Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

This is Margaret Daley here wishing you a happy New Year. I want the best for you in 2013.

Have you made in New Year resolutions yet? Are you going to? I gave up making them years ago because it became more stressful than helpful. I never made it past January with a resolution in tact. That's not to say I don't make goals for myself. I have weekly writing goals and usually make them. I'm trying to stick to a goal of exercising three times a week on the treadmill. Most of the time I do, but I have to admit December was a hard month to do it.

Before saying good-bye to 2012, take a look back at the year. What are you most thankful for in 2012? I am thankful that my husband is home from the hospital and is slowly recovering.

What do you want in 2013? I want my husband to get back to one hundred percent. Oh, I hope I continue to write entertaining, moving stories.

New Year's Flash Fiction by Teri Wilson

Snowflakes swirled and danced against the windowpanes of Melody Swan’s tiny bungalow as the clock crept closer and closer to midnight. Another New Year’s Eve in Aurora, Alaska. Another night alone.
With her two big rescue dogs for company, Melody usually didn’t feel so alone. But there was just something about New Year’s Eve…
She yawned and wiggled her toes beneath the warm fur and steady heartbeat of Thor’s sleeping bulk. The dog had the right idea. She should just go to bed. Why was she forcing herself to stay awake until midnight?
But just as she reached to shut down her laptop, the sound of an instant message alarm rang.
Litter of Husky puppies in need of transport tonight. Interested?   RJ
Melody’s heart gave a little flutter at the sight of RJ’s initials. She really needed to get over her crush. He clearly wasn’t interested in her. He hardly ever said a word to her on the days she volunteered at the animal shelter.
But he was the shelter manager. And he was asking her for a special favor. Never mind that saying yes would be like admitting she was the only person in Alaska home alone on New Year’s Eve, she typed a quick be there in a few and headed to the shelter.
RJ greeted her at the door with what looked suspiciously like a full-grown dog, not a litter of Huskies, but Melody loaded up the dog in her van without asking any questions. Why was it so difficult to speak around him? Her words always seemed to stick in her throat.
He shoved his hands in his pockets and glanced inside the van. “Shall we go?”
“You’re coming too?”
“I thought you might like some company.” His words hung between them in a cloud of vapor in the cold Alaskan air.
It wasn’t until she reached the end of the drive that Melody thought to ask where they were headed. “Which direction?”
“Either one is fine with me,” he said quietly.
She blinked into the darkness. “But where are we going?”
“I don’t understand.”
RJ’s gaze turned tender. “Another volunteer showed up unexpectedly and picked up the rescue puppies before you arrived. I didn’t want to turn you away because I liked the idea of spending New Year’s Eve with you.”
The dog in the backseat yipped.
“Then who’s that?” Melody asked.
“He’s mine.” RJ shrugged, and his lips curved into a sheepish grin.
She smiled back at him. “Anywhere is just fine with me.”
He reached for her hand, and beneath a starry sky, together they drove toward a new future. A New Year.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Promise To Protect Interview

Today we're welcoming ASHLEY SAWYER, the heroine of A PROMISE TO PROTECT, written by Liz Johnson, a December release by Love Inspired Suspense

Wow, you've just had quite an adventure.   
1.  Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be in the midst of such suspense.

I’m the director of a shelter for battered women and children, and I’m so grateful for the chance to serve these special families. Recently, I helped a young woman find a safe home out of town. Right after that, I began receiving threatening notes and someone tried to run me over. I wasn’t sure how serious it was until my brother sent his best friend to check on me, and we discovered a threatening note on top of my broken windshield.

2.  So, during the book you met Matt. Tell us a bit about him.  What was your first impression?  When did you know it was love?

I first met Matt when I was sixteen. He’s my brother’s best friend, and they met when they were in Navy SEAL training. I had a teenage crush on Matt, but after a bad relationship in college, I wasn’t interested in looking at Matt as anything more than a friend. When he showed back up in my life, it was a pleasant surprise, but I wasn’t expecting any romance. But no one told me he had grown even more strong and handsome since I’d last seen him four years before.

3.  What strengths/skills do you have?  What is your greatest weakness?

I’ll do anything to protect the women and children in my care. I’m vigilant and careful, and I rely on my own skills and strength. But I’m realizing that trusting in my own my strength may actually be a weakness.
4.  What scares you?

I’m scared of someone else being in danger because I can’t protect them.
5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I’d like to change my past. I wish that I’d never gotten to the point where my weaknesses put my brother in danger. That’s my greatest regret.

6.  Where are you in your faith at the start of your story?

At the beginning of the story, I love God, but I struggle with truly relying on his strength. I want to trust him, but I have to be strong at all times or risk putting one or more of the women or someone else I love in danger.
7.  Where are you in your faith at the end of the story?

By the end of the story, I’ve learned that God wants my weakness because it’s in my weakness that His strength is made perfect.

8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story.  Tell us why this scripture is significant.

At one point, Matt and I were unable to make it to church on a Sunday morning. Instead Matt led all of us in some Bible study. That morning we read 2 Corinthians 9:12, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

God really used that verse to teach me the importance of leaning on God’s perfect strength.

9. If you could be a dessert what would you be and why?

I think I’d like to be a chocolate dipped ice cream cone. The shell is hard, but the inside is soft and vulnerable.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Featured Book: A Promise To Protect

Navy SEAL Matt Waterstone knows about keeping people safe. When his best friend's sister is attacked, Matt promises no harm will come to Ashley Sawyer—not on his watch. But Matt's not the only protective one. Ashley will do anything to safeguard the residents of the battered women's shelter she runs. She's sure she can handle the threats she gets in return. What she can't handle is the way Matt scales the walls around her heart. Yet when she falls prey to a crime web far more sinister than she'd realized, trusting Matt could be the only way to survive….

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Second Chance Christmas

Linda Goodnight here with a flash fiction story I wrote for Romantic Times Magazine. Short and sweet and a departure from my usual contemporary story. Hope you like it!
Shane gazed out the cabin window at a plain brown Christmas Eve. A cold drizzle fell over Indian Territory. He couldn’t give his child her heart’s desire, but he’d hoped God would grant Marcy’s wish for snow. Shane had ruined her chances of getting the other.

"Papa, is she coming?"

"Not today." Probably never. Not after what he’d done.

"But you said…"

"The train can’t run. The bridge is out." Excuses, excuses.

"But it’s Christmas, Papa. God won’t forget."

Shane’s heart ached. He’d used up all his faith to write Amelia. Now two months without an answer. She hadn’t forgiven him. Perhaps God hadn’t either.

"Let’s sing." And so they did. As "Silent Night" died away, sweet peace descended—And outside a noise clattered.

Marcy rushed to the door. "Mommy!"

Amelia leaped from a wagon, grabbing them both in a fierce embrace.

"I thought-" Shane said, disbelieving. "You never replied—"

"I wanted to surprise you."

"But the train—."

"A woman in love will find a way. Merry Christmas, darling."

In love.

She still loved him. Shane drew his reunited family closer, thankful for a second chance.
He lifted his face heavenward. Rain had turned to snow.
God had not forgotten them after all.

If you enjoyed my little journey to the past, perhaps you'll also like A Candlelight Christmas, a historical duo with Mary Conneally only from My "Outlaw's Gift" is a rerelease from many years ago, but Mary's wonderful story is brand new.
 I hope you had a wonderful, blessed Christmas and that the New Year brings you joy and peace.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Flash Fiction Story by Naomi Rawlings

Snow swirled from the sky, a never ending deluge of hard white flakes. Isaac Caine pulled his wide brimmed hat lower on his forehead and hunched his shoulders against the violent wind whipping over Lake Superior. The small town of Munising Michigan sat quiet and shut up against the storm that had already dropped a foot of snow. On this bitter-cold day after Christmas, not one horse-drawn sleigh or lonely traveler braved the blizzard.

No one, that was, except for him.

Isaac stared down his gloved hands and the plate they clenched, the last of the Christmas meals left to deliver. He would have delivered it yesterday, had the storm not come up. And fool that he was, he'd hoped the snow would subside by morning. But morning had arrived, the world was still a blinding mess of pelting flakes, and the Widow Atkins still hadn't received her Christmas meal.

Isaac trudged onward through the snow, nearly as high as his boots by now, and inched his way closer to the log cabin on the outside of town. What had he been thinking, saving this meal for last? He should have delivered it first so that the widow could have had a full, hot meal Christmas day. But he hadn't planned on the storm appearing before he finished his other deliveries, had hoped instead to stay a while and pass the long winter night with the elderly widow, just two people, both far away from family, sharing the holiday with one another.

Now thanks to his plans, the widow had gone without a Christmas meal, and he'd likely find himself snowed in at her cabin for the rest of the day.

The old house appeared before him, a mere shadow of age-darkened wood in the pine forest surrounding the little cabin. He stomped up to the door, then knocked.

The door swung open.

"Hello?" A small brunette stood in the doorway, a shawl draped about her shoulders and her plaited hair trailing down over her chest. "Can I help you?"

"I-I . . ." Words deserted him as he stared at the beautiful little woman. Where had she come from? And who was she?

She raised an eyebrow at him.

"I'm here for the Widow Atkins. I brought a Christmas meal from the church." He thrust the plate out awkwardly, as though it might convince the strange woman to let him in.

A soft smile split her lips, and she reached for the plate. "Of course. Grandmother's just inside. I'm Gracie Burrows here from Chicago, and I'll be staying for a while. Why don't you come in and warm yourself a bit?"

With a smile both on his face and in his heart, Isaac stepped inside from the cold.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Family Tree for Christmas

Hi and Merry Christmas!  God is so good!!  For unto us this day a Savior was born!  Well, the actual date is debatable.  I've heard it was really March and I've heard it was May.  But whatever, He came and died for us! And for that I'm exceedingly grateful, humbled and in awe.
Today I have nine people in my home and its lovely to have everyone here.  We found a new favorite family game to play: Telestrations--the telephone game sketched out.  Its fabulously funny.  I have laughed so hard tears streamed down my face.  My sis in law showed my how to start my family tree.  I've found my 5 times back great grandfather and grandmother on my mother's father's side and my 3 times back grandfather and grandmother on my mother's mother's side.  I'm going to tackle my dad's side next.  Its so exciting to see the records and old photos that others in the line have posted.  I saw my great 3 times back grandfather's registry for the civil war.  All my relatives on my mother's side were from the midwest, mainly Missouri.  On my grandmother's side (she was a red head like me) her great grandmother's maiden name was Bellagh which was changed to Bellah somewhere along the way.  Very Irish name.  This is so much fun!
Well, better go help with dinner prep.  Love to you all and May you be blessed this year.

Merry Christmas from Leann Harris

Merry Christmas to all our readers.  It is a day to be thankful.  I wish you and yours a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year from snowy...that's right snowy Texas.

Merry Christmas

From slightly cool, do I need a jacket?, Arizona, Pamela Tracy wishes you and yours a very Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Janet Lee Barton's Flash Fiction Story

The Christmas Star

"That star sure would look pretty on your Christmas tree, Rachel."

 Rachel Morgan turned from the store display to find deputy Matt Dennison standing right behind her. The man's nearness always made her heart flutter. "I didn't put one up this year."


 She shook her head.

 "You goin' to the Christmas Eve service tonight?"

 "I . . . don't know. " She turned to leave. "Merry Christmas, Matt."

 "Same to you, Rachel."

Near suppertime, Rachel had a pot of soup simmering and was mixing up cornbread when a knock came on the door. She wiped her hands on her apron and hurried to see who was calling.  Matt stood there, a fresh cut tree in one hand and the Christmas star she'd admired in the other.

 He gave a shrug and grinned. "It's a start."

 "Why, thank you, Matt. I—"

 "Got any popcorn to string?"

 "I can pop some."

 "Whatever you're cookin' sure smells good ."

 "Want to join me for supper? "

 "Yes, ma'am—if you'll let me escort you to the Christmas Eve service.  Will you?"  

His smile shot straight to her heart. She nodded. "Yes, I will. "

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Counterfeit Cowboy Interview

  How exciting to have Jesse Baker the hero from Counterfeit Cowboy written by Lacy Williams, a December 2012 release from Love Inspired Historical.

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

I’m a con man recently out of prison. Before prison, I could be anyone with a few well-placed lies. But after five years locked up, I’m having a hard time finding my feet—figuring out who I am now.

2.  What do you do for fun?

I love to people watch. Sure, it’s part of my “job” as a con man, but I’ve always been interested in discovering what I can figure out by a person just by watching them. Take the pretty girl across the seat from me—there’s something special about her, more than just her external beauty. There’s a deepness there, like she’s solid gold inside. I’ve only got a few days to figure her out until we get off this train…

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

I have seen my mother in over a decade. Because of some things that happened in my past, I haven’t been able to face her or ask for her forgiveness. I know I don’t deserve it.

4.  What are you afraid of most in life?

Turning into the lowlife that my stepfather said I would be. I want more for my life than being a criminal, but I’m not sure how to get there. Now I’ve met this gal and she’s making me want even more than that… things like family and true love.

5.  What do you want out of life?

Right now… a life. I’ve got no friends, no family to speak of, and no job. I want to find a place to settle down and start rebuilding.

6.  What is the most important thing to you?

When I got on the train out of Boston, it was getting to Chicago. By the time we hit the Windy City, I knew that Erin O’Grady was something special. With no plan for my life, the important thing quickly became staying at her side for as long as I can… but she still doesn’t know my true identity.

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

My past. If I was a different man, maybe I would stand a chance with Erin. But without the things I did in the past, I never would’ve been on that train out of Boston to meet her…

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

No pet, but on the way out of Boston I “acquired” a sidekick by the name of Pete—a street urchin who tried to blackmail me. There’s something about him that reminds me of my little brother who I lost years ago…

9. Can you tell us a little interesting tidbit about the time period you live in?

The people traveling home for Christmas aren’t that much different from the ones who’ll be traveling this holiday season (2012). Rushed for time, stressed out about family situations, and crowded into a vehicle with a bunch of others in the same situation. And some of them even bring way too many bags onto the train.


A con man with a conscience…

From the moment Jesse Baker collides with Erin O'Grady on a Boston train platform, he faces a dilemma. For once, Jesse doesn't want to lie about who and what he is. Yet if she learns he's a con artist, not a cowboy—and the urchin with him is certainly not his brother—she'll never give him a chance.
Erin suspects there's more to the enigmatic cowboy than meets the eye. But the sheltered socialite is certain his deep compassion is real. On the long Christmastime train ride to Wyoming, hearts and courage are tested and true motives revealed. And the journey that began in a charade may end with redemption—and a very real love.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Featured Book: Counterfeit Cowboy

From the moment Jesse Baker collides with Erin O'Grady on a Boston train platform, he faces a dilemma. For once, Jesse doesn't want to lie about who and what he is. Yet if she learns he's a con artist, not a cowboy—and the urchin with him is certainly not his brother—she'll never give him a chance.

Erin suspects there's more to the enigmatic cowboy than meets the eye. But the sheltered socialite is certain his deep compassion is real. On the long Christmastime train ride to Wyoming, hearts and courage are tested and true motives revealed. And the journey that began in a charade may end with redemption—and a very real love.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Margaret Daley's Flash Fiction Story

Ashley strode around the side of her Victorian house in Tulsa and almost ran into the gardener, Stefan. "Merry Christmas. You did a great job with the lights. Have a wonderful holiday."

"I will. I'm playing at the Christmas Eve concert."

"You are? What do you play?"

"The violin."

Surprised, Stefan played such a delicate instrument when he was so large and muscular, she murmured, "I love the violin," and continued to her front porch.

On her doorstep sat a beautifully wrapped present in navy blue paper with silver ribbon. Ashley glanced around but only saw her handsome neighbor across the street. Jared waved as he put up his holiday decorations. She took the medium size box inside, trying to figure out who would leave it without a gift tag.

Placing it on the round table in the foyer, she stared at it , deciding whether to open it. Maybe it was from her law partner, Kevin, who'd been hinting at taking their relationship beyond a business one.

She couldn't wait. She tore into the present. In the box was an exquisite red rose and a ticket to the Christmas Eve concert. She grinned.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Flash Fiction from Allie Pleiter

It was a dark and snowy night.  Arlene stared into the fire, her mind a thousand miles away.  Here in Chicago, snow fell in quiet, fluffy perfection--as if God Himself had ordered up the evening straight out of a painting.  Mark was far away, probably hot and dusty, which felt so wrong on Christmas Eve.  

“How are you, hon?”  Her father’s hand settled on her shoulder, pulling her thoughts back to the present.  She was glad to be spending the holiday with her parents.  It was no time to be alone and the baby was making her so tired lately.  Dad nodded toward the single knitted baby bootie in her lap.  “I plan for my grandson to have both feet, so you’d better keep going.”

Arlene managed a laugh, especially when the baby offered a kick in agreement.  “Oh, he--or she--has both feet, I’m sure of it.  They’re planted in my ribs too often for there to be only one of them.”

“This one will be a football kicker, hm?”

“Or a Rockette.  We decided not to find out the baby’s gender, Dad, so stop acting as if you know when we don’t.”  The baby in question decided to offer up a set of hard kicks for emphasis.  Arlene rubbed her side.  “Ouch.  Tonight it feels like it could be twins in there.”

“Then maybe you’d better knit faster.” Dad chuckled.  “The holidays have a way of taking up your time.”

Not this year.  This year Christmas felt like nothing but time.  She’d tried to keep herself busy, made lunch dates with friends and helped out at the USO and the church food pantry, but when evening came everything still boiled down to the cold hard truth of a Christmas without Mark.  “True,” she said, not really meaning it.  “I’m glad to be here.”  She meant that.  Arlene knew Army wives who seemed so much better equipped to spend the holidays with their husbands serving halfway around the world.  Next Christmas, when the baby was here, would it be even harder if Mark was gone?  She picked up the unfinished bootie and forced herself to continue stitching.  “I wish I could shake the sadness, Dad.  Mark will be here when the baby comes, and I should remember how grateful I’ll be then.”

“It’s your first Christmas without him.  We’re simply going to have to make do and find the blessings where we can.”  He smiled at the tiny knitted shoe.  “Mark would be proud of you.  If he were here, he’d tell you to hang on.”

Arlene felt a wave of sadness cinch her throat.  Mark always told her to hang on.  She just didn’t know how to do it without the sound of his voice calling to her, encouraging her.

“Hang on,” she told herself, closing her eyes and laying a hand across her belly.  “We’re going to hang on.”

“Yes we are.”

She knew that voice!  Arlene’s eyes flew open, needles and yarn scattering about as she leapt off her chair and turned.  There, snowy and wearing a grin that banished all the sadness from the room, stood Mark.  The look in his eyes as he took in her round belly--he’d been deployed before she ever really began to show--stole her breath.

“You’re beautiful.  You’re so...” 

Arlene didn’t give Mark the chance to finish the thought.  She was too busy kissing him...and hanging on.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My Christmas Mistake

There’s no bigger mistake during a Christmas shopping trip than to wear the wrong shoes to the mall. Why had I thought it was important to look stylish in my high-heeled platform boots while Christmas shopping? After three hours, I felt as if my benumbed legs ended at my knees.
“You go finish,” I told my best friend (the smart one who’d worn sneakers) as I eased into a miraculously vacated chair in the crowded food court. “I’ll be right here.” If nothing else, I could “people watch” to pass the time.

Then I saw him.

The solitary old man in a well-worn brown overcoat slumped in a nearby chair, and his bereft, almost vacant expression tugged at my heart. Was he a homeless man who had come in from the cold? the Christmas spirit asked within me. Did he have money to buy food? Should I go get him something to eat? But what if I chose the wrong thing? Should I slip him the ten dollars in my wallet, the last of my cash I’d budgeted for this shopping trip? That amount could purchase a hearty meal at any of these fast food places.

Before I could pull out the money, two noisy children and two smiling parents wended their way among the tables and surrounded the old man, all talking at once.

“Grandpa, look what I got.” The boy puffed out his chest to model a new sweatshirt emblazoned with an NFL logo, no doubt his favorite team.

“You can’t look in my bag, Grandpa,” said his lookalike sister. “It’s a secret.”

“Thank you so much, Dad.” The young mother bent down to hug the old man. “The kids really enjoyed picking out their own presents.”

“And we finally figured out what to get for you,” announced the young father with a jolly smirk. “You’ll never guess what it is, but you’re gonna love it.”

The old man straightened in his chair, and his face lit up—dare I say it?—like a Christmas tree. He laughed and teased his grandchildren, then gave them a few dollars to go buy their food. The joy of giving clearly had made his season bright.

Wearing the wrong shoes to go shopping wasn’t my biggest mistake on that Christmas shopping trip. It was my judging a book by its cover, or rather, a person by his clothing and countenance, which could have caused both the grandfather and me great embarrassment. Instead, I was treated to a lovely family tableau that truly embodied the season.

And I knew where my last bit of cash would go. Right into the red bucket outside the mall door where the Salvation Army volunteer patiently rang her bell. She would know of someone who truly needed it.
Louise M. Gouge
Check out my Web site to find out how you can win a copy of my newest release, A Suitable Wife.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

How big is God?

Good Morning everyone. It’s 5:30 in the morning and I just remembered I was supposed to post today. I had been thinking about my topic yesterday and with all the Christmas stuff and family stuff going on, just hadn’t sat down to write it.

I know everyone is still reeling from Friday’s massacre. Every time I think about it, I want to weep. And I know many people are saying, “How could God allow such a thing?” and “Where was God when this was happening?” Well, frankly, I don’t know, I just know he was there with those children and the adults who tried to save them. And while I don't know about the adults, I do know that those children are with him. (I suspect the adults are too, but that's not for me to say...)

Killing children? I don’t understand it and I probably won’t until I get to heaven and ask Him. But I was reading a blog post the other day by my friend Edie Melson and she had one line in her post that has stuck with me and made me go, “Yes!”

“If my God is small enough to understand, He’s not big enough for me to worship.”


My mother-in-law sent me this poem and I thought I would share it with you. There’s been some controversy on who actually wrote it, but I wanted to share it anyway.  

twas' 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38
when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven's gate.
their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air.
they could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.

they were filled with such joy, they didn't know what to say.
they remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.
"where are we?" asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.
"this is heaven." declared a small boy. "we're spending Christmas at God's house."

when what to their wondering eyes did appear,
but Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near.
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
then He opened His arms and He called them by name.

and in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring
those children all flew into the arms of their King
and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
one small girl turned and looked at Jesus' face.

and as if He could read all the questions she had
He gently whispered to her, "I'll take care of mom and dad."
then He looked down on earth, the world far below
He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe

then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
"Let My power and presence re-enter this land!"
"may this country be delivered from the hands of fools"
"I'm taking back my nation. I'm taking back my schools!"

then He and the children stood up without a sound.
"come now my children, let me show you around."
excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran.
all displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.

and i heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
"in the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT."

We serve a BIG and MIGHTY God, we serve a God who allows us free will, to choose Him or reject Him. We serve a God who is too big to fully understand. And I’m okay with that. Are you?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Debra Clopton Counting My Blessings

Debra Clopton here wishing you a very blessed Christmas holiday. I know you are with me today feeling grief and heartache for the families in Newtown Connecticut. I don't even have words to express my sorrow. I do know that I am counting my blessings, counting the days until Christmas when I can hug my grandchildren and my kids when they arrive here at my home.

Yesterday I went with our youth to the Nursing Home here in my town. Each year we do a project with our youth and make handmade gifts for the men and women who live there. We've made an assortment of wall decorations over the years. Crosses, Angels Plaques with Bible verses. The youth really get into decorating these gifts. We just load a table down with beads, cloth, rocks, flowers, wire nails and all kinds of stuff and sit back and watch in amazement at what the kids come up with. This year Chuck made picture frames for the kids to decorate with this verse: Jesus said, "I leave you peace; my peace I give you. I do not give it to you as the world does. So don't let your hearts be troubled or afraid." John 14: 27 

We did not know what was to come when God laid this verse on Chuck's heart to put into the frames last week. For me it is hard to not be troubled. But I know that God has his loving arms wrapped around each and every child who was lost last week and the brave teachers who tried to protect them. I'm praying for the families today and praying God will give them peace through this.

May you all tell your loved ones you love them, give them a hug if you're close enough and count your blessings. I know I am. Hugs to each of you.

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