Thursday, December 31, 2015

Out with the Old...In with the New!

It's hard to believe that it's New Year's Eve!! 2016 is almost here. And you know what that means?

It's time for those New Year resolutions. I'm not a big "resolutions" person myself. But I do try to have goals—especially as it relates to writing. Even if I don’t meet all my goals each year, I enjoy seeing what I thought was important in December for the next year.

This is also the time of year to reflect back and think about moving forward. All you have to do is turn on the news to see that we are living in perilous times.  And sometimes it is easy to just get caught up in the small things we have going on in our lives. But as we ring in the New Year, I'm trying to be thankful for all that I have. To not sweat the small things and embrace all that can be in 2016. Even if you have regrets from 2015, don't hold onto those in the New Year. I know that’s my game plan.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

And now for some fun! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Do you make New Year's resolutions? 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

PATRICIA JOHNS: Giveaways, and Those Imperfect Holidays

My Christmases are never perfect. I try for perfect, I really do! I plan, I bake, I decorate... but it never goes perfectly.

This year, my 7-year-old son knew exactly what he was getting. As in no surprise at all. His Christmas list was that short. I chose, bought and wrapped my own gift, because it drives me that nuts when Mr. Johns leaves shopping for me until the last minute. My son literally vibrated from sugar--lovingly provided by yours truly--and then crashed phenomenally. My husband decided that he likes Christmas baking that isn't sweet... and I had no idea how to provide that, especially since we're gluten and dairy free. (Hence, the sugar vibrating child.) Like, seriously, you can't tax my kitchen skill set to that extent!

But we were together, and it was our Christmas, and that was perfect in itself. And I have to say, when Christmas is over, I'm a little relieved. I feel happy, I feel blessed, but relief is a pretty strong under current. ;)

New Years is quickly approaching, and January 1 feels like such a breath of fresh air--a new start. 2016--a fresh chance to mess up writing checks, and maybe give some new recipes a whirl.

I'm not a resolution maker. Not after Christmas. Christmas prep is filled with high minded resolutions that fail 80% of the time, and after that, I'm ready to just roll with whatever comes. I make no guarantees at this point! Okay, well, I make a few... I do have books coming out, after all. ;)

In February, you'll see my first American Romance on the shelves.

If you'd like to win a copy of this book, you can enter my Goodreads giveaway that ends December 31.

And in March, you'll see another Love Inspired.

If you'd like a chance at winning a free copy of THE LAWMAN'S SURPRISE FAMILY, I have a Goodreads giveaway starting January 1. Another great way to start the year, no?

If you'd like to connect with me on Facebook, you can find me HERE. I also have a blog that I regularly update HERE. I'd love to hear from you.

I wish you all the happiest of New Years! May your wishes come true, and your prayers be answered.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Storms that Rocked Our Region by Leann Harris

This has been a roller coaster of a Christmas. We've gone from 70 degree days, to rain, snow, and not making it to 40's on Monday. Our trees dropped all their leaves at one time, so my husband decided to rake them up. Well, I couldn't let him do it by himself, so I put off the Christmas baking and helped.
Well, I thought I'd came down with the flu after a day in the breeze, and spent Christmas Eve in bed. Thankfully, it was just sinus. When the tornadoes roared through our area we were with our children and were ready to race into the hall. We were blessed, but many, many people were not. I count my blessings, but please remember all those folks who will always remember the Christmas of 2015 with grief and sorrow.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

FEATURED BOOK AND INTERVIEW: The Holiday Courtship by Winnie Griggs

A Wife by Christmas 
As Christmas approaches, Hank Chandler is determined to find a wife to mother his sister's orphaned children. When schoolteacher Janell Whitman offers to help him with his niece and nephew, she seems to be the perfect match—but she won't accept his proposal. Instead, she insists she'll find him another bride before the holidays. 
Janell moved to Turnabout, Texas, to put her past behind her and focus on her future—one that doesn't include marriage. But while she plays matchmaker and cares for Hank's children, she loses her heart to the two youngsters…and their adoptive father. If Janell reveals her secrets to Hank, will he still want her to be his Christmas bride?

How exciting to have Janell Whitman, the heroine from Winnie Griggs’ The Holiday Courtship, a December 2015 release from Love Inspired Historical.

1.  Janell, tell me the most interesting thing about you.
Well, I’m a schoolteacher for one thing. And, because my little sister went deaf when she turned eighteen, I know sign language.

2.  What do you do for fun?
I’m a member of the church choir – I love to sing.

3.  What do you put off doing because you dread it?
The only thing I dread enough to put it off, is telling everyone in Turnabout about my Big Lie.

4.  What are you afraid of most in life?
People finding out the scandal I ran away from home to get away from, and that I will lose my teaching job as a result.

5.  What do you want out of life?
To have a family of my own. Unfortunately that’s not possible for me. So I make do with taking care of other people’s children.

6.  What is the most important thing to you?

7.  If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would go back and undo the horrible mistake I made when I was nineteen.

8.  Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?
Unfortunately, I don’t but I love animals. Chloe, the little girl I’m helping to deal with her deafness, has a cat and so I get to vicariously have a pet through her.

9. Can you tell us a little interesting tidbit about the time period you live in?
Lots of interesting things happened in 1897. In April this year, the Boston Marathon was held with 15 runners.  I understand it will become annual event.  And just this past September the Klondike Gold Rush kicked off.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

From our hearts to yours on this most blessed of days -

Missy Tippens
Wishing you all a blessed, joyful Christmas from the Tippens house to yours. With love, Missy.

Jean C. Gordon
A very Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones and wishes for abounding joy in the new year.

Rhonda Gibson
May the joy of Christmas bless each and every one of you. Thank you for reading my books this years and in the years past. You are a blessing to me. Warmly, Rhonda Gibson

Louise Gouge
May peace and joy fill you at this season, and may you feel the presence of the Lord. Louise M. Gouge, A Western Christmas LIH

Margaret Daley
I hope that everyone has a wonderful Christmas and happy New Year. Stay safe and warm. May God be with you and your loved ones. Merry Christmas, Margaret Daley

Sandra Orchard
Wishing you all a blessed and Christ-filled Christmas celebration. ~Sandra Orchard

Patricia Johns
Merry Christmas to every one of you! You make these stories possible, and I never forget that. May your Christmas be blessed.  - Patricia Johns

Christine Johnson - Wishing you and your family a most blessed and joyous Christmas.

Janet Lee Barton - Wishing you all a very blessed Christmas—one full of love for our Lord and joy that we have His promises to cling to each and every day. Praying that you and your families and friends are able to make memories that will continue to give you warmth and comfort in the coming year and give you more blessings to count. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!
Janet Lee Barton

Deb Kastner - From my home to yours, as we worship the incarnation, I wish you and yours the most blessed Christmas and a New Year filled with love and joy.

Rachel Dylan - May you have a wonderful Christmas that warms the heart and soul. And may 2016 be filled with joy and peace. 

Lorraine Beatty - Wishing everyone a blessed Christmas and may the love of Christ fill you and yours over the holidays. Merry Christmas.
Lorraine Beatty

Pamela Tracy - Hope every smile from Christmas carries on to the New Year and beyond.
Pamela Tracy

Danica Favorite - Sending wishes for a Christmas filled with love, joy, and blessings! We’re expecting a white Christmas here, so if your neck of the woods, needs a little snow, have some of ours!

Lenora Worth - Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of our wonderful readers. You are a gift to us!!

Keli Gwyn - I wish you and yours a joyous celebration of our Savior’s birth. Happy New Year, too. May it be filled with blessings, including time to read plenty of books.

Patty Smith Hall - Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years! God bless each and every one of you!

Terri Reed - May the Lord be with you, guide you and keep you in His care this Christmas and throughout the New Year!
With the love of Christ,
Terri Reed

Mindy Obenhaus – Wishing you the merriest of Christmases and a blessed 2016!

Merrillee Wren - Christmas blessings and best wishes for the new year to all of our wonderful readers.

Cate Nolan - Dear Love Inspired Readers, Sharing my Christmas debut with so many readers has made this holiday extra-special. I am so grateful for you all. I wish you the holiest of Christmases and abundant blessings in the new year. Please be assured of my prayers for you and your families throughout 2016.

Merry Christmas. Love, Cate Nolan

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Celebrating Christmas After a Loss

What do you do when the world around you is busy celebrating, and you have a hard time feeling festive? That can happen when we lose a loved one during the holidays.

My dad, a victim of Alzheimers, developed a fatal infection two years ago and died three days after Christmas. Even though I'm enjoying the season this year, a part of me is experiencing a bit of melancholy as I prepare for the second anniversary of his passing.

Because I'm not alone in suffering some sadness each December, I wanted to touch on this less discussed aspect of the season. Loss is an inescapable part of life, and I believe it makes us stronger. We learn valuable lessons from it--how much others meant to us and how important it is to spend time with our loved ones.

We also learn that we're stronger than we think and that we can endure more than we thought possible. And we learn that the Lord is there for us to lean on. He knows our pain. As the shortest Bible verse says, "Jesus wept." We can, too, knowing He's there upholding us and empathizing with us.

As we move through and past the worst of the grief, we can take those lessons we've learned and put them to good use. We can more fully engage with those around us. We can come alongside those who are hurting as we've hurt. Those of us who are writers can pour the pain we've experienced into our stories.

In my second LIH, A Home of Her Own, coming in March, loss plays a major role. The hero's mother has cancer, as my beloved mother-in-law did. Because I've endured the pain that diagnosis causes, I was able to add realism and depth to the story. Even though I know what's coming, there are two scenes I can't read without weeping.

But have no fear. I also know what awaits a person who slogs through grief. Because of that, I was able to give James and Becky a very happy ending. =)

To those, like me, who have lost someone close to Christmas, I pray the Lord ministers to you as you do your best to do Christmas. May the memories of your loved ones bring you a measure of comfort in the midst of your grief.

On a lighter note, I received an early Christmas present. My author copies of A Home of Her Own have arrived!

 Do you enjoy reading stories that might
make you reach for a tissue a time or two?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Another Year, another Christmas

Merry Christmas! Jolene Navarro here. As I write this it is deep into the night, the house is quiet and the Christmas tree lights the dark room.

I love Christmas decorations, each one comes with a special story.  Over the years the memories get deeper and richer with  little sparkles of sadness coating  them.  Most of my angels that hang around my tree came from my mother and a few came from students. Of course with four children I have all the handmade ornaments glued and dated by little hands that are now all grown up.
Each year marks a loss of some sort: people, youth, and phases of life your children outgrew. You can let it take the joy or you can  find joy in remembering the legacy of the one you have lost. Of where your children have grown. When they come home they actually decorate the tree.
In my Christmas story, A Texas Christmas Wish, my hero has a hard time coming home because all he see is the loss of his mother and sister. Seeing his nieces getting older reminds him of the thing his mother and sister will never do again. He lives in the pain a grief instead of finding ways to heal and honor them.
His father is grieving too but both men are a bit on the stubborn side and ignore instead of embracing. The heroine’s faith and optimism in spite of her own rough life brings the men around to seeing the beauty in their memories and celebrating the legacy of the women they love.
 My own mother loved Santa figures. As she bought me a new angel for my tree each year I bought her a new Santa for her collection. When I see a unique Santa my first impulse is to buy it and it makes me a bit sad, but that’s okay. We take our sadness and turn it into blessings. Through me and my children she lives on in our lives.
The naivety scene pictured below, belonged to my mother. She made it when I was about eight years old. She poured the molds and glazed the set. A few of the pieces have been bumped and dinged but they are the first thing I set up in my house and the last thing I put away.

They remind me of one of my favorite line from a story: The Velveteen Rabbit, Margery Williams
“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'

'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit.

'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.'

'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?'

'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.”
So maybe another year has made us a  a bit shabbier, but the Lord has designed us for relationships the most important on is with him. So this Christmas whether you are surrounded by tons of family or quietly alone, light a candle and remember the greatest gift is eternal life we are given because of faith in the unseen.

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