Thursday, December 31, 2009

Resolutions anyone?


Pat Davids here.


A year has vanished in what seems like the blink of an eye. Tomorrow it will be 2010. Wow!


Remember how long it took 2000 to roll around? Remember all the end of the world/computer crash hype that fizzled out? My family and I welcomed the new millennium with a chilled bottle of non-alcoholic wine. I kept the empty bottle as a souvinor for about three years then finally recycled it.


That's one thing on my new resolution list for 2010. Recycle more. I have other resolutions. My old stand by--lose weight. I've lost and found about 1000 lbs in my lifetime. Still, I keep at it. Someday those shed pounds may actually stay off but then what would I do for a resolution next year?


My resolutions are like old slippers. A little worn out but comfortable. I'll try to be a better person, try to write more books, try to save more money, try to gripe less at my spouse. As my nine-year-old granddaughter tells me, no one is perfect except God. She's right, but I don't aim to be perfect, only better.


Even if you don't make or keep a resolutions, it's good to review your life and see what needs work.
Do you make resolutions? Do you keep them? Are they worthwhile?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Our Christmas snow


This year we had a blizzard warning issued for Christmas Eve. We ended up with 7-8 inches of snow and a white Christmas. Instead of my son and his family coming over for Christmas Day, my husband and I were out shoving the snow from our driveway so it would be easier to get out (we felt the effects of shoving the next day--moving a little slower). My son, his wife and my four grandchildren did come on Saturday for a belated Christmas. We hadn't had a white Christmas in seven years.

This evening we are having part two of snow. A few more inches have fallen here to add to the other inches that haven't melted because the temperature has been so low.

Although Christmas Eve service was cancelled, they are going to perform part of it on January 3rd. I'm really looking forward to going--unless it snows again. Oh well, in the winter you have to be prepared to rearrange your plans in case of bad weather.

How was your Christmas? Sunny? Snowy? Warm? Cold?

Monday, December 28, 2009

To fray or not to fray

Hello, it's Lenora Worth. Today I went to the office supply store. You all know how that goes. It's like a kid in a candy store. I usually go two or three times a year to replenish my office supplies but my annual after Christmas trip is always the most fun. That's because I get to pick out my day calendar for the next year. You'd think this would be so easy. Just go inside, grab a calendar and a few mailing envelopes and labels and other supplies and get on home. But no, I have to compare calendars for at least fifteen minutes before deciding if I want the typical day-timer that opens onto my desk (and do I want a refill for my ancient leather day-timer) or do I want a nice flat desk calendar with the whole month spread out before me? And do I want the plain black and white, less expensive calendar like the one my husband requested? ("Nothing over ten dollars, Lenora!") Or do I want the one with palm trees and beach scenes all year long? Or maybe I'd like the one with seashells shining brightly in the corner? Do I want the one that will fit perfectly on the little wobbly table by my desk or do I want a larger one I can put on the wall? Do I need space for notes in the margins or can I try to write in the lines underneath each day's date without making a mess? Such decisions are part of the fray of trying to get organized after the holidays. It's that time of limbo after the presents have been opened and you realize you don't have anywhere to put most of the nice gifts you received. It's that time between tattered ribbons and torn paper and a nice blank living room again. (Blank and a bit empty and sad without the tree and the lights and the poinsettia.) It's that one week of the year where we look back with a bit of regret. (Why didn't I ever lose that ten pounds?) Or we look forward with a bit of hope. (Yes, I will lose that ten pounds!) This is the week of the holding pattern while we wait to ring in the new year. But which calendar will help me to stay on track in all the frays of the days ahead? Well, I settled (finally) on the flat desk model (smaller version) with the seashells in the corner (and it was on sale for $9.99!) There is nothing like an empty calendar to tempt a girl into filling it with deadlines and commitments. Because even in the fray of going from festive and fabulous to sensible and scheduled, we all need some sort of guideline to keep us on track. I can't wait to open up my calendar and scribble all over it. It's perfect. A blank canvas is the first tool of an artist, after all. Happy 2010. Mark your calendars with a new beginning. I can't wait!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

FEATURED AUTHORS: LINDA GOODNIGHT AND LENORA WORTH

In the Spirit of…Christmas
For his daughter's sake, widowed father Jesse Slater returns to Oklahoma to reclaim the family ranch. But their home is now a Christmas tree farm…run by a woman whose faith will change their lives forever.

A Very Special Delivery
Molly McCreight has met the man of her dreams! But with her painful secret, how can she hope to spend the holidays—let alone the rest of her life— with single father Ethan Hunter and his precious baby girl?




I'll Be Home For Christmas
Just weeks before Christmas, widowed mother Myla Howell and her two children are saved from the streets by a wealthy oil tycoon nicknamed "Scrooge." Has the chill surrounding Nick Rudolph's icy heart begun to thaw in time for the holidays?

One Golden Christmas
Take one small-town Christmas pageant. Add in three motherless children with a secret holiday wish and a handsome widowed father. Mix just so with pageant director Leandra Flanagan. Will yield big surprises by December 25th.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

FEATURED BOOK: LONE STAR BLESSINGS BY BONNIE K. WINN

What does a widowed father know about raising a preteen girl? Sheriff Tucker Grey is on top of basic needs, but when it comes to hair, clothes and first crushes, he's at a loss. Until Kate Lambert returns to Rosewood, Texas. His daughter's new Sunday school teacher seems exactly what the girl needs. Except when it comes to a mother. Tucker has loved and lost once and has no room in his heart for anyone. Especially a big-city gal like Kate. But she soon has this lone star lawman counting his blessings…herself included.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas in the Tippens Household


Missy here. I wanted to share a photo of my tree this year. It's not a great shot, because it was taken on my cell phone. But it's all I have, because soon after I took it, the top half of the lights went out! For a few days, I could wiggle the plug and get them to come back on. But then they went out and stayed out. So this is my only photo! :)


If you notice, one of our traditions is to have a stocking for everyone. And I mean EVERYONE--two-legged and four-legged creatures included. The dogs will get a tug rope in their stockings this year. The cat will get some treats. The kids--well, I can't tell, in case they're reading! :)


My husband and I even have stockings. I used to shop for all the stocking stuffers, mine included (which was kind of fun! I usually got myself a book ). But then one year, when I went to stuff my things in, I found my stocking was already full! My husband had caught on. Of course, I image I probably left a few hints, maybe even shamed him a little each year. LOL Still, it was a nice surprise. Now I don't have any reason (or excuse) to buy myself something. I know Santa will come for me, too. :)


I hope you all have a very merry Christmas! I pray you'll have time with loved ones as you celebrate Jesus's birthday!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Day - lost, as usual

Okay, I wrote this early, then lost it, then posted where I thought I belonged and ended up on the LI author's site! It's a good thing God loves me because I have plenty of faults! Boy, do I!

Anyway, I just discovered my error and went back online to try to make it up. The following is the end of my original post which is pretty out-of-date by now!

"Truly, it doesn't matter what day you celebrate our Savior's birth or when you choose to give gifts. What I believe does matter, is that you do it all with love and teach your children that Jesus is Lord. In the chaos that used to mark my Christmases I often lost sight of that.



REMEMBER HIM. That's the only thing that really counts."



In His Love,

Valerie Hansen

Lyn Cote & How I Made God Laugh


Lyn's dh and daughter & Lyn

Lyn Cote here! When my dh and I decided it was time to start our family, I said that the only month I didn't want to have a child was December. I often imagine God hearing this and giving a big belly laugh. (I believe God has a great sense of humor.) Because of course he knew that I was going to have both my son and my daughter in December!

However, I discovered that having December babies had many special touches. On both delivery mornings, the hospital practically cleared out the maternity ward. As I had already demonstrated, most women don't want to have babies at Christmas. So soon it was just me, a few other lucky moms and the nurses. I got a lot of care and watched the nurses decorate the maternity ward for Christmas.

When I took my newborn home, I found that night feedings were very cozy, sitting near the Christmas tree and listening to Christmas carols. And Christmas morning was never so special than with my new little son and then 3 years later my daughter.

I'll never forget on the mornings after my deliveries, I lay in my bed and watched the light snow drift down onto the pine grove around the hospital. Lovely. Perfect. Just how God had planned it!

Here are my two children at our son's Halloween wedding hall.

If you're a mother, did you have a Christmas baby? Or were you a Christmas baby? Our best man was born on Christmas.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ah, the Christmas Menu!


Linda Goodnight here, thinking about food. Christmas dinner to be exact. We have a very big family—seven incredible kids, most of whom are now married with kids of their own, and everyone comes home to our house for Christmas. Every year I cook the same things: Turkey and ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, and veggies-usually corn, green beans, yams, and a relish tray (not to mention a mountain of waist-expanding desserts). This year, I’d love to add something new to the main menu but I’m stumped. Anyone care to share a favorite holiday recipe that might grace the Goodnight table? What’s cookin’ at your house for Christmas dinner?

Monday, December 21, 2009


This is Janet Tronstad here, reflecting on Advent. I admit I love the splash of Christmas (the gifts, the parties, the lights -- I can get carried away with it all). But this Christmas, I am trying to stay quieter in hopes I can get a better glimpse of the first Christmas. Going through some Advent studies has helped remind me of the dare-I-say-it 'smallness' of that night. There was a bare humility to Christ's birth -- Joseph didn't stand at the innkeeper's door and demand a room. Mary didn't bring an entourage with her to Bethlehem. There were no papparazi. Not even any ringing church bells. The angel did roust a group of shepherds to go see the newborn, but there could hardly be a more humble welcoming party. I'm sure we've all been to Christmas parties that outshone the fuss of that first Christmas Eve. I haven't started to fast yet in Advent (which is what they used to do for weeks on end), but I am enjoying the simplicity this year. How about you? What's Christmas like for you this year?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Heroine Interview from A Wedding in Wyoming


Interview with the heroine:
A WEDDING IN WYOMING by Deb Kastner, December 2009

1. Jenn, tell me the most interesting thing about you.

I guess that would be my job. I work as a social worker in downtown Denver. I see many orphaned and abandoned children. Hopefully I am able to help some of them find loving foster families.

2. What do you do for fun?

Fun? I’m not sure I really do anything that qualifies as fun. I work all kinds of weird hours, and am often on call during nights and weekends. My work is the focus of my life.

3. What do you put off doing because you dread it?

I love my extended family. They are such a hoot! But I dread going to the yearly reunion at my grandparents’ ranch in Wyoming. I always get teased because I’m not in a serious relationship with a man. They want children running around the ranch--Granny and Auntie Myra, especially. This year, though, I have a plan. Things are going to be different.

4. What are you afraid of most in life?

I am terrified my family will find out about the way I acted out as a teenager, and the resulting tragedy that ensued. I would be so humiliated if they knew how I’d tossed aside my Christian principles, and the trouble it got me in.

5. What do you want out of life?

I want to make a difference in my work. I suppose I’d like to get married and have children someday, though I wish my family would stop pressuring me to make it happen now.

6. What is the most important thing to you?

I love my family. They may drive me crazy, but they’ve always supported me.

7. Do you read? If so, what is your favorite type of book to read?

I love to curl up on the couch with a cup of hot cocoa and good historical romance after a hard day of work.



8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I wish I didn’t live in fear. I want to live confidently, not timidly, but I just can’t seem to shake off my past.

9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?

I’m a city girl, and my downtown Denver apartment doesn’t allow pets. I grew up around animals on a ranch, but I don’t really care for them. Especially horses—they terrify me. I was thrown from a horse when I was a small child and never got over it.

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?

I would go back to my teenage years, and I would do everything differently. I would study hard and avoid the bad crowd. And I most especially would not have gotten in the car with Duke that night when I was sixteen. My whole life would be different if I changed just that one incident.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

FEATURED BOOK: A WEDDING IN WYOMING BY DEB KASTNER

Jenn Washington has spent years avoiding questions about her love life. This year she's finally found a way to take the focus off herself at the annual family reunion. Sending herself some flowers from "John" should appease her relatives, until her pretend boyfriend arrives at the front door in the flesh! Johnny Barnes has his own reasons for playing along with Jenn's ruse, and his growing attraction for her is only one of them. But secrets from her past and his present could make it harder for this rugged cowboy to make Jenn the bride he's always wanted.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

books


My husband and I decided we aren't getting each other anything for Christmas. We have most everything we need. In fact, I was looking around my house the other day and I thought, I need to get rid of some stuff. I looked at my overflowing bookshelves and decided that might be the best place to start de-cluttering. Some of the bookshelves in my office are double-booked - books are stacked two deep. So I started with my office. I pulled all the books off one shelf and then went through them one by one to decide which ones to keep and which ones to throw away. I looked over each one and sometimes I would open one to a favourite passage and start reading. Needless to say the job wasn't quick. And when I was done the first shelf, I had put almost all of the books back and only thrown out two or about 5%. This was not decluttering. But I couldn't throw so many of them away because they had enlightened me, entertained me, made me grow, made me change. The had done the job they were written for - that's how they ended up on my shelf in the first place. The books that didn't make the cut were thrown away or given away long before. I saw each of the books as a friend that taught me something valuable and in the back of my mind was the idea that I might want to revisit this friend again. I do re-read a lot of my books. That's why I keep them. Or I lend them out so I can share the gift. After Christmas I'm going to give the bookshelves another go. I might have to get my husband to help me. I'm sure he can be a bit more ruthless than I can. I just hope I can let go when the time comes.

Christmas Frays-Cheryl Wyatt Style


I play jokes on people all the time. My family expects it. They live in a constant state of heightened awareness (read: fear-LOL) of me because of it. They never know what they're going to get gift-wise or how the gift will be wrapped. I've been known to use entire rolls of duct tape to wrap presents. Sometimes those jokes backfire and I could tell you many frays where I got into a HUGE box only to find a teeny box inside of the seventy other boxes I had to open to get to the real gift. But, indeed I deserve it and I suppose I should be willing to take it as much as I dish it out.

I got this image and description from a friend through e-mail. I usually delete forwards but I'm so glad I looked at this one. At first, I thought the photo was real and I wondered why in the world would someone be snapping a photo of rather than rushing to help the person-in-distress.

Then I realized that the person dangling was fake and that the scenario WAS the Christmas decoration.

I laughed so hard and begged my husband to let us decorate our home like that this year. We have NEVER had outside decorations. Ever. I told him this is the only one I'd EVER ask for.

He said, "No."

Not just "no" but "Absolutely not. It will cause traffic accidents."

LOL! Well, pout.

When I read him the description below that came with the e-mail, he grinned as bright as a Christmas star because he knew he was right.

And I'm still pouting but I do see his point. Still...it would be hilarious and totally like me, being the practical joker that I am. Hubby is a practical joker too..big time. But I guess it's good for humanity that he's also "practical" without the jokey part when necessary.

Here's the description that came with the forwarded photo:
(I'm sorry, I don't know the original author of the photo or the below e-mail or I would TOTALLY give them credit well-deserved.)
---
"Good news is that I truly out did myself this year with my Christmas decorations. The bad news is that I had to take him down after 2 days. I had more people come screaming up to my house than ever Great stories. But two things made me take it down.

First, the cops advised me that it would cause traffic accidents as they almost wrecked when they drove by.

Second, a 55 year old lady grabbed the 75 pound ladder almost killed herself putting it against my house and didn't realize it was fake until she climbed to the top (she was not happy). By the way, she was one of many people who attempted to do that. My yard couldn't take it either. I have more than a few tire tracks where people literally drove up my yard"


---

Hope you get a good laugh out of this today. And may your Christmas decorating NOT go like this. LOL!

Merry Christmas!

Cheryl Wyatt

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Secrets


It's been a fun saying in my family over the years "I know Christmas secrets!" - usually said in a sing-song, teasing voice that's meant to imply "haha, I know you are getting a really great gift and I bet you are just dying to know too!!"

Well, Christmas 2007 held the biggest Christmas secret for my family, and I think I'm still tired from keeping it.

My dad has always loved music, and as long as I can remember, there's been an acoustic guitar in the corner of his room. He recently got back into it, and talked about an electric Fender guitar in the music store across town. It was several hundred dollars, and he figured he'd save some Christmas money and treat himself later in the year after finding a side job or something.
Well, my Mom and sister and I collaborated and decided my dad needed that guitar for Christas morning. He deserved it more than anyone we knew, and we wanted to surprise him. My mom handled the details of ordering it from the store and we all chipped in the money. It should have been easy. And it was.
Until....
A worker from the store called the house to talk to Mom about a payment issue, and gave the message to my dad on the phone.

Here's the scenario. My mom and I are at lunch during my lunch break from work, and I'm about 3 1/2 months pregnant and stupid. Seriously. My brain cells were being taken by my daughter on a daily basis and I was just an idiot throughout most of my pregnancy. So we're sitting there at lunch, eating chips and salsa, when my dad calls me, not knowing I'm with Mom, and tells me he got a call from the music store and they asked to talk to mom and he didn't know what to do because he didn't want any surprises to be ruined regarding Christmas.

The fate of the surprise hung on my reaction, which didn't bode well with my recent pregnant track record.

I swallowed the chip stuck in my throat and lied. "Don't worry, I'm sure its not a big deal. I don't know anything about it, but I'll drop hints. I'm sure its nothing."
Dad said "oh okay, great. Well don't tell her what happened today."

Forced cheerfulness. "Okay!"

I hung up. "Mom, we have a problem." and told her everything. We panicked, not knowing how to keep the surprise going. We'd come so far!

Finally, I got back to work and formed a plan. I called my dad and lied again. "I talked to mom, and found out she was ordering you guitar picks and a gift card for your acoustic. No biggie! Just stocking stuffers."
He believed me, and my tired pregnant brain went back to work.
We were so far beyond nervous for the rest of the month that we literally all lost sleep over it, walking on eggshells, explaining to the music store not to call anymore. We wanted the surprise to work out so desperately. My sister's husband at the time bought an amp to go with the guitar, and this Christmas was definitely All About Dad and no one deserved it more!
When the guitar came in, we wrapped it and hid it at my house, and held our breath for weeks.

Finally the big day came and we left the tell-tale long package in my trunk before going inside. We all opened a few gifts but none of us could concentrate. And poor Dad couldn't open anything because all of his gifts went back to the guitar and its accessories. We kept handing him presents then saying "oh wait, not that one yet!" Finally, we couldn't take it anymore and we made him close his eyes while my Hubby brought the gift inside. Dad opened it, and you guys, it was priceless. Worth every stressful moment! He actually teared up, and by the time the surprise was finished, we were all so exhausted and glad we'd carried the whole thing off that we didn't even care about opening the rest of our gifts!!

Coming up with that lie to throw my dad off the track was probably the sneakiest thing I did during my entire pregnancy, and I'm still missing that burst of brain cells it took to come up with it. =)

Here's some pics from that morning!!!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gifts

Hi, Terri Reed here, I'm a bit harried this week. You see, I'm usually done with my Christmas shopping long before now as I normally buy gifts throughout the year whenever I find something that I think would be perfect for this person or that. But this past year got away from me so I've had to take time away from my writing to shop. But this morning when I sat at my computer t to write (I'm working on two books at the moment) I found myself contemplating gifts and giving and came across some scripture that spoke to me and I hope they will speak to you as well.

2 Timothy 1:6-7 My take away--God has put gifts in each of us. Wake them up! Don't be afraid to use them, because God has filled us with strength, love and wisdom.
1 Peter 4:10 My take away--God has given each one of us gifts, and it is our responsibility to use these gifts to bless the people around us.

Check out my latest Love Inspired novel. Its still available at http://www.eharlequin.com/
This would make a great stocking stuff or just a fun little present under the tree.
NOW YOU SEE THEM, NOW YOU DON’T
When senior citizens start disappearing from a Boston retirement home at Christmas time, heiress Kristina Worthington is suspicious. Especially when she fears her beloved grandmother is next. Without solid evidence, she’s forced to turn to the one police officer who might listen—her former love, Gabe Burke. Now a seasoned cop, Gabe still sees her as the rich girl whose family thought he wasn’t good enough. And though he takes the case, Gabe seems convinced he’s chasing shadows. Until they start dodging threats, bullets...and their own rekindled feelings.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Ways and Frays: Snow Day

Pamela Tracy here: I'm thinking almost everyone has seen A Christmas Story at least ten times already this season (I know I have). You know the scene where Richie's little brother is in his winter outdoor wear and looking like the Michelin tire man? Well, I'm originally from Nebraska and I had that Michelin outdoor wear. And, yes, I do have a funny story. Hehehehe. When I was about nine there was a huge blizzard in Omaha (No, I'm not going to tell you how long ago that was) and school was closed, most people didn't go to work, and businesses were pretty much empty. We were out of milk. Don't know why milk is the thing you can't run out of, but my mom was pretty upset. The snow had stopped. And me, and two of the neighbor boys (ages nine and eight) were sent walking to the store. If we'd stayed on the sidewalk like our mothers told us, there'd be no story today. But, see, we lived by a railroad track, a somewhat elevated railroad track. In our brillance we decided that since it was elevated it wouldn't be covered with snow and therefore somewhat easy to traverse. We were right! About thirty minutes into this cold, boring walk, we got an idea (Okay, it was me!) On each side of the track, the snow had piled up, all pristine white, smooth, and looking so inviting. We decided to jump from the track into the snow. Picture dead weight, going down, and landing standing up. That's what happened. The snow was up to our necks. We couldn't get out! For hours we would lean forward an inch, then to the sides, then back, each time making the prison we'd landed in a little bigger. We were cold, a little scared, and thinking, "Hey, Mom was right about staying on the sidewalk." When we finally got out, all three of us in our Michelin man attire ran (wobbled) straight home, without the milk, and all of us got in trouble.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hero Interview from Jenna's Cowboy Hero


Interview with the hero from Jenna’s Cowboy Hero by Brenda Minton:

1. Adam MacKenzie, tell me the most interesting thing about you. I retired from pro football and then suddenly I found myself the owner of a half-finished youth camp in Oklahoma. A camp for kids is not my thing, but I guess it’ll have to be for the time being.

2. What do you do for fun? I used to socialize, date, eat at great restaurants. Now I’m eating at a place called the MAD COW CAFÉ and trying to corral my neighbor, Jenna Cameron’s, twin boys. And I kind of like this life.

3. What do you put off doing because you dread it? Talking to my family. I haven’t spent a lot of time with them. My dad pushed me in football and my sister resented me for it. What’s there to discuss?

4. What are you afraid of most in life? I don’t like being used, but I really can’t think of a lot that I’m afraid of.

5. What do you want out of life? I’d like to find a career that is my choosing. Football was great, but sometimes I think I might have quit back in high school. My dad’s pressure really took the fun out of it. It became more about his lost opportunities and now what I wanted or loved doing. So now, now I’m looking forward to doing what I want. Like the job as a sports reporter for a major network. Or maybe I’ll be a fireman.

6. What is the most important thing to you? That’s changed. Getting that job with the Sports Network was at the top of the list, not that I had a list. Now, well, I can’t believe that keeping Camp Hope going is even on the list, but it’s pretty close to the top. And Jenna. Her boys. Yeah, I guess I have a list now.

7. Do you read books? If so, what is your favorite type of book? Play books, for football. Every now and then a good mystery.

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? If I changed what I wanted to change, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I guess the one thing I could change is my ability to trust. And I wouldn’t have walked away from faith. My dad pushed me in a lot of ways.

9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet? Funny story. I don’t have a pet, but I guess there’s this turtle that comes around a lot. The twins found it first. We wrote their names on the bottom of its shell. Yeah, that’s embarrassing.

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why? I think I’d only go back in time a year. I’d go to Iraq and I’d be there to rescue Jenna. But since that can’t happen, I guess she’s here to rescue me. I’m going to have to end the interview here because that was one too many moments and this isn’t a Barbara Walters special.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

FEATURED BOOK: JENNA'S COWBOY HERO BY BRENDA MINTON

Former football player Adam Mackenzie arrives in small-town Oklahoma to fix up a camp for underprivileged kids. But the city slicker doesn't know horse tack from a touchdown. He's desperate for help—and the pretty rancher next door is the answer to his prayers. War vet Jenna is back home after a stint in Iraq, and she's got a five-year plan: raising her twin boys, running her ranch—and not falling in love. But she can't say no to gorgeous and kind Adam. Can he make her forget all her plans and open her heart to love?

Friday, December 11, 2009

television


I got a call from a telemarketer the other day. He was trying to sell me some kind of phone, internet and television service. Normally I politely interrupt these people and ask them to take our name off their calling list, but I was bit bored - actually I was a bit procrastinating working on a story that was putting me in tangles, and so I thought I would chat him up. I asked him about the weather in India and where he worked and I told him that it was minus 25 Celsius here and he asked how in the world we lived in that kind of weather. Things were going just swimmingly and then he got back to the job at hand which was to sell me this satellite television package. I told him we don't have a television. This was followed by a shocked silence. He said, in a very confused tone of voice, "You don't have a television?" Now just for the record we do have a lovely plasma television hooked up to a DVD player and me, being the gadget freak I am, an Apple TV. But I knew what he was selling and said no, no television and no television plan and absolutely no intention of getting one. We liked to spend our evenings reading, not being yelled at by people selling cars and listening to endless negative effects of endless drug commercials. He paused, then said,very slowly, in a tone of voice reserved for talking to serial killers and bank robbers, "I'm going to hang up now." Now it was my turn to be confused. Hanging up is the prerogative of the callee not the caller. Especially with telemarketers. But then I heard a click and realized the impossible had happened. A telemarketer had actually hung up. On me. How rude! See if I ever talk to any of them again.

Memories of Christmas 2008

Merrillee here, remembering last Christmas and the best Christmas gift of all a new granddaughter, our first grandchild. Here's a photo of my husband and me and Katelyn last Christmas. It was really cold and snowy in Chicago last Christmas, but our hearts were warm with love as we welcomed little Katelyn into our family.

As Christmas approaches this year, I'm in Tucson, Arizona. I'm helping Katelyn and her mom and dad move into their new home. We've been putting up Christmas decorations, making sure to put only nonbreakable ornaments within reach of Katelyn's little hands. She will be a year old on Sunday. So I'll get to wish her happy birthday in person before I fly back home. She gets to spend Christmas with her other grandma in Boston this year. But at least, I got to be here for her birthday.

Here's my Christmas fray. Why do Christmas lights that work when you put them away after Christmas not work the following Christmas when you get them out?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas when I was eight.



Hi, Pat Davids here.
I thought I would share with you a moment from my Christmas Past.

It’s Christmas Eve and I’m eight years old in 1960. My four brothers and I cluster on the windowseat peering into the darkness for a glimpse of Rudolph’s red nose in the sky. He has to be coming soon. I can’t wait much longer.

My dad, a farmer, has gone out to check the cattle just as he does every night before bed. Mom is washing supper dishes. Suddenly, she pulls aside the curtains at the kitchen window, looks out and says, “I believe it’s time to go upstairs.”

Finally!
Giddy with excitement, all five of us kids race upstairs to my room and pile onto the bed. There is no heat in the upstairs of that old farmhouse, but we don’t care. Santa is coming.

No one dares look out the windows. If Santa sees you peeking he won’t stop. My mother has us all kneel around the bed and pray for children who won’t have a happy Christmas. As I dropped to my knees, I wonder how that is possible. Christmas is so magical. I sneak in a prayer for some gift I really want from Santa, but I pray for other children, too.

Our prayers done, we huddle on the bed again. Outside, our old dog begins barking like mad. Sleigh bells jingle in the distance, then closer, then WHOMP!

Santa is on our roof. Reindeer stomp as he calls out, “Ho, Ho, Ho!”
I press my hands to my mouth to hold in my excitement. Soon, I hear the rattle of packages being placed under the tree downstairs. Santa shouts out, “Merry Christmas!”
Then all is quiet. No bells, no barking dog. Just as I am about to explode with anticipation, I hear my dad come in the house. He yells, “What’s all that racket? Kids, come see this!”

I tell you it is a true Christmas miracle that none of us were killed as we bolted over each other in a race down those stairs.

I open my presents with joy. There is peanut brittle candy and an orange for each of us. Beneath the tree I find a beautiful baby doll in a pink wooden crib. It will be a few more years before I appreciate the care my father put into making it for me. I just loved it.

When the presents are all opened, and the hubbub dies down, it’s time to get into our best clothes. The church parking lot is full when we arrive. The light glows beautifully through the stained glass windows onto the snow as we head inside for Midnight Mass.

I know that I’ve come to welcome the baby Jesus into the world.
And that was Christmas when I was eight.
Do you remember a special Christmas from when you were small? Share the story with us. We'd love to hear it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Christmas memory


By Margaret Daley
My son and his family came to dinner last Sunday night. I had so much fun with my four granddaughters (ages 8 months to 9 years). What was great was seeing them play with the Christmas village I've had for years. My oldest granddaughter wanted to see how many cars I had so she lined them up on the floor to count. Well, my 2 year old had to help her. She counted to five then had to turn it over to her big sis. (Big sis has been teaching her to count.) I loved listening to them pretend with the people. And of course, they had to rearrange them. Another neat activity we did that evening was to decorate the grandchildren's Christmas tree we have for them (smaller one with their special ornaments). These are Christmas memories I will remember for years. What are some Christmas memories you have?

Have a blessed Christmas.
Margaret

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Already Starting the Frays of Christmas!




Missy here.

Well, the frays of Christmas have already started. I totally forgot about posting last week! And we've had a couple of other posting mishaps as well (schedule conflicts, malfunctioning DSL, deadline pressures). Most people are extremely busy this time of year. I've also found that this week in particular is a big week for Christmas parties. At Bible study this morning, every woman in the room had been to a party last night!


And parties mean food, decorating, cleaning house, gifts, babysitters...and on and on. It's enough to make us forget to post a blog post. To even forget our heads if they aren't attached! :)

Another big stress right now is shopping. And for many people this Christmas, worrying about financing Christmas.




We worry about finding just the right gift for someone we love. We worry about affording all the toys our kids are begging for and circling in the Target catalogue. Some worry about over-spending and how it'll carry over to the new year.


We worry about getting food prepared in time when we have two parties in one day. We worry about meeting our commitments at work at the same time we're worrying about the holiday preparations. Some worry about family gatherings and strained relationships. Some dread Christmas because it'll be a sad time for them this year--maybe they've lost someone they loved in the past year.


I just received a batch of reader letters and found several readers are very lonely this holiday season. It just broke my heart to read those sweet letters.


And it hit me that I need to quit all this worry and stressing. I need to focus on those who are hurting right now. Let's pray for those who are sad and lonely. Let's focus on all the good we have and quit worrying about pulling off a perfect Christmas. Instead, let's spend the time appreciating our friends and family and reaching out to others.


Can any of you suggest ways we can reach out to others this Christmas?







Sunday, December 6, 2009

Heroine Interview from The Soldier's Holiday Vow


Interview with the heroine from The Soldier’s Holiday Vow with Jillian Hart:

1. September, tell me the most interesting thing about you.

I’ve loved horses since I was a little girl and riding has been my life. I work as a riding instructor for a local riding stables, and my beloved horse is named Comanche. He’s my best bud.

2. What do you do for fun?

I like to hang with Comanche. He and I ride for a lot of causes—for example, we have an upcoming charity ride scheduled to raise money for a holiday food drive.

3. What do you put off doing because you dread it?

I try to avoid dealing with the most painful thing that has ever happened to me—I lost my fiancé, Tim, an army ranger killed in the line of duty.

4. What are you afraid of most in life?

Tim’s best ranger buddy, Hawk has come into my life lately and he’s making me realize how afraid I am of losing my heart again, the way I lost it when I buried Tim.

5. What do you want out of life?

To make a difference and ease some of the suffering in this world—that’s why I like to ride for causes and do all I can for charitable causes.

6. What is the most important thing to you?

Family—and Hawk is beginning to seem as important as family to me, no matter how hard I try to stop it.

7. Do you read? If so, what is your favorite type of book to read?

Christian romances, of course. : )

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would want to be more fearless in the way I face my life—to love without being afraid of being hurt again.

9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?

Comanche, my horse, is really more than a pet. He’s my best buddy, my confidante and a part of my family. He and I are tight.

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?

I would love to go back to a time before the West was settled so I could see the herds of wild Mustangs running free.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

FEATURED BOOK: THE SOLDIER'S HOLIDAY VOW BY JILLIAN HART

Trapped in a mine shaft with a little girl, September Stevens prays for someone to save them. When help arrives in the form of army ranger Mark Hawkins, the best friend of her late fiancé, they both feel God's hand at work. Together they help each other rebuild their lives. As they let the spirit of the holidays into their hearts, feelings of new love start to take hold. But September is afraid to risk her heart on another soldier. Until Mark offers a Christmas vow, one that could last a lifetime.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Speaking of Frays...

Valerie Hansen here:

When I think of Christmas I remember being a wide-eyed child who was always excited to greet the day and see what gifts I'd received. Now that I'm older - much older - I realize that the real gift is Jesus and the day we celebrate His birth isn't what should be most important. We receive amazing gifts from God daily and I think He should be worshipped the same way.


Which brings me to my "fray". After my husband and I were married the inlaw wars began. If we happened to mention spending time with one side of the extended family, the others were adamant that we give them the same amount of attention - or more. It got ridiculous. Me, being the kind of person who likes everyone to "play nice" came up with the perfect solution. We would, with everyone else's blessing, spend a whole day at each house prior to Chirstmas, then have a restful Christmas day at home with our young children on Dec. 25th. Sounds logical, right? I sure thought so. Unfortunately, although everyone seemed to have a wonderful time during our visit, all was not well.

On Christmas day, filled with joy and peace, I telephoned my mother to share my joy and thank her for being so understanding. What did she say in response? "You ruined my Christmas."

I'm telling you this true story to make a point. It's not the day that's holy, it's our Saviour. Tradition is fine as long as it doesn't become our main focus. Times change. People leave us, as those folks in my life who were so rigid have done. I'm not sorry that I tried to make peace, only that I did it without saying what I've just said to you.

Be blessed. Everyday. That is my Christmas prayer for you.

Val

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Observing Advent



Hi, Terri Reed here. The first Sunday in December is rapidly approaching which means the beginning of Advent. I'd never heard of Advent until about ten years ago when I bought a book titled, The 25 Days of Christmas by Rebecca Hayford Bauer. This is a great book to help keep the focus of the season on Christ.
In case you're wondering, Advent means "coming" and an Advent Wreath is a wonderful way to prepare for Christmas day when we celebrate Jesus' coming.

I found this very old sterling silver candelabra in my grandmother's things that held five candles with the fifth candle being elevated in the middle. I add a little greenery around the base and its perfect for the Advent wreath. Makes me wonder if that was what the candelabra was originally for.

One each Sunday before Christmas Day, a candle is lit. The first candle is the Prophecy Candle--representing hope; the second is The Bethlehem Candle-representing faith; the third is the Angel's Candle-representing peace and the fourth candle is the Shepherd's Candle-representing joy. Then on Christmas morning we light the fifth candle which is Christ's Candle-representing love. In the 25 Days of Christmas book there are scriptures to read that correspond with the candles themes and devotionals to read aloud.

I've really enjoyed bringing this tradition to my family. Do you observe Advent? Are there other traditions you do observe that help to bring the focus of the season on Christ?

I wish all a very stressfree time as we approach Christmas.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Our Holiday Theme: Christmas Ways & Frays



Lyn Cote here! We Craftie Ladies of Romance decided to share
Ways that we celebrate Christmas and the Frays of Christmas, meaning the unexpected things that happen when we let the holidays get too stressful. If you'd like a refreshing list of Ways to de stress this holiday season (meaning Thanksgiving through New Year's Day), drop by my blog. My friend Christine Smart is sharing how she de-stressed her holidays. Great suggestions!



I'm also celebrating having my second Love Inspired Historical come out this month on the 8th, the day after my daughter's birthday. It was interesting to give birth to my daughter on Pearl Harbor Day, but it would have been more fun if she hadn't been 12 days overdue! But more about that when I post on the 22nd!

What is the first thing you do to start preparing for the holidays? And am I the only one trying to decide whether or not to send Christmas cards this year?