Wednesday, November 28, 2018

'Tis the Season by Carol J. Post


Happy Thanksgiving/Merry Christmas!

Now that Thanksgiving is over, all the Christmas stuff is coming out, and the push is on to find that perfect gift for everyone on your list. Of course, Black Friday is the event that kicks it all off.


I confess, I’ve never done Black Friday. I hate shopping on a good day. The thought of getting out there with hundreds of other people and fighting over the last two WowWee Fingerlings on the shelf makes me break out in a cold sweat. I’m more relaxed having my teeth drilled.


Many years ago, my parents, my sister and brother-in-law, and my husband and I found a great deal on an old log cabin on twelve acres in North Carolina and went in together to purchase it. It needed a lot of work, and we spent a couple of vacations tackling projects like putting on a new metal roof. That Christmas, we decided to spend the holiday there and, instead of buying gifts for each other, each bought something for the cabin. (Hubby and I bought a large griddle and made pancakes Christmas morning.) 

When we arrived, we headed into the woods with our ax to search for a suitable Christmas tree. We quickly learned that though there were lots of evergreens, they weren’t the Christmas tree type. But that didn’t deter us. After tying our Charlie Brown tree to the rafters, because the branches were too droopy to stand up on their own, we strung popcorn and berries and made ornaments. We had no TV, but had great times sharing stories huddled around the wood-burning stove. (We hadn’t rebuilt the toppled chimney yet so couldn’t use the fireplace.)

That was the simplest Christmas I ever had but one of the most memorable. It was also the beginning of a change in my attitude toward the holiday season. At the risk of sounding like Scrooge’s long-lost sister, I spent a lot of years dreading the days leading up to Christmas, hoping I’d survive the insane schedule (and the shopping) and looking forward to when it would all be over. I often wondered where is the peace and joy that everyone sings about at Christmastime. Looking at the faces of the people around me, I knew I wasn’t alone in those thoughts.

I know, Jesus is the reason for the season. Without God’s amazing gift, there would be no Christmas. I’ve known the meaning of Christmas since I was old enough to talk. But finding my own “Silent Night” in the midst of all the hustle and bustle and taking time out to focus on what the holiday actually means hasn’t always been easy.

Over the years, I’ve gotten better. I’ve come to realize that I don’t have to say yes to every activity. Stretching myself too thin isn’t good, even when the activities are church-related. And since it’s always been a source of stress for me, I don’t shop anymore. (Gift cards and money work just fine.) I love to find simple ways to bring Christmas cheer to those around me, whether it’s offering a smile and word of encouragement to a harried young mother, or singing Christmas carols for older people who are unable to get out.

I’m still not where I want to be. I’m trying to be selective, but my schedule is filling up a little too quickly. But I’m determined to keep my focus where it should be—on the ultimate gift, given for us over 2,000 years ago.


What about you? Do you find yourself caught in a flurry of activity, unable to escape? Or have you found a way to experience peace and joy in the midst of the madness? What Christmas traditions have you found especially meaningful?

And speaking of Christmas, my book Bodyguard for Christmas releases this Saturday. I hope you'll check it out.


Someone’s after his little boy. 

She has one chance to save them both.

When his young son is nearly kidnapped, assistant district attorney Colton Gale needs a Christmas refuge—and a live-in bodyguard. Though former military police officer Jasmine McNeal fights to shield them 24/7, she refuses to get attached. But growing close to the little boy and his father might be her only shot at keeping them alive—and becoming a family beyond the holidays.

Amazon        Barnes and Noble        Harlequin





From medical secretary to court reporter to property manager to owner of a special events decorating company, Carol's résumé reads as if she doesn't know what she wants to be when she grows up. But one thing that has remained constant through the years is her love for writing. She lives in Central Florida and writes fun and fast-paced inspirational romance and romantic suspense. Her books have received two Royal Palm Literary Awards and been nominated for an RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Book Award and two RITA® awards. Besides writing, she enjoys sailing, hiking, camping—almost anything outdoors. Her two grown daughters and grandkids live too far away for her liking, so she now pours all that nurturing into taking care of two mischievous black cats.

Website
Facebook
Twitter

Monday, November 26, 2018

Amazing people rising up in the midst of disaster!


Hi, all. Dana Mentink here, LIS author and California gal. California... the lovely golden state, my home for all of my life...has had a rough start to the holiday season. Wildfires have swept over the state, both north and south. Here in Northern, CA, the Camp Fire has finally been contained with a death toll of 85 at last count and more than 13,000 homes lost. It is not overstating the point to say that the entire community of Paradise was razed to the ground. It was catastrophic, and families will be devastated for a long time to come. So why do I bring it up? Because Papa Mentink (ret. Fire Marshal) always says that catastrophes bring out the best and worst in people. I thought the Thanksgiving season would be a great time to point out a few of the ways we’ve seen people “loving their neighbors” here in the heart of the disaster.

1. East Avenue Church in Chico became a shelter for those fleeing the fire. Some of the first arrivals who had medical training stepped up to create a makeshift medical center right there in the church. A motorcycle club also answered the call to provide security for the hundreds of people sheltering at the church. (They were having some difficulties with transients posing as evacuees, bringing drugs and violence into the shelter.)

2. The all volunteer team of El Dorado County Search and Rescue donated countless hours to comb through destroyed homes, knowing their findings will most likely be tragic, but dedicated to helping families find closure. These folks pay for their own gear, sleep on high school gym floors, and take time away from their own families and businesses to help and they will never see a dime for their efforts.

3. A California man named Dan Sauvageau heard his friends had evacuated without being able to get their animals out, so he drove 90 miles to rescue their pets which included a donkey, mastiff, three goats and a cat. Then he went on to rescue 17 other animals in the area and took them to a makeshift shelter at the Chico airport.

Of course there are dozens of organized groups doing amazing work to provide disaster support, but I am particularly touched by the stories of regular people, rising up to help their neighbors just as God commanded us to. Doesn’t that just touch your heart?

Dana’s latest seriesGold Country Cowboys series

Where do you get those ideas from? By Belle Calhoune



So…where do you get the ideas for your books from? If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked that question I would be rich beyond measure. I have a feeling I’m not the only one.  People are always curious about the inner workings of an author's mind.  I suppose we authors seem to be very fascinating and mysterious characters.  Being an author is viewed as glamorous and our ideas seem like they are spun from gold. HA!!! 

Ideas are the treasure chest of any author.  Everything stems from our ideas.  Without them, we really don't have much of anything.  Just blank pages staring back at us.



I once attended a writer’s conference where the luncheon speaker asked the audience of several hundred writers, “How many of you have always had characters and ideas running through your head?”  I raised my hand and as I looked around the room I noticed almost everyone in the crowd had also raised their hands.  As authors, most of us aren’t in control of where our thoughts take us.  And this isn’t to say we don’t have to plot or brainstorm and we may occasionally deal with writer’s block, but we have the capability of putting it all together based on our big idea. For me, that's the fascinating part.  Writing a full novel out of an idea is not for the faint of heart.  It takes a lot of resilience, brain power and, dare I say, courage. 

Don't you just love the moments when the lightbulbs turn on?  This is my favorite moment when I'm working on a novel.  It's as if every idea comes together in one big arc of a storyline and I can feel the adrenaline pumping through my veins. Sometimes I even get up from my desk and do a little celebratory dance.  


I recently signed a four-book contract with Love Inspired for a series set in Owl Creek, Alaska.  One of my readers asked me where I’d come up with the name Owl Creek.  I thought about it and said, “It just came to me.”  And that’s the truth.  I had an idea centered around a small, faith-filled Alaskan town steeped in secrets.  Yep! This series is bringing the drama.  It kind of makes me smile remembering all the years I watched Dallas when I was in junior high and high school!  I was hooked on the juicy stories.



Alaska interests me because it is so unlike anything I've experienced before in terms of a setting.  I grew up in Massachusetts and now live in Connecticut, so I'm a perpetual New Englander.  My goal for 2019 is to set foot in Alaska.  My husband has wanted to go there for ages and now that I've been writing Alaska, it is high on my bucket list.  

Where do your ideas take you? Any great trips being planned for 2019?





Sunday, November 25, 2018

Sunday Scripture

Ecco Homo (Behold the Man), Antonio Ciseri, 1860-1880. [PD-US]

Pilate said to Jesus,
"Are you the King of the Jews?" 
Jesus answered, "Do you say this on your own
or have others told you about me?" 
Pilate answered, "I am not a Jew, am I? 
Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me. 
What have you done?" 
Jesus answered, "My kingdom does not belong to this world.
If my kingdom did belong to this world,
my attendants would be fighting
to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. 
But as it is, my kingdom is not here." 
So Pilate said to him, "Then you are a king?" 
Jesus answered, "You say I am a king. 
For this I was born and for this I came into the world,
to testify to the truth. 
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."
John 18:33B-37


If you have any prayer needs, please mention them in the comments section so we can join you in prayer. You do not need to include specific names or situations of a private nature, just say that you have a prayer request. The Lord knows your heart and the needs you have. It is a privilege and honor to pray with you and for you.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Jean C. Gordon here with two new must buys from our Love Inspired Contemporary authors. Just click on the cover or retailer links to purchase it. And to learn more about Vannetta and Deb, click on their names.

https://www.amazon.com/Amish-Christmas-Memories-Indiana-Brides-ebook/dp/B07CK13JH1
Amish Christmas Memories
by Vannetta Chapman 
 
All she wants for Christmas is her memories
An Indiana Amish Brides book
When a young Amish woman collapses in the snow shortly before Christmas, Caleb Wittmer rushes to her aid. Only, “Rachel” remembers nothing of who she is. Now his family has taken in the pretty stranger, disrupting Caleb’s ordered world. He’s determined to find out where she belongs…even if Rachel’s departure means saying goodbye to his old-fashioned heart forever.

Amazon | B&N | Harlequin | Kobo | Google Play | iBooks

https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Baby-Cowboy-Country-ebook/dp/B07CK93VLS
A Christmas Baby for the Cowboy
by Deb Kastner 

’Tis the season for a new start
But can he be a daddy in Cowboy Country?
With a baby on the way and Christmas around the corner, disgraced rodeo rider Cash Coble returns to Serendipity hoping to fix his reputation. Cash never imagined that pretty Alyssa Emerson would inspire him to cowboy up—let alone open his heart. But will she agree to be part of his new family once she learns his dark secret?

Amazon | B&N | Harlequin | Kobo | Google Play | iBooks

Friday, November 23, 2018

The Importance of Family Time...and Shopping! by Katy Lee

Happy Thanksgiving, all. Katy Lee here. Today is Black Friday, and I am gearing up to head out on the town. But this year is a little different than years' past.

This year, I picked up my daughter from college and packed up the family, and we headed north into the mountains of Vermont. I wanted to have a full, long weekend away with just my immediate family together as we haven't all been together since my oldest left for school. Next year, I will have two away in school. My house is shrinking, and the empty nest is happening so fast.

So as I write this, I am sitting slope-slide watching skiers zip by the windows and listening to my children talk and laugh over breakfast. They, too have missed being together and needed this time as much as I did. Each year I realize more and more how I must be thankful for these gifts from God.

And time really is a gift that no store can sell.

It is my hope my children will learn this well too. And I think they are, judging by their excitement to head down to the quint Vermont villages and walk along the glass window displays together. Maybe throw a few snowballs and have a cup of hot chocolate, too. And yesterday, my three competitive swimmers lined up in the pool and showed their sibling rivalry in race after race. All in good jest, of course. Even the hotel's lifeguards got in on the action. It was great fun for all.

My point being, you don't have to spend a lot of money to spend time together. The gift of time is free. What you do need to do is recognize Time as the gift itself. Make the effort to enjoy each other's company. Play some games. And of course, laugh. Laugh as much as possible. That, too, can't be bought.


Enjoy your day, all! I saw a great consignment shop in the village that us girls are excited to find some hidden gems! I hope you find something special this week of Thanksgiving too!



Katy Lee has penned fifteen published novels. She writes suspenseful romances and mysteries that thrill and inspire the reader—from the edge of their seat. A native New Englander, Katy loves to knit warm wooly things. She enjoys traveling the side-roads and exploring the locals’ hideaways. A homeschooling mom of three competitive swimmers, Katy often writes from the stands while cheering them on. Two of her books have received a RITA® and a Daphne du Maurier award nomination. She has won an Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award as well a Selah Award for her book Blindsided.


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Counting Our Blessings


by Lisa Jordan, @lisajordan

As families and friends are gathering together around the U.S. to celebrate Thanksgiving, we'd like to take time to count our blessing beginning with our readers who read our books and share our stories. Without you, we wouldn't be able to write the stories that glorify Him and minister to others. So, thank you. We love you. We appreciate you. 

And here are other things we're thankful for: 
~*~
I'm thankful for my darling grandchildren who are a constant light in my life.  I'm also thankful for the path my career has taken and all the people along the way who continue to bring me joy and support when I need it the most. -Tracey J Lyons 
~*~
I am thankful every morning at the moment when I open my eyes because then I know God has given me a precious gift. Another day. Without the time to enjoy life, nothing else really matters. -Valerie Hansen
~*~
Wishing everyone a blessed and happy Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for my dear family, for the extra time I’ve gotten to spend with my dad and for the many blessings the Lord has given me, including a wonderful career in writing, an awesome agent, Pam Hopkins and my talented and dedicated editor, Emily Rodmell. -Patricia Davids 
~*~
I'm thankful for all the blessings in my life, especially my family and my new son-in-law! -Laura Scott 
~*~
I'm thankful for the miracle of words. They are literally my lifeline. I would not be me without them. And to all the readers who love words too! -Sherri Shackelford
~*~
I give thanks to God for all His blessings...for the gift of life...for the gift of my wonderful husband, my beautiful children and grandchildren...for extended family...for dear friends and for wonderful readers who are the reason I write. I am so very grateful! I pray this season of gratitude will be filled with joy and love and laughter for all of us! Happy Thanksgiving! -Debby Giusti
~*~
This year I’m particularly thankful for those who were called to be eye specialists, joints specialists and back specialists because hubby and I have needed all three recently and we’re so blessed to have been cared for. Blessing to all and have a Happy Thanksgiving. -Lorraine Beatty   
~*~ 
I'm thankful for my Mom. I feel incredibly lucky to still have her in my life when so many of my friends have lost their mothers. -Christa Sinclair
~*~
So many things to be thankful for, but I'm especially thankful for our freedom to worship where we wish and to write the books we desire. I'm thankful for my family and friends who support me with their love and encouragement.  -Lisa Jordan
~*~

Heart, home, and faith have always been important to Lisa Jordan, so writing stories with those elements come naturally. Represented by Rachelle Gardner, Lisa is an award-winning author for Love Inspired, writing contemporary Christian romances that promise hope and happily ever after. Her newest book, Season of Hope, releases in March 2019. She is the Operations Manager for My Book Therapy. Happily married to her own real-life hero for almost thirty years, Lisa and her husband have two grown sons. When she isn’t writing, Lisa enjoys family time, kayaking, good books, and playing in her craft room with friends. Visit her at lisajordanbooks.com.



Wednesday, November 21, 2018

When the Holidays aren't Happy by Danica Favorite

My girls in the hospital with our horse, Ava
Hi Everyone, Danica Favorite here. And, when I was thinking about this post over the weekend, I had an entirely different post planned. But life has a funny way of interfering with those plans. And, as we've been dealing with some crazy stuff at our house, I realized that it's not going to be the holiday we'd hoped for, and that's true for a lot of people.

Yesterday, one of our horses, Ava, was seriously injured. She'd gotten herself stuck in the horse shelter and cut herself on the metal siding. If it wasn't for the fact that my daughter was off school and training one of our other horses, we would likely have not found her in time, and she would have bled to death. It was a horrible day, and my daughters and one of their friends worked tirelessly to help the horse until the vet could arrive. We also had some other friends who came over to lend a hand. At one point, I asked the intern, who is a good friend of ours, if our horse would make it. He told me it was 50/50. She did well through the night, and today we got to see her, and everyone is encouraged by her recovery so far. She is not healthy enough yet for the surgery she needs, and only then will we know her prognosis. We've already been warned there will be a lot she won't be able to do in the future. But the fact that she has a future is enough.

We got home from the hospital today to find three of my chickens, including my favorite rooster, dead. It was a new level of pain and sadness for our family.

As we've spent time mourning as a family and dealing with the ups and downs of not knowing what will happen with the horse, how we will pay for it, and all the other details, like figuring out how to make a safe place for her when she gets home, fixing the chicken coop, etc., the thing I told my kids as we all alternated breaking down in tears, was that it's okay to cry and not be okay right now. We get to feel however we feel, and it's safe to do that in our house.

So what does this have to do with the holidays and everyone else?

I think about all the others who are also not having a great holiday, and I know that not only are we not alone, but so many others have it worse.

You may not know what the people you meet are going through, but you can make a difference in their lives, even in just a small way.

After we took Ava to the hospital, I still had things to do for Thanksgiving. I was a harried woman in bloodstained clothes (which you couldn't tell because of the color), trying to pick a few things up from the store before I had to take my daughter to dance, and I hadn't had a moment to breathe, let alone cry, and I still didn't know if my horse was going to live. But as I was trying to find what I needed, I stopped and noticed all the harried people in the store, doing the same thing I was. Maybe none of them had the horrible day I had. Maybe some of them had it worse. But we all needed the same thing: to get our stuff done and on to the next thing.

There was one lady, very beautiful and professional-looking, who kept blocking my path in every aisle. Actually, I think she was blocking me at the moment I had my ah-ha. Despite how pretty and put-together she was, she looked super stressed.

When I found everything I needed, I got to the checkout, and they were all really busy, long lines. My turn finally came, and that lady got in line behind me. She only had one thing in her hands. So I turned and asked her, "do you only have the one thing?" She said yes, so I told her to go ahead. The way her face lit up made me realize just how beautiful she really was.

I have no idea what kind of day she'd had, or what had been troubling her. Or why it had taken her so long to find a block of cheese (which she had to go through every aisle for!). But I know, from the way she looked at me, I'd been a bright spot in her day.



SPREAD KINDNESS WHEREVER YOU GO



There's a quote about being kind, because everyone is fighting a battle, and it's especially true around the holidays, when people are dealing with losses, grief, having to be around difficult family members, trying to do everything perfectly, and they're trying to get all the same stuff done you are. So give them a little kindness. 



Over the past few days, the thing that has meant the most to me is the kindness of others. I thanked a friend who'd been texting and calling me with info as we tried tracking down someone who could help us, and she told me she hadn't done anything. The very fact that she'd been there was a huge gift to us. Countless people are praying and checking in to see how we're all doing. That means a lot.

If you know someone who is going through a rough time, show them some extra love. If they're like, "ew, get away from me", give them their space. And if it's you who needs a little extra love this holiday season, don't be afraid to reach out to the safe people in your life and let them know you're hurting and need TLC. Take time to take care of yourself. It's okay to say no, and if you need an excuse, say you're not feeling well. Because it's absolutely true if you're feeling beat up by the holidays.

It's okay if the holidays aren't happy for you. Like I told my kids, how you feel is important, and you get to feel how you feel. So if they aren't happy for you, that's okay. You're not alone.
About Danica:

A self-professed crazy chicken lady, Danica Favorite loves the adventure of living a creative life. She and her family recently moved in to their dream home in the mountains above Denver, Colorado.  Danica loves to explore the depths of human nature and follow people on the journey to happily ever after. Though the journey is often bumpy, those bumps are what refine imperfect characters as they live the life God created them for. Oops, that just spoiled the ending of all of Danica’s stories. Then again, getting there is all the fun.
You can connect with Danica at the following places:
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/7HCXj Website: http://www.danicafavorite.com/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/danicafavorite Instagram: https://instagram.com/danicafavorite/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DanicaFavoriteAuthor   Facebook Reader Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/DanicaFavorite/