard Way. She’s also a church secretary, a bassist, and a passably devoted fan of classic rock, muscle cars, and Jane Austen. Visit Camille at www.camilleeide.com .

Friday, December 16, 2011

Spotlight on Jude Urbanski, author of Joy Restored

We interrupt our Christmas Cheer to share an interview I set up several months ago with my friend Jude Urbanski whose first book released this fall. My comments are in bold, and Jude's are in regular type.
1. Tell us about your favorite book as a child and your favorite book as an adult. Can you see a connection between those books?
Rose, the Holy Bible aside, my favorite books as a child were a series about Mary Carlton, MD. Mary was a doctor when female doctors were scarce. She was a strong character and a trailblazer. As an adult, I've had many, many favorites, but one sticks with me and that is Mitchner's Centennial. Again strong women characters forging new boundaries.

2. What is your favorite Scripture? Do you also have a favorite Scripture that encourages you in your writing?
Oh, that's almost like asking 'which child do I love the best.' I feast upon the Word in all its fullness! But I have to say Isa 49:16 "See, I have you engraved in the palms of my hands" is one of my favorites. As far as one that encourages me when I write, it would be again Isaiah-58:11 where He tells me He will guide me always and satisfy my needs in a sun scorched land. I love both of those Scriptures also!

3. If you could go to any place in the world to research/write a book, what setting would you choose?
Wow, Rose, these are incredible questions. I have been a lot of places in the world, but a place with the combination of water and mountains would be my pick. An island with mountains in the background? Sounds like Hawaii to me which is one of my favorite spots!

4. I often wonder if I would write if I had to do it the old-fashioned way without computers and spell-checks and email. Is there anything about technology that you don't like? Or anything about it that you feel enhances your writing?
I have done 'by hand' writing in the past and enjoy that pencil to paper. I've heard David McCollough, the history writer, still writes on a legal pad from a small cabin behind his home. Will confess, I don't know how I would do without a computer now though! I love how easy it is to correct, reorganize. I adore the electronic dictionary and thesaurus.

5. As a writer how have you had to grow and stretch out of your comfort zone?
Oh me! I've had to spend time reading craft books, taking classes, giving up relaxation time and have had to invest time and money to travel this journey. That said, I've also had to hone my observation skills, my imagination, my vocabulary. I've had to really put myself emotionally into my characters. Will say, I never view a movie the same anymore and that I like things I've had to learn about writing and the person I have become through it. I agree with all of these words of wisdom, Jude!

6. What advice would you give to a beginning writer that you wish someone had given you?
It's not a perfect science. There is much subjectivity to the whole industry. It takes discipline and perseverance, but if you feel writing is the way you can use your creativity for God, don't give up. Do it unto Him and it will be used how He wants. Amen!

7. Do you want to add anything about your book such as how to order it?
My book is called a modern historical, which just cracks me up if I have lived that long! It starts with the end of the Vietnam War as a young widow lashes out at God and almost misses the incredible love offered by a Christian widower, who's no stranger to grief himself. I once had a story idea that began with the VietNam war, and was told it wasn't contemporary and too soon to be historical, so maybe it's time to get it out again.

You can always go to http://www.desertbreezepublishing.com/ or my web site http://www.judeurbanski.com/ or any electronic publisher.

Thanks for having me, Rose, and you can pick the lucky winner of an electronic copy of my book from your visitors who leave us a comment and email address. I will do that Jude. Let's give them a week to comment, so the drawing will be next Friday with the winner posted at the top of Saturday's blogpost. And thanks for visiting, Jude. I enjoyed getting to know you better through your  thoughtful answers.

AUTHOR BIO


Jude Urbanski writes women's fiction featuring a strong inspirational romance element. She invites you to stories of heroes and heroines who spin tragedy into triumph with help from God. She has been writing in some fashion nearly all her life. Her mother wrote sweet romances in the 1930's, her daughters write, as do her grandchildren and several other family members.

First published in non-fiction, Jude continues to write in this field also. She has two electronic novels, The Chronicles of Chanute Crossing, published by Desert Breeze Publishing. She is a columnist for Maximum Living, a magazine focusing on spirituality and wellness for women. She has been a blogger for Ellechor Publishing, Hoosier Ink and her own blog.

Jude graduated from Indiana University with a Masters Degree in Nursing. After launching a family, she spent years in her beloved nursing career. She says, ''I thoroughly enjoyed being a nurse." Look for her nurse practitioner experience in her novels.

She is a member of national and area chapters of American Christian Fiction Writers and the National League of American Pen Women and her local fiction group. Jude and her husband Conrad live in Indiana, volunteer in the community, love travel and biking and share a blended family of eight beautiful children and lots more beautiful grandchildren.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Cheer, Day 15--Zeke Lam and SUBMISSION

This post is not an ordinary Christmas Cheer message, but since Jesus is the Reason for the Season, I believe Zeke Lam's book does tie in well with the Christmas message. Here's what church leaders are saying about this book:

Prepare to be stirred by this authentic calling to return to Scriptural obedience.

—Pastor Gabe Turner, The Point Church of Charlottesville, Virginia

In my opinion Zeke has laid his finger on the defining message for our time. This message is essential for believers everywhere…
—Eric Stephens, Pastor of Life Changing Ministries and Fellowship in Sugarland, Texas


What is the greatest challenge that the Church is facing today? Zeke Lam suggests that one word is the greatest challenge: submission, or the lack thereof. It is not external forces that nullify the testimony of a Christ-centered believer, but rather the failure to humbly submit to the voice of the Lord. This book will help you to live a surrendered life abiding in Christ.

Ø Is the approval of God more important to you than the approval of man?

Ø Is the presence of God evident in your life?

Ø Do you fiercely protect your intimacy with Christ?

Ø Do you desire to live a life of truth, free from the lies of the devil?

Ø Is God’s divine character visible to those around you?

Learn how to submit your life wholeheartedly to the Lord so that you can dwell continually in the secret place—a place of intimacy, surrender and joy.

Now for some answers to some questions to help us better understand where Zeke is coming from:

1) Tell us more about yourself.

I am 27 years old and have been married to my beautiful wife, Kathleen, for 6 years. We have three children (4, 2, and 2 months) that we love very much. I have ministered since the age of 18 as a youth minister and evangelist. In addition to this, I operate a small business which constructs ornamental concrete such as flower pots, bird baths, etc. I also help out with the family furniture when time permits. We are passionate to see Christ glorified through our lives, and constantly seek to use our lives to share the Gospel. This has led our family all over the world. Our most recent “adventure” involved us literally driving to a town in Texas, renting an apartment, and seeking the Lord. Although we knew nobody or anything about the place, God gave us an entire church fellowship in 2 days! This turned into an incredible 7 month stay that is surely not finished yet.

2) What motivated you to write this book?
Compromise is way too commonplace today. I have seen it in the church, in families, and in my own life. If revival is to take place in our society, God’s people must be willing to operate with the level of obedience and submission God requires. Mixing our opinions with God’s commands or desires is the very recipe for disaster. If we will fully release ourselves to Jesus Christ, and be willing to follow Him the way He commands, a shift will take place in our society! Ultimately, shortcomings in my own life with regards to submissions sparked this fire.

3) What do you hope this book accomplishes?
My hope and prayer is that Christians nationwide will be challenged to step into a realm of Scriptural obedience that will spark revival!

4) Did you learn anything (or did God show you anything) as you were writing?
I certainly experienced moments where I was convicted about the level of submission I lived under. God revealed to me the importance of denying any and all voices that seek to lure us from His presence. Submission to Him will position us for spiritual greatness!

5) Do you believe people struggle with the idea of "submission"? If so, why?
Yes, we all struggle with the idea of full submission. It means releasing our control and desires to the Lord. When we do not feel in control, it creates an emotion of insecurity. This insecurity is what makes us resists submission on many levels. When it comes to submitting to our Lord Jesus, we must reject these emotions, and faithfully surrender our lives.

6) Your subtitle mentions obeying only God's voice. What are some ways people can hear God's voice?
God desires to interact with us in ways we could never imagine. The Holy Spirit is very much alive and active, but the question is, will we allow ourselves to get in position to hear Him. He speaks through the Scriptures, His written word. He speaks to our hearts as we intimately seek Him daily through prayer and fasting. He can speak through people and situations around us. God is not limited to anything and can therefore speak any way He chooses. The only real issue is that which restricts and hinders us from hearing.

Bio: ZEKE LAM is the founder of SUBMISSION Ministries—a ministry devoted to seeing lost souls encounter God and live lives fully surrendered to the risen Christ. A graduate of Liberty University, Zeke’s deep passion for following Christ’s will has led him through many years of youth ministry and itinerant evangelism. Both of these experiences have enriched and fueled his desire to hand others the keys to a Christ-centered life. Zeke resides in Virginia with his beautiful wife, Kathleen, and a growing family of future world-changers.

3. ISBN-13 978-1-9374-8100-1
4. ISBN-10 1-9374-8100-X
5. Author website http://submissionministries.org/

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Day 14 of Christmas Cheer--Christmas Cookies by Carol Hungerford

Christmas Cookies


Blowing and drifting snow did not prevent me from walking the four blocks to school that day for our school Christmas concert. I sang our first grade class song for the school concert as I plowed through the snow drifts on my way home that afternoon. “Oh little town of Bethlehem.” My hands were warm thanks to my red mittens, and a red hat kept my ears covered against the harsh wind. In mid December of 1957, girls wore a pair of slacks under their dress to keep warm. Excitement filled my spirit all the way down to my black rubber snow boots. When I get home today, Mom is going to help me make Christmas cookies.

The cookie dough was ready for rolling out. I stood on a two step ladder to reach across the giant deep freezer where I could roll and cut to my hearts' delight. I reached across the huge circle of cookie dough , I pushed the star cookie cutter into the dough until I could feel it stop against the top of the freezer. Standing on the ladder I could sprinkle flour on the surface and continue to roll out the dough into circles large enough to cut several cookies. I used nine different cutters to make the cookies. A star, candy cane, holly sprig, angel, snowman, Christmas tree, snow flake, mitten and hat.

Carefully, I placed the cutouts onto the cookie sheet with Moms' help. Mom deftly slid the loaded sheet into the oven to bake to a lightly golden brown then to be deposited onto the cooling racks.

I mixed up frosting in colors of white, green, red, blue and yellow. While I waited for the cookies to cool enough so the frosting wouldn't melt, I thought about who would receive the gift of these delicious cookies.

A plate to Grandma and Grandpa. Another plate to our neighbors. One for an elderly couple who seldom had visitors. A plate for two elderly sisters who attended our church. And finally, the Hansen family of seven, whose father lived in another town and the mother took care of the five children by herself and worked at two jobs to support them.

Mom said we could send some clothes or toys along with the cookies to the Hansen family. I thought about what things I could give to the Hanson kids. I went to my room that I shared with my sister Becky. I went to my dresser and brought out a sack with marbles in it. In another drawer I found a doll with peekaboo eyes and a blue plaid dress. I asked Becky if she could give something of hers and she gave me a pink sweater with rhinestone buttons on it. I went to the storeroom and found a spinning top in a bag. I went to the closet and pulled out my pair of red mittens. Now I had something for all the kids. Mom put together a box of groceries for Mrs. Hanson.

Frosting the cookies with so many wonderful colors was great fun and messy too. I licked my fingers off from time to time until every cookie was frosted. Carefully we placed each cookie onto the selected plates and wrapped them in Christmas wrap. We wrapped the gifts with paper and ribbons too.

That evening, Dad drove the whole family around town to distribute the plates as we'd planned. When we got to the Hanson home, we were greeted by excited children at the door. Maggie Hanson was in my class at school. We handed the gifts to Mrs. Hanson and she expressed her thanks for making their Christmas a special one. She unwrapped the cookies so everyone could have one. Mrs. Hanson picked up the angel frosted in golden yellow and said, “for the angel said to the shepards on that first Christmas night, “Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people, for unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord.”.”

I learned some important lessons that day. First, that it is better to give than to receive. Second, it is good to share joy and hope with those less fortunate than us. And finally, God can reach down and touch our hearts with something as simple as a cookie shapeed like an angel. May the hope that is Christmas always live in your hearts.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Cheer Day 13, a scene from A Christmas Wish by JoAnn Swearingen

JoAnn and I have traded critiques over the years, and I love her writing and artwork. (See sample below of her holding a prize-winning picture she painted of her daughter hanging an ornament on the Christmas tree!) This passage below from A Christmas Wish brought an "Aww" from my lips when I got to the end of it. Hope she gets this book published so I can read the rest of the story. Now, here are JoAnn's thoughts about Christmas:

Christmas brings out the child in all of us--the wonder, the excitement, and anticipation of the season. We look forward to nativity scenes, Christmas lights and decorations, giving and receiving gifts, and a candle light service at church. This scene is part of a romance I'm working on titled A Christmas Wish. I pray for all of you a joyous holiday as we share the story of the birth of our Lord and Savior. JoAnn Swearingen, author and artist.


Scene from A Christmas Wish

. . . Emma and Talon circled the tree, clapped their hands, and squealed. Another scene, decades ago, flashed into my mind. The week before Christmas when my Mom brought the family tree home. She would wrap cotton around the stand and then place the evergreen on the counter. The counter separated the kitchen from the living/dining/bedroom area in the small trailer we lived in. The angel topper touched the rounded ceiling.

Then she brought out the magic—the lights, which she had hidden in a cupboard in my parents’ room. We weren’t allowed to touch anything in their room, so we saw those lights only once a year.

They had round bases, like old-fashioned lamps, and tiny chimneys. Colored fluid bubbled up when the lights were plugged in. Mom draped the string around the tree, and we helped fasten the thin metal clips to the branches. The scent of fresh pine reminded me of the outdoor books I read and enjoyed—Lassie Come Home and Jack London’s Call of the Wild.

We would turn off the overhead bulb and watch green, red, yellow, and blue lights flicker like stars. When we finally had to put down the folding dining table to make a bed, my sister, brother, and I begged to leave the tree on. Mom would give in. I suspected now, years later, the tree was really Mom’s tree. She never mentioned celebrating Christmas at my grandparents’ house. Grandpa thought Christmas was a waste of good money.

As a child I stayed awake most of the night listening to the gurgle of colored gas floating up the stems. I thought about the present I would receive on Christmas morning. Mom would ask us what one thing we wanted and sure enough that was what we found under the tree.

The year I turned nine I asked for a Bible. Mom mentioned she had read both the Old and New Testaments when she was in the eighth grade, and I thought I wanted to do the same.

Christmas morning the Bible was all I found with my name on it. No toys. Nothing but what I asked for. I turned the little mahogany –colored book over and over in my hands while I watched my brother play with the toy he wanted. My sister, who was older, asked for a blouse, which she modeled for us. I sat with my Bible and felt the pangs of growing up. But I didn’t want to grow up. I wanted Mom to care enough to know my heart and tuck a toy or small doll in my package as well as what I'd asked for.

My heart still ached for the little girl I was then.

Emma and Talon snuggled into my lap. I held them close, and we watched the tree lights twinkle.

“What do you want for Christmas, Mommy?” Emma asked.

JoAnn's bio:
Words have always fascinated me. However, a third grade teacher and my Dad inspired me to be an author. Nancy Drew Mysteries and later Mary Higgins Clark's books hooked me on mysteries and suspense. My Dad grew up in an orphanage and couldn't read or write. So I was thrilled to go to school and learn how. However, words and books didn't connect for me until a third grade teacher read to us everyday after lunch.


All my life I’ve found ways to express myself either through writing or art. Even my paintings tell a story. I’m a former freelance photo-journalist, college writing professor, newspaper feature editor, managing editor, and have written articles for national and international magazines. In fiction, I am a finalist in the Tony Hillerman Mystery Writers competition. I hold a Master of Arts degree in English and Literature and have extensive training in oil and pastel painting.

I am the South Central Kansas area coordinator for ACFW, belong to the SouthCentral chapter, member of Oil Painters of America, and Kansas Academy of Oil Painters. My life verse—“I will instruct you says the Lord and guide you along the best pathway for your life; I will advise you and watch your progress.” Psalms 32:8 The Living Bible

JoAnn Swearingen

Suspense & mystery with a twist of humor

http://www.joannswearingenauthor.com/

http://www.joannswearingenfineart.com/

Monday, December 12, 2011

Holiday Cheer Day 12--Polar Bear Plunge by Linda Glaz

Today's author/agent is Linda Glaz who sent a blurb about her just-released Polar Bear Plunge from White Rose Publishing. I've never met Linda, but her humor comes through in her bio, so I think this book would live up to the endorsement on the front cover: "Heart-warming, funny and poignant...a real winner." ~ Deborah D. Harper

Polar Bear Plunge Blurb:

Striving to put meaning back into her life after her husband’s death, Aleni Callan immerses herself in hospital work. Angry with God, she finds herself even angrier, when hero, Brice Taylor, author of The Human Shield, arrives in the Emergency Room with a concussion and hypothermia after participating in the Polar Bear Plunge. Aleni wants nothing to do with a man who willingly takes chances with his life.

Brice doesn’t understood how God could bring him through being a captive in Iraq, when he failed his troops so miserably. Writing about his escape brings fame he would rather avoid. And by meeting widow, Aleni Callan, his feelings of failure only increase.

Megan Callan with the help of her three-year-old grandson, Ty, scheme to bring Aleni and Brice together. And while the best laid plans often go awry, Megan isn’t one to accept no.


Linda S. Glaz Bio:

I’m a wife and mother of three. I balance being a child of God while also being older than God. Hmmm, scary, but almost true. I’ve been blessed to have had an amazing life so far: Air Force meteorologist during Vietnam era, teaching karate and self-defense along with soccer for 25+ years. I sing and direct in church and community theatre musicals where this little old lady sounds more like the guys than the gals. Also scary, but true. I work in a physical therapy clinic three days a week to earn money to keep my writing afloat. My writing life is a 24/7 proposition. When not writing my own stories, I am an agent for Hartline Literary Agency. I wear so many different hats I’m surprised I wasn’t invited to the Royal wedding. Blessings to everyone, may your writing dreams all come true.

Sunday, December 11, 2011



Day 11 of Christmas Cheer--another selection by Janet Lee Barton

I remember reading this darling story several years ago, and am glad for this chance to revisit it. And I hope everyone will come back next Sunday for another sweet scene with Jonathan, his twins and Cindy.

Christmas Scene from the Novella The Cookie Jar in A Connecticut Christmas:

It didn't take Jonathan long to have an idea of what his twins were up to with all their whispering that evening. When they took Cindy home, he pulled up in her drive, got out and hurried around to open the door for her while she told the twins goodnight.

He peeked into the backseat and said, "I'm just going to walk Cindy to the door. I'll be right back, okay?"

"Okay, Daddy," Lydia said as he shut the door.

He'd left the car running to keep it warm, and before he and Cindy had rounded the front of the car, Landon's window rolled down. "Daddy!"

Jonathan turned, "What, son?"

Landon motioned him over to the car and whispered loudly. "Don't forget to kiss her goodnight. That's what you're 'posed to do on a date."

"Roll up that window," Jonathan said sternly to his son. He wasn't sure what to say. He just grasped Cindy's elbow as he walked her to her door. He took her key from her and unlocked the door, then he turned to find Cindy looking a bit bemused . . . and trying not to laugh. "I'm sorry," he said. "You just never know what's going to come out of a five year olds mouth, especially, the two of mine. What I'd really like to know is how they learned so much about dating?"

Cindy's laughter broke free."I wondered about that, too."

Jonathan shook his head and chuckled. "Thank you for being such a good sport. I . . . ah . . . I would like to kiss you, though."

Her eyes opened wide and her lips curved up into a half-smile. "You would?"

"Of course I would. I wanted to kiss you, even before Landon spoke up. You are a beautiful woman and I had a wonderful time tonight. I'd be crazy not to take my son's advice, don't you think?"

Her smile widened, seeming to give him permission. Jonathan began to lower his head, and then paused. "But I'm not going to let him know I did." He led Cindy a little closer to her door and turned her so that she couldn't be seen from the car. Only then did he bring his lips down to touch hers briefly . . . once . . . then to linger a moment the second time. He felt a slight pressure, and thought it was a response, but he wasn't pushing his luck. He raised his head and looked into her eyes. "Have a good day tomorrow. I'll be talking to you."

Saturday, December 10, 2011

More Christmas Cheer--showcase of a Christmas devotional book by Saundra Dalton-Smith MD


Today I am happy to announce Saundra's upcoming e-newsletter devotional series based on Set Free to Live Free. The series is called 12 Days of Unwrapping the Gift of You.

Special Christmas Devotional Series based on Set Free to Live Free by Saundra Dalton-Smith MD

I want to invite you to join me in creating a new holiday tradition - unwrapping the gift of you each day during the 12 days of Christmas. During these 12 days you will receive an original email devotional based on the principles in Set Free to Live Free: Breaking Through the 7 Lies Women Tell Themselves. You will uncover new truths about who you are in Christ and the gift He has deposited inside of you. We will work together through scripture passages and reflect on the truth it sheds on your value. In addition to unwrapping the gift of you, a wonderful group of authors, life coaches, health coaches and nutritionists have teamed up to offer special gifts ($15-100 gift cards, books, CD’s, coaching packages, and more) to those participating in these 12 days! Sign-up at: http://bit.ly/Unwrap

~You can download the entire first chapter of Set Free to Live Free at http://www.setfreetolivefreebook.com/ ~

Author Bio
Saundra Dalton-Smith MD is a board-certified internal medicine physician who has been practicing medicine since 1999. She treats a predominantly female population and has firsthand experience with the struggles women face trying to imitate the American dream. Dr. Dalton-Smith has been an adjunct faculty member at Baker College and Davenport University in Michigan. She teaches courses on health, nutrition, and disease progression. Dr. Dalton-Smith has offered health care from 2002-2007 through the National Health Service Corp. She lives in Alabama with her husband and two boys. She is a committed Christian and passionate about helping others experience freedom in Christ.

Back Cover Copy
Imagine life with unlimited possibility, where fear, misconceptions, and insecurities don't have the power to rob us of our potential or our dreams. Many women have trouble seeing this vision because they are bound by mental ties that keep them from living free.

In Set Free to Live Free, Saundra Dalton-Smith shows women how to break free from seven mental ties that hold them back, including striving for perfection, comparing themselves to others, all-or-nothing attitudes, and more. Through case studies and inspirational writing, she encourages women to embrace spontaneity, be transparent, nurture their bodies, and cultivate a balanced life.

Endorsements

"Finally a book that brings to light the lies that women have been fed since childhood--and how to break their emotional grip on our lives forever. Saundra Dalton-Smith shows us just how precious we are to God, and how we can live empowered and drama-free lives."--Carol M. Mackey, author of the bestselling Sistergirl Devotions: Keeping Jesus in the Mix on the Job

"The God part of our brain is powerful. Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith has captured the role of Spirit in the healing process with clarity and love in her book Set Free to Live Free."--Jane I. Honikman, MS, founder of Postpartum Support International

What readers are saying about Set Free to Live Free …

“Set Free To Live Free, is a book every woman should read. Better yet, read it with your daughters. Oh, the lies we tell ourselves!” –Robin

“Free to be my personal best, to not compare myself to others but to be the best unique me that God created me to be...what a wonderful freeing message.” –R Kay

“There are other books that discuss lies that women tell themselves. Did we need another one? I did. Even if you think you have heard it all before, I would encourage you to read Set Free to Live Free. I’ve taken seven pages of notes and made liberal use of a yellow highlighter.”- Patricia

“Wow, what a powerful book! This might be the best book I've read all year!” –Lori

“I love books that are not `self-help,' but `Christ-help.' Such is the case with Set Free to Live Free. I really feel like the Lord has brought this book to me `for such a time as this.' I think He is going to do some mighty works in my life in the near future, and I think He wanted to bring these truths to my attention at this point in time! ” –Andrea

“I think all women would benefit greatly from this book.” –Brenda

“This book is very, very real and practical - there are no frills and no band-aids offered every other sentence. This makes the book very good for those of us who lead busy lives as adults and really do not want to be talked down to by someone who is writing a book that is supposed to offer help and strength. Strength is tough! The author understands that.” – Ashley

“Set Free to Live Free is just that freedom from all the lies we as woman have become comfortable with through the years.” –Mrs. Bailey

“This is a book I will need to read again and really ponder how to apply the principals to my life. I sure could use a little setting free that's for sure.” –Mary

Saundra’s Interview Q and A
1. What motivated you to become a writer?
I've always loved reading and for me writing is a natural extension of that love. My writings began with my own personal journals. I never thought I would ever pursue publication, but a few precious women helped change my mind. One was a patient who presented to my office during a particularly busy day. I just did not have the time to spend with her that I desired. That night I thought, "I wish I had something I could have given her that shared my heart on her issues." From that I started putting together ideas for handouts to use at the office and it just escalated from there into a book.

2. In Set Free to Live Free, you address not only patient’s physical issues but also their emotional and spiritual ones. To be able to give this type of guidance it seems like you would need longer than normal appointments with your patients. How much time do you set aside for appointments?
My office operates like most medical offices in that appointments are set at 15-30 minute intervals depending on the type of appointment. Every patient visit does not have the dynamics of those discussed in the book. There are quick visits for acute issues as well as longer visits where I manage chronic medical issues for my patients. During all visits I pay attention to the non-verbal language of my patients. I ask pointed questions based on my observations and see if a patient is ready to discuss further those areas. Some will be receptive leading to an extended visit and some will still have their personal walls up cutting our time short. So for every visit that goes over 10 minutes there is usually a corresponding visit that will be under the allotted time. It all just seems to work out in the end.

3. Was there a section or chapter of Set Free to Live Free that was more difficult for you to write? If so, why?
The section on balance (chapters 9 and 10) was definitely the most difficult for me to write. Balance is an area I am still working through myself, so it was as if I had to take a dose of my own medicine with each word. A much needed dose I must add. I think learning how to balance family and career is one of the hardest things a working mom faces. When I finally got to the point of writing Chapter 10 I had a hard time wording what I was feeling. So instead of just talking about what I was feeling I began that chapter actually describing the feelings as an analogy. Sharing your raw emotions has a healing quality of its own. It began as the hardest chapter to write and ended as the one that gave me the most joy and peace.

4. There are many practical responses recommended in Set Free to Live Free. Do you recommend women go through the book on their own, join a study group, or go to a counselor for help in implementing the principles on a deeper level?
It really depends on the woman. I've had women come to me that have such a difficult time with self-disclosure that they would do best beginning the process alone (or one on one with a counselor) and then branch out to a group setting. I love small groups and I wrote the book with small groups in mind. It's beneficial to be with other women who are going through similar issues. You can build each other up and support each other. I would love to see little Diamond Societies popping up all over with women bound together in God's love and a shared journey to living free.

5. What’s next for your writing pursuits?
That's a great question but I don't have an answer for it! I do not currently have any other books penned. Of course I have some ideas and other areas I feel strongly about, but Set Free to Live Free is the book which discusses the issue I'm most passionate about: women living a flourishing and fulfilled life in Christ. For now I'm just thankful for the opportunity to share it with others and elaborate on applying it’s principles through online webinar bible studies and e-newsletter devotionals.

~You can download the entire first chapter of Set Free to Live Free at http://www.setfreetolivefreebook.com/ ~

Friday, December 09, 2011

Today's post was scheduled a couple months ago, before I came up with the Christmas Cheer idea, but Salena Stormo's article reminds us all of what is really important, and how unencumbered Christ was His entire life which made me think of how different His birth was almost 2,000 years ago from births nowdays. May we remember His humble beginning and humble life and go back to the basics.


Ramen Soup


by Salena Stormo

A smile crossed my face as I looked up at the clock! Ah it was noon, time for lunch. I ran to the break room, heated up my lunch and went back to my desk for a few moments of solitude. No pressure, no deadlines and no phone calls for exactly 60 minutes.

Staring down at my bowl of tightly wound white noodles, soaking in a brownish sauce I had to laugh. At 35 years old how did I get started on a diet of Ramen Soup for lunch? This is the food of college freshmen who are too poor to eat anything else, yet hungry and driven enough to eat it just so they can keep going. It is meant to sustain them during their learning process and fill their stomachs to keep them going. At 12 cents a bag and a variety of flavors how can they go wrong? But here I was, eating the bowl of pre-cooked wheat flour and hydrogenated oil, disguising itself as a hearty bowl of soup. In countries like South Korea, Japan and China you can actually order ramen soup at fancy restaurants. You know what they say, what’s good for the goose…

It did make me wonder though, at what point in our lives did we start craving an elaborate meal of crab legs or thick sirloin steak? When did we begin to desire more than the basics meant to sustain us through our own spiritual learning process? And how did what we eat, what we wear and where we live suddenly become so important that our lives became consumed by it? Keeping up with the Jones’ has allowed many businesses to prosper because we always feel the need to have the latest and greatest of everything, whether it is a new iPhone or the latest fashion.

In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. Luke 14:33 NIV

But Jesus didn’t live in fancy houses as he traveled mile after mile on foot teaching about God’s love. He slept under the stars, taking shelter under trees, even fasting in the wilderness with no food and only angels to look after him. He didn’t weigh himself down with materialistic items, clad in his tunic and sandals, carrying with him only the words God put in his heart. He asked for compassion and simplicity from those who traveled with him.

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Luke 18:22 NIV

Jesus taught us that we don’t need to have elaborate meals or fine furniture to win God’s love and the grace of His forgiveness. We can lead simple lives and still be greeted at the Kingdom of Heaven with open arms. Just like Ramen soup is nourishing and filling, so is God’s love. It doesn’t have to come in fancy packages tied with gold strings. It can be a simple act of kindness from a stranger, the love of those we surround ourselves with or the joy of nature that God has blessed us with.

Sustain yourself with basics and see God’s love shine brightly on you. Can living a life less bogged down with possessions bring about a happier lifestyle filled with opportunities to reach out and do His calling in a cloud free environment? Can your soul live on Ramen Soup?

BIO: My love of writing has been apparent from an early age when I would construct short stories and staple the sides of the pages together and declare myself “published”. Penning stories of romance in the wild-west has taken me on many journeys in my attempt to become a published author. A member of ACFW, I have met many wonderful people who have guided and supported me. My family and God have been my rock and my strength. I am truly blessed to be surrounded by people who encourage me to follow me dreams! My first “break” came in September of 2011 when I received word that one of my short stories had been picked up by Harpstring Magazine for their November 2011 issue. I am currently working on one full length novel while polishing another in hopes of someday seeing them in print. Until then you can connect with me on my blog site: http://throughhiseyestoo.blogspot.com/

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Two posts again today--Tom Blubaugh's book launch for Night of the Cossack and Day 8 of our Christmas Cheer Postings--another scene by the talented Janet Lee Barton

The following info was sent me by Tom Blubaugh for his book launch today for Night of the Cossack, an exciting book based on a fictionalized account of Tom's grandfather who was a Cossack in the Ukraine. I am about 1/4 of the way through and love it so far! And if you order today, you can get loads of free gifts, so order a copy for yourself or a friend!

Today, December 8th only!

Purchase a Kindle ebook or a new paperback copy of Night of the Cossack
from AMAZON and receive multiple FREE gifts PLUS an entry to win a $50 Amazon gift card.
*You must purchase from Amazon either the Kindle version or a 'new' paperback from Bound by Faith Publishers to qualify.
The new paperback version will be a signed copy by the author and shipped FREE to an address in the USA.
Thank you and blessings,
Tom
Here is the landing page for a list of the free gifts: http://www.nightofthecossacklandingpage.com/

******************************************************************************

And now for our Christmas Cheer selection from Family Ties by Janet Lee Barton:


After making himself concentrate on business until nearly noon the next day, Luke headed into town on the pretense of meeting John for lunch. He knew the real reason he’d accepted the invitation was with the hope of running into Rae somewhere along the way. But, he’d promised himself that he would leave all of that in the Lord’s hands. Only He knew where she’d be today.

Luke opened the door to go in and collided with a small woman on her way out.

“Oh, I’m sorry, are you all right?” he asked, reaching out to steady her. He gazed down at the woman whose shoulders he held, and his heart collided with his chest bone. After hunting for Rae all over town for days, here she was. At last.

“I’m fine.” She sounded a little breathless. “How about you?”

“I’m good.” Now that I’ve found you, better than good. Luke just stood there staring at her, blocking the door until he heard Dee clear her throat. He glanced at his friend and realized she was looking at the mistletoe above Rae’s head. He grinned and tightened his hold on Rae’s arm. Ducking his head quickly, before she had a chance to pull away, he planted a quick kiss on her soft lips, but not so quick that she didn’t have time to respond. His heart seemed to soar when she did.

Luke heard several handclaps and chuckles in the background. He raised his head.

“I. . .ah. . .what?” Rae seemed a little confused.

“Merry Christmas,” Luke whispered, surprised at the huskiness in his voice.

“Look above your head,” one of Dee’s regulars yelled out amid more laughter.

“Oh.” Rae glanced up and color flooded her cheeks as she glanced back at him. “Merry Christmas.”

Her lips turned up in a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes, and Luke had a feeling he’d messed up. Again. She’d responded, he was certain she had. Did she think he’d only kissed her because they were under the mistletoe? “Rae, we need to talk. Do you have time for a cup of coffee?”

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

An announcement of a book winner and Christmas Cheer Day 7 Post

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.




Author’s Bio:

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.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Day 6 of Christmas Cheer Posts

To help spread the cheer for the whole month, I am using a selection from my own 2011 released book Christmas Belles of Georgia for today's post.

I need to preface this scene with the reason my hero and heroine are dressed like burglars! The have decided to make Christmas brighter for a young single mom with two little girls and are taking them a gift each day for the 12 days leading up to Christmas. In the midst of helping others, they realize they are falling in love.


Excerpt from Nick’s Christmas Carol in Christmas Belles of Georgia

Nick arrived at seven. Also dressed in black down to his ski mask and gloves, he pulled another ski mask from his pocket. “I love the golden streaks in your hair, but we need to cover it tonight.”

“Thanks.” He’d used the word love again. This time about her hair. Would he ever say he loved her? She took the mask and pulled it over her hair, only leaving her eyes, nose and mouth uncovered.

When she turned to face him, he kissed her on the tip of her nose. “You sure make a cute burglar.”

“I guess that’s better than a cat burglar.”

“I’m allergic to cats, so I’m glad you’re not one.”

“Me, too.” She had a lot to learn about this man, but she already knew the important things like his love for God and others.

He helped her into the truck.

“Thanks.” She looked at the tree filling up most of the truck bed. “It’s beautiful, so full and green.”

Nick hummed then began to sing, “Lavender’s blue, dilly dally. Lavender’s green.” His eyes locked on hers. “I’ve been humming that song ever since we met again this fall. I see your lovely lavender blue eyes every night when I go to sleep and when I awake in the morning.” He moved closer to her. “But tonight, in the dark, your eyes look lavender green.”

“Maybe it’s the reflection from the tree.” Me and my wise mouth. Right when he might have kissed me.

He scooted back to his side and started up the truck. “Maybe.”

The young mom’s home was only a few blocks from the Warren House. They drove the dark streets in silence. Nick shut off the engine and coasted to a stop two doors down in his minister friend’s drive.

“Stay warm inside until I get it untied.” He hopped out of the truck and spent a couple minutes unloading the tree, then brought it around to her door. He tapped on the door—two shorts and three longs.

“I’ve got the heavy end. You get the top of the tree.”

“Okay.” The light brown bird nest near the top glowed in the moonlight. She wished she could be inside when the children noticed it.

They quietly situated the tree on the small front porch. Nick motioned her to go on and hide behind the neighbor’s bushes. As she did, she heard the sound of a doorbell then felt two strong arms around her as he slid into place beside her.

The front door opened. A child’s high-pitched voice hollered out, “Mom, come look what’s on our porch.”

Another child began to clap. “It’s a Cwismas tree, a Cwismas tree.”

Phyllis stood on the porch, her arms around each child protectively.

The older girl pointed up. “Look, Mom, a card.”

The young mother picked off the note and read, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.” Her gaze searched the yard, and Carol could see the woman’s tears glistening. “God sent us this gift through His helpers.”

“Like Santa’s elves?” asked the younger child.

“Only better.” Phyllis motioned to the taller girl. “Connie, if you get hold of the treetop and pull, I think I can get the rest of the tree inside.”

The shorter child began to jump up and down. “Can we decowate it tonight? Pwease?”

“Yes, honey. God has given us this tree, and we will decorate it to be the prettiest one on the block. I’ll even pop some popcorn and teach you—” The mom’s words faded as the door closed on the happy family.

Carol lifted one gloved hand to wipe at the moisture in her own eyes. Surprised to find her other hand warmly held in Nick’s, she wondered when and how it got there. Although he might not know it, he also held her heart. She loved him.

***

Nick loved the wonder on the faces of the two young girls, and the joy and pleasure he read on Carol’s face. I love Carol Peterson. Now what am I going to do about it?

You’ll have to read the rest of the story to find out!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Day 5 of Rose's 25 Days of Christmas Cheer from Spring for Susannah by Cathy Richmond
Christmas morning dawned clear, a definite improvement over the murky overcast of December in Detroit. Susannah popped the corn the Volds had given them, strung it, and hung the strings from the rafters. She longed for a Christmas tree, but didn’t mention it. The nearest pine might be hundreds of miles away, and there was no room in the soddy, anyway. After a breakfast of cinnamon pancakes, baked apples, and sausage, Jesse read the story of the first Christmas from the Gospel of Luke.

When he got to the part about Mary giving birth to Jesus, Susannah found herself fighting her emotion. No tears on Christmas, she reprimanded herself. It’s a time for joy and celebration.

From her trunk, Susannah brought out three packages wrapped in brown paper.

“All this?” Jesse leaned over and whispered to the dog curled under the table, “Maybe she does like me.” He opened the first two: a red woolen stocking cap and a matching scarf. The third package contained one gray knee length sock, a skein of matching yarn, and a pair of knitting needles.

Susannah explained, “With me getting sick and you spending so much time in the house, I didn't finish the second sock.”

Jesse’s eyes twinkled. “That’s a relief. Figured the first one was a pattern and you expected me to make the second-- revenge for me teaching you to play by ear.”

“Since it’s no longer a surprise, I can work on it now.” Susannah reached for the yarn.

“Not so fast.” Jesse kissed her hand, then slid a narrow silver band on her ring finger. “I should have given this to you sooner, but I wanted something special for our first Christmas.”

Susannah gasped. Jesse, who kept track of every penny, who wouldn’t spend more on the soddy than absolutely necessary, who wore his clothes until they fell apart, had bought a wedding ring for her. Tears filled her eyes. “I can’t believe it. Thank you!”

He grinned. “One more present. Close your eyes.”

He rustled and pounded, then said, “Merry Christmas!”

Her mirror stood over the washstand on a hand-carved pine shelf. Jesse had arranged her comb and brush on either side.

“It’s wonderful! Merry Christmas to you, too.” She rose up on tiptoes, aiming for his cheek. He turned and caught her kiss with his lips.

“My sisters fill their houses with doodads and geegaws.” He swept the soddy with a grand gesture, almost knocking over the new shelf. “Our house is clean, and there’s your trunks, but nothing else of you here. You need to leave a mark, besides the one you’ve left on my heart.”

“I wouldn’t want to clutter--”

“Halt right there. None of this practical stuff on Christmas.” Pulling on the stocking cap, Jesse posed in front of the mirror. “I am ze famous French fur trader, Pierre Chouteau.”

“Joyeux Nöel, Monsieur Chouteau.” Susannah curtsied.

“And you are ze first woman I’ve seen in a decade.” He swept her into his arms.

“But Monsieur, I am married.” Susannah held up her hand, displaying her new ring.

“You are so beautiful, I cannot restrain myself.” He waggled his eyebrows.

“Monsieur!” Susannah giggled as he nuzzled her ear. “Stop! Your beard is ticklish!”

“Stop? What is ze meaning of zat word?”

Susannah dug her fingers into his ribs. Jumping back, Jesse grabbed her wrist. “Ah, I zee you are full of fire.”

“Speaking of fire, Monsieur, we are nearly out of firewood.”

“So, where is zis husband of yours when ze wood bin needs filling?” He kissed the back of her wrist. “Madame, I will embrace you later.”

Susannah yanked his hat down. “If you can find me.”

Catherine Richmond lives in Nebraska, where it's easy to imagine being snowed in at Christmas. Her website is http://www.catherinerichmond.com/

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Day 4--Rose's 25 Days of Christmas Cheer, another visit from Making Memories by Janet lee Barton

If you haven't read Day 3, I suggest you go back and read it first, as this scene is from later on in that book--Making Memories by Janet Lee Barton. See book cover there also.

Josh was still shaking on the inside from their close call. Had that car taken a slightly different path, they both could have been killed and he would have died without ever letting Amanda know how he felt. He sent a silent prayer upward, thanking the Lord again for watching over them and for giving him another chance to tell Amanda how he felt about her.

“Amanda, you didn’t pull me in. I offered to come with you, remember? It was my idea. The last thing I want to do is turn around and go back home. Besides, you can’t take the blame for the weather. I was the one who should have realized we needed to leave even earlier. If anything had happened to you, I would never have been able to forgive myself.”


Still sniffling, Amanda looked up at him with those big tear filled eyes. “I promise you, I’ll make sure my family knows you aren’t in love with me as soon as we get there so you won’t feel any pressure to act as if you do.”

Josh pulled her into his arms. He had to tell her now. “Oh Amanda, I assure you, letting your family think I’m in love with you won’t be an act.”

He heard her quick intake of breath but he didn’t give her a chance to say anything as his lips claimed hers in a kiss he hoped left no doubt in her mind just how he felt. His heart sang with joy when she kissed him back. Knowing Amanda as he’d come to over the past few months, Josh was sure she wouldn’t have responded the way she did if she didn’t feel the same way.

When she ended the kiss and pulled back, Josh reached into the backseat and pulled a small package out of one of the sacks. “Here, open this.”

Amanda ripped open the paper and opened the box the mistletoe ornament came in. She pulled it out and held it to her heart. “Mistletoe . . .”

“I wanted you to always remember our first kiss when you hang that ornament on your tree. But my heart's wish is for it to be hung on our tree one day.” He hurried to say the words he’d wanted to say for weeks. “I love you Amanda—with all my heart. And if you are willing, we can tell your parents a simple truth . . . we are engaged. Will you marry me?”

Amanda answered him with another kiss that told him all he needed to know. When it ended, she whispered, “Oh, Josh, I love you too. I’ve loved you for weeks—and yes, oh yes! I will marry you.”

Saturday, December 03, 2011

The Third Day of Rose's 25 Days of Christmas Cheer

Scene from the novella, Making Memories by Janet Barton—is up on the White Rose Press site for $1.00 in their Christmas Extravaganza, I think it will be available elsewhere mid-December

“Men.” Melissa shook her head and grinned. “No telling what they are plotting.”

“You're right about that,” Amanda chuckled and nodded. She’d seen her dad and uncles pull one prank after another often enough to recognize the signs. “We’d better be on guard.”

Melissa insisted they have a cup of hot chocolate before heading out into the cold night air and Amanda thoroughly enjoyed the next half hour of small talk. She was feeling more and more at home in Oklahoma City and knew a lot of her ease was due to the three people at the table. She sent up a silent prayer thanking the Lord for sending them into her life.

“I guess we’d better be on our way,” Josh said. “We wouldn’t want to be late for Sunday school.”

“No, that wouldn’t be good,” Andrew said. “Especially for me as I’m teaching the class this quarter.”

Melissa retrieved their coats from the closet in the entryway and Josh helped Amanda on with hers before putting on his own.

“Thank you so much for your hospitality,” Amanda said to the Bensons as they all stood in the entryway.

“Thank you for coming.” Melissa gave her a hug.

Andrew cleared his throat and pointed up to the small chandelier hanging above the women.

There, hanging right above their heads was a large clump of mistletoe tied to one of the crystals with a red ribbon. Andrew pulled his wife into his arms and planted a quick kiss on her lips as Amanda watched, slightly bemused. Then, before she realized she was still standing in the same spot, Josh had turned her face toward his and touched his lips to hers in a kiss so light and sweet Amanda almost thought she’d imagined it.